Nunivak Island has been inhabited for 2,000 years by the Nuniwarmiut, or Cup'ig, people.
The first contact with Europeans was in 1821 by explorers from the Russian-American Company. They recorded 400 people living in 16 villages on the Nunivak Island.
While conducting the 1880 United States Census, Ivan Petrof recorded 702 Yup'ik in 9 villages, including 117 people at "Koot", near the site of present-day Mekoryuk. An epidemic in 1900 left only four surviving families in the village.
In the 1930s, the Evangelical Covenant Church was built at Mekoryuk, followed by a school in 1939. People moved to the village from other areas of the island to be near the school. Reindeer herding was introduced in 1920 by an Eskimo-Russian trader. The operation was purchased by the United States government in the 1940s and a slaughterhouse was built in 1945. The reindeer were crossed with caribou from Denali Park. The resulting animals were larger and less tame than other reindeer. 34 musk ox from Greenland were transferred to the Nunivak Island in 1934 in an effort to save the species from extinction. Today, the musk-ox herd numbers around 500, and calves from this herd have been relocated and introduced to other areas of Alaska.
In the mid-1900s, Mekoryuk became the only permanent population center on the island. Until the 1940s, the traditional lifestyle and traditional ceremonies and religious beliefs were practiced.
The 1950s and 1960s brought considerable change. Mekoryuk Airport was built in 1957. The Territorial Guard was formed and men were sent to Fort Richardson near Anchorage for training. During this time, many families moved to Bethel during the winter to be near the high school, returning in the spring for fishing and sea mammal hunting. A high school was constructed in Mekoryuk in 1978.