For most people, the Aleutians are a far-away place. Maps help you visualize the places and distances involved in far-away stories.
In the story of the Aleutians theater during World War II, there is a central theme - people being forcibly removed from their homes. Japanese forces took some islanders back to Japan, as prisoners of war, while American forces removed other islanders to Southeast Alaska. Use the sequence of maps below to better understand the scope of this story, and learn more about the evacuation and internment of the Unangax̂ people.
After invading Attu, Japanese forces took the islanders to Japan as prisoners. Their ordeal lasted several years as they traveled the entire width of the Pacific Ocean.
Evacuation and Internment
With the supposed goal of protecting the Unangax̂ (Aleut) people, the American military forced nearly 900 villagers to move from their homes in the Aleutian Islands to Southeast Alaska, a journey of a thousand miles. The military burned their villages, to prevent the Japanese from finding any resources that might aid their war effort. The Unangax̂ spent years in living in makeshift, poor-quality camps in Southeast Alaska before being returned to the Aleutians; and even then, some were not permitted to return to their former villages.
Accustomed to living in a world without trees, one open to the expansive sky, the Unangax̂ suddenly found themselves crowded under the dense, shadowed canopy of the Southeast rainforest. For two years they would remain in these dark places, struggling to survive.
Like in Burnett Inlet, evacuees taken to Funter Bay lived in poor conditions. A disused cannery and old mine became home for them, and buildings often lacked heat, water, electricity - even doors.