AUGUST 10, 1988


In June 1942, Japan invaded Kiska and Attu, the westernmost Aleutian Islands.  Shortly after the invasion, the United States evacuated some 880 Aleuts from the Aleutian Chain and the Pribilof Islands over 2,000 miles away to abandoned canneries near Juneau. The roofs and walls had holes, windows and doors were broken, floors rotted, and electricity, sanitation and running water were scant.  Nearby, Nazi POWs were being treated far better.  The Aleuts remained interned until the end of the war.  Some 118 Aleuts perished from lack of warmth, food, and medical care.  In 1980, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians was established and reviewed the relocation and internment of American civilians during World War II.  As a result, Congress passed the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands Restitution Act, which paid $12,000 to Aleut surviving victims.  By then, however, about half of the survivors had long since passed away.  In 1993, Congress amended the Act to increase the payments.

Source:  John Smelcer, “The Other WWII American-Internment Atrocity,” (2/21/2017), NPR:  Code Switch, 2/21/2017, most-recently corrected, 1/3/2018.  Retrieved 7/10/2019,
Photo:  Department of the U.S. Navy, June 1942.  National Archives and Records Administration.  Public Domain.

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