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Ominous Predictions

Both Attu's Chief Michael Hodikoff and Mike Lokanin predicted an ominous Japanese invasion: “Some day they come to Attu…they come here; you see. They take Attu someday,” Micheal Hodikoff (in Corey Ford, Short Cut to Tokyo). Mike Lokanin knew and felt they were coming. There were leaders, military and non-military that did express concerns about the Japanese as well. All of these predictions and concerns were not followed through by any leadership. There were frequent snooping visits by Japanese fisheries ship the Hakuyo Maru, which was spotted at Attu, Atka, St. Paul, and St. George. What is interesting about the fate of the Attuans, Saskinax̂, was their evacuation from Attu. The US Government through the US Navy was planning on evacuating the Attuans from Attu out of harm's way. So in April of 1942, all Attuan’s packed their belongings ready to go. Storms prevented this evacuation from happening and it was cancelled. There were no set dates for the reattempt of evacuation. After the storm in April, Don Pichard and his wife Giner who were boat operators, visited the island and could have evacuated the Attuans. In May the USS Casco ship arrived but it was not assigned to evacuate and was to deliver supplies and 10 US Navy personnel to Kiska. The Attuans were ready to go, but no one was willing to evacuate even though there were opportunities for this to occur. Who knows how history would have changed if the private boat operators decided to help – how one decision can change the lives of a people forever. In addition to this, Donald Hagerty asserted that Attu and Atka to have immediate attention for evacuation. He identified another ship in replacement of the US Navy’s failed attempt. Yet, Haggerty was only the Alaska Indian Services Field Agent; thus, his say was not as important as his superintendents. His recommendations were not followed through with and it is possible his recommendations could have saved more lives, but we will never know. Hierarchy and politics played a huge role in the fate of our people, at their most dire time. Attuans continued to experience this hierarchy and politics throughout this period and even in the beginning of their imprisonment by the Japanese armed forces. Trapped in this cycle of social order coercion. This is only half of the story as the US military and the US Department of the Interior who all had a role in Alaska’s decisions were ridden with deep-rooted racism that could not be stripped and taken out to be able to save lives. The Commanding General of Fort Mears thought Aleuts were degenerates and wanted them removed to ‘cleanse the area.’ As Kohloff (1995) stated ‘..racial motivation of the Department of the Interior’s paternalism and condescension had been a complaint of Aleuts for a long time. Natives in Alaska had always been considered genetically inferior.’ Other important occurrences of this time: •Military build-up in 1941 •December 15th, 1941 General DeWitt declared Alaska as a combat zone •June 11th, 1942 President Roosevelt Signed Executive Order 9181 •Executive Order 9066

All the last Attuans standing next together before the war with a couple of outside visitors

1936 Alan G. May papers, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

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