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Unalaska island was originally inhabited by the Aleut people who called in “Ounalashka”, meaning “Near the Peninsla.” Their society was intricate and complex long before their contact with Russian fur trades noted their existence. In 1759, Stephan Glotov headed the first Russian trade group in Unalaska and traded with the Aleut people for three years. A conflict occurred between the fur traders and the natives in 176 and 1766. The Aleuts destroyed four ships and killed 175 of the hunters and traders. Soloc’ev then directed a massacre of many Natives in retaliation. A post wasn’t permanently established until 1774 which was incorporated into the Russian-American Company. In 1778, Captain James Cook encountered navigator Gerasim Izmailov. In 1788, Spanish explorers Esteban José Martinez and Gonzalo López de Haro visited Unalaska and on August 5, 1788 they claimed it for Spain, calling it Puerto de Dona Marie Luisa Teresa. In 1790, Alexander Andreyevich Baranov shipwrecked here. Measles, chickenpox, and whooping cough drastically reduced the population of the Aleuts between 1836 and 1840; by the end of the decade, only 200 to 400 Aleuts remained in Unalaska. In 867, the U.S. purchased Alaska and made Unalaska part of the U.S. territory. The Gold Rush between 1899 and 1905 brought many ships through Dutch Harbor, a port located in Unalaska. In 1900 an epidemic hit the island and the Spanish flu passed through in 1919; both contributed to a dramatic decrease of the population. In 1942, the U.S. fortified Dutch Harbor and on June 3, 1942, Japanese attacked the town. After this attack and the Japanese occupation of Attu, most of the native residents were arrested. Many died during their imprisonment due to poor conditions of the camps they were held in. In the 150s Unalaska became the center of the Alaska king crab fishing industry and became the largest fishing port in 1978. However, a crash in the king crab harvests in 1982 decimated the industry and saw a transition to bottom fishing.


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