Former residents of Katmai and Douglas founded Perryville in 1912, after they were forced to leave their homes by the eruption of the Katmai volcano. Soon they built a school and a new Russian Orthodox church where they placed icons taken from the churches in their old villages. In the past, many Perryville residents worked at the canneries in Chignik for at least part of the year. In the 1960's, about 40 people left Perryville to settle a new village called Ivanof Bay. Today, commercial fishing, subsistence hunting, and trapping are most important. The year-round population of the village was about 110 in 1990.
Olga Pena Kuchenoff Sam, born in 1945, talks about what it was like to grow up in Perryville. Her family lived in a traditional Alutiiq home or ciqluaq. Olga and her sisters and brothers helped their father at his winter trapping grounds in Smoky Hollow. As at other village schools in Alaska, students were forbidden to speak in their Native language. However, Olga's parents believed it was critical for their 15 children to retain their culture and language. Consequently, the family spoke only Alutiiq at home. Mrs. Sam has carried on this family tradition, and is now teaching Alutiiq to her grandsons.