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Timeline / Colonizers and Resistance / 1745: Russians enslave Unangan (Aleut) people

1745: Russians enslave Unangan (Aleut) people

Russian traders violently coerce Unangan (Aleut) men to trap beaver and other fur-bearing animals. The Russians take Unangan women and children hostage, demanding furs in exchange for their lives. While the men are out hunting, the Russians sexually exploit the hostages. If the Unangan men fail to return with furs, Russians execute the hostages. On the island of Attu, 15 women and children are executed to set an example.

Land and Water, Native Rights

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Unangan in a quajaq (kayak) off the coast of Saint Paul Island, Alaska, by Ukrainian artist Louis Choris. Choris was a sketch artist aboard a Russian ship that explored the Pacific and west coast of North America from 1815 to 1818.

Courtesy Alaska State Library, Louis Choris Photograph Collection

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Killing fur seals on Saint Paul Island, Alaska, ca.1867 to 1896, by American artist Henry Wood Elliott.

Courtesy University of Alaska Museum of the North