False Pass is an early English name for Isanotski Strait on which the City of False Pass is located. There is some evidence that Unangan people used the area seasonally. The strait was called “False Pass” by early American sailing ship captains because it was thought to be impassable.
The False Pass area was settled by a homesteader in the early 1900s and grew with the establishment of a cannery in 1917. A post office and school were established in 1921. The cannery operated continuously, except from 1973 to 1976, when two hard winters depleted the fish resources. It was destroyed by fire in March 1981 and was not rebuilt.
The city of False Pass was incorporated in 1990 and has about 30 residents. The Isanotski Corporation (originally known as the False Pass Corporation) is the ANCSA village corporation for the community and the major landholder in the area. The False Pass Tribal Council is the federally recognized tribe, with responsibility for the health and welfare needs of the community.
False Pass is an important refueling stop for Bristol Bay and Bering Sea fishing fleets. Commercial salmon fishing and fishing services drive the local economy. In 2000 APICDA created a subsidiary called Bering Pacific Seafoods (BPS) and outfitted a processing barge called The Dipper, which was moored at the False Pass city dock. The Dipper operated for two seasons, but the plant was not profitable and operations were suspended. In 2008, APICDA constructed a new plant at False Pass, but continued to struggle with profitability. APICDA plans to invest $11 million over the next several years to expand BPS facilities at False Pass, including construction of housing facilities.