Called Skungwa'ai by the Haida of the Queen Charlotte Islands, Ninstints was the main village of the Kunghit Haida. Built on a small exposed island off the southern end of Moresby Island, Ninstints is the most isolated of the Haida villages. It was the first Haida village recorded by sailing vessels engaged in the maritime fur trade, and for three decades after 1787 was an important trading destination for them. This activity increased the wealth and importance of the village. In 1841 Ninstints boasted twenty houses and 308 people. In December 1863, smallpox was accidentally introduced and decimated the population. By 1873 the site was used only as a camp and never permanently inhabited again.
Because of its isolation and exposure to the open Pacific Ocean, Ninstints has been the least disturbed of the abandoned Haida towns. Although some poles were removed in 1938 and 1957, the largest collection of Haida poles in their natural site still stands at Ninstints.
The island was proclaimed a Provincial Park in 1958, and on November 27, 1981, Ninstints was declared a "World Heritage Site" by UNESCO.