Lisa Phu/KTOO

Alaska lawmakers are considering expanding a state park to include the historic graves of Unangan people who died during the evacuation of World War II.

After the Japanese bombed Unalaska in 1942, U.S. authorities forcibly evacuated more than 800 Unangax̂ from nine villages in the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands ahead of the Japanese advance.

Courtesy of the Lekanoff Family

The friends and family of Nicholai Lekanoff are gathering Wednesday to celebrate the life of the noted Unangax̂ elder and church leader, who died last week at age 93.

Lekanoff was born in Makushin in 1925 and later moved to Unalaska with his family.

He was an altar boy in his youth and served throughout his life at the Holy Ascension Cathedral, where he became the Starosta and was known for his skill in ringing the church bells.

Berett Wilber/KUCB

June 3 and 4 mark big days in Unalaska’s history. Just ask Harriet Hope.

“It’s just such a part of history that nobody knows," she said. "It hasn’t been taught in schools. People say, 'I've never heard of that,' and yet they’ve heard of the Japanese internment.”

Hope is talking about the bombing and subsequent evacuation of Dutch Harbor during World War II. She was just a child when the Japanese Navy attacked

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Seventy-five years ago, almost 900 Unangax̂people were removed from their homes by the U.S. government and relocated to southeast Alaska.

Officials said they were trying to protect Native communities from the Japanese during World War II. But the Unangax̂ were forced to live in crowded camps with little access to food, water, or medical attention.

This week, we heard from Unalaskan descendants of the evacuees about what that difficult history means to them.

Janice Krukoff