Archaeological excavation at Minidoka National Historic Site: August 2-8, 2002
For nearly sixty years, events and forces such as the removal of buildings, the establishment of
expansive agricultural fields and the elements have combined to leave only traces of a tragic
chapter in American history. During Word War II, Minidoka was an internment camp that housed and
incarcerated nearly 13,000 Japanese Americans from the Northwest. During one week in August,
National Park Service archaeologists and volunteers cleaned a central area of Minidoka and uncovered
well-defined archaeological features and artifacts that date to the 1940s.
The archaeological excavations at Minidoka brought public attention to the site,
the story of Japanese American internment, and the process that is underway to create plans
for its development. Southern Idaho television, radio, and newspapers featured articles
on Minidoka and its history. The media attracted visitors from as far as Chicago and Seattle,
as well as many local residents who remember the camp during World War II.
A handful of Japanese Americans interned at Minidoka visited during the excavation,
including internationally recognized artist, Roger Shimomura from Kansas.
The sites hidden artifacts were revealed and stories were brought back to life with every scrape
of a trowel and carload of visitors. The area was cleared of overgrown sagebrush, exposing building
foundations and walkways. The precise location of the Honor Roll board, which listed the names
of 1,000 Japanese American soldiers from Minidoka was found. A large Japanese style garden with
upright rocks and large earthen mounds was revealed, mapped and admired.
The National Park Service has performed studies to document what exists on the site.
Although there are very few remaining buildings, the landscape, the remains of building foundations,
walkways and artifacts provide a surprisingly rich source amount of information about the camp.
For more information about Minidoka National Historic Site visit