Aleut people speak Unangam, the Aleut language, as well as English and Russian in the United States and Russia respectively. An estimated 150 people in the United States and five people in Russia speak Aleut. The language belongs to the Eskimo-Aleut language family and includes three dialects: Eastern Aleut, spoken on the Eastern Aleutian, Shumagin, Fox and Pribilof Islands; Atkan, spoken on Atka and Bering islands; and the now extinct Attuan dialect.
The Pribilof Islands boast the highest number of active speakers of Aleutian. Most of the Native elders speak Aleut, but it is very rare for an everyday person to speak the language fluently.
Beginning in 1829, Aleut was written in the Cyrillic script. From 1870, the language has been written in the Latin script. An Aleut dictionary and grammar have been published, and portions of the Bible were translated into Aleut.
The Aleut (Unangan) dialects and tribes:
The Aleut people historically lived throughout the Aleutian Islands, the Shumagin Islands, and the far western part of the Alaska Peninsula, with an estimated population of around 25,000 prior to European contact. In the 1820s, the Russian-American Company administered a large portion of the North Pacific during a Russian-led expansion of the fur trade. They resettled many Aleut families to the Commander Islands (within the Aleutsky District of the Kamchatka Krai in Russia) and to the Pribilof Islands (in Alaska). These continue to have majority-Aleut communities.
According to the 2000 Census, 11,941 people identified as being Aleut, while 17,000 identified as having partial Aleut ancestry. Prior to sustained European contact, approximately 25,000 Aleut lived in the archipelago. The Encyclopædia Britannica Online says more than 15,000 people have Aleut ancestry in the early 21st century. The Aleut suffered high fatalities in the 19th and early 20th centuries from Eurasian infectious diseases to which they had no immunity. In addition, the population suffered as their customary lifestyles were disrupted. Russian traders and later Europeans married Aleut women and had families with them.