Under the American regime seal fishing off the Aleutians save by the natives has never been legal, but the depletion of the Pribilof herd, the almost complete extinction of the sea otter, and the rapid decrease of the foxes and other fur animals, have threatened the Aleuts (as the natives are commonly called) with starvation.
Sporadic efforts to Christianize the Aleuts were made in the latter half of the 18th century, but little impression was made before the arrival in 1824 of Father Ivan Venyaminov, who in 1840 became the first Greek bishop of Alaska.
It is stated that before the advent of the Russians there were 25,000 Aleuts on the archipelago, but that the barbarities of the traders eventually reduced the population to one-tenth of this number.
The number of Aleuts in 1890 was reported as 968; the total population of the archipelago in 1900 was 2000.
The eastern Eskimo are dolichocephalic, the western are less so, and the Aleuts brachycephalic. On the North Pacific coast, and in spots down to the Rio Grande, are short heads, but scattered among these are long heads, frequent in southern California, but seen northward to Oregon, as well as in Sonora and some Rio Grande pueblos.
The population of Unalaska Island in 1900 was 575 Aleuts and 66 whites.
The natives of Alaska fall under four ethnologic races: the Eskimo or Innuit - of these the Aleuts are an offshoot; the Haidas or Kaigani, found principally on Prince of Wales Island and thereabouts; the Thlinkits, rather widely distributed in the " Panhandle "; and the Tinnehs or Athapascans, the stock race of the great interior country.
In 1890 the pure-blooded natives numbered 23,531, of whom 6000 were Haidas, Thlinkits or other natives of the coastal region, 1000 Aleuts, 3400 Athapascans and 13,100 Eskimo.
The rapid exhaustion in late years of the caribou, seals and other animals, once the food or stockin-trade of the Aleuts and other races, threatens more and more the swift depletion of the natives.