1935 – Climate Refugees Fleeing To Alaska

“Tuesday 23 April 1935, page 24

Washington, April 16. What may be the first of large scale migrationary movements, underwritten by the Government in its almost desperate struggle with rural destitution and drought destruction of farm lands, was announced to-night with the assignment of the army transport St. Mihiel to carry 200 Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota families numbering about 1500 persons to a new relief colony in Alaska.”

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3 Responses to 1935 – Climate Refugees Fleeing To Alaska

  1. Kelly Harbeson says:

    “Underwritten by government” I wonder how many of those farmers the US Government relocated were still there in 1942?

    • dm says:

      More than 50% of the original settlers fled within 5 years.

      The Matanuska Valley Colony project was gross exploitation of impoverished people. They had been devastated emotionally, physically and financially by bad weather in the upper Midwest. The FDR Administration exploited their desperation by offering each family a mere 40 acres of heavily forested land in Alaska’s Matanuska Valley. They had to clear the land by hand using draft animals while fending off grizzlies, wolves, perpetual night for months plus bitter cold. Their struggles were intensified by the government’s failure to fulfill in a timely way its commitments to the settlers.

      No, the FDR Admin was NOT trying to help the settlers. It sought to populate AK to strengthen US control of the land.

      FYI, we learned this while visiting the valley a couple years ago. It is a visually stunning area, and much of the valley is very fertile. But, transforming forest to farmland using hand tools and draft animals was an inhuman undertaking.

  2. Thom says:

    Thanks for all you do to enlighten us on our past history. I had wondered how / when the farmers got started in the MatSu of Alaska. We enjoy the produce one farm grows. There was a dairy industry out there until the late 1990s and it shut down. May you have a solemn Memorial Day.

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