Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island

Dutch Harbor, Amaknak Island

by | Jun 19, 2019

Dutch Harbor is an anchorage and fish processing facility on the east coast of Amaknak Island, Alaska. The harbor is located in Unalaska Bay about 3 miles (5 km) from the City of Unalaska on the north coast of Unalaska Island in the Eastern Aleutian Islands. The anchorage was so named by the Russians because they believed that a Dutch vessel was the first to enter the harbor. Father Ioann Veniaminov, a chronicler of the area in the early 1800s, reported that earlier navigators called it “Holland Harbor”. Lieutenant Sarichev of the Imperial Russian Navy, who spent the winter of 1791-92 here, reported the Aleut name for the bay as “Udakhta” which may be from the words “uddaq” and “daxtakuqing” which mean “bay” and “to rest” in the local Unangan language.

The Aleut or Unangan people have lived on Unalaska Island for thousands of years. The Unangan, who were the first to inhabit the island of Unalaska, named it “Ounalashka”, meaning “near the peninsula”. The regional Native corporation is the Ounalashka Corporation. The Russian fur trade reached Unalaska when Stepan Glotov and his crew arrived on August 1, 1759. Natives, Russians and their descendants comprised most of the community’s population until the mid-20th century, when the involvement of the U.S. in World War II led to a large-scale influx of people and construction of military facilities that were later bombed by the Japanese.

The name Dutch Harbor or “Dutch” is used colloquially for the entire area but actually refers only to the Amaknak Island port facilities for the City of Unalaska. Beginning in the 1950s, Dutch Harbor became a center of the Alaskan king crab fishing industry and by 1978 it was the largest fishing port in the U.S. In 1982, the king crab population crashed and decimated the industry, but by the mid-1980s a transition to bottom fishing led to relative economic stability. Dutch Harbor is connected to Unalaska by a bridge. Amaknak Island has almost 59 percent of the city’s population, although it has less than 3 percent of its land area. Read more here and here. Explore more of Dutch Harbor here:

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