JUNE 6, 1942


In 1942, there were 44 people living on Attu Island, in Alaska–nearly all Aleut Natives—when Japanese soldiers landed and captured the island.  The Japanese took all 44 to Japan and held them as prisoners of war.  Nearly half of them died — many from malnutrition and starvation.  After the war, the U.S. government didn’t allow the Attuans to return home.  It was considered too inconvenient.  Many settled in Atka, but others never returned to the region.  A handful went to an orphanage, and some ended up in Pacific Northwest hospitals.  In 2009 and 2010, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service research vessel brought elders and their descendants to the sites of the former villages of Makushin, Kashega, and Biorka.  In October 2012, surviving Attu residents and descendants convened in Anchorage for an Attu Reunion.  The Attu descendants were welcomed into the Unangan community and learned about Unangan art, language, culture and history.

Source:  Zoe Sobel, “Attu descendants visit their ancestral home for the first time,” The World, 5/31/2018.  Retrieved 5/7/2020, https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-05-31/attu-descendants-visit-their-ancestral-home-first-time
 Dinah Gewalt, “Attu, A Lost Village of the Aleutians, National Park Service.  Retrieved 5/8/2020, https://www.nps.gov/articles/featured_stories_aleu.htm
Photo:  O.J. Murie (USF&WS), 6/1937.  Public Domain.  

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