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A Letter from the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

In the first half of 2018 Friends of Minidoka (FoM) have continued to work at our mission of preserving the Minidoka site and its legacy, and educating the public on this history. One of the ways we can accomplish this in the long term is to affirm our partnership with the National Park Service both locally and nationally, which we accomplished most recently through an intensive Partnership Workshop we conducted with the NPS staff together with the FoM board, in which we both looked towards the future of Minidoka and what we can accomplish individually and as partners.

On a larger scale, we continue to be active members of the National Park Foundation Friends Alliance by attending their spring conference in Washington DC, which also affords us the opportunity to visit our Congressional delegates. is March, we visited the offices for Senators Crapo and Risch and advocated for continued funding of the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, which was zeroed from the President’s budget. As of June, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Interior and Environment funding bill for FY19, and Senator Schatz was able to secure level funding for the JACS program ($2.905 million) for FY19. Thank you to all of you who answered our call to action to encourage your representatives to support this grant program! We are also happy to announce we were selected as a pilot recipient of a National Park Foundation Friends Alliance grant program, in order to build organizational capacity and enhance our communications and outreach strategies.

We continue to support the Minidoka site and incarceration history through site tours, educational outreach to groups that approach us, and participate as pilgrims ourselves at Minidoka and other sites when possible. In 2018 Friends of Minidoka board members and staff will have participated in pilgrimages to Rohwer, Jerome, Amache, Tule Lake, Minidoka, and Heart Mountain. We continue to build upon our relationship with other Japanese American Confinement Sites Consortium members, and look forward to a productive fall meeting to further establish this organization as a leading network of Japanese American preservation and advocacy groups this October in Los Angeles. We are also utilizing JACS grants to create an Issei Legacy exhibit for the Minidoka Visitor Center, and to work with Densho to digitize Friends of Minidoka photo collections and make them publicly accessible to students, researchers, exhibits, films, and other educational projects.

This year we also commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1988 Civil Liberties Act, and reflect on the strides that generations of community leaders have made to galvanize a dispersed population in the fight for Redress, press the government when they wronged an entire group of Americans, and continue to fight to keep this history alive and in the public conscience as it becomes alarmingly relevant and necessary in current politics. Thank you all for continuing to stand up for what is right, and for supporting us in our work to do the same.

Lastly, we hope that you will join us for our Fall Friendraiser on October 17 at the Twin Falls Center for the Arts in Twin Falls, Idaho!

Warm regards,
Mia Russell 

Friends of Minidoka Awarded Grants

NPF Strategic Growth Initiative

This June, Friends of Minidoka was selected to participate in the pilot cohort of the Strategic Growth Initiative, the capacity building effort of Strong Parks, Strong Communities. SPSC is a three-way partnership between the National Park Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Friends Alliance designed to build the capacity of the full field of national park philanthropy.

As a part of the pilot cohort, FoM will undergo an initial assessment process and subsequent capacity-building assistance, delivered by Solid Ground Consulting. Our intent is to use this opportunity to work on strategic relationships and communications with our members, donors, park partners, and more. We hope to develop a more sophisticated outreach strategy, a new suite of communications literature, and a segmentation of our communications, whether through our website, newsletters, email, or social media communications. Our budget, board and staff commitment, park relationship, and national presence are all at the highest they have been, and Minidoka National Historic Site is developing and visitation continues to rise. A solid foundation in communications with members, donors, and the general public will leave us poised to solidify our mission and impact and concentrate on developing ourselves as philanthropic partners of Minidoka.

FY18 JACS Grant Program

This April, the National Park Service announced more than $1.3 million in grants to fund preservation, restoration, and education projects at World War II Japanese American Confinement Sites. These projects will help tell the story of the more than 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens, who were imprisoned by the U.S. government following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. “Using both traditional and innovative techniques, we are working with communities and partner organizations to preserve an important part of our nation’s history,” National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith said. “More than 75 years later, new generations of Americans can use these resources to learn the struggles and perseverance of Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II.” Congress established the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program in 2006.

Friends of Minidoka was awarded $13,464 for the Friends of Minidoka Collection Densho Digital Repository Project. Using grant funds, the Friends of Minidoka will digitize 1,000 items in our collection to share with the public the history of the Minidoka incarceration site in Idaho with our partners at Densho.

New Minidoka Book to be Released


On August 6, a book entitled Minidoka National Historic Site from the Images of America series will be available for purchase nationwide! Written by Hanako Wakatsuki, Mia Russell, and Carol Ash, this book features nearly two hundred historic images of Minidoka, many from personal family collections which haven’t been viewed by the public, as well as descriptions of different aspects of life at camp. It will be available from retailers including Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. We will share more information as it becomes available.

Save the Date: Friends of Minidoka Fall Friendraiser

Please mark your calendars and join us for our Fall Friendraiser on October 17, 2018 at the Twin Falls Center for the Arts in Twin Falls, Idaho! With the opening of Minidoka National Historic Site’s new Visitor Center in 2018, we want to share the story of the Minidoka experience with our Southern Idaho Friends and neighbors.

The program will include an introduction to the incarceration experience at Minidoka and a presentation of Minidoka spoken word videos about individual Minidoka stories. FoM is sending three individuals to the 2018 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage to create digital stories about their family experience in Minidoka. The presentation of the videos will be followed by a Q & A session, updates from Friends of Minidoka and the National Park Service, and plans for the future of Minidoka. This will be followed by a keynote message by Doug Nelson. Doug is the Vice-Chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation; Chair of the CDC Foundation, and former Chief Executive Officer of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The evening will conclude with a meet and greet session with the artists who made the videos, FoM board members, NPS staff, and other presenters. Hors d’oeuvres will be catered.

We want to thank the Board and staff of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation for their support, especially the Board Chair, Shirley Higuchi, and Vice-Chair Doug Nelson. We also want to express our gratitude to Camille Barigar for supporting us as the MC for the event. And finally, we want to acknowledge the hard work of Executive Director Mia Russell, the FoM Executive Committee and Director Ron James. We are very excited about this opportunity to share the Minidoka story with our community and hope to see you there!

Issei Memorial Exhibit Underway

Through the support of a 2016 Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant, we are creating an Issei legacy exhibit dedicated to the Issei generation of Minidoka incarcerees, who are widely understood to have made the greatest sacrifices both in establishing our Japanese American communities and during the incarceration experience. We want to know more about the Issei in your life, and will soon have an online form available that will give us basic information on the Issei you are able to tell us about, and allow us to follow up with you for more information. This will help us to create a physical exhibit including the names of the Issei at Minidoka, Issei stories, and a digital exhibit with community-curated biographies to help us understand the Issei experience through reflections by descendants, biographies, photographs, and more. This exhibit will be part of the new Visitor Contact Station at Minidoka National Historic Site in the Summer of 2019. Please tell us about the Issei in your life and help us honor their memory. To support this project, visit

Minidoka Visitor Center Grand Opening


The grand opening of the Minidoka National Historic Site Visitor Center will be during the 2019 Minidoka Pilgrimage! Warehouse #5 was the automotive repair shop during WWII, and is currently being renovated to be the Visitor Center for Minidoka National Historic Site. The newly refurbished space will include a small theater to screen the new park film and exhibit space for brand new exhibits. We look forward to seeing you at the 2019 Minidoka Pilgrimage for the grand opening!

FoM Board of Directors Spotlight



Marsha Takahashi Edwards - Vice Chair
Hailey, Idaho

Marsha Edwards and her husband moved from Seattle to the Wood River Valley in 2000. While in Seattle she was a fundraising volunteer for various non-pro ts serving the Japanese American community including Nikkei Concerns and Densho, the legacy project dedicated to preserving the testimonies of Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II.

For most of her professional life in Idaho Marsha was a software sales rep for Marketron. Most recently she was able to return to work that she loves in the eld of philanthropy. Since 2015 she has been working at the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation as a fundraiser.

Marsha’s father and mother, Mitsuru and June Takahashi, were incarcerated in Minidoka with their parents and siblings. During WWII her father served in the 442nd Regimental Combat team in the European theatre. One of the proudest moments for the Takahashi family was attending the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in Washington D.C. to see Mitsuru presented with this honor.

Marsha is a graduate of the University of Washington, an avid skier, road cyclist and dog lover (her adopted black lab, Harper, is a pet therapist). She was moved by the mission of the Friends of Minidoka and is thrilled to be a part of this organization!

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.

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.

2017 Donor Report Now Available

We thank our Friends and donors for their continued support in the year 2017. Donor report is available as a pdf here