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 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.