Why a royal princess from the Pacific is living in Arkansas

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Bikini Atoll descendant Sosylina Jibas-Maddison
Bikini Atoll descendant Sosylina Jibas-Maddison . . . "I feel like a nomad." Image: AJ+ screenshot APR

Pacific Media Watch

The US tested 67 nuclear weapons on the Marshall Islands, tricking the people who lived on Bikini Atoll to leave their homeland “for the good of all mankind.”

But the Bikini Islanders didn’t know the US would contaminate their island and make it uninhabitable.

Now nearly 70 years later, many Marshall Islanders have moved to Springdale, Arkansas, nearly 600 miles (965 km) from the nearest ocean.

But as many Marshall Islanders build new lives there, they know Arkansas is not their permanent home, and their nuclear legacy is something both Americans and the next generation of Marshall Islanders need to remember.

The US forced the 167 islanders living on Bikini Atoll to leave in 1946 to enable American testing of nuclear weapons.

Over the next decade, the US tested 67 nuclear devices — 23 of them on Bikini.

Tabish Talib traveled to the Ozarks to learn how the Marshall Islanders are staying connected to their roots so far from their home.

“I feel like a nomad,” says a sixth generation representative of the Bikini Islanders in Arkansas, Sosylina Jibas-Maddison. “And it’s heartbreaking knowing there that we don’t have a home to go to.”

This is known to Marshall islanders as Bikini Day on July 5, the day that is also marked for the inaugural design of the swimsuit named by its French designer after the nuclear “bombshell”.


The AJ+ Reports documentary on the Marshall Islands in the US.

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