From 1939 to 1945, World War II dominated the federal government’s concern. A tremendous number of both Native and non-Native Alaskans were enlisted into the military, and Alaska’s mineral and fishing resources were heavily exploited. Aside from the effects the entire United States felt from this war, Alaska was changed by theconstruction of the Alaska Highway creating a land connection from Alaska to the Lower 48 states.
The Aleut people were particularly affected during World War II because they were evacuated from the Pribilof and Aleutian Islands and placed in internment camps in Southeast Alaska for several years. The conditions in the camps were horrendous, and many died. Dillon S. Myer was the Director of the War Relocation Authority at the time, and was later made Commissioner of Indian Affairs during the 1950s.
In 1988 Congress passed the Aleut Restitution Act which offered an apology and some monetary compensation for the survivors of the camps. In 1993 an amendment to the Act was passed which increased monetary payments to cover damages and losses to the churches. The Aleut Story is an excellent documentary film produced in 2005 that covers the story of the evacuation of the Aleut people.