The Aleutian chain of islands have been inhabited by Unangan people for approximately 8,000 years. Akutan is the site of a traditional Unangan village. The Westernization of Akutan 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. Alexander Nevsky Chapel was built in 1918 to replace the original structure. The Pacific Whaling Company built a whale processing station across the bay from Akutan in 1912. It was the only whaling station in the Aleutians, 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. This exposure to the outside world brought many changes to the traditional lifestyle and attitudes of the community.
The City was incorporated in 1979. Trident Seafoods operates one of the largest land-based seafood processing plants in north America in Akutan.