Fall/Winter 2017 Newsletter

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Letter From Our Executive Director

Dear Friends,

This year marked the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, one of the greatest violations of civil liberties in American history. In a time of uncertainty for many Americans, the Japanese American community and likeminded citizens commemorated this anniversary with great energy as a platform for remembrance, dialogue, community building, and vigilance surrounding the civil liberties of all Americans. Let us always reflect on this time as a success in spreading the message of “Never Again” far and wide. However, we must all rededicate ourselves and continue this important work long after the last witnesses to this history have left us.  

In 2017 Friends of Minidoka, together with our National Park Service partners, commemorated the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 through our continued collaboration to preserve and educate the public of this critical and relevant history.  We are continually grateful to our generous members and donors who played a key role in accomplishing our goals. With your help, Friends of Minidoka:

  • Successfully gained the support of Idaho Congressmen Crapo, Simpson, and Risch for a commemorative stamp honoring the Nisei veterans of the US armed forces during WWII. 
  • Were awarded and carried out a research contract in support of the orientation film for Minidoka National Historic Site, and digitized hundreds of records related to Minidoka.
  • Reached new audiences through educational outreach programs in Boise and Twin Falls, ID;  Tri-Cities, WA; La Grande, OR, and countless tours of the Minidoka site.
  • Released the updated Minidoka NHS, a free mobile app available in English, Spanish, and Japanese on iOS and Android devices to enable virtual tours of Minidoka from anywhere. 
  • Established a national presence among the various Japanese American Confinement Sites, building relationships in the communities surrounding Manzanar, Heart Mountain, Topaz, Jerome, Rohwer, Gila River, Poston, and Chicago, and reestablishing partnerships in Seattle, Portland, and Idaho. 
  • Became a foundational partner in the renewed effort of a Japanese American Confinement Sites Consortium to join advocacy groups nationwide.
  • Initiated the process of publishing a 5th edition of the Minidoka Interlude, preserving the Minidoka story through the perspective of those that experienced it.  
  • Hosted the 12th annual Minidoka Civil Liberties Symposium at Boise State University.
  • But there is more to do and your support is critically needed to preserve the legacy of the Minidoka experience. Please consider supporting the Friends of Minidoka with a tax-deductible contribution. Your donation allows us to continue our work to ensure this legacy of injustice will not be forgotten or repeated.

By supporting the Friends of Minidoka, you are directly empowering us to preserve the legacy of the Minidoka experience, continue to protect the Minidoka site as a site of conscience in our national landscape, and educate new generations about this American tragedy.

With gratitude,

Mia Russell
Executive Director
Friends of Minidoka

Update from the National Park Service
by Hanako Wakatsuki, Chief of Interpretation 

My first year as Chief of Interpretation has been exciting and full of opportunities to reach out to the many communities that this site connects to. I came on at the end of January and hit the ground running. Superintendent Wade Vagias, Friends of Minidoka Executive Director Mia Russell, and I visited Portland and Seattle in May to participate in special events and meeting community groups. In July, Wade and I participated in the 2017 Minidoka Pilgrimage as pilgrims and lead programming at the site for the pilgrimage. Other events and site visits include: the Heart Mountain Pilgrimage; 75th Remembrance of Puyallup Assembly Center; visited Camp Shelby, Rohwer, Jerome, Gila River, and Poston; and attended the 2017 Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans Reunion. It has been a busy year, but I am looking forward to what next year brings during the 30th Anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

Site presence at Minidoka began this year with the opening of the temporary Visitor Contact Station on May 29, 2017 at the Herrmann house.  During the summer, attendance averaged over 1,000 visitors per month.  Minidoka is currently on its winter schedule and is open Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm; the site itself is open from sunrise to sunset seven-days-a-week. If you would like additional information or to schedule a tour of 10 or more people, please call the site at 208-825-4169.

The motor repair shop, also known as Warehouse #5, will be rehabilitated for adaptive reuse to become the permanent Visitor Contact Station. Construction is expected to begin in early 2018 and completion will be in 2019. This will provide amenities at the site and accessible parking for visitors.

Lastly, the Minidoka National Historic Site awarded the filming contract to develop a Park film to North Shore Production. North Shore was able to visit the site two times this year, once to film B-roll of the Idaho winter and again during the 2017 Minidoka Pilgrimage in July. The film is expected to be completed in 2018 and will be shown in the permanent Visitor Contact Station when the doors open.

We at the Minidoka National Historic Site are working hard to preserve the site for future generations. We welcome you to our site and look forward to seeing you soon! Please feel free to contact me at (208) 539-3416 or email me at hanako_wakatsuki@nps.gov. 

FoM Establishes School Bus Fund

With the opening of the temporary Visitor Center at Minidoka National Historic Site, the National Park Service and Friends of Minidoka are now poised to host more visitors than ever before. While we have seen an increase in visits from Idaho school groups visiting the site, limitations in funding for field trips remains an obstacle for many Idaho educators who wish to bring their students to experience the power of place-based learning at Minidoka. Friends of Minidoka is determined to fill the gap in providing students the opportunity to visit Minidoka and learn this history immersively. We have established the Sims Community Education Fund in honor of late educator and FoM board member Robert C. Sims, the preeminent scholar on Minidoka. We will have more information on applying for these funds available on our website in the near future.

Archival Research Highlights

Mia spent much of 2017 conducting research in archival and personal collections related to the Minidoka incarceration experience. This was conducted through a partnership with North Shore Productions for the Minidoka NHS orientation film. We have digitized hundreds of items highlighting the prewar, Minidoka, and resettlement experiences from collections in Seattle, Salt Lake, Chicago, Stockton, Los Angeles, Portland, and Idaho. 

One highlight is this snapshot from the collection of Dorothy Kogita Beagley pictured to the right. This image is from a pre-war picnic of Nikkei community menbers in Seattle, Washington. Pictured are a young Dorothy with her mother’s friend, a Mrs. Sasaki. Looks like they are enjoying their onigiri! 

Pictured to the left is an image of children on a playground at Minidoka., courtesy of the Hideo Hoshide slide collection at Japanese Baptist Church. If you have information about the people in this photo please contact us.

Friends of Minidoka assists the National Park Service in identifying people who would like to donate Minidoka related objects to the park for preservation and possible exhibition. Items can include objects such as WWII uniforms, scans or original photographs, or documents related to the Minidoka incarceration as well as pre-war and post-resettlement. 

If you are interested in donating a collection item to Minidoka or have questions about the best place to donate an item, please reach out to Hanako Wakatsuki, Chief of Interpretation and Education at Minidoka, at (208) 539-3416 or email her at hanako_wakatsuki@nps.gov.


Minidoka Interlude Announcement

We are pleased to announce that the 5th Edition of the Minidoka Interlude is now in production! This edition is a 75th anniversary commemorative edition and has a metallic cloth cover under the classic dust jacket. The expected completion is mid to late February. Preorder is available, and they will be given first preference for shipment when we receive the books from the printer. We will notify you when they are on their way. Preordered copies will receive free shipping! Please purchase online at www.minidoka.org/shop/ or contact us at mia@minidoka.org. 

FoM Mobile App Makeover!

Friends of Minidoka has updated and rebranded the Minidoka mobile app, adding Japanese and Spanish language accessibility and Android use. The app follows the site’s 1.6 mile walking trail, enhancing interpretation of both current and historic structures and the landscape with information about the daily operations and living conditions of the Minidoka War Relocation Center, known to local communities as “Hunt Camp.” The app offers historic photographs as well as videos of former incarcerees sharing their memories associated with different areas of the camp. It also provides GPS-enabled wayfinding to the 20 points of interest.

To allow the public to access the app for self-guided tours, Friends of Minidoka also established public wifi access and a rental set of iPad devices for visitors and school groups, which will be available for check-out beginning next summer. This was accomplished in part through a grant from the National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program. 

Minidoka NHS is currently available in the App Store for use on iOS devices, and in the Google Play store for Android devices. Search “Minidoka NHS.”

Minidoka Civil Liberties Symposium

Friends of Minidoka joined the National Park Service, the Boise State University School of Public Service, and ACLU Idaho in hosting the 12th annual Minidoka Civil Liberties Symposium on Wednesday, October 25th, Boise State University.

Over 100 guests joined us for a keynote lecture on Minidoka by Tom Ikeda of Densho, and a screening of Hidden Histories, followed by an expert panel of speakers on the Japanese American incarceration. Hidden Histories is a touring program of five short narrative films about Japanese American incarceration during WWII. Panelists included Paul Y. Watanabe, Ph.D., Director of the Institute for Asian American Studies at UMass Boston; Tom Ikeda, Executive Director of Densho; Jason Matsumoto, Hidden Histories producer; and Mikka Macdonald, researcher of the Japanese-Peruvian prisoner exchange.

The Minidoka Civil Liberties Symposium examines historic and contemporary civil liberties issues as related to the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans, which impacted nearly 15,000 men, women, and children confined at the Minidoka incarceration site in Jerome County, Idaho. This year’s symposium was part of Boise State University Human Rights Week, and was co-sponsored by the Marylin Shuler Human Rights Initiative and the Frank Church Institute.

2018 Pilgrimage Save the Dates! 

April 14-16
Rohwer and Jerome
email kimiko.marr@gmail.com
 for more information

April 28

May 26

June 29 - July 2
Tule Lake

July 5-8

July 27-28
Heart Mountain

email postonalliance1@gmail.com
for more information

Community Announcements

Art of Survival Exhibit in Pendleton, OR

The Art of Survival – Enduring the Turmoil of Tule Lake is on exhibit until January 6th at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, which is located on the grounds of the Wildhorse Resort & Casino, 10 minutes east of Pendleton.

The Art of Survival: Enduring the Turmoil of Tule Lake is a traveling exhibition probing the complexity of the Japanese American confinement site in Newell, California. Tule Lake became the only officially designated segregation center during WWII. Ruled under martial law, it was the most controversial of all the Camps.

Through haunting images of artifacts by fine art photographer Hiroshi Watanabe we glimpse into the lives of those who were held at Tule Lake and are encouraged to consider both the orchestration of daily life behind barbed wire and what it might have been like to live with constant turmoil and uncertainty. Oral histories allow us to hear varying views on some of the complex issues of Tule Lake in the voices of those held captive. And the art created both then and now, made from seemingly insignificant objects, beckons humility and connection.

Promoting education and increased awareness of what can happen when a nation loses reason to fear, this exhibition is designed to inspire critical thinking and action in regards to injustice. It also highlights the power of creativity to maintain dignity and well-being in times of harsh circumstance. For more information on this exhibit visit www.tamastslikt.org.

Wing Luke Call for Artists

Wing Luke has issued a call for Artists and Writers, and Request for Qualifications for a graphic novel.

Wing Luke is seeking one professional writer to write text, and one professional artist to illustrate and design, an illustrated/graphic novel that will be distributed to schools and libraries and through The Wing and the NVC Foundation. 

This project, entitled Inspiring Future Generations: Friends and Supporter  s Who Helped Those Incarcerated, offers an important perspective on the Japanese American confinement sites, that of the non-Japanese American friends and supporters who risked their livelihoods and their place in the community by supporting and helping their Nikkei friends and fighting for equal rights and constitutional protections. The Wing and the NVC Foundation are working with community stakeholders to develop con tent for an illustrated/graphic novel, stand-alone chapter and curriculum guide. An animated short produced by the Seattle Channel will also be made based on the stand-alone chapter.

This project is the third in a series of novels. The first told the story of six World War II Japanese American military veterans. For more about the project, Fighting for America: Nisei Soldiers, visit its website page at: http://www.wingluke.org/fighting-for-america. The second focuses on the experience of Japanese American resisters (forthcoming).

Required materials for the submission deadline must be received no later than 4:30pm on Monday, January 22, 2018. For further information, contact Cassie Chinn at 206.623.5124 ext 131, or cchinn@wingluke.org. 

Only the Oaks Remain Exhibit at Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center

Only the Oaks Remain: The Story of Tuna Canyon Detention Station is on exhibit at Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center unitl January 7th. This exhibittells the true stories of those targeted as dangerous enemy aliens and imprisoned in the Tuna Canyon Detention Station, located in the Tujunga neighborhood of Los Angeles, by the US Department of Justice during World War II. Rare artifacts such as photographs, letters, and diaries bring the experiences of prisoners—who included Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants and extradited Japanese Peruvians—to life.

Only the Oaks Remain commemorates the history of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station and seeks to educate the public about the violation of civil rights t hat took place there. The exhibition features photographs, letters, diaries, interviews, declassified government documents, and other rare artifacts that serve to illuminate a largely untold story that goes beyond the more widely-known story of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans. By taking an unprecedented look at war’s impact on a disparate group of detainees, examining striking similarities as well as differences among them, the exhibition encourages present and future generations to learn from our nation’s mistakes.

Only the Oaks Remain is organized by the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness about the site’s history. It is working to develop a permanent Tuna Canyon Detention Station Memorial, which will include a plaque and educational posts installed along a walking path lined with mature oak trees, to further educate future generations. For more information on this exhibit visit www.oregonnikkei.org.

Call for Yonsei and Gosei

In 1941 and 1942, Japanese Canadians and Americans were forced to vacate their homes and pack their lives into a limited amount of baggage. To where, for how long and whether or not they would remain with family was unknown. Today, generations descended from those who were interned or incarcerated will not have endured the same history, but will remain affected by it in various ways.

The Suitcase Project explores this narrative, with artist Kayla Isomura asking Yonsei and Gosei (4th and 5th gen. Japanese Canadians and Americans) what would they pack if uprooted from their homes with only a moment’s notice?

A photo-feature series with multimedia components, The Suitcase Project will be on exhibit at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre in Burnaby, B.C., Canada from June to September 2018.

Interested in participating in this series of photos? Folks of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to participate. No prior knowledge of your family’s incarceration story is required. Photos are to be taken in your home, and ideal participants will live in the following areas and be available to participate between January and February 2018:

     •  Greater Vancouver, B.C. region

     •  South/Central Vancouver Island, B.C. regions

     •  Seattle, Washington region

     •  Kamloops/Kelowna, B.C. region 

To sign up please visit kaylaisomura.com or email projects@kaylaisomura.com