From the Cold War to the Modern

While during World War II the Aleutians were considered a bridge to Japan, during the Cold War the Aleutians were instead perceived as a bridge to Russia or, more frequently, a dead end that allowed the military to conduct nuclear testing on Amchitka Island. The US Atomic Energy Commission needed a place more isolated than either the Nevada Test Site or Point Hope, Alaska (where the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) attempted to carry out Project Chariot), to conduct some of the largest underground nuclear tests in US history. Beginning in 1967, the AEC instituted an extensive bioenvironmental program on Amchitka, and within a few years had completed Project Milrow,

Project Long Shot, and Project Cannikin. The environmental group Greenpeace was founded to protest these tests and today continues to advocate the health of the Bering Sea ecosystem.

In fact, the present-day livelihoods of residents, both Aleut and nonnative, continue to rely on the resources of the sea. Over 5000 people live in the islands year-round, supported primarily by walleye pollock, cod, and halibut commercial fisheries, all based in Dutch Harbor. A burgeoning tourist industry exists, based on World War II history, Aleut cultural heritage, and the unique birding opportunities. In fact, through the 1980s, the US Fish and Wildlife Service exterminated most of the nonindigenous foxes, and endangered avian species such as the Aleutian Canada goose have made a tremendous comeback. The chain was included in the Alaska Maritime Wildlife Refuge in 1980, and is today an International Biosphere Reserve.

Annette Watson

See also Alaska Peninsula; Aleut; Aleutian Range; Kamchatka Peninsula; Militarization of the Arctic in Russia; Militarization of the Arctic in the West; Russian American Company; Second Kamchatka Expedition

Further Reading

Black, Lydia et al., The History and Ethnohistory of the Aleutians East Borough, Kingston, Ontario, and Fairbanks, Alaska: The Limestone Press, 1999 Corbett, Debra et al., "The Western Aleutians: cultural isolation and environmental change." Human Ecology, 25(3) (1997): 450-480

Garfield, Brian, The Thousand Mile War: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians, Fairbanks: University of Alaska Press, 1995

Haycox, Steven & Mary Childers Mangusso (editors), An Alaska Anthology: Interpreting the Past, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996 Loughlin, Thomas & Kiyotaka Ohtani (editors), The Dynamics of the Bering Sea, Fairbanks: University of Alaska Sea Grant, 1999

Madden, Ryan, "The forgotten people: the relocation and internment of Aleuts during World War II." American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 16(4) (1992): 55-76 Merritt, M.L. & Glen Fuller (editors), The Environment of Amchitka Island, Alaska, Oak Ridge, Tennessee: Technical Information Center, Energy Research and Development Administration, 1977 Plafker, George & Henry Berg (editors), The Geology of Alaska, Volume G-1, The Geology of North America, Boulder: Geological Society of America, 1994 Rennick, Penny (editor), "The Aleutian Islands." Alaska

Geographic, 22(2) (1995) Sumner, Charles, "Speech of the Hon. Charles Sumner, of Massachusetts on the Cession of Russian America to the United States," Washington: Congressional Globe Office, 1867

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