Alaska Native Heritage at Aleutian WWII National Historic Area

A group of warmly-dressed people stand on a ship balcony looking over the rail with expressions of uncertainty.
Pribilof villagers, here lining the railing of the USAT Delarof on the day of their departure (June 15, 1942), were evacuated with only a few hours notice and no idea of their ultimate destination.

National Archives 80 - G206194

The Aleutian WWII National Historic Area is located in the Aleutian Islands of southwest Alaska, the traditional homeland of the Unangax̂ people.

Master seafarers, superb artists, accomplished healers, and skilled hunters, the Unangax̂ people (Aleut) have not only survived the fierce weather of the Bering Sea for over 10,000 years, they have thrived there, interacting with their unique environment to build a sophisticated maritime culture.

During and after World War II, the Unangax̂ faced many challenges. Alaska Native experiences during World War II ranged from Attuans who were imprisoned in Japan to residents living near Unalaska who were relocated to duration camps to the subsequent loss of ancestral villages. In more recent times, documenting oral histories and encouraging community remembrance of these places has helped to preserve the stories and cultures of Unangax̂ villages.

Alaska Natives also participated in World War II as a part of the military. One Unangax̂ soldier from Unalaska died in WWII; after spending 77 years buried in an unmarked grave, his burial location will now receive a marker.

In modern day, an Alaska Native coproration called the
Ounalashka Corporation owns and manages the Aleutian WWII National Historic Area, an NPS Affiliated Area. Discover more stories through the interviews and articles provided below.

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    Last updated: January 16, 2024