Friends of Minidoka Collection Densho Digital Repository Project

With support from a Japanese American Confinement Sites grant awarded in 2018, we are nearing completion on an exciting photograph digitization project in partnership with Densho. We were able to work with a researcher to digitize 1,000 images held in the National Archives, most of which were unprinted film negatives from the official WRA records, in which government photographers were hired to document the Minidoka camp during the war. Most of these images do not yet exist in a digital format, and will help us better understand and tell the story of the Minidoka experience through our future exhibits, film and curriculum project, and more. Many images have never been used in any publication, including the Minidoka Irrigator camp newspaper, and are entirely new information for researchers and descendants alike. The final phase of this project will be for Densho to catalog and host the images in their Digital Repository. These will be made available to all through the Densho website!

Letter from the Executive Director

 Dear Friends, 

2019 has been a very exciting year for Friends of Minidoka! This spring we have been supporting the National Park Service as they receive requests for more tours and field trips than ever before, a sure sign that as the site develops and becomes increasingly relevant today, the American public has a strong desire to learn from this important history. Each time I am at the site I admire the transformations that Warehouse #5 is undergoing. All of us at FoM are excitedly looking forward to joining all of our Friends at the 2019 Minidoka Pilgrimage and dedicating the new visitor center, and taking in the improvements to the warehouse and the new exhibits that will fill it. 

In preparing for the opening of the visitor center, all of our efforts have turned towards tangible projects that truly support our mission of preserving the Minidoka site and its legacy, and educating the public on this history. In this newsletter you will see updates on three projects we are currently working on that fulfill these aims, from digitizing and sharing historic photographs that haven’t been made publicly available, to creating a documentary through the voices of survivors along with a curriculum to get this under-taught history into our classrooms, to fulfilling our commitment to honoring our Issei pioneers at the Minidoka site and telling their story through an exhibit and a memorial wall. 

This spring we also took part in a 3 day Japanese American Confinement Sites Consortium meeting in our nation’s capitol, advancing the foundation of the Consortium through meetings with stakeholder organizations from across the country, and educating our nation’s leaders in Congress about our united efforts in keeping this history alive and advocating for their continued support of the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program. 

You may notice that this newsletter doesn’t include our 2018 donor report. We didn’t forget you, but we will be publishing it separately. We will be releasing a 2018 Annual Report soon, and it will include our donor acknowledgments there. 

Finally, we hope you will consider supporting us this Idaho Gives. Idaho Gives is a 24-hour giving day taking place on May 2, 2019. It is a celebration of nonprofit organizations all across Idaho (and with the help of our friends from out of state.) Last year generous supporters donated over $1.5 million dollars to Idaho nonprofits in a single day! If you have been planning to renew your membership or donate, please consider doing so on May 2nd at https://www. 

For 24 hours on May 2nd, every donation we receive will give us the opportunity to also receive matching donations from Idaho corporations. Make your money go further on May 2nd, and help us accomplish our goals in 2019! 


Mia Russell 
Executive Director 
Friends of Minidoka 

JA Groups Sign MOU to Support Confinement Site Consortium

Originally printed in Rafu Shimpo March 12, 2018

Consortium stakeholders sign a memorandum of understanding. From left: JANM President/CEO Ann Burroughs, JANM board member Harvey Yamagata, Friends of Minidoka Chair Alan Momohara, Friends of Minidoka Executive Director Mia Russell, Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Chair Shirley Ann Higuchi, HMWF Vice Chair Doug Nelson, JACL Executive Director David Inoue.

Consortium stakeholders sign a memorandum of understanding. From left: JANM President/CEO Ann Burroughs, JANM board member Harvey Yamagata, Friends of Minidoka Chair Alan Momohara, Friends of Minidoka Executive Director Mia Russell, Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Chair Shirley Ann Higuchi, HMWF Vice Chair Doug Nelson, JACL Executive Director David Inoue.

The Japanese American Confinement Site Consortium (JACSC), a group of organizations and individuals dedicated to preserving and sharing the Japanese American incarceration experience, met at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Los Angeles on Feb. 18 to further define its structure and purpose.

In a show of commitment and support for the consortium, four Japanese American organizations signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to provide the resources that will keep the consortium running.

The JACSC began as a small group of stakeholders who met in 2015 to discuss the potential of a national body to help the various historic sites, museums, and preservation groups build capacity and reach wider audiences. While there has been great enthusiasm for the effort, building consensus and trust has taken time.

The JACSC has progressed thanks to the funding of the Japanese American Confinement Sites program (JACS), which awarded the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation (HMWF) $60,599 in 2017 to serve as conveners for the JACSC.

JANM hosted the February meeting, which ran for over eight hours as more than 40 people shared ideas, representing organizations such as the Amache Preservation Society II, Densho, Korematsu Institute, Manzanar National Historic Site, Friends of Minidoka, the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, Poston Community Alliance, the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition, and more. Over the course of the day, participants refined their vision of what the consortium could and should try to accomplish.

“The consortium has the potential to channel tremendous energy and resources toward wide-ranging initiatives that illuminate the Japanese American experience and provide valuable social justice lessons,” said Brian Liesinger, coordinator of the consortium and author of the JACS proposal to fund the project.

It was this potential to effect change that brought consortium members from around the country together last month —- not only to sort out the structure of the group, but to share their new campaigns and initiatives.

One meeting alone will not create a sustainable vehicle for advancing shared interests, but after a day of talks, a solid framework for a support structure clearly received strong support from the participants. As part of a larger group, consortium members plan to use their strengthened numbers to lobby for their causes, raise money, and raise awareness.

After the meeting, JANM, JACL, HMWF and Friends of Minidoka signed an MOU that expresses their shared enthusiasm, commitment, and responsibilities to the consortium and the logistics that go into running it. These four groups have pledged to provide significant resources, staff time, expertise, and convening space.

JANM CEO Ann Burroughs has been vocal about her support of the consortium’s goals, and has graciously offered up the museum as a hub for meetings and events in the future. The JACL’s new executive director, David Inoue, plans to use the JACL’s experience in advocacy to organize visits to Capitol Hill to promote consortium members’ interests.

The HMWF is a nonprofit whose board of directors is made up primarily of former incarcerees and their descendants, the foundation operates a successful museum at its former site in northwest Wyoming and welcomes opportunities to share its site preservation experience with other camps seeking to achieve similar goals.

Friends of Minidoka was the most recent organization to sign on, and Chair Alan Momohara and Executive Director Mia Russell are poised to help lead an expansion of Minidoka’s exhibition and museum space.

Other national groups are exploring adding their names to the MOU and accepting additional responsibilities, including financial support, to help the consortium run smoothly and assist less-resourced organizations to participate.

For more information on the consortium, contact Brian Liesinger at *Note from Friends of Minidoka: the next Japanese American Confinement Sites Consortium will take place at JANM on Oct 20-21, 2018.

FoM Board of Directors Spotlight

Andy Dunn - Secretary
Twin Falls, Idaho

Andy Dunn grew up in Twin Falls, Idaho. After finishing his first two years of college at College of Southern Idaho, he was horrified to learn about Executive Order 9066 and the widespread incarceration and mistreatment of Japanese Americans during WWII. He became dedicated to learning as much about the camps as possible and became an intern for Minidoka National Historic Site while pursuing a graduate degree in history through Idaho State University. Dunn’s specific research areas related to Minidoka include military contributions of incarcerated Nikkei, sports in the camp, cultural impacts, agricultural production, and food.

Dunn joined the Friends of Minidoka’s board of directors in 2017 and received his M.A. in Historical Resources Management in 2018. He teaches courses in Idaho History, U.S. Culture, public history, race relations/civil liberties, and food history for Idaho State University’s history department while engaging in student outreach and recruitment. Dunn is very excited to work more closely with the FOM community as it preserves and educates on the legacy of the site and those affected.