"The original settlers in the Yakutat area are believed to have been
Eyak-speaking people from the Copper River area. Tlingits migrated into the area
and assimilated the Eyaks before the arrival of Europeans in Alaska. Yakutat was
only one of a number of Tlingit and mixed Tlingit-Eyak settlements in the
region, although all the others have been depopulated or abandoned.
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, English, French, Spanish and Russian
explorers came to the region. The Russian-American Company built a fort in
Yakutat in 1805 to facilitate trade in sea otter pelts. When the Russians cut
off access to the fisheries nearby, a Tlingit war party attacked and destroyed
"By 1886, after the Alaska Purchase by the United States, the
black sand beaches in the area were being mined for gold. In 1889 the Swedish
Free Mission Church opened a school and sawmill in the area. A cannery, another
sawmill, a store and a railroad were constructed from 1903 by the Stimson Lumber
Company. Many people moved to the current site of Yakutat to be closer to the
Stimpson cannery, which operated through 1970. During World War II, the USAAF
stationed a large aviation garrison near Yakutat and built a paved runway. The
troops were withdrawn after the war but the runway is still in use as Yakutat
Airport, which offers scheduled airline service.
"Fishing is currently the
largest economic activity in Yakutat. Yakutat Tlingit Tribe (YTT) received a
Language Preservation Grant from the Administration for Native Americans in
2004. With this, they have reinvigorated their efforts to teach the Tlingit
language to middle-aged and young people. YTT received another ANA grant in 2007
and is expanding its role in the schools. All the YTT Tlingit language
revitalization work focuses on using communicative approaches to second language
teaching, such as TPR and ASLA. While working at a local cannery from 1912 to
1941, Seiki Kayamori extensively photographed Yakutat and its area. A large set
of prints of his work is held by Yakutat City Hall.
incorporated at a unified city-borough on September 22, 1992. Until this time,
it had been part of the Skagway-Yakutat-Angoon Census Area, which was afterwards
renamed to Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon Census Area."