Past & Present

“I just want it to go in the history books.”
—Mary Bourdukofsky, Aleut American internee.

The reach of empathy is determined, in part, by memory.  As much as experience, inherited perceptions of the world around us shape our responses to both historical and contemporary events.

Who we were influences who we are—and how well we relate as members of a larger society.

But what if our history is incomplete?

We cannot know everything, but we must constantly question what we do know.

Aleut Story began with a question. Originally hired to produce a short film documenting the restoration of six Russian Orthodox churches in Alaska, Director Marla Williams asked a simple question: “What is so important about these particular churches?”

She expected an answer crammed with architectural details. Instead, she was told a little known story of Aleut American citizens being sent to internment camps.

Past & Present offers three sections for you to explore. The first two sections, The Camps and Historical Documents, are intended to inspire questions. The third section, Gallery, offers a few answers—in the form of contemporary and archival photographs—about people and places in the film.

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