Ancestors of the Alaska Natives are known to have migrated into the area thousands of years ago, they established varying indigenous, complex cultures that have succeeded each other over time.
Ancestors of the Alaska Natives are known to have migrated into the area thousands of years ago, in at least two different waves. Some are descendants of a third wave of immigration in which people settled across the northern part of North America. They never migrated to southern areas. For this reason, gene studies show they are not closely related to Native Americans in South America. Throughout the Arctic and northern areas, they established varying indigenous, complex cultures that have succeeded each other over time.
They developed sophisticated ways to deal with the challenging climate and environment, and cultures rooted in the place. Historic groups have been defined by their languages, which belong to several major language families.
Arriving from Siberia by ship in the mid-eighteenth century, Russians began to trade with Alaska Natives, especially when they learned the quality of their furs. New settlements around trading posts were started by Russians, including Russian Orthodox missionaries. British and American traders generally did not reach the area until the nineteenth century, and in some cases missionaries were not active until the twentieth century. This history is evident in the high number of congregations today of Russian Orthodox among Christians in Alaska, with most of their members being Alaska Natives.