Thanks to all of you, 2016 has been a year of immense progress for the Friends of Minidoka and Minidoka National Historic Site.
In May, for the first time in the history of the site, we created a volunteer force of 200 people and completed a historic reconstruction project in a day. The Field-In-ADay was not only a feat of energy, resources, people, and organizations coming together; it brought many local residents to Minidoka for the first time and introduced them to the critical history of the site. It will continue to teach visitors about life in camp and especially the gaman spirit. As educators, we have helped with more site tours, field trips, and outreach requests than ever before. We have introduced learners of all ages to the Minidoka story, and connected with first time and returning donors, volunteers, and visitors. As advocates, we asked congress to continue to support these important sites and to work with us in future endeavors. We hosted a successful Minidoka Civil Liberties Symposium examining historic and current mass incarceration and how it threatens civil liberties. We wrote letters to the Twin Falls mayor and city council asking them to be steadfast in protecting our Muslim and refugee neighbors and friends.
We continue to collaborate with our friends with common missions and to connect with new partners in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and beyond. We are active members of the all-camps consortium, building coalitions with our fellow Japanese American advocacy groups to preserve the sites, stories, and legacy of the Japanese American incarceration. We are currently engaged in the design process for the new Visitor Center and the park film, which are on track for completion in 2018. We also continue to work with the NPS to increase opportunities for visitors to understand the site, including through our own permanent legacy exhibit.
As we look to 2017, we are filled with a sense of purpose more urgent than ever. As we near the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 and the unconstitutional forced relocation of 120,000 Japanese legal residents and American citizens of Japanese descent, our nation has become divided and violence of word and action is being used as a response. Many are being targeted based on their race, religion, and sexual orientation. We have the responsibility to organize, speak out, and fight to protect the civil liberties of all Americans. After all, we have seen how fragile they can be. Let’s make 2017 the year that Japanese Americans and their friends stood up and said, we will not let this happen again. Minidoka National Historic Site is a place that inspires empathy, courage, diversity, compassion, and active democracy. It has the power to tell the story of a nation divided by prejudice and hysteria. As we embark to make 2017 our most impactful year yet, we ask that you consider giving your time, energy, stories, and photographs to support us in this endeavor. Please also consider making us part of your annual giving by renewing your membership, mailing a check, donating stock, or planning to support Friends of Minidoka through your estate.
Let it not happen again.