Minidoka Visitor Center Dedication and 2019 Minidoka Pilgrimage

We are fast approaching the long-awaited dedication of the Minidoka National Historic Site visitor center! This represents a great milestone for the site, which has been operating without a permanent visitor center since its establishment as an NPS unit in 2001. The visitor center will include a ranger information desk and bookstore, an auditorium for viewing the orientation film about Minidoka, as well as interpretive exhibits. 

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Warehouse #5, the camp’s historic tire and motor repair shop (pictured here in 2014), is being converted to the visitor center and we can’t wait to see the completed transformation! To access the sneak preview of the visitor center before it opens to the public later this year, please join Friends of Minidoka and the National Park Service in the dedication ceremony, to be held in conjunction with the Minidoka Pilgrimage on the morning of July 7, 2019. Guests will then be invited to join the pilgrims on a guided walking tour of the Minidoka site, followed by lunch. We encourage everyone to register for the full Minidoka Pilgrimage, to be held July 5-8, for an immersive, multi-day educational experience. To register, please visit www.minidokapilgrimage.org. Questions regarding registration should be directed to minidokapilgrimage@gmail.com. If, however, you are interested in joining the dedication ceremony but are unable to attend the full pilgrimage, partial attendance will be an option. If you are interested in attending, please email mia@minidoka.org



Minidoka Books Available

Thank you to all who have been supporting Friends of Minidoka through your book purchases! The proceeds from your purchases go right back to supporting our operations and special projects. Don’t forget that the reprinted Minidoka Interlude is available online, as well as the newly released Minidoka National Historic Site from the Images of America series. Written by Hanako Wakatsuki, Mia Russell, and Carol Ash, this book features nearly two hundred historic images of Minidoka, many from personal family collections which haven’t been viewed by the public. 

These are available online at www.minidoka.org/shop.

News from the Board of Directors

The Friends of Minidoka board of directors met March 11, 2019 in Boise for their annual retreat and board meeting. The Board selected Andrew Dunn to be Chairperson; Marsha Edwards to be Vice Chairperson; Julianne Abe to be Secretary, and Janet Keegan to be Treasurer for the coming year. These directors also comprise the Executive Committee. 

Two other committees were selected and their duties outlined. Finance Committee will be Janet Keegan and Andrew Dunn. Board Development committee will be Julianne Abe, Marsha Edwards and Lynn Fuchigami Parks. There was much energy in planning and strategizing for the future of Friends of Minidoka and we all look forward to accomplishing goals and continued success. 

Issei Memorial Exhibit Underway

In addition to the Issei Memorial name wall, the exhibit will also feature a set of graphic panels interpreting the Issei experience from leaving Japan, the difficulties and triumphs encountered while establishing roots throughout the United States, their incarceration at Minidoka, the daunting prospect of once again beginning their lives anew after the war ended, through to their legacy today. 

The Lessons of Minidoka: Broadcast Documentary and Education Project

In 2018 we were also awarded a Japanese American Confinement Sites grant to produce an hour-long documentary for national public television and a 7th- 12th grade educational curriculum package, through a partnership with Portland-based film company North Shore Productions. This project allows us to expand the 27-minute orientation film created by North Shore for the National Park Service being screened in the Minidoka visitor center. These films are almost entirely oral history driven, and strive to tell the story of Minidoka and its relevance to civil liberties today primarily through first-hand interviews with survivors and descendants of incarcerees. Our project is moving along, with a first draft of the script complete and focus groups with educators and partner institutions underway. 

As the JACS grants are 2-1 matching awards and require additional fundraising towards the projects, we are thrilled to announce that we have received generous support towards from the Freeman Foundation and the Regional Arts and Culture Council. We are immensely grateful for their support of this critically important project of bringing the Minidoka story into classrooms. However we still have additional fundraising to do, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are interested in supporting this project and helping us reach the finish line!