The indigenous Unangan (Aleuts) called their island Agunalaksh, which roughly translates to “close to the mainland.” The main village on the island was called Iliuliuk which refers to the curvature of the bay. Russian fur traders came to the islands in the mid-1700’s and eventually referred to the island and village as Ounalshka. After America bought Alaska, the U.S. Board of Geographical Names standardized the spelling to Unalaska.
There’s an unsubstantiated story that in the late 1700’s a Dutch ship anchored up in what was then known as Ulakta Harbor, a naturally very deep and protected harbor along the South shore of Amaknak Island. The Russian population at the time dubbed that body of water Dutch Harbor. During WWII, the military referred to the entire area as Dutch Harbor as did the people that came here later to work in the commercial fisheries industry. Dutch Harbor is also the main delivery port for the crab fleet featured on the Discovery Channel’s hit reality show The Deadliest Catch.
Today, the two names are used intermittently to identify the area. Technically they are both within the limits of the City of Unalaska which encompasses all of Amaknak Island and the Northeastern end of Unalaska Island. In 1980 the two were connected by the “Bridge to the Other Side.” For the traveler willing to venture the extra mile they will discover the wonder of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, a true gem located in the heart of the Aleutians.
To plan your adventure visit www.unalaska.info or call 877-581-2612.