Bikini natives leaving for Rongerik

After World War II, President Truman issued a directive for a joint U.S. Army-Navy test that would determine the effect of atomic bombs on American warships. Bikini Atoll was chosen to be the new nuclear proving ground for operation Crossroads because of its location away from regular air and sea routes. Mydans was sent to the island to document the exodus of the people of Bikini. The story was published by LIFE (Mar 25, 1946).
On March 7, 1946, the island natives were relocated to Rongerik, the first of various temporary sites during their long exile from Bikini. The landing craft made a 100-mile trip overnight to the uninhabited, sparsely vegetated Rongerik Island. Shortly after arriving, the Bikini Islanders realized that they could not make a life on that island. Although the administration left food for several weeks, the natives soon discovered that the coconut trees and other local food crops produced few fruits, and the fish in the lagoon were inedible. Within two months, they began to beg U.S. officials to move them back to Bikini. Within two years, they were starving and needed to be relocated once more.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Mydans, Carl
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 14 in x 11 in; 35.56 cm x 27.94 cm
place made
Marshall Islands: Ralik Chain, Bikini
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Carl Mydans
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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