Identification. The Ingalik are an American Indian group in Alaska. The term "Inkiliki" in several variations first appears in the Russian literature of the 1830s and 1840s. The name appears borrowed from Yup'ik Eskimo "Ingqiliq," a general term for Indians of the interior and meaning "having louses' eggs." Ingalik call themselves "Deg Hit'an" (the People from here).
Location. At the time of Russian contact in the 1830s the Ingalik lived in several villages on the lower Yukon and Innoko rivers, and on the middle Kuskokwim River, in southwestern Alaska. Their territory was bounded by Eskimo groups downriver and in the coastal regions, and other Athapaskans upstream—Koyukon on the Yukon, Kolchan on the Kuskokwim. Major settlements in historic times included the villages of Shageluk on the Innoko, Anvik, Bonasila, and Holy Cross on the lower Yukon, Kvygympaynagmyut and Georgetown on the middle Kuskokwim. The environment was subarctic boreal forest, characterized by short warm Summers and long cold winters.
Demography. In the 1830s, the Ingalik had a population estimated at between fifteen hundred and two thousand. Following the introduction of European diseases, numbers fell to six hundred by 1900. Particularly devastating was the smallpox epidemic of 1838-1839. The present population is over five hundred, although this figure does not take into account significant intermarriage with Eskimo and other groups.
Linguistic Affiliation. The Ingalik language is one of the Northern Athapaskan languages, a subgroup of the Athapaskan family. There are two dialects, one spoken on the Yukon, the second restricted to the Kuskokwim. The Kuskokwim dialect has largely been replaced by other Athapaskan languages, Eskimo, and English. The Yukon dialect is Presently spoken only by the older generation.