ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS is the all-time best selling Newbery Medal winning book
Island of the Blue Dolphins
The main character is a girl named Karana, and that is her secret name. Wonapalei is her common name (everyone in the village has a secret name). Her people lived in a village called Ghalas-at, gathering roots and fishing to supply the tribe. One day, a ship of Aleuts, led by a Russian named Captain Orlov, arrived and persuaded the natives into letting them hunt sea otter in return for other goods. However, the Aleuts attempted to swindle the islanders and leave without paying. When they are confronted by Chief Chowig, Karana's father, a battle breaks out, and lives were lost on both sides. The tribe was annihilated by the battle and the Aleuts left the island, leaving little payment for the otters they hunted. Karana's father and many other men in the tribe died during the battle.
Later, the "replacement chief," Chief Kimki, left the island on a canoe for new land in the East. Eventually, he was able to send a "giant canoe" to bring his people to the jujjiand, even though he himself did not return. The white men came to Karana's village and told them to pack their goods and go to a ship. Karana's brother, Ramo left the ship to retrieve his fishing spear. Although Karana urged the captain to wait for her brother Ramo to return, the ship must leave before a storm approaches. Karana jumped off the ship and swam to shore, and the ship departs without them.
When news of the massacre reached the mainland, the Santa Barbara Mission decided to sponsor a rescue operation. In late November 1835, the schooner Peor es Nada, commanded by Charles Hubbard, left Monterey, California under contract to remove the remaining people living on San Nicolas Island. Upon arriving at the island, Hubbard's party gathered the Indians on the beach and brought them aboard. Juana Maria, however, was not among them by the time a strong storm arose, and the Peor es Nada's crew, realizing the imminent danger of being wrecked by the surf and rocks, panicked and sailed toward the mainland, leaving her behind.
"Savage" vs. "savage"
As Reese notes, the Aleuts were Natives too, so Island of the Blue Dolphins describes a war between two groups of "savages." But a basic familiarity with history tells us the Russians probably pressed the Aleuts into servitude. No way did the Russians treat them as equals and let them act independently. Any conflict with the islanders happened because the Russians wanted it to happen.
A posting confirms this supposition:
1743-1867 Era of Russian Violence
As the fur fever increased, so did Russian violence and oppression. The fur seekers forced Aleut hunters to provide them with sea otter skins. Often they took the hunters' wives and children hostage to ensure the safe return of Russian overseers. The use of hostages had been common in Siberia at one time, but Tsarina Catherine outlawed the practice after she came to power in 1762.
She told her subjects to treat the Aleuts well, but enforcement of her decree was non existent in the new, far, corner of the Russian Empire known as Russian America. In 1763, the Aleuts rebelled against the Russians. Four of seven Russian ships wintering at Unalaska were destroyed and their crews were killed. In revenge, the Russians demolished Aleut villages on Umnak, Samalga, and the Islands of Four Mountains. They killed all of the villagers.
Other rebellions such as the one at Unalaska were also punished harshly. Disturbances became rare. As time passed many of the Russian promyshlenniki took Aleut women, had children, and adopted a Native lifestyle during their time, in the islands. When British navigator James Cook sailed into Southwest Alaska waters in 1778, he recorded in his journal that Russians and Aleuts at one of the outposts he visited prayed together and shared the same large barracks built in Aleut style." Russian control, however, resulted not from this but from three other factors. The Aleut population was dispersed in small villages on separate islands. The villages were on small islands vulnerable to ships' cannon fire. The Aleuts had no weapons adequate to resist the Russians' firearms. The Russians soon enslaved the Aleuts.
There's always more to the story.