History of Unalaska


“Crossroads of the Aleutians"

Unalaska has witnessed sweeping change in nine-thousand years of human history.

The Unangan people were the first to inhabit the island of Unalaska which they named “Agunalaksh” meaning ‘Near the Peninsula’. They developed and sustained an intricate and complex society for thousands of years. Artifacts, stories, and re-creations of their rich culture can be viewed and studied at the Museum of the Aleutians with many artifacts dating back roughly 9,000 years.

When the Russian fur traders arrived, they renamed the island, "Ounalashka". The Russian influence is best viewed by touring the Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Cathedral, the oldest cruciform-style Russian church in the country. The Cathedral is a National Historic Landmark and houses one of Alaska's largest and richest collections of Russian artifacts, religious icons, and art pieces, some having been donated to the church directly by Catherine the Great.

Dutch Harbor is also known to war veterans and history buffs as the only land in North America, besides Pearl Harbor, that was bombed by Japanese Zeros during World War II. Evidence of the Armed Forces' bunkers, Quonset huts, and barracks are still visible today, dotting the green hills of both Unalaska and Amaknak island. Tour the many remnants of military presence throughout the island as well as at the WWII Visitors Center. The sites and the Historic Center are part of the WWII National Historic Area opened by the National Park Service in 2002.

For more information concerning Unalaska/Dutch Harbor History, please contact:

-The Museum of the Aleutians at www.aleutians.org or (907) 581-5150

-The Ounalaska Coorporation at www.ounalashka.com or (907) 581-1276

-The Aleutian WWII National Historic Area at  www.nps.gov/aleu 


For more details take a look at Unalaska's Historic Timeline.