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.
“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.”
“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?”
"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 of these different obstacles, but you’ve got to be resilient and figure out a way to solve it."