Aleut - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Aboriginal Aleut society was ranked, with the highest status going to those individuals having the greatest wealth (including Aleut and Eskimo slaves), the largest families, the most local kin support, and the closest proximity to important subsistence resources. This system changed rapidly and radically with the coming of the Russians. Many Russian men married Aleut women, they and their families remaining in Alaska after it was sold to the United States. The children of these marriages, often termed "Creoles" in the literature of the times, frequently received special education and assumed skilled technical positions with the Russian-American Company. Today, no Creoles per se exist; however, those Aleuts who have gained experience outside the villages through formal education, military Service, or other means serve in positions of leadership on the Regional or village level.

Political Organization. Aboriginally, villages were probably the basic political unit, though larger, regional, political affiliations did exist. With the tremendous population Decline and resettlement during the Russian period, these Political entities were essentially abolished. In the 1960s and 1970s, regional Aleut organizations were formed. Today, the Islands Association represents Aleuts on a regional basis, and similar village-based for-profit and nonprofit corporations operate in each community.

Social Control. Prior to contact, Aleuts maintained social control through the informal pressure of ridicule and gossip, with village leaders deciding upon more formal punishments.

Conflict. Aleuts traditionally warred among themselves as well as against neighboring Eskimo peoples to the east on the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island. Personal revenge and the capture of slaves were likely the primary motivations for warfare. In the first decades of the Russian period, Aleuts often attempted to defend themselves against foreign violence and hostility, but were subdued by the late 1700s.

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