Date of Award

Winter 1993

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Lucy Salyer


This dissertation describes one of the most tragic, and largely unknown, civil liberties violations of World War II. In June of 1942, World War II came to the Aleutian Islands off coast of Alaska. As a diversionary tactic the Japanese invaded two islands and bombed the American military base at Dutch Harbor. After six months of fighting American forces managed to erase the Japanese presence from the islands. However, the effects of World War II in the Aleutians were not over for the aboriginal people. Aleuts were taken, with only hours warning, from their homes and relocated 1500 miles to Southeastern Alaska.

The 880 Aleuts were housed in abandoned fish canneries and were largely left to fend for themselves. Practically no medical care was provided and disease and death occurred in the camps. Despite knowledge of these abuses and the suffering the camps military and civilians authorities did not return Aleuts after the Japanese threat passed. The Aleut's experience serves as a case study of patterns of abuse and neglect of Native Americans that continued beyond the Indian New Deal, the differences between official bureaucratic pronouncements and intentions and the actual situation in the internment camps, and civil liberties violations during wartime.

The research for this project includes oral histories and government and military documents. The text is organized chronological, yet each chapter highlights themes that are important to the understanding of the historical significance Aleuts ordeal.