|Old cannery building at Funter Bay. Taken by Marjorie Menzi, 2004.|
The building I work in also houses the Alaska State Library and the state library's historical collections. So on my lunches I became a regular visitor. Did you know that if you're an Alaska resident you can make 10 free copies a day and receive three high quality digital scans of photographs a year?
|Adak - Photo from nps.org|
One thing he said, really hit home: "However, at WardCove camp being located among the tall spruce and hemlock trees with 'no air' to which they were accustomed at home with only tall grass and continuous breezes and winds, the Aleuts did express a sense of oppression and suffocation."
Reading this line during my second research lunch, I could feel things clicking. Imagining the forest of Southeast Alaska, forests that I find comforting in the way they envelope a person, to imagine coming from a land of endless expanse and openness to this? Yes. That could be horrible. Especially if you'd never been in a landscape like ours.
Then this morning I found this document in the National Archives:
That first line: "We the people of this place wants a better place than this to live. This place is no place for a living creature."
This is a petition by the Aleut women interned in the Funter Bay Evacuation Camp.
When these women returned to their homes they found their buildings looted, some in ruins, and their churches in shambles. Those from Atka? Their village was burned to the ground so that the Japanese couldn't use it.
And here I am, sitting in my lovely home, drinking a lovely cup of coffee with irish cream on Thanksgiving Day trying to envision the lives of these women who had to drink impure water and watch all of their loved ones fall sick and then return to a home that was no longer home.
The contrast is almost more powerful than I can handle.
I am feeling very fortunate and thankful today.