Canoeing, Bikini Island

After the conclusion of World War II, President Harry S. Truman issued a directive to Army and Navy officials stating that joint testing of nuclear weapons would be necessary "to determine the effect of atomic bombs on American warships."
Bikini was chosen to be the new nuclear testing ground for the U.S. government because of its location away from regular air and sea routes. In order for the project to get underway, the natives needed to be relocated to a different island. Mydans was sent to the island to document the exodus of the people of Bikini to the nearby island of Rongerik in March of 1946. The story was published by LIFE (Mar 25, 1946).
Outrigger canoes, like the one pictured here, were the Island people's main mode of transportation. The calm waters eventually became the stage for atom bombs testing on target ships. Before the evacuation, U.S. sailors helped the natives paint canoes.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Mydans, Carl
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 8 in x 10 in; 20.32 cm x 25.4 cm
place made
Marshall Islands: Ralik Chain, Bikini
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Carl Mydans
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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