Spring 2016 Newsletter

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Letter from our Executive Director

Dear Friends,

I am honored to present you with the Friends of Minidoka Spring 2016 newsletter, long overdue but packed with exciting news! Since beginning my position as Executive Director in March, I have stayed busy and inspired. From meeting with congressional staffers in Washington D.C. to ask for continued support of Friends of Minidoka and JACS-related issues, visiting 8th grade classrooms to teach students about the incarceration for the first time, to accepting not one but two awards on behalf of FoM for the Guard Tower reconstruction, the work has been varied and invigorating! As the Idaho-raised Nisei daughter of a Japanese-born hapa mother, I was floored to learn about the incarceration for the first time as an undergraduate student in Southern California. I attended the Manzanar pilgrimage in 2013, and chose to attend Boise State to earn my Master’s degree in Public History studying the preservation of Minidoka. I have met many of you while volunteering at the Pilgrimage and Civil Liberties Symposium in the last several years, and I look forward to meeting many more of you at future events. I am thrilled to be devoting myself to this important work, and couldn’t have asked for a more supportive community.

I hope you will be able to visit Minidoka this year, as the park has seen many recent improvements. In the last few years, both the fire station and the mess hall have been rewrapped in tar paper to resemble their original appearance. The entrance Guard Tower now stands complete, with the parking lot to be reconstructed this fall. Our partners at the National Park Service will soon reprint the right panel of the Honor Roll, complete with many names that can now be added thanks to a single photograph found in a personal collection. The overgrown area below the warehouse/motor pool area beside Block 22 will now be home to a baseball diamond once again. If you do visit and have an iPhone or iPad, I hope you’ll consider downloading the new NPS Minidoka app and use it to take a guided walking tour, complete with interpretive text, historic photographs, and Densho videos, which truly bring the site to life, even from home! You can search “NPS Minidoka” in the iPhone section of the App Store and download it for free. We hope to release an Android version this fall, and welcome feedback on the current app, which was my Master’s thesis project! 

There are also many future developments in the works right now at Minidoka NHS. In February I attended a visitor center exhibit development workshop alongside FoM board members and many of our partners with the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee and National Park Service. The meeting focused on establishing interpretive themes and the building design for the Minidoka NHS Visitor Center, which is finally becoming a reality and will open by early 2018. Though this development will greatly increase the ability of visitors to connect with the Minidoka site and the stories it holds, we face a great obstacle, which is that the exhibits to fill the Visitor Center are not yet funded. FoM just received a JACS grant which will begin to fill this need. Another possible opportunity before us is to tie the Issei Memorial, a project FoM has been passionate about for a long time, into the Visitor Center construction. Please see Alan’s letter on the Issei Memorial for more information. The NPS is also beginning work on the park film, which is quite the production and will be at least a two year process. The film offers many opportunities, including possible new filmed interviews with incarcerees and their descendants, or filming at community events. If you know of any possible interviewees or events, or if you would like to make family photographs available for use in the film, please contact me at info@minidoka.org. 

I look forward to seeing many of you at the Pilgrimage this June, the Civil Liberties Symposium this October, or on your own personal visit to Minidoka. I hope you will never hesitate to contact me via email, the Friends of Minidoka Facebook page, or otherwise, and share your ideas or concerns. I would also like to offer my heartfelt gratitude for all of the warm welcomes and words of encouragement I have received since joining the leadership of Friends this year. I have enjoyed every moment, and can’t wait to see what we will accomplish together. 

Okage sama de,

Mia Russell
Executive Director


Over the years, Friends of Minidoka has been a primary supporter in the continued development at Minidoka National Historic Site; most recently we raised funds for and managed both the Honor Roll and Guard Tower reconstruction projects. This year, one of our primary projects has been the reconstruction of one of fourteen original baseball and softball fields at Minidoka. 

Baseball played a key role in sustaining the 13,000 Nikkei who were incarcerated at Hunt Camp. Many incarcerees – whether youth or adults, male or female – played on one of the many fields throughout the camp. Almost every issue of the Minidoka Irrigator mentions baseball as part of life at camp.

The idea for Field-In-A-Day came from the 1952 Farm-In-A-Day event, during which 1,500 volunteers and over 11,000 spectators came to the Herrmann Farm, which was formerly part of Minidoka War Relocation Center near Fire Station #1, and built Herrmann’s two-bedroom house, constructed corrals, and plowed the fields all in a single day. Friends of Minidoka, NPS staff, and almost 150 registered volunteers will be participating in Field-In-A-Day on May 28th. The goal for the day is to build all of the field elements, apply field markings and install bases, install wayside panels, and create accessibility paths to the field. There will also be a noon program and tours of the site.

Through our online crowdfunding webpage at generosity.com, donations by mail and on the FoM website, and a small grant, we raised approximately $25,000 for the baseball field reconstruction. Thank you all for making this project possible! These generous donations paid for the materials for the field elements including the backstop, two scoreboards, two player benches, and two bleachers, as well as wayside exhibit panels interpreting the story of baseball and other sports at camp, and a donor plaque to honor all of you. Funds also went to supporting volunteers for the Field-In-A-Day event, and supporting the dedication of the field during the Pilgrimage. Excess funds will be used to maintain the field in the future, which will be used to play on during special events and tours.

Field-In-A-Day also received media attention. We received press inquiries from or were mentioned in the Idaho Statesman, Idaho State Journal, Boise Weekly, Rafu Shimpo, Asian American News, and NBC Asian America. 
Formal dedication of the field will take place Sunday, June 26 during the annual Minidoka Pilgrimage. We can’t wait to welcome all of you back to the site to see your new baseball field. Thank you again for supporting this project.

Issei Memorial

Friends of Minidoka (FoM) is partnering with the National Park Service (NPS) to develop an Issei (first generation person of Japanese ancestry in America) memorial at Minidoka National Historic Site.  FoM is forming a work group to develop and recommend objectives of the memorial and a design concept to NPS.  Once the design has been approved by the NPS, the work group will develop construction plans for the memorial, raise funds for construction, and help oversee the construction of the memorial.

This is one of the most important projects for FoM.  The decisions the Issei made and their journey has a direct impact on future Nikkei generations.  The Issei left Japan to come to a country whose language they did not speak, whose culture they did not understand, and whose citizens would discriminate against them.  

They worked hard, often in menial labor jobs on railroads, farms, and in homes or in service jobs such as cooks and janitors.  Some became successful in farming and operating businesses.  While many came to America with the hope of returning to Japan with new wealth, most choose to stay, raising families and forming communities in the larger urban areas.

When World War II began, the Issei and their families were removed from their homes and incarcerated in remote dismal locations.  They were given very little time to prepare so many lost much of what they had worked so hard to acquire.

After camp and the hardships created by the incarceration, most Issei and Nisei did not have homes they could return to nor jobs waiting for them.  Anti-Asian sentiment didn’t disappear. But the Issei and their children found jobs and places to live.  They rebuilt their communities.  The resilience of the Issei prevailed and most left the camps and laid the foundation for success for themselves and their descendants.  The decisions made by the Issei before, during and after the incarceration contributed to the success of future generations. They put the incarceration behind them and re-built their lives.

Most if not all of the Issei who were incarcerated during World War II are no longer with us.  Many Yonsei and Gosei, and some Sansei do not feel a connection to the Issei and do not understand that they are who they are today, in part because of the Issei.  This generation’s experience laid the foundation for future generations.  Their values, the decisions they made, how they dealt with the discrimination against them, and what they taught to the Nisei contributed to the success of the Nisei and Sansei.  With the wisdom and values learned in part from the Issei, the Nisei and Sansei teach and guide the Yonsei and Gosei generations.

Please follow our progress on this memorial on our Facebook page and on our website, once it is updated.  We will be posting materials as they are developed and we and the work team welcome your comments.  Also, if you would like to donate to the creation of this memorial, you can donate to the project at our website, www.minidoka.org, or if you prefer, you can mail your donation to the Friends of Minidoka at P.O. Box 1085, Twin Falls, ID 83303.

Alan Momohara


2016 Minidoka Pilgrimage

The 2016 Minidoka Pilgrimage will be held from June 23rd to the 26th, 2016.  Participants from Washington, Idaho, Oregon and across the nation will journey to Twin Falls to learn, share thoughts and memories, and experience what was a placed called Minidoka or Hunt Camp. The program includes a full day of educational programming on June 24, guided tours of Minidoka National Historic Site by NPS staff, access to an original mess hall and barrack, the option of viewing artifacts from Minidoka at a storage facility at the Hagerman Fossil Beds office, and the opportunity to share and hear stories from and about those incarcerated in Minidoka during WWII.
Two options are available for those wanting to attend. A Seattle package includes transportation via bus from Seattle to Twin Falls and back. The bus leaves at 6 am on June 23, 2016 from Bellevue College, and returns to Bellevue on June 26 around 11 pm. This package includes all Pilgrimage activities as well as lunch and dinner on all days of the Pilgrimage.

The Twin Falls package does not include transportation but does include all Pilgrimage activities and lunch and dinner on all days of the Pilgrimage. Those who choose this option will need to make their own travel arrangements. Hotels and breakfast are not included in the two options. However, two local hotels offer Pilgrimage rates which include breakfast.

To register for the Pilgrimage and for additional information on costs, hotels, weather and other matters, please visit the Minidoka Pilgrimage website at www.minidokapilgrimage.org. 

Building Bridges in Idaho’s Muslim Communities 

The College of Southern Idaho’ Refugee Center has been embroiled in controversy over the past year. A “very small but vocal and visible minority”, including members of the 3 Per Cent militia, have been engaged in efforts to close the center.  Last December, vandals spray painted ‘Hunt Camp’ on the Twin Falls Islamic Center.  Both the Pilgrimage Committee and Friends of Minidoka reacted to news of the vandalism with outrage and began efforts to reach out to the local Muslim community.
FoM board member Ron James lives in Twin Falls and has been in contact with T.F. Islamic Center spokesperson Imad Eujayl who has expressed deep interest in getting better acquainted with FoM and the Pilgrimage Committee. Imad is interested in taking a group of Muslim students/young people to the Minidoka site and also being represented in the upcoming Pilgrimage.  Ramadan is during June so most Muslims will not be able to attend the pilgrimage but ideas to at least have a representative from the Islamic Center attend were discussed. Imad appreciates the concern and support offered by Friends of Minidoka, the Pilgrimage Committee and the Japanese American community in general over the past months.
There are also exciting plans to bring a Boise State University media/documentary course to Twin Falls during the summer of 2017 that would produce a documentary on the refugee experience in Twin Falls.  This proposed project would also include the WWII Japanese American incarceration experience at Minidoka and feature the annual Minidoka pilgrimage in the narrative as well. The idea is to interweave the two stories and make connections between the past and present situations. This project is still under discussion and the plans still very much tentative at this time. 
For more information, contact Ron James at: rjames@csi.edu

Civil Liberties Symposium XI: 
Mass Incarceration in the Land of the Free

October 15-16, 2016 at Boise State University

The 11th Annual Minidoka Civil Liberties Symposium will be held this October at Boise State University. The change to the fall program is an effort to hold the symposium when schools are in session, in order to offer college credits while more students and teachers are available to attend. The 2016 theme, Mass Incarceration in the Land of the Free, touches all levels of society and is a current leading topic of concern in any serious discussion of domestic issues. How the US criminal justice system functions, where it succeeds, and where it fails to enforce and to protect civil liberties will be explored with an exciting lineup of presenters. We will provide additional information, including the program and link for registration, on our website as they become available. We hope you will join us!

Minidoka: Artist as Witness

Boise Art Museum was recently awarded $30,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the National Park Service Centennial grant initiative, “Imagine Your Parks.” One of 33 grants awarded, the funds will support an exhibition entitled Minidoka: Artist as Witness. The exhibition will be on display from October 8, 2016 until January 15, 2017, and was planned to coincide with the 11th Annual Minidoka Civil Liberties Symposium. Featured artists include Takuichi Fujii (1892-1964), Kenjiro Nomura (1896-1956), Teresa Tamura (b. 1960), Roger Shimomura (b. 1939), and Wendy Maruyama (b. 1952).

Guard Tower Project Enters its Final Phase

The Minidoka Guard Tower Project, Phase II is scheduled for this fall. This component of the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant will remove the existing asphalt at the parking lot. The parking lot will be redesigned, and the new surface will be native soils, impregnated with a material that allows compaction and hardening of the surface. The result will be a safer parking lot that more closely resembles how the entrance area looked historically. The project is under FoM management, working with Boise State University Department of Construction Management, the same great BSU staff that reconstructed the Guard Tower.

Minidoka Guard Tower Project Receives State and National Recognition

John Wesley Powell Prize

The Society for History in the Federal Government selected the Minidoka NHS Guard Tower Reproduction as one of two projects nationwide to receive this year's John Wesley Powell Prize for outstanding achievement in the field of historic preservation projects.

The award was presented on March 17 at the Joint Annual Meeting of the National Council on Public History and the Society for History in the Federal Government in Baltimore. Friends of Minidoka Executive Director Mia Russell, Board Member Hanako Wakatsuki, and Boise State University Construction Management Professor Casey Cline accepted the award.

Onions and Orchids

Preservation Idaho awarded the Guard Tower with an Orchid award in Cultural Heritage Preservation. The award recognizes Stan Cole at Cole Architects, the Boise State University Construction Management Department, the National Park Service, and Friends of Minidoka for their contributions to historic preservation in Idaho.
Boise-based Preservation Idaho, dedicated to the protection of Idaho heritage, honored the ten “Orchid” winners at its 39th Annual Orchids & Onions Awards Ceremony and luncheon on May 21st at the historic Ada County Courthouse in downtown Boise. The onions point out projects that have shown insensitivity to the state’s cultural history. 
This is Friends of Minidoka’s second Orchids award, following our 2012 prize for the Honor Roll reconstruction. 

2016 All Camp Consortium

Members of the Friends of Minidoka and the Minidoka Pilgrimage Committee attended the All Camps Consortium in Washington, D.C. May 12-14. The All Camps Consortium was led by Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation (HMWF) and organized by a steering committee made up of several Japanese American Confinement Site (JACS) organizations. The purpose of this event was to bring JACS groups together and leverage their resources to create a more formal working group. This working group had representatives from all 10 WRA sites and other Japanese American related sites and organizations, totaling over 40 participants.

The meeting opened Thursday evening with a reception at the Japanese Ambassador’s residence, with a welcome from Ambassador Sasae followed by Secretary Norm Mineta honoring National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis for all of his support in preserving JACS sites throughout his career. On Friday we convened at Hogan Lovells Law Firm with an inspiring opening address from Dr. Satsuki Ina on the importance of mending our rifts within the JACS community in order to fully work together to achieve our common goals. The day was filled with productive working group sessions on topics such as the structure of the consortium, methods of engaging congressional leaders, creation of an emergency response committee, and how to jointly commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Japanese American confinement in 2017. A new working group was selected at this meeting to continue the HWMF’s work in making this consortium a reality and to continue the development of this group. The consortium meeting closed on Saturday with a meaningful ceremony at the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in World War II. 

2016 JACS Grants Awarded

The National Park Service awarded the 2016 Japanese American Confinement Sites grants to support 15 projects in five U.S. states. The $2.8 million grant program was announced during the All Camps Consortium, in Washington DC on May 13, 2016. We are pleased to announce that Friends of Minidoka received a $78,000 grant to create the Minidoka Legacy Memorial Interpretive Exhibit, to be part of the permanent exhibit collection to be displayed at Minidoka National Historic Site. The new exhibit will be completed next year in 2017 in conjunction with the 75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066. If you are interested in supporting or donating to this project, please contact us at info@mindoka.org. 

News from Other Camps

Manzanar National Historic will be undergoing historic preservation work at Block 14 from May 27 to May 31, 2016. NPS staff and volunteers will be excavating one or more barrack basements, restoring rock alignments, repairing concrete features, clearing small brush and weeds, and removing stumps and fallen trees. For more information, please contact jeff_burton@nps.gov.

Manzanar NPS staff and volunteers completed the recreation of their Fire Station in April 2016.  To see pictures of the completed project, go to Manzanar National Historic Site’s Facebook page.

Over 1,000 people attended the 47th annual Manzanar Pilgrimage held on April 30, 2016.  The Pilgrimage program included performances by UCLA Kyodo Taiko and the presentation of the 2016 Sue Kunitomi Embrey Award to former Inyo County Supervisor Bob Gracey who played a critical role in the development of the Manzanar Historic Site.  The Pilgrimage was followed by Manzanar at Dusk program which through small group discussions, and an open mic session, allowed participants to have the opportunity to interact with former incarcerees and others to hear their personal stories. Participants also shared their own experiences and discuss the relevance of the Japanese American Incarceration experience to present-day issues

The 2016 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage will take place on July 29 and 30 in Cody and Powell Wyoming.  Speakers include acclaimed playwright and director, Luis Valdez and talks by Former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta and U.S. Senator Al Simpson (ret).  More information and registration materials can be found at http://heartmountain.org/pilgrimage.html

Tule Lake’s 2016 Pilgrimage, “On Hallowed Ground” will take place on July 1 to 4.  Due to exceptionally high demand, registration is now closed.

The Friends of Topaz will present a classical and jazz concert to benefit the Topaz Museum by Mark Inouye and Friends at 7 pm on July 10, 2016 at the SF Conservatory of Music Concert Hall in San Francisco. Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.com/e/mark-inouye-in-concert-tickets-24337412857

The Topaz Museum Board is sponsoring its 2016 Topaz Pilgrimage taking place on August 2, 2016 in the Delta City Park in Delta, Utah.  "Ties That Bind" is the theme of the event, which begins with a 7 a.m. bike ride to the camp and a tour of the site. Videos, memorabilia, a program and dancing will be featured.

The annual Amache Pilgrimage was held on May 21, 2016.  Amache is located in southeastern Colorado about a mile and a half west of the town of Granada and approximately 4 hours from Denver.  Two buses brought participants from Denver to Amache for the Pilgrimage where there was a short program and lunch at Granada Undivided School.  For those not traveling by bus, there was a dinner for Pilgrimage attendees in the town of Lamar. 

Letter from our Treasurer

Dear Friends:

As my husband and I drove to the site recently, it was so lush and green – I’ve never seen the area so beautiful – the North Side Canal was brimming with water and birds were enjoying all that spring time has to offer.  Then the Guard Tower came into view.  A stark reminder of incarceration; then the Honor Roll; barbed wire fence; and remaining buildings in need of restoration.  However, a group of 6th grade children were playing on the “ball field” in the dust.  The teacher approached me with gratitude that the site was being preserved and how important it has been to teach her students tolerance.  This is what Friends of Minidoka is about.

With this newsletter, we are reaching out to our many Friends who have supported Friends of Minidoka (FoM) over the years.  The National Park Service and FoM have been very busy at Minidoka preserving and protecting the site and always educating others so that it will not happen again.

Our desire is for you to consider us an important part of your giving program each year.  Your membership and donations are vital to sustain and grow our projects, programs, and outreach.  There are many ways to contribute to FoM.  Donate from our website, mail a check, or donate stock.  For a small grass roots group, we have done tremendous things – I say “we” meaning each and every one of you!  Thank you so much for your support – we cannot continue our important work without you.

Janet Matsuoka Keegan

Support Friends of Minidoka While You Shop

Did you know that Fred Meyer and Amazon Smile will both donate a portion of qualified sales to Friends of Minidoka? 
Fred Meyer donates $2.5 million per year to non-profits in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. If you shop at Fred Meyer, please consider designating donations to Friends of Minidoka.

Sign up for the Community Rewards program by linking your Fred Meyer Rewards Card to Friends of Minidoka at www.fredmeyer.com/communityrewards. You can search for us by our non-profit number 91168. *note: Our name is currently listed incorrectly as Friends of the Minikoda, Inc., but we are in the process of correcting this.
Then, every time you shop and use your Rewards Card, you are helping FoM earn a donation! You still earn your Rewards Points, Fuel Points, and Rebates, just as you do today. If you do not have a Rewards Card, they are available at the Customer Service desk of any Fred Meyer store. 

For more information, please visit www.fredmeyer.com/communityrewards

Instead of shopping at amazon.com, consider using AmazonSmile at smile.amazon.com. It automatically uses your same login, shopping cart, wish list and account information as Amazon.com. On your first visit to AmazonSmile, select a charitable organization to receive donations before you begin shopping. Search Friends of Minidoka, and select it as your charity. Amazon will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make at smile.amazon.com will result in a donation of 0.5% of the purchase price to FoM. Don’t forget to bookmark AmazonSmile and use it every time you shop on Amazon!