Issei Memorial Exhibit Underway

Through the support of a 2016 Japanese American Confinement Sites grant, we are creating an Issei Memorial Exhibit to honor the Issei, or the immigrant generation of Minidoka incarcerees, who made the greatest sacrifices in establishing our Japanese American communities in times of overwhelming anti-Japanese sentiment, and in enduring the incarceration experience and the impacts of the incarceration in the wartime and post-war eras. 

This project is being produced by Friends of Minidoka with the assistance of the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, and as a collaboration with architect Byron Folwell, interpretive writer Meggan Laxalt Mackey, the many volunteers who have assisted us throughout the project, and the Minidoka National Historic Site staff. 

Drawing upon the Issei name banners that we collected data for several years ago, and then using the WRA final accountability rosters and other government records, several volunteers assisted us in individually researching the names of every Japanese-born person who was incarcerated at Minidoka at any point during its operation. With this data, we are able to recognize the 4,429 first generation Japanese immigrants who courageously set out to build communities from the ground up, only to be forcibly removed and imprisoned by the country they chose to settle in. These names will be engraved into a permanent wall that will be installed in the Minidoka National Historic Site visitor center, allowing their descendants and all visitors to reflect upon their legacy of courage, perseverance, and sacrifice. We hope this exhibit will allow all visitors the opportunity to learn from the Issei story. 

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. 

We thank you for your generous donations that have made this exhibit possible. We are still seeking any items related to the Issei at Minidoka, from the pre-war to the incarceration and post war experiences, that we may be able to include on display in the exhibit in the future. We are also seeking the final match for the grant. If you would like to donate in support of this project, please visit www.minidoka.org/donate. We hope you will join us as the exhibit is premiered during the 2019 Minidoka Pilgrimage, or come see it in the future!