Archaeological evidence suggests that Akutan has been the site of a traditional Unangan village since prehistory. In 1878, Akutan was established as a fur storage and trading port for the Western Fur & Trading Company.
The company’s agent started a commercial cod fishing and processing business. A Russian Orthodox Church and a school were built in 1878.
The Pacific Whaling Company operated the only whaling station in the Aleutians across the bay from Akutan from 1912 to 1939. After the Japanese attacked Unalaska in June 1942, the U.S. government evacuated Akutan residents to the Ketchikan area.
The village was reestablished in 1944, although many villagers chose not to return. The city was incorporated in 1979. Akutan is represented by the Akutan Village Corporation and a federally-recognized tribe, the Native Village of Akutan.
Akutan is a fishing community with about 75 year-round residents, but during the fishing season the population increases to nearly 1,000 with seasonal workers.