Unangam Tanangin (The Aleutian Islands – lit. “Lands of the Unangan”) are a 1,500-mile-long archipelago spanning the sea between Russia to the west and Alaska to the east. The islands are home to the indigenous Unangax̂ (lit. “people”), known in English and Russian as the Aleut / Алеу́ты. Despite centuries of colonial influence from both Russia and the United States, and brief Japanese occupation during World War II, the Unangax̂ today are a community dedicated to preserving their heritage.
This map may be the first of its kind to map the entire Unangax̂ homeland in Unangam Tunuu (the Aleut language). That’s surprising given the rich tradition of Unangax̂ toponymy not just for islands and communities (the features included on this map), but for thousands of relatively minor places – many of which are of more cultural significance than geographic. In fact, the name “Alaska” comes from the Unangax̂ name for the Alaska Peninsula, “Alasxix,” meaning “mainland.” In a similar case of Russian colonists transporting names as they traveled East, the word “Aleut” and “Aleutian” likely are derived from “aliat,” meaning “island” in the Luorawetlan language of mainland Siberia.
Map by the Decolonial Atlas’ Jordan Engel, with support from Roxana Kashatok, Aquilina Lestenkof, Crystal Dushkin, Lauren Peters, Josephine Shangin, Sally Swetzof, Anna Melovidov, Millie McKeown, Liza Mack, Ed Philemonof, and Evan Gardner.
For comparison, below are two maps of Unangam Tanangin in English and Russian.
The following is a list of the place names which appear on this map.
|English Name||Unangam Tunuu Name||Translation|
|Aleutian Islands||Unangam Tanangin||Lands of the Unangan|
|Agattu Island||Angatux̂||Has big sides|
|Kiska Island||Qisxa||Cramped, bent|
|Little Sitkin Island||Sitignax̂|
|Tanaga Island||Tanax̂ax||Great island|
|Seguam Island||Saĝuugamax||Major bird colony|
|Chuginadak Island||Tanax̂ Angunax̂||Big island|
|Umnak Island||Unmax||Out there in the sea|
|Nikolski||Chalukax̂||Corner, narrow bight|
|Unalaska Island||Nawan-Alaxsxa||The mainland along there|
|Unalaska||Iluulux̂||(Bay) going in a half circle|
|Akutan Island||Akutanax̂||The island over there|
|Akutan||Achan-ingiiga||Salmonberry bushes below it|
|Sand Point||Qagun Tayagungin|
|Nelson Lagoon||Niilsanam Alĝuudaa|
|Saint Paul||Tanax̂ Amix̂|
|Saint George||Anĝaaxchalux̂||Place of rushing wind|