Akutan Village, Akutan Island

Akutan Village, Akutan Island

by | Apr 20, 2019

The village of Akutan is located on Akutan Island, one of the Krenitzin Islands in the Fox Island group of the Eastern Aleutians, Alaska. It is 35 miles (56 km) east of Unalaska, and 766 miles (1,233 km) southwest of Anchorage. The Aleut name was first reported by Russian Captain P.K. Krenitzin in 1768. It was spelled “Acootan” by Captain James Cook in 1785. This name may be from the Aleut word “hakuta” which, according to R.H. Geoghegan, means “I made a mistake”. It was spelled “Akoutan” in 1888 by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. The current spelling was adopted by the village post office in 1914.

Akutan Village began in 1878 as a fur storage and trading port for the Western Fur & Trading Company. The company’s agent established a commercial cod fishing and processing business that quickly attracted nearby Unangan to the community. A Russian Orthodox church and a school were built in 1878. The church was replaced in 1918 by the Saint Alexander Nevsky Chapel. In 1912, the Pacific Whaling Company built a whale processing station across the bay and operated until 1939. After the Japanese attacked Unalaska in June 1942, the U.S. government evacuated Akutan residents to the Ketchikan area.

The village was re-established in 1944, although many villagers chose not to return. The internment in Ketchikan and exposure to the outside world brought many changes to the traditional lifestyle and attitudes of the community. The Native Village of Akutan is now a federally recognized tribe under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. Today, Akutan is a fishing community and the site of a traditional Unangan village with about 75 year-round residents. During the fishing season, most of the population are transient fish processing workers that live in group quarters. Read more here and here. Explore more of Akutan here:

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