May 28, 2013
Registration now before the registration fees increase on June 1! You can register online: http://minidokapilgrimage.brownpapertickets.com/
March 29, 2013
Press Release – For Immediate Release
2013 Minidoka Pilgrimage June 20 – June 23
Scholarship for 80 Years Old and Over Imprisoned in Any of the American WWII Concentration Camps
Seattle, WA – March 11, 2013 –Seventy-one years ago, close to 13,000 people of Japanese-ancestry, many of whom were American citizens, were removed from their homes in the Pacific Northwest and sent to a desolate “incarceration camp” near Twin Falls, Idaho. This summer, the 11th pilgrimage will take place with former incarcerees, their families, and friends – from Seattle, Portland and across the nation – to the former Minidoka Camp in Idaho. This is an opportunity to learn, share memories, and ask questions about the Minidoka experience. Consider participating as a way to bring your family together and reconnect with friends. Participation is limited.
The 2013 Pilgrimage will include:
- Access to an original barrack building and mess hall. People will be able to go in portions of both historic buildings.
- Reconstructed fence is complete. It runs about one mile in length from the stone entrance buildings along the North Side Canal to the historic swimming hole. The trail is parallel to the fence, so that visitors can see the fence and walk along it.
- New collections storage building completed to house Minidoka collections items at Hagerman Fossil Beds.
- Guided tour of the Minidoka National Historic Site by National Park Service staff.
- Commemorative Closing Ceremony at Minidoka.
This year, the Civil Liberties Symposium sponsored by Friends of Minidoka is going to be held at the College of Southern Idaho (CSI). The Pilgrimage will officially begin in Twin Falls on Thursday evening, June 20, 2013.
Registration deadline is June 1, 2013. You can mail your forms and payment to: Minidoka Pilgrimage, 511 16th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98144. Please note that lodging is not included in either the Seattle/Bellevue Package or the Twin Falls Package. Please arrange your lodging accommodations in Twin Falls, Idaho on your own. Also, Pilgrims in need of services of a personal nature are responsible for arranging for such services prior to registering for the pilgrimage and are encouraged to travel with a companion for such purposes.
We will again be offering a SENIOR SCHOLARSHIP for this year’s Pilgrims who are over 80 years of age and older, and were imprisoned in any of the American Concentration Camps during WWII. This scholarship covers the registration fee, hotel, and bus costs (roundtrip bus transportation from Bellevue College to Minidoka) will be waived. We are grateful to the 2003 Minidoka Remembrance fund and the proceeds from the 2013 Day of Remembrance Taiko Festival for making this opportunity available.
For other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All documents will be available on the Pilgrimage website: minidokapilgrimage.org. If you are unable to access the forms and information by computer, please leave your name and address with Ann Fujii Lindwall at 206-367-8749 and they can be mailed to you.
Contact: ANN FUJII LINDWALL; (206) 367-8749; email@example.com
March 7, 2013
The following is a press release from the Japanese American Citizens League, dated March 5, 2013.
WASHINGTON D.C. — During the past several weeks, the Japanese American Citizens League has received numerous questions and comments from members and external partners within the Japanese American communityabout the organization’s position and plans regarding implementation of the Power of Words handbook.
JACL remains committed to fully implementing the Power of Words resolution and terminology handbook, as approved by the National Council, without removal of any terminology or edits to their recommended use.
While some internal briefings and opinions on our web site have circulated and raised concerns in the community, no proposal or resolution to remove or redefine terminology has been developed or brought before the JACL National Board for consideration.
At the last JACL National Board Meeting in February 2013, the board reaffirmed its support for the Power of Words handbook and implementation as approved at the 2012 National Convention.
JACL staff has been engaging in conversations with its partners outside of the Japanese American community to listen to their feedback and explore partnership opportunities that may help the handbook receive broader support and visibility. Some groups have indicated that their constituents may have difficulty supporting a term in the handbook, but acknowledged the Japanese American community’s right to define its own experience.
No official partnership or coalition currently exists. Moreover, JACL will not recommend or propose the removal of, or edits to, the terminology handbook as a condition of participation in a broader coalition.
JACL, its leadership, staff and individual committees have been actively promoting and distributing the handbook to elected officials, members of Congress, federal agencies and organizations, without reservation. As part of the implementation strategy, the Education Committee of JACL has also been developing a broader outreach and distribution plan for the Power of Words handbook.
January 14, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Minidoka Pilgrimage 2013 Taiko Fundraiser
Seattle, WA – January 7, 2013 – In recognition of Japanese American Day of Remembrance and the 71st anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee and Seattle University are proud to present this year’s Day of Remembrance Taiko Festival 2013. It will take place at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, February 17th at the Pigott Building on the campus of Seattle University, 901 12th Avenue in Seattle, WA. Tickets are $20 general, $10 for students with ID and can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets,
If attendees purchase tickets through Will Call, no actual tickets will be given, so please make sure to bring identification. For those unable to purchase tickets on-line, they will also be available at the JCCCW Office, 511 – 16th Ave. S., 206-568-7114 and at the Seattle University International Student Center.
A special free exhibit in the Paccar Atrium directly outside the auditorium will open at Noon and will feature the display “Ancestry is not a Crime: A Tribute to Gordon Hirabayashi” detailing his life and challenge of the incarceration and subsequent Coram Nobis case. Also featured will be original photographs in a collection called “My Minidoka” by Johnny Valdez y Uno. Raffle ticket sales and a general store will also be in the atrium to help support the work of the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee.
The taiko groups that are scheduled to perform are: Seattle Matsuri Taiko, Inochi Taiko, Kaze Daiko, Ringtaro Tateishi School of Taiko, Seattle Kokon Taiko, Northwest Taiko, One World Taiko, Okinawa Kenjinkai Taiko (OKK), Stadium High School Taiko Club and Tacoma Fuji Taiko. The program will conclude with a performance of all the groups together on stage.
The concert benefits the annual Minidoka Pilgrimage to Twin Falls, Idaho. This will be the 11th year of the Pilgrimage. As one of the ten original War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps, the Minidoka National Historic Site is currently a part of the National Park Service and continues to be developed as an educational site. Currently there is an original Mess Hall and Barrack at the site of Block 22, as well as an original Fire Station, Warehouse and Root Cellar. In addition, the Honor Roll listing the names of approximately 1,000 individuals that served in the army from Minidoka was dedicated in 2011.
The Day of Remembrance recognizes the date, February 19, 1942, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which forced 120,000 Japanese American citizens and legal residents into concentration camps during World War II solely based upon their Japanese descent.
Sponsors of this event include: The International Student Center and Office of the President, Seattle University and the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington. Parking at the Broadway Garage at Seattle University is being hosted by the Office of the President.
Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington
Minidoka Pilgrimage Committee
July 27, 2012
2012 Minidoka Pilgrimage Group Photo by Eugene Tagawa
2012 Minidoka Pilgrimage Camp Photo by Eugene Tagawa
Here’s links to various sites where pictures from the 2012 Minidoka Pilgrimage have been posted!
Feel free to browse and use for your own personal usage but if you wish to use pictures for commercial purposes please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Idaho History Groups Disheartened by Idaho Supreme Court Decision Sanctioning Factory Farm at WWII Japanese American Incarceration Site
Here’s the press release from Friends of Minidoka regarding the recent Idaho Supreme Court ruling that allows a CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) to be built a mile from the Minidoka National Historic Site.
Frank Yamagata worked the land, helped build Intern camp — to provide for his family
TWIN FALLS • Frank Yamagata was 24 when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. Yamagata wanted to join the army and defend his country, but his family believed his duty was at home being a farmer.
“I didn’t mind being a soldier,” Yamagata said. “I kind of wanted to go; it was an adventure. When you’re young you never considered you might die.”
Yamagata, 94, lives in a Twin Falls assisted living home. The back that once worked 160 acres of farmland is now hunched over a walker as he shuffles through the hallways near his room.
Yamagata, a second-generation Japanese-American born near Yakima, Wash., in 1917, moved to the Magic Valley in the mid-1920s. The oldest of four children, he quit school in the 10th grade to help his father farm. His father’s health was fragile after a heart attack, and Yamagata knew he had to provide for the family. With Yamagata’s help, one of his siblings went to college.
Father and son sharecropped for several farmers in the Jerome area until Pearl Harbor, when the farmer they worked for kicked them off his property.
“He liked the way we farmed, but when Japan attacked he thought we attacked the U.S.,” Yamagata said.
That incident is one of the few times Yamagata remembers discrimination because of his ethnicity. There were few Japanese families in the Twin Falls area in the ’20s and ’30s, but Yamagata never felt different and said his work ethic is how people knew him.
The Yamagata reputation proved valuable; he and his father were soon working on another farmer’s land.
“He knew I would do a good job, and I did a good job for him,” Yamagata said.
‘Not the Way to Treat People’
To earn extra money Yamagata picked up a second job working from midnight to 8 a.m. building what would be the Minidoka War Relocation Center outside of Hunt.
“They were hunting for people to build that camp; anybody who could hold a hammer was hired,” Yamagata said. “I just helped the carpenters and lugged lumber.”
Yamagata knew the camp was meant to imprison people of Japanese descent but felt he could do nothing to change anything, he said. “I felt sorry for them. They had nice homes back there. That’s not the way to treat people.”
He made friends with many of the people who lived inside the internment camp. A couple visited Yamagata when they received day passes, and he is still friends with some of them.
Yamagata said he remembers a time when the U.S. government wanted an inventory of his personal belongings; he doesn’t know why but thinks it was just in case the Japanese were successful enough to invade the U.S.
“The government was just afraid of those along the coast. There was no way we could sabotage this far away from the coast,” Yamagata said.
His mother’s family lived in Nevada, and he heard stories of how one of his relatives lost a job with the Union Pacific Railroad because of fears that he might sabotage the trains.
‘I Grew Up Here’
In 1942, Yamagata made enough money to buy his own farm — only two miles from the Minidoka War Relocation Center. Yamagata said it was hard to for him and his parents to see people just like them lose a hard-earned way of life while his family was free.
At 34, Yamagata married Misako Fujita. She was from Ogden, Utah, and her father did not approve of their courtship. The two eloped, leaving behind only a note for her family. Yamagata’s mother had only one rule for her son when it came to a wife: Bring home a girl who speaks Japanese.
When Fujita arrived at her new home, she was afraid when she saw all the sagebrush and rocks. She was a city girl who quickly had to adapt to her new home. For some time the newlyweds and Yamagata’s parents lived in a two-room granary. They used an outhouse and an outdoor bath house with a fire underneath. The main house eventually built is now gone, though the old granary still stands.
Fujita helped Yamagata care for his two elderly parents until they died. The couple eventually had a daughter they named Wanda, who now lives in Twin Falls with her husband, Russell Davis. Wanda said her mother was a doting person, her father’s “right hand man” on the farm, and she often felt like a spoiled only child.
Before Fujita died in 2010, the couple lived with Wanda and her husband in Houston. In 2005, the whole family moved back to Twin Falls; Wanda said her parents cried because they were so happy.
“I like this area best of all. After all, I grew up here,” Yamagata said with a smile.
Wanda and Russell often visit Yamagata at the assisted living home and, once a year if he is up to it, take him to visit the old farm near Hunt. Yamagata sold it in 1980.
Wanda said her father’s story is an old-fashioned tale of hard work typical of the times he grew up in. He serves as a constant source of inspiration and strength in her life.
“Boy, what would Dad have accomplished if he was given the chance to get an education?” Wanda said. “But in his mind he never had any regrets.”
Japanese internee during World War II recounts young life inside Minidoka camp
MINIDOKA • Yosh Nakagawa was 11 when he thought he was going on his first vacation.
“I thought, ‘How great, we are going on a trip,’” Nakagawa, 80, said from his home in Washington. “I was a child and you never want to break a child’s dream. I learned as I grew that I was wrong.”
Nakagawa’s family lived in Seattle when the U.S. government sent a letter saying they had two weeks to vacate their home. The boy was one of more than 9,000 people of Japanese ancestry, many of whom were American citizens, removed from their homes and sent to the Minidoka War Relocation Center outside of Hunt.
“They evicted us. We were homeless, we had no place to go,” Nakagawa said.
Following the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which forced more than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast to leave their homes, jobs and lives behind and move to one of 10 relocation centers in the U.S.
“I was a terrorist at 11 or 12 years old,” Nakagawa said. “That shouldn’t happen to anyone. America is greater than that.”
Nakagawa remembers when he realized they weren’t on vacation. There were barbed wire fences everywhere, and he was told that if he wandered into an area he was not supposed to go he would be shot.
“A child learns fear very quickly,” he said. “If your skin color was white I was afraid.”
‘Free from Our Captivity’
While growing up inside the walls of the camp, Nakagawa worked as a paper boy making a few pennies a day. He attended middle school inside the camp and was baptized in the original First Baptist Church of Twin Falls in 1945. The Nakagawa family had attended the Japanese Baptist Church in Seattle, which was closed.
First Baptist Church of Twin Falls was one of few churches in the area that allowed people from the internment camp to worship, Nakagawa said; “It was one of the churches where we could be free from our captivity.”
Nakagawa’s little sister was 8 when they arrived at the camp, but she was too young to remember much. “We grew up in two different worlds,” he said.
In 1944, Roosevelt rescinded Executive Order 9066. The last internment camp was closed in 1945.
The Nakagawa family returned to Seattle forever changed. Nakagawa’s mother, once owner of a corner grocery store, worked inside the homes of wealthy families cooking and cleaning. The family lived in a church sanctuary until they got on their feet again. The Nakagawas also stopped speaking Japanese so their children would grow up speaking English.
In 1952, Nakagawa’s parents became citizens, and they voted in every election.
“You don’t know the joy my parents had to go and vote,” Nakagawa said.
‘The Magic Valley Invites Us’
Today Nakagawa lives in Mercer Island just outside Seattle. For much of his life he was involved in the sports world and helped run a sporting equipment store in the Seattle area. He said he met several sports stars through his work, including Billie Jean King and Jackie Robinson.
He has one son and two daughters. One of his daughters, a teacher, often has her father talk to her fourth-grade class about his life inside the internment camp.
“Isn’t that ironic? That was the grade I was in when I was interned,” he said.
On June 23, Nakagawa returned again to the home of his youth, along with others who make the pilgrimage each year to the site of their imprisonment.
Nakagawa has made this trek before, he said, and never returns with an ounce of hate.
“My returning is simply this: We did not want to go there, the Magic Valley invites us and we want to go,” Nakagawa said. “It took a tragedy to show the awesomeness of America.”
Nakagawa also makes a point to visit the First Baptist Church of Twin Falls when he is in the area. He was a guest speaker June 24.
“I’m there to tell a simple story — I was there,” Nakagawa said.
The church’s pastor, the Rev. Jeff Cooper, met Nakagawa last year while attending a Baptist conference in Puerto Rico. Though Nakagawa spoke informally at the church years ago, Cooper was so impressed with Nakagawa’s story that he personally invited him.
“It’s such a tremendous story,” Cooper said. “He holds no ill will or regret. He is coming to represent the 120,000 nikkei who were interned … he’s a great man, very humble.”
Nakagawa shares the story of his childhood because he said it is a tale that does not belong to him.
“It’s not a Japanese-American story. It’s an American story of history.”
June 24, 2012
The Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee would like to thank all of the participants in this year’s pilgrimage and the 2012 Pilgrimage was the 10th annual pilgrimage to Minidoka. We express our deepest gratitude and appreciation to all those who participated.
For pictures from this year’s pilgrimage, please check back here for updates as they get posted online.
Former WWII Internment Camp Residents Make Pilgrimage to Their Past
EDEN • Monica Chin looked across the high desert land that used to be Minidoka Relocation Center and shook her head.
“Did I go through all this?” she wondered aloud.
Seventy years ago, Chin lived inside the barbed wire compound about 15 miles northeast of Twin Falls. She was a bewildered 14-year-old girl who was incarcerated with thousands of other Japanese Americans during World War II.
Chin and dozens of others with personal memories of the internment camp visited the site Saturday during the annual pilgrimage. She said it wasn’t a bad feeling to be back, although it took years to make peace in her mind.
“For a long time I didn’t want to talk about it,” Chin said. “There was all that time wasted and all the (financial) loss.”
The New Castle, Wash., resident expressed happiness that her children from Seattle and California could be on hand Saturday to learn about their family’s past.
The Minidoka camp, one of 10 such facilities in the U.S., housed from 9,500 to 9,800 people at any given time, according to Anna Tamura of the National Park Service, who led a group through the grounds that now comprise the Minidoka Internment National Monument.
The camp operated from 1942 until November 1945.
Dennis Creed’s wife, Brenda, was born there in 1944.
“It wasn’t fair, but it is nice they’re bringing this to light so it never happens again,” he said.
Although a couple of barracks and a building that served as a fire station remain, most of the camp has long been dismantled.
“I feel lost because there are no landmarks,” said Tokuko Murdoch of Arlington, Texas, another former camp resident.
She was a child during the war, and recalled playing with friends. Murdoch didn’t consider the camp a tremendous hardship at the time, she said, although not every aspect was pleasant.
“The only thing I didn’t like was having to eat when they told you to,” she said, adding that nighttime trips to a bathroom in a laundry building weren’t fun, especially when snow covered the ground.
“Some people deny it ever happened,” Murdoch said.
John Okazaki of Los Angeles was in camp as a 14- and 15-year-old boy. He went to high school during the morning and worked as a laborer in the afternoon and on weekends, earning $8 a month.
Like some others who lived in the camp as children, he said he was too young to realize what was being taken from him.
“Everybody looked alike and you ran around with your friends,” he said.