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.

Date Made: 1946-031946

Photographer: Mydans, Carl

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: Marshall Islands: Bikini & Kili, Bikini Atoll

See more items in: Work and Industry: Photographic History, Photography, Carl Mydans


Exhibition Location:

Related Publication: Life Magazine

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2005.0228.116Accession Number: 2005.0228Catalog Number: 2005.0228.116

Object Name: photograph

Physical Description: paper (overall material)Measurements: overall: 14 in x 11 in; 35.56 cm x 27.94 cm


Record Id: nmah_1303446

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