KUCB KIAL Unalaska Community Broadcasting

Next Generation Of Unangax Reflect On Family Members’ Internment During World War II

May 30, 2017

A memorial overlooking downtown Unalaska is dedicated to the Unangax who were forcibly evacuated during WWII and the Aleutian villages that were never resettled.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Seventy-five years ago, almost 900 Unangan people were removed from their homes by the U.S. government and interned in southeast Alaska.

Officials said they were trying to protect Native communities from the Japanese during World War II. But the Unangax were forced to live in crowded camps with little access to food, water, or medical attention.

This week,  we heard from Unalaskan descendants of the evacuees about what that difficult history means to them and why it shouldn't be forgotten.

Janice Krukoff's parents were evacuated from Nikolski and St. George Island.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Janice Krukoff

“My father Sergie Krukoff is from Nikolski, and my late mother Mariamna Merculief was from St. George Island of the Pribilofs. There are times I almost feel blessed that both of my parents were evacuees. I know that’s strange to say, but I am very proud of my parents. They survived.”

Ariel Hernandez's grandparents were evacuated from Kashega and Makushin.
Credit Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Ariel Hernandez

“I’m Aleut and white, but I would have been evacuated. If we were alive back then, it would have meant that me, my mom, and both of my brothers would have had to leave, but my dad would have had to stay. How crazy is that? That they could tear apart mixed families?”

Sandra Moller's parents were evacuated from Unalaska. She's pictured here with Harriet Hope and Kathy Grimnes, both evacuees and friends of her late mother's.
Credit Courtesy of Sandra Moller

Sandra Moller

"I think it’s really taught me to be kind to people and to try to hear them. I think that’s what my parents and family did. They had to figure out how to best survive. So I think it teaches me that you’re going to be facing all these different obstacles, but you’ve got to be resilient and figure out a way to solve it."