SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Request for help with research on Unangan at Ward Lake in WWII
By Rachel Mason


May 02, 2011

I am writing to request information and suggestions from knowledgeable Ketchikan residents. Lost Villages of the Aleutians is a National Park Service project documenting the history of four villages that disappeared during World War II. In 1942, the residents of three tiny Aleutian villages, Makushin, Kashega, and Biorka, were among those who were brought by boat to stay near Ketchikan at the Ward Lake CCC camp. Some of them died and were buried in the Ketchikan cemetery. After the war, their numbers further diminished by illness and attrition, the residents of those villages were not permitted to return to their homes. Instead, they were resettled in other Unangan (Aleut) communities.

My home base is Anchorage, but over the past few years, I have traveled several times to the Aleutians for interviews and historical research. The project has organized boat trips to revisit the sites of Makushin, Kashega, and Biorka with elderly surviving residents and their descendants. At this point, I would like to learn more about the experience of living at Ward Lake 1942-1945, especially from the perspective of Ketchikan residents who remember the Unangan or have other stories from that time period.

I am particularly interested in finding out more about Eugene Wacker, who lived adjacent to Ward Lake and developed a bus service between the camp and Ketchikan. I have heard that some Unangan children went to school in Wacker City, and would like to find out more about that school.

Another intriguing clue was that one of the Unangan former residents of Ward Lake said that he found employment during the war at Metlakatla, clearing trees from the airport for the military. I would like to find out about that and other Unangan employment, in Ketchikan and elsewhere, during the war.

Finally, I read that some of the Unangan boys went to Boy Scout camp at White River during their stay at Ward Lake. Can anyone remember that Boy Scout camp?

I am planning a trip to Ketchikan this week (May 3-6). If anyone can meet with me then, or direct me to further information, I would appreciate your help. My email address is .

Thank you!

Rachel Mason,
National Park Service
Anchorage, AK

Received April 29, 2011 - Published May 02, 2011



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