Aleuts

People in the North of Pacific Asia and America. Live on the Aleutian Islands. (8,000 p.) and on the Commander Islands. ( 2002—600 p.) In 1980 there were 1,815 people living on the Aleutians, in Unalaska—178, Sand Point—360, King Cove—283, Saint George village—163, Saint Paul—450. In Alaska, Anchorage—1,512 p., Kodiak—573. The Aleut population in the mid-18th cent. was 12-15 thousand people.In anthropological terms, Aleuts and Eskimos form part of the Arctic type of the Pacific branch of the large Mongoloid race.

The language belongs to the Eskimo-Aleutian family, probably became a separate group 3-4 thous. years ago. V.I. Iokhelson believed it to be one of the archaic Esk. dialects. It has dialects: Eskimo or Unalaska (Alaska Pen., Unalaska, Umnak, Pribylof isls.), W or Attu (Attu, Copper Isl.) and the affined Atka sub-dialect (Atka and Bering Isl.) The first Al. grammar was compiled by I. Veniaminov in the early 19th cent. on the basis of the Cyrillic alph. They switched to the Latin alph. in the 1970s (on the basis of the E and W dial.), school educ. is in Al. and English. There is a college on Saint Paul Isl.

 
The name “Aleut” was given by Russian and appears for the first time in 1747 documents, presum. derives from the Chukchi aliat—island, or aliut—islanders. Acc. to G.A. Menovshchikov it derives from the Chukchi allithuh—unit, army, community; some think that it is a variation of the word aleut, the name of the inhabit. of Alyutorski vill. on the E coast of Kamchatka. (Alyutors have close cult. ties with the Koryaks but also have much in common with the Aleut.)Self-name unangan (E dial.) or unangas (W dial.). Had local names for various islanders: sasignan, saskinan (Near Isl.), kagun (Rat Isl.), akugun (Chetyrekhspochnye Isl.), kigigun (Krenitsyn Isl. and Unalaska), kagan tayagungin (Shumagin Isl., Alaska Pen.), unimgin (Unimak), kaulyangin, kagulngin (Umnak, Unalaska), nigugin, niagungin (Atka), namigun, negbo (Andreanof Isl.).

The history of the A. begins with the discovery of the Al. Isl. (1741) by the Great Nordic (Second Kamchatka) Exped. (1733-43). Rus. navig., expl., industr. collected data on the A. cult. The most thorough res. was done by G.A. Sarychev, I. Veniaminov, V.I. Iokhelson. The latter led an archeol. dig on the A.Isls. in 1909-10. S. the end of 19th cent. the res. on the A. has focused on the problem of origin.

There were two main hypotheses: the first (Steller, Veniaminov, Quimbi, Collins, de Laguna, Heizer, Kozyreva) said that the A. had come from the NE coast of Asia. The second (Doll, Iokhelson, Grdlichka, Spolding, Benk) argued in favor of Alaska.Research carried out by G.F. Debets, M.G. Levin, V. Laughlin, N.N. Dikov, R.S. Vasilevski shows that the A. anthrop. type, lang. and cult. formed on their modern territ. 6,000-4,600 yrs. ago. Acc. to one view (Kvimbi), the A. formed the S Esk. gr., others (Doll, Iokhelson, Tokareva, Grdlichka,

Bergsland, Laughlin) believe that the A. became a separate ethnos long ago.By the mid-18th cent. the pop. of each isl. or gr. of isl. was a territ. comm. with self-design. name and dialect.The trad. A. ec. act. was determined by nat. cond. The Bering S. is rich in pinnipeds and whales.The abundance of fish in the seas was ampl. by the seas. migr. of red fish to isl. rivers for egg-laying. Num. rocky isl. with rookeries enabled them to sell fish and eggs. Berry, root and herb gath. was also important. They ate raw, fried or boiled meat and fish. They mainly stocked up dried fish and whale oil (it was kept in bubbles made of sea anim. stomachs).They started hunt. at the end of Apr. From May till fall they caught fish migr. to lay eggs. In the middle of July they hunted birds. In winter they hunted seals off the coast. They hunted sea beaver (otter) in the open sea with a light non-rotative harp. (beaver arrow). When hunt. sea lions and seals they used a heavy non-rot. harp., which was launched without a launcher. Rot. harp. were used when hunt. bearded seals, etc. Sea lions and walruses were killed in rookeries pushed away from the water by sticks (dregalka) and spears.

They lured seals to the coast with a bloated seal skin, imitating the call of a female s. They hunt. whales with spears with poisoned tips. In 2-3 days the dead animal was pushed to the shore. They caught birds with javelins (shatin) and shafts (bola): belts bound together with stone or bone weights at the end which they threw in a rotat. movem. towards a flock of birds. The bird got stuck in the belts. Harp. and spears were thrown with the help of a spear-launcher: wood. boards 50-70 cm long with a linear quirk, finger dents on one end and a bone stop on the other. They also had bows and arrows. They fished by angling, spearing during egg-laying or catching with nets build. garths beforehand. The umiak played a major role in sea hunt., a carcass boat made of sea lion or seal skin. Sitting down into the round opening in water-proof clothing, the hunter closed its borders around his waist. For accident insur. bloated seal skin or sea lion stomachs were tied to the boat. With the arrival of fire arms two-man umiaks became pop.; during firing the second oarsman maintained equilib. Multi-oared open umiaks were used for transp. women and childr., cargo, and in milit. operations.

Men were in charge of weapon, tool, stone and wood. utensil prod. Knives and axes were made of stone and fastened to wood. handles; arrow and spear tips, pots for making food, oil lamps for light and heat that burned whale oil (the fuse was made of moss) were all made of stone too. Women sewed, embroidered clothes, made canoe covers, mats and baskets. The A. devel. all types of network with veget. fiber on a vertical loom known by the Indians of the NW coast of Am. The universal female tool was a pekulka: a wide, short, slightly curved knife. The needles were made of bird bones.A. settl. were situated on the sea shore, often at the mouths of riv. They chose high open places in order to observe sea anim. movem. and the approach of enemies. The settlm. were made up of 2-4 large semi mud-huts (ulyagamah). They were made of fins, covered with dry grass, anim. skin and dogwood. Several rectang. openings were left in the roof for entry and people used logs with hacks to climb inside. Plank-beds were install. along the walls. The hut housed 10-40 fam. Each family lived in their part of the hut, separated from the others by posts and curtains. They kept their utensils beneath the beds.In summer each family moved to a tent-type build. or to a semi mud-hut made of whale bones and fin (ulyak), this type of dwell. were often used by E A. Ulyaks also served as storages for food and hunt. equip.

The trad. A. clothing was a parka, a long thick jacket made of seal, sea-otter fur or bird skin, thefemale parka was made of sea beaver skin or seal fur with the fur on the inside. They wore kamleikas over parkas, water-proof clothing made of sea anim. intestines with sleeves, a tight collar and hood. The hood and sleeves were tightened with strings. Both parkas and kamleikas were ornam. with embroid. stripes and fringe. Male and female cloth. were identical in cut and ornam. For footwear they had torbasas, sea anim. skin boots. The most anc. type of torb. was a wide bootleg with a sewn sole.

For fish. and hunt. they wore hats with elaborate colorful ornam., carved bone, feathers, sea lion mustache, wood. cone hats (toens wore those) or in the case of simple hunt.—topless hats with a long peak. They wore them over the kamleika hood. S.V. Ivanov believes that A. hats date back o ancient zoomorph. hats and are conn. to hunt. magic. G. Collins, T. Matiassen, T. Jenness believed that their ornam. had common roots with the ancient Bering S. cult. and through it with the Malanesians, Ainus and Amur peoples. D. Ray believed that such hats were a purely A. creation, esp. popular during Rus. colonial.: they were worn by chiefs (toens) when meeting Rus., to stand out among the common people. They were made by chiseling whole pieces of wood which they then steamed giving it the proper form. The now ready hat was then painted with white, black, red, blue, green and yellow paint (ornam.—stripes, dotted lines, circles, half-circles, streaks, curved lines with curls, double or sigma-shaped spirals and crowns; at times topical themes), decorated with carved walrus tusk strips engraved with geometr. ornam. mixed with the paint on the sides and at the back. At the top of the back strip a bone figure of a bird or anim. was placed. Sea lion must. (up to 50 cm long) was inserted into the side holes of the strip. The number of must. hair depended on the hunt. skills of the owner and spoke of the num. of walruses he had caught.Festive and ritual hats were of various shapes. Made of leather and bird skin with ornam., leather binders with a decorat. seam. Hats were worn only by men.

They wore necklaces, bracelets and anklets, pendants in the holes made in the lips and around them, in the nose, on the edges of the ear, in the ear lobe, made of bone, stone, wood. and slate sticks, feathers, sea lion must., herbs and plant roots. Tattoos and body paint were popular. They disappeared on first contact with the Rus.

The A. territ. comm. consisted of clan gr. that believed they shared a common ancestor and were headed by a chief (toen) who either inherited his power or was elected. He was to manage trade and polit. ties, judic. cases, sea anim. grounds protection, other grounds and military operations. The chief had econ. advantages only after milit. oper. and trade deals, but in daily life his cut was no bigger than anyone else’s. Besides the chief, a clan gr. was headed by a council of elders. There is mention of clan comm. houses, there are traces of secret male unions with typical imitations, dress, rituals of scaring women, secrecy. Young men were accepted when presented by their maternal uncles (see Avunculate) or (less often) by their fathers. There were secret female unions as well that organ. dances at full moon from which men were banned. Patri-, matri- and bilateral clan. Patri-matrilocal marriages. Avuncular relations, marriages btw cousins, polygamy, sororate, levirate, fraternal polyandry.

The A. had slaves (kalga), mostly war prisoners. Slaves partic. in the ordin. ec. act. of the gr., in their wars, and could be freed for valour and good work. It is assumed that A. slavery devel. later than at the NW coast of Am. (Tlingit, Kwakiutl, etc.)

In the 19th cent. clan gr. disappeared. With the adoption of Christ. by the mid-19th cent. such things as payment or labor for a bride, polygamy and hospitable hetaerism disapp.

Trad. A. creeds are charact. by animism, the belief in good and evil spirits. Evil spirits mainly caused diseases. They respected the spirits of their ancestors whose stone, bone, wood, and bird skin effigies were passed down as personal amulets. Patron-spirits were also shown in wood. asks worn during ritual dancing. Shamanism was popular. Sh. philosophy conisteded of a creed involving other worlds and disease-causing spiritual possession. The same as with some Sib. peoples, the Sh. clothing simb. a bird. There was also hunt. magic: rituals of animal evocation, special hunt. bans, amulets; A. believed that by wearing its skin the man turned into the corresp. animal which protected the owner.Their year began in March. The names of months corresp. to the local pecul. of the annual ec. cycle and varied from A. group to A. group.

Kin graves were placed in small holes in the rocks. The dead were put in a sitting position. The tools, weapons, dishes, ritual masks and personal amulets of the dead were placed next to them. Noble A. were embalmed, buried in caves, a painted post was placed at the entry to that cave and the dead were hung in baskets btw two posts. They were often buried with their slaves.

One of the main A. feasts is midwinter solstice. It incl. dances, theatr. perf. with hunt. and mythol. scenes, gifts.The rituals that preceded the hunt. seas. were accompanied by pantomime perf. and dances with singing and tambourines. The performers wore rit. hats and wood. masks imitating the corresp. characters.The newly converted A. Christians were largely influenced by the Rus. beginning in the early 8th cent. matchmaking and church wedd. became popular. Rel. books were translated into A. Some missionaries were the descendants of aborigines. A. remain Orthodox, they hold services in Rus. and A.

S. 1799 the Al. Isl. and the adjacent part of Alaska was under the control of the Rus.-Am. Comp. (RAC). Previous disorg. contacts btw A. and Rus. industr. were replaced by org. management. The main obj. of the RAC regarding A. was conserving their trad. ec. act. as a reliable source of income. Officials assigned local managers and canoe-people to org. fish. and hunt. in remote isl. The official status of the A. was similar to the status of other foreigners in the Rus. Empire, they paid a tax (yasak), in 1821 they were acknowl. as Rus. citizens.

In 1867 the Aleutian Isls. and Alaska were sold to the US. Originally their territ. was under milit. control, but in 1884 they were granted the status of a county. The A. kept in contact with whale fish. and fur tradesmen. In 1887 due to the discovery of gold deposits in Alaska the latter began o be industr., and the num. of newcomers grew. Fish-canning ind. devel. in the Al. Isl. missionary act. influenced the cult. of the natives. Assim. began, esp. through schools where pupils were taught in English. This had a devast. effect on their trad. cult. and lifestyle.In 1912 Alaska (along with the Al. Isl.) was granted the status of a territ. with a local governm. In 1915 A., along with all Alaska natives, obtained rights equal to the US Indians and were intrusted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 1924 they got citizenship. In 1959 Alaska became a US state (see Alaska).The mod. A. hunt seals on the Pribylof Isls., work for hire in the fish-cann. ind. Along with trad. ec. act. they have devel. animal breed. (mink), animal raising, gardening. In the 1960s the revival of Alaska natives began, a movem. for soc. and ec. rights formed, accomp. by an increase in nation. self-awareness.

The A. League was formed, seeking ec. devel. of the A. and conserv. of A. cult. The Alaska Native Claims Settl. Act adopted in 1971 had great impact on the A. A joint-stock comp. was formed: the A. corp. with subdivisions in each vill. Two corp. were founded on the Pribylof Isls.: on St. Paul Isl.—“Tanag gusikh” (“Our land”), on St. George Isl. “Tanak”. All isl. and, except state-owned seal grounds, belonged to the corporations. The sea food, fish prod. and process. ind. developed.A. inclusion into the capit. ec. system led to the rise of polit. leaders, businessmen, intellectuals. Elected organs manage the comm. They control schools and assign representatives to local ind. struct. Today A. society is charact. by a high level of acculturation along with the preserv. of certain trad. cult. features: trad. act., social rules (ex.: all vill. inhabit. share hunt. game), succ. hunt. feasts accomp. by singing and danc. contests. Addit. income is brought by trad. suppl. act.: women make baskets and bags, men make small wood. kayak models, etc.Commander A. The settlm. of the Commander Islands dates back to the early 19th cent. when 17 A. families came to Bering Isl. from Attu (Al. isl.). In 1827, 110 A. lived here. Copper Isl. got a resident pop. (Atau Isl. natives) in 1828. Later the num. of A. on both isl. changed thus: in 1860 they had 300 and 90 p. respect., in 1870—237 and 153 p., in 1889—354 and 283 p., in 1890—45 and 274 p., in 1900—279 and 253 p. The last A. move from Attu Isl. (30 p.) occurred in 1872. The pop. of the Commander Isls. was added to not only by A., but by Creoles and Rus. ind. from Atka and California married to A. In addition, Komi-Zyrian p., Gypsies, Kirghiz p., Kodiak p. (Kodiak Esk.), Ainu and Kamchadals appeared on the isl. In 1881, 23.9% of the Commander Isls. pop. consisted of A. and 76.1% of Creoles. Anthrop. speaking Commander A. are closer to the E (Unalaska) pop. There are two subpop.: the Bering and Copper. There is a clear Eur. touch.The contemp. A. pop. of the Commander Isls. is c.550 p.

The Atka dialect was spread on Bering Isl., a new dialect was formed on Copper Isl. based on theAtta with Rus. grammar innov. A. of both isl. found it hard to understand each other and often used Rus. to communicate. The self-des. name of the Copper A. is sakasnan, of the Bering—unangan, negosis, negogahvs. The name A. became pop. in the early 20th cent.

The Commander Isls. lifestyle was charct. by the almost complete isol. of the isl. from the outside world and from one another. Before 1867 the Commander A. did not differ in special status from other A. They worked for the RAC: prepared fur and produce (sea anim. meat and oil), cons. their trad. cult. for the most part. Their princ. occup. was off-canoe sea anim. hunt. and dry land seal hunt. They hunted birds at rookeries with large nets on long shafts (chirucha), other nets and shotguns. They also had some features atypical for the cont.: on Bering Isl. there were sleds with dog teams, on Copper Isl.—skis of the Kamchatka type, short, wide, padded with seal skin. Their dwell. were water-affected trad. semi mud-huts: the walls and roof were made of rods, boards, covered by dogwood. There was a hatchway for light on top, an entrance through a small porch on the side. Oil lamps provided light, at times they installed ovens. Besides trad. utensils they used imported manufact. dishes. Trad. fish. and hunt. clothes remain: bird skin parkas, kamleikas and jackets with sea lion skin and neck hoods, seal skin trousers and a new type of cloth.—“brodni”, sea lion neck trousers with water-proof torbasas sewn to them. In daily life they wore ord. Rus. clothes.

Trad. soc. norms remain: cross-cousin marriages, polygamy (male and female), avunc. rel. Christ., school ed., biling., new forms of ec. act. such as cattle breeding, gardening, etc. have spread.Am. and Rus. depletion of fish. and hunt. grounds led to the impoverishment of the natives and undermined the foundation of their trad. cult. In the late 19th cent. the pop. growth slowed, diseases and alcoholism led to increased mortality. By the 1920s the impover. of the Commander A. reached its peak.After the Civil War, the destroyed ec. was reconstr. in the FE, farming, cattle breeding, fish and sea an. hunt. developed. In 1925 a state-owned anim. farm was set up within the reconstr. process, in 1928 the Commander Isls. got the status of an A. natl. area, A. started partic. in the governing, natl.. intellectuals and techn. experts were trained. In 1935 the A. pop. on the Commander Isls. started to grow: in 1959—421 p., 1970—441, 1979—546. At the same time a dispersal took place among the A. who started settling on the cont.

The contemp. Commander A. preserve the anthrop. type, ethnic self-aw. and some trad. cult. eat.Folk bands are also charact. by part. nation. feat. They have mainly been living in Nikolskoe vill.(Bering Isl.) s. 1969. They do not differ in lifestyle and soc. str. from the newcomers. Intermarriage has become more freq. The trans. to Rus. is developed.

Ref.: Veniaminov, I. Notes on Unalaska Division Isl. P. 1-3. St. Pet., 1840; “Aleuts.” Peoples ofAm. Vol. 1. Series “Peoples of the World.” M., 1959; Lyapunova, R.G. Outline of Aleut Ethnogr. Leningr., 1975; Lyapunova R.G. Aleuts. Outline of Ethnic Hist. Leningr., 1987; Laughlin W.S. Aleuts: Survivors of the Bering Land Bridge. N.Y., 1980; Lantis M. “Aleut.” Handbook of American Indians, vol. 5. Arctic, Washington, 1984.A. folklore. Poorly studied. Some notes in the works of I. Veniaminov, Y.B. Netsvetova, G.A. Sarychev, and F. Golder. V.I. Iokhelson and K. Bergsland purposefully coll. data. No fund. research has been done, however, no genre class. elaborated. A. themselves believe they have fairytales (unikakh), her. epos or tales (kadanadah), stories of ancient cust. (kadanintunusah), every day life stor. (tunusyadah), songs (anasikh), proverbs (mglunin) and riddles (imchatan).Most tales are based on myths which usually used the so-called complex form of oral speech with freq. use of polysynth. struct. The most pop. myths were abt spirits, animal-patrons. Ethiol. legends: the initial immortality of hum., the theory that man descended from a dog that fell from the sky and then settl. down to the E and W of Umnak Isl., the story of sea beavers coming from an incestuous rel. of a brother and sister. Trad. fam. relat. reflect the myth abt the sister of the Moon who came down to earth and got married. She then decided to go back with her son but died on her way there. Her son came back alone and replaced his decrepit uncle (the Moon) in the sky.Metamor. stories were quite popular of people turning into anim. (due to the work of evil spirits), of people marr. anim. (a hero marr. a woman-fox, a woman cohabiting with seals, etc.), of a hero’s travels to the world of spirits in order to steal magic objects, of cannibals and the fight with them.One of the legends of Umnak Isl. is abt “the tree of life”. (Pres. it confirms that the A. used to have a myth abt “the tree of life”, very popular with the people of N Asia). Acc. to the A. legend there was only one tree on the isl., it reached the sky and had no branches. They believed that while it lived nothing could happen to the A. But then the Rus. came and tore it down to build a house, after which they got sick and died; a small log constr. was built over the remain. part of the tree, and this spot became holy and forbid. This fantastic plot reflected an actual event: Veniaminov’s notes say that the first Rus. settl. erected at that same “holy” spot a huge cross, cut down 50 yrs. later by other Rus. settl. in order to build a house, after which some Rus. did in fact die, possibly, from poisoning.The series of myths abt the Raven, popular with the peoples of NE Sib. (esp. Paleo-Asians) and the W part of Am., were not widely spread among the A. However, some variants of this plot exist. As a cult. hero the Raven gets light and celestial bodies (the sun, stars, moon) but it is black and ugly and in its other hypostasis is a lier and a cheat, a scavenger, always hungry and smelling awful, etc.

The her. epos includes legends of A. ancestors, of the fight with cannibals, of p. migr. from the cont. to the isl., of the crusades of E. A. to the W, of blood feuds which led to sanguin. wars ending in the complete destr. of the natives of some isl., of wars with the Indians of Alaska, etc.

Everyday-life stories spoke abt hunt. and fish. trips, travels from one isl. to another. There were legends abt A. fugitives who were hiding from the Rus. in caves, abt far-off travels (ex.: a hero’s trip to California); satir. plots, ex.: a hunter who died of gluttony inside a whale. Many stories reflect the trad. fam.-kin rel.: abt the unfaithful husband or jealous wife, abt the aunt cohab. with a nephew or a hero with the wife of his cousin, abt the hostile rel. btw a son-in-law and brother-in-law, abt a son murdering his father who had aband. his mother, abt uncles killing their nephews, their sister’s sons, etc. The stories abt a woman who turned into a man, abt a canoe seeking the affection of its owner’s wife as his partner in marriage, can also be included in this series.

Ref.: Veniaminov, I. Notes on Unalaska Division Isl. Vol. 3. St. Pet., 1840.;Iokhelson, V.I. “Samples of Mat. on Aleut. Living Antiqity.” Zhivaya Starina, Petrograd, 1915. #3.;Iokhelson V.I. “The Descr. of Folk and Ling. Mat.” Proceedings of the Rus. Acad. of Sc. Petrograd, 1919; Benk, T. Cradle of Winds. M., 1960;

Konopatski, A.K. “The legend of the tree of life” Sovetski Etnograf. 1976. #6;Lyapunova R.G. “The Raven in the A. Folklore and Myths.” Folklore and Ethnogr. Leningr., 1984.A. music. A. song folklore was highly devel. I. Veniaminov writes that every settl. or isl. had num. songs praising the heroics of their ancest., fish. and hunt. success, agility in sailing a canoe. The songs abt heroes and the heroic acts of their ancest. were sung by men with the accomp. of a tambourine. Some songs were accomp. by games and rituals, ex.: choral songs (inugum anacha) sung in chorus during a game (inugih) which cons. of tossing a girl on a trampoline of anim. kin.There was a song abt a sea lion for 4 voices (2 male and 2 female) with a tambourine and a choral song abt hunt. fox. Tale-telling was also often accomp. by singing. There were Shaman songs too which were sung during charm-making.Lyrical songs were accomp. by a multi-string plucked sword-shaped cither (chayakh), later replaced by the guitar. In 1909-11 recordings of 17 A. lyr., epic and rit. songs were made on a phonogr. In 1966 I.A. Bogdanov-Brodski recorded with a tape-rec. 3 lyr. melodies with larghetto octave sounds on the Commander Isls. Stylist. speaking A. mel. contain elements typical for long lyr. of Itelmen, Eskimos and Verkhnekolymskie Yukagirs.

A. dance. The A. dance trad. is not well-studied. I. Veniaminov who visited the Al. Isl. divided A. dance in his 1840 notes into ritual d. and ceremon. d. perf. at general feasts (ukumak), imitation-mimicking d. and entertaining-game d. at private parties (naganasik).The first type were mainly perf. in winter, they required prior prep., costume and mask making. The dance was always started by a man, he sang and played the tamb., then women picked up. These d. were based on hist. events, enemy attacks and battles, peace-making and victory celebr., sea anim. and bird hunt. scenes.Ancient A. d. were perf. by 3-5 old men dressed in special cost. made of seal skin. They lasted 3-4 hours accomp. by drums and tamb. made of seal or baby seal skin, the dancers changed. (I. Veniaminov spoke of weapons in the hands of the dancers).All researchers speak of popular imitation-mimicking d., which depicted sea anim. and birds. “Ukh’chuk’”—“Tufted Puffin” and “K’aplakh’”—“Raven”—are male d. made up of several pantom. scenes (“the tufted puffin is lowered onto the water”, “the raven is cleaning its feathers”, etc.); the twosome d. “Seal hunt.” is also based on imit. and mimicking.Aside from these 2 d. categ. there were cult Shaman d., incl. ones in the name of Agu’guk, the creator of all beings; others were dedicated to sea anim. and bird spirits; there was also a d. called “Purification by Fire”.At times the d. comp. was strictly regulated: the dancers moved in a circle (imit. the movem. of the sun)—the dance with home-made candles (zhirnik) around a fire-pit, accomp. by tamb., clapping, guttural cries (I. Georgi wrote that A. had a linear d. comp. too).

Cerem.-ritual d., male and female, coll. or individual, were perf. while standing or sitting (the latter were the more ancient, the upper part of the body “danced” in them). The stand. d. were charact. by springy movem. on half-bent legs with the body tilted forward, with sharp turns and changing hand positions. Solo d. or d. with few partic. were usually perf. inside.The works of I. Georgi and G.A. Sarychev give quite a detailed descr. of the d. at the whale feast.The cult. of the Commander A. started to lose its trad. feat. in the early 20th cent. Along with the Rus. creed and cust. they absorbed Rus. d. and songs. B.A. Redko (1920s) says that they danced the quadrille and the so-called “Eight Dance” on the Commander Isls. much like in Kamchatka.

In the 1930s biol. I.I. Barabash-Nikiforov described the most popular A. d. “Balance” on his exped. to the Commander Isls. The d. was universal: A. included into it all the elements or some elem. of the d. of other peoples that they liked. The “Balance” cons. of 3 parts: the old Rus. round dance with a leading man where the figures were perf. in a cert. order (“curled cabbage,” “snake,” “gates,” etc.); “Kamchatka Quadrille” perf. by couples with changing fig. and solos first by young men and then by girls ending in a “farewell”—shen; finally couples circling (rocking) in one place or along a circle (this part is reminiscent of US country and Dixieland rhythms). At the same time A. believed the “Balance” to be auth. Aleut: they edited “foreign” d. and adapted them to their natl. manner of perf. The “Balance” was perf. by almost the whole vill. for hours accomp. by the accordion or A. balalaika.Some diff. in choreogr. and singing can be traced on Bering and Copper Isl. C. isl. has a less-varied pop. and thus preserves orig. and trad. elements of d. and song.

Ethnic music critic I.A. Bogdanov-Brodski who visited the Commander Isls. in 1966 registered 5 A. dances: the quadrille, karagokht (humorous d.), old A. dance kagadogtykht, tulukyzakht, “Balance”.A compl. new stage in the devel. of aborig. choreogr. of the Commander Isls. came with the theme dances created by choreogr. (V.N. Nilov, A.V. Gril’, etc.) on the basis of natl. trad. and stories. The newly-formed folk band “Unangan” (“Aleut”) also contr. to this devel. The band perf. in Moscow in 1983 at a conf. on the problems of cult. and art devel. of the N peoples.