It's often referred to as the birth place of the winds, with an ancient history that dates back more than 9,000 years, culturally rich and steeped in tradition.

The Aleutian region is made up of about 100 islands that stretch nearly 1,200 miles west from the tip of the Alaska Peninsula, marks the line between the Bering Sea.

But for all its beauty, this was once the scene of suffering and brutality.

Roughly 6 months after America entered the World War II, the Japanese attacked Dutch harbor and invaded both the islands of Kiska and Attu, the first and only time that a foreign army has occupied U.S. soil since the war of 1812.

"With the Japanese, the Aleutians gave them their first foothold, we believed their plan was to continue on into Alaska and then down through Canada and into the lower 48 so we had to stop them out there," said Douglas Beckstead, U.S. Air Force Historian.

On June 3 and 4, 1942 the Japanese attacked Unalaska, dropping bombs that destroyed ships, fuel tanks and killed 42 service men.

"The June 3 bombing here was partly meant to be a diversionary tactic," said Bobbie Lekanoff, Unalaska Tour Guide. "They thought when they came and bombed here on June 3 that we would send all of our forces up from the South Pacific to defend the Aleutians."

As a result of the attacks, more than 800 native villagers were removed from the Aleutian Islands, sent to relocation camps thousands of miles away in Southeast Alaska.

"In a military situation you don't want anyone around you that you don't know everything about them because you don't know which side of the fence they're going to be on," Beckstead said.

The natives were rounded up and moved out while the white men and women were allowed to stay.

"Every one of our families has stories of death at the camps," said Ethan Petticrew, product of a relocation camp. "Every one of our families has alcoholism in it somewhere, but all of our families have strong people in them as well who still connect to the culture."

It was a military strategy that Aleuts say nearly wiped out their culture.

"Villages stopped speaking their languages," Petticrew said. "They stopped practicing their culture when in the camps. The message in the camps was if you're Unangan you're going to die."

While the war lasted about 14 months in the Aleutians, the military presence was extensive, with emotional and physical scars remaining more than 70 years later.

"It's littered our homeland with military debris," said Petticrew. "There's places you can't go because there's still Rommel stakes; there's still mustard gas canisters."

Today in Unalaska, there are still pill boxes that line the beaches, military bunkers located in residents front yards and even trench line up on the mountains, made crooked so an entire platoon of men wouldn't get wiped out by a single blast, the visual reminders still dot this remote landscape decades later.

Despite years of hardship, the Aleuts are extremely resilient people, returning to their homeland, revitalizing a culture one on the brink.

Today Unalaska, the Aleutian Island's most populated community is home to more than 4,000 year round residents, hundreds of bald eagles keenly watching over the pristine wilderness, wildflowers blooming over its lush green landscape, and of course, the iconic Russian Orthodox church watching over fisherman as they leave the port of Dutch Harbor to face the dangerous Bering Sea.

"The community as a whole I would say the community as a whole looks at this cathedral as a very important landmark," said Vincent Tutiakoff, church member. "And as an Aleut and an orthodox individual, I say it’s very important."

The Church of the Holy Ascension was established in 1808, but had been rebuilt twice following fires. The church has undergone a restoration to restore religious artifacts that line the walls of the cathedral, a project that has cost millions of dollars.

At its height the church would draw close to 240 people for a regular service but the congregation has since dwindled to 2-3 people for a Sunday service, but elders here say that hasn't lessened their desire to worship hoping to revitalize both the church and the religion.

"One thing that stays in my mind is as long as you have two people, then you can hold a service. And we try to do that," said Tutiakoff. "I think with a little bit of history about what the church means to the Aleut people, hopefully they'll come back."

For a civilization that has survived for thousands of years on the tiny islands along the pacific ring of fire, it's the resiliency of the people and ability to constantly adapt to the world around them that continues to shape and reshape this unusual, unpredictable and unforgettable region known as the Aleutian Islands.