Reconstructing 19th-Century Eskimo–Athabascan Boundaries in the Unalakleet River Drainage

Igor Krupnik, Kenneth L. Pratt and Kenneth L. Pratt

Abstract

The Unalakleet River was an important center of human economic activity in western Alaska from precontact times through at least the early 1900s. Its rich cultural history developed through the actions of a diverse cast of players, including Yup’ik Eskimos, Lower Koyukon Athabascans, and Inupiaq Eskimos—as well as Russian and American traders and explorers. Historically, the Unalakleet area was one of Alaska’s most dynamic centers of Native intergroup relations, and it has attracted considerable attention from anthropological researchers over the past 40 years. The following discussion uses historical, ethnographic, linguistic and archaeological data to examine the question of Indian and Eskimo territorial boundaries in the Unalakleet drainage before 1880.

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