In 1946, due to the rapidly escalating cold war, the fate of the Marshall Islands was dramatically altered forever when the United States began using their islands for nuclear testing.
The islanders most affected by the bombs spent decades moving their families from one island to another, often starving and dying from disease. Eventually, in hope of a better life and future, many of them decided to embark on a journey that took them thousands
of miles across the ocean to the same America that destroyed their home.
Today, under the Compact of Free Association, thousands of Marshall Islanders have immigrated to the United States and formed small communities all over the country, including Hawaii.
Although they still receive minimal financial aid from the US government, many of these communities within the US still struggle to assimilate into American society mainly due to poverty and lack of education.
Though the film does not dwell on it, the history of the Marshall Islands’ relationship with the United States is very connected to The Land of Eb.
67 nuclear weapons were tested in the marshall Islands between 1946 – 1958. The largest of these tests, code named “Castle Bravo”, was 1000 times more powerful then the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The Bravo test also created the worst radiological disaster in US history.
An estimated 22,000 Marshallese currently live in the United States. The Largest populations of Marshallese in the US are in Arkansas, California and Hawaii.
Enewetak Atol where the film’s character Jacob and his family are from, is one of two islands (the other being Bikini Atol) in the Marshallese chain where US nuclear testing was conducted. Enewetak, along with many of the other islands were colonized by Germans in the 1800’s, captured by the Japanese during WWI and eventually came under US power after fierce fighting during WWII. The Republic of Marshall Islands became an independent nation in 1986.
2. Tom Sowa. “Marshallese making a new life in Spokane.” The Spokesman Review. 4 Mar. 2012
3. Background Note: Marshall Islands. “Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.” 14 Mar. 2012