"We Unangan -- Aleut -- people have lived and survived on the islands of the Aleutian Chain for almost 10,000 years. Our survival and our foods have always come from the waters surrounding our island villages.
The Pribilof Islands were discovered in 1786 by Russian navigator Gavriil Pribilof, ending a three-year search by Siberian merchants for the breeding site of the valuable fur seals. The roaring of seals drew Pribilof's boat through the summer fog to St. George Island.
These islands were not inhabited when discovered. After this discovery, small bands of Unangan were enslaved to these islands from the Aleutian Chain to protect and harvest the millions of fur seals found there. Thus began a 200-year history of a people misplaced by governments eager to make money off the vast resources found, then and now, in the form of fish and crab.
The legacy of slavery seems to continue into 21st-century America.
Today the descendents of the enslaved Unangan, done first by Russia and later by America, are struggling to survive on the islands in which our ancestors made a living and in which many are buried. The northern fur seal, once ranging in number into the millions, are now numbered around 550,000 and steadily declining.
King and tanner crab fisheries are either a fraction of what they once were or are now closed due to overfishing. Today only a small percentage of fish once so abundant are now being taken by a handful of large industrialized factory trawlers, longliners and crabbers. Many of them come to the Bering Sea from far away ports in the Lower 48 states."
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George Pletnikoff: Aleutian tribes feel strain of poor fishery management
(The Anchorage Daily News 11/14)