Umnak Island

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Quick Facts


One of the Fox Islands, and part of the Aleutian Islands. 686 square miles in area.

Aleut name reported in 1768 by Captain Lieutenant Krenitzin and Lieutenant Levashev (Coxe, 1787, map p. 205), Imperial Russian Navy (IRN). This island was called "oomanak" by Captain Cook (1785, v. 2, p. 504), RN, and "Umnak" by Father Veniaminov (1840, v. 1, p. 139). There is an old Aleut legend, as told by Ted Bank (1956, p. 227-228), that when the first Aleuts came to the islands there were no trees, as now, except on this island. There was one tree, with no branches or leaves, so tall that it disappeared in the clouds. The tree was twisted, and to the Aleuts it looked like the seaweed that they used to make fish lines; therefore , they called the island "Umnaqs," meaning "fish line." Visions told the people that the tree stood for the Aleut way of life, and if it were destroyed, the Aleut race would disappear forever. When the Russians came to the island, they cut down the tree to make a house for themselves, but they all died soon after. The Aleuts were afraid and built a house around the stump of the tr



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