|L-R "Mrs. Mike," "Little Mike," and "Big Mike" Hodikoff. In 1934
Big Mike was chief of the native Aleut Tribe on Attu. They are
posing in front of their native Barabara, the Aleut hut. Trapping
Blue Fox, fishing, and making baskets was the only means they had of
making a living.
This photo was taken in 1934 by the Bureau of Aeronautics of the U. S. Navy during an aerial survey of the Aleutian Islands. (Official U. S. Navy Photograph. Was made available for distribution on Thursday, August 6, 1942 at 3:00 P.M.)
At the time this photo was released in 1942, it was assumed that Big Mike and his family were prisoners of the Japanese. It was later learned that Mike Hodikoff died in 1945, in Japan, while still imprisoned.
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Women and Children of Attu, Aleutian Islands, AK
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Attu Aleut Village, Chichagof Harbor
Pre-1942 Japanese Invasion Photo
Village of Attu
In 1934 there were only 38 natives
in Attu, Aleutian Islands
(Official U. S. Navy Photograph)
The Village of Attu
Chichagof Harbor, June 1937
National Marine Fisheries Service
NOAA Photo Library
for the HI RES image
version of the 1937 village
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On the 7th of June, 1942, around 03:00hrs the Japanese 301st Independent Infantry Battalion landed on Attu via Holtz Bay and slowly made their way to the village located at Chichagof Harbor. At this time, Attu's population consisted of several Blue Fox, forty-five native Aleuts, and two Americans: Foster Jones, a radio technician operating a weather reporting station on Attu, and his wife Etta, a sixty-two year old schoolteacher working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Foster and Etta had arrived on Attu only eight months earlier in October of 1941. They (with the exception of the fox) all lived in a little village of frame houses around Chichagof Harbor, maintaining a precarious existence by fishing, trapping the foxes, and weaving baskets. Missionaries, as well as government patrol boats and small fishing craft, provided the inhabitants with their only direct link with the outside world...except for a two-way radio operated by Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones was killed by the Japanese shortly after they landed on Attu, his body subsequently buried by the island church. For a short time, the Japanese occupational forces maintained the services of the Aleut fishermen to supply them with food. As the Japanese forces became more entrenched on Attu, Mrs. Jones and the entire Aleut population of the little village of Chichagof was transported around the 21st of June, 1942 to Yokohama, Japan in the hold of a Japanese freighter for internment. After WWII, the Aleuts were resettled on Atka Island, in the Aleutians, with Mrs. Jones returning home to the United States, boarding an airplane near Tokyo on 1 September 1945. She was presented a check in the amount of $7,371.00 covering backpay as Attu's B.I.A. teacher. For a full accounting of this incident, be sure to read Mary Breu's book "Last Letters from Attu."
Last Updated: 08 Jan 2013 17:17
Originally published 7 April 2001