August 5, 2014

Memories Revisited on the Minidoka Pilgrimage

Posted in 2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage, News tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:39 am by minidokapilgrimage

Memories Revisited on the Minidoka Pilgrimage
by Dana Mar

DSC_0054 copyPhoto by: Dana Mar

Heartfelt stories and hopes for the future were shared on the annual pilgrimage to the Minidoka incarceration camp from this past June 19 through the 22nd. Over the course of these few days, pilgrims—a vast majority of whom were from Washington and Idaho—traveled to gather in Twin Falls, Idaho to commune with one another over the subject of Minidoka and the current-day application of the consequences of the incarceration of so many Japanese and Japanese Americans.

Still full of energy, many of the Nisei revisited memories during the pilgrimage of their time in camp and imparted stories of life seventy years ago when President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, effectively removing Japanese and Japanese Americans from the majority of the West Coast. Some flew with multiple generations of family, while others braved the long bus ride, incidentally turning out to be more of an adventure than half the Seattle pilgrims expected as one of the buses unexpectedly broke down. Difficulties of the drive aside, yet incomparable to the experience of those bussed to Minidoka in the 1940s, it provided time for pilgrims to get to know each other and seek out old friends.

DSC_0307Tetsuden and Kanako Kashima standing next to the 2014 Pilgrimage Momento at the Closing Ceremony
Photo by: Dana Mar

This year, the Minidoka Pilgrimage held an educational program on the second day rather than a trip to the Civil Liberties Symposium. The session featured several notable speakers and presenters including opening remarks by Yosh Nakagawa, and sessions held three at a time following presented by Rev. Brooks Andrews, Dr. Neil Nakadate, Dr. Lawrence Matsuda, and more. In addition, the Pilgrimage provided genealogy workshops run by Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee members Stephen Kitajo and Bif Brigman, a film screening of Kash, directed by Vince Matsudaira, and the Minidoka Collections Tour held in previous years. The educational sessions turned out as quite a success and allowed a great variety of opportunities to listen, learn, and ask questions on subjects regarding Minidoka and the many aspects varying groups and individuals brought to the Pilgrimage.

As it was when I first attended the pilgrimage last year, the pilgrims bussed to the Minidoka site itself for a tour of the grounds upon which they were allowed to view and experience a number of returned and still standing original structures from the grounds and block 22, as well as, for the very first time, see the newly built historically accurate guard tower, constructed thanks to generous donations to the Friends of Minidoka who managed the project. Where trains and buses dropped families upon families of those defined by their Japanese heritage and “the wind swirled dust clouds,/ghosts of Minidoka wandering the land” as Lawrence Matsuda read aloud during his session on Friday, memories were unstuck from their place behind gaman. The experience of desolation, sadness, wind, heat, and sheer distance one must walk to get from one location to another gave just a small sense of what life was like for all the Issei and Nisei incarcerated there.

DSC_0091Pilgrims walking towards the site of Block 22, where an original mess hall and barrack sit
Photo by: Dana Mar

We remembered the great hardships the Issei had to go through in being imprisoned in a foreign nation and regarded as dangerous enemies despite having shown no indication of the sort. As the few remaining Nisei shared their stories and thoughts in the subsequent talk story session wherein pilgrims were split into smaller discussion groups, I recalled the words repeated to me so many times before, “Nidoto nai yoni.” In the words of Vince Matsudaira just after the showing of Kash,

DSC_0098Pilgrims walking by an original barrack building on Block 22
Photo by: Dana Mar

“people forget, history forgets, so, you know, I think we can all make our marks somewhere. …Each of us know, like, a hundred people so that keeps spreading out and spreading out, but unless it keeps going it’ll die.”

Accounts of fond memories and reminiscences of bitterness and healing from those who were in the camps were passed on from families and pilgrims previously incarcerated to those who needed to know what a grandmother never shared or how precisely did an incident occur or even what it felt like to be in the shoes of the unjustly persecuted generations of the past. It was both a sobering and heartwarming experience that one truly must be present on the pilgrimage to experience. It was an amazing experience one is not likely to forget and, as so much of the memories are being lost as time passes, ought not to for how valuable these first and even second-hand accounts are for younger and future generations to know of.

DSC_0279Presentation of the Colors by American Legion Post #41, Wendell, ID
Photo by: Dana Mar

The Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee and this year’s student scholarship recipients did such outstanding work for this year’s pilgrimage, deemed the “year of the guard tower,” and is in deserving of much thanks and appreciation. The pilgrimage has served for years to As we work to commemorate generations past and educate others about the deeper meaning of the camps and the incarceration, we hold high hopes for future generations to carry on the legacy of the Issei and Nisei.

DSC_0270Pilgrims waiting for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the newly reconstructed guard tower
Photo by: Dana Mar

August 4, 2014

Light on a dark moment in U.S. history: Bainbridge Exclusion Memorial

Posted in Bainbridge Island, Japanese American Incarceration, News tagged , , , , , at 6:12 pm by minidokapilgrimage

http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2014/08/04/light-on-a-dark-moment-in-u-s-history-the-bainbridge-exclusion-memorial

Light on a dark moment in U.S. history: Bainbridge Exclusion Memorial

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The word “Exclusion” is newly added to the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, and Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., is pressing legislation to get it formally recognized by Congress.

The expanded title was observed by Kilmer, along with Japanese Americans interned in World War II, at what the congressman described as a “pretty extraordinary meeting” Monday at the Memorial.

“One thing strikes me, the notion that not all of our history is pretty:  There is value, importance to telling the entire story,” Kilmer said afterward.

“It is a matter of rising every time we fall.  The community here is recognizing, noting a period of time when our nation’s leadership made bad decisions with horrible consequences.”

Kilmer was joined by architect Johnpaul Jones, who designed the memorial and was recently given a National Humanities Medal by President Obama.

On February 19, 1942,  President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that Japanese-Americans be moved away from the Pacific Coast to often-bleary internment camps in Idaho and Nevada.  The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld the internment.

The human consequences can be seen from 72 year old pictures from Seattle newspapers, notably 227 Japanese Americans crowding onto the dock at Bainbridge Island carrying all that they were allowed to take with them. Bainbridge was the country’s first “exclusion zone.”

An elderly woman named Yukiko Nakamura shed tears at the event on Monday.  The stories told showed instances of nobility such as the neighbors who took over the farm of one Japanese American family, and had profits to turn over when they returned.  Others, most, were left with nothing.

“Some of it was awful to hear, hurting,” Kilmer said.

The binding of wounds has taken years.  The Bainbridge Memorial is one symbol, but there are others.  These include:

–The old 5th Avenue federal courthouse in Seattle was renovated in the last decade, and renamed for William Kenzo Nakamura.  Nakamura went to an internment camp with his family, but enlisted in the U.S. Army.  He was killed in Italy on July 4, 1944, and posthumously voted the Congressional Medal of Honor more than a half-century later.

–At the 4,500-foot level on Mt. Lemmon, just outside Tucson in Arizona, is the Gordon Hirabayashi Campground and Picnic Area.  A University of Washington student from Auburn, Hirabayashi was one of two Seattle-area men who fought internment all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

(Hirabayashi was considered such a threat to national security that he was allowed to hitchhike from Seattle to the Arizona internment camp that is now a campground bearing his name.  He would later have his conviction overturned and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

–Congress voted to compensate surviving internees when it passed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Seattle’s U.S. Rep. Mike Lowry was a major sponsor of the legislation.  Amazingly, two other prime sponsors — Democratic Rep. Norm Mineta and GOP Sen. Alan Simpson — met each other as young men. Mineta was interned in Wyoming, where Simpson was growing up.

–Mineta became U.S. Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush, the first internee to serve in the Cabient.  Two U.S. Senators from Hawaii, Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga, were part of the much-decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team on the Italian front in World War II.

Walt and Millie Woodward, publisher of the Bainbridge Review, took a tougher stand four decades before all of the sometimes- posthumous honors.  They opposed the removal of Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island when it was happening.

Once excluded, the internees of World War II went on to do their country proud.  And their country has reason to take pride in them.

Will lawmakers in the other Washington officially put “Exclusion” into the title of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial?

“There are hurdles to getting anything done in Congress,” said Kilmer, in classic understatement.

July 30, 2014

2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage Photos

Posted in 2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage, News, Photos, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:48 pm by minidokapilgrimage

Here’s links to various sites where pictures from the 2014 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: minidokapilgrimage@gmail.com for more information.

Ryan Kozu:
https://picasaweb.google.com/103180039956765998297/MinidokaPilgrimage2014?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCJ7Pxp7Wm9vVEQ&feat=directlink

Minidoka Pilgrimage 2014

Dana Mar:
https://picasaweb.google.com/minidokapilgrimage/2014MinidokaPilgrimageDana?authuser=0&feat=directlink

2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage – Dana

Eugene Tagawa:
https://picasaweb.google.com/100930662448489700454/2014MinidokaPilgrimageGroupsL?authkey=Gv1sRgCLuK1-3l-vSb3wE&noredirect=1

June 30, 2014

2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage Group Pictures

Posted in 2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Friends of Minidoka, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage, Photos tagged , , , , , , , at 9:55 am by minidokapilgrimage

Here are some of the large group pictures from the 2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage.
Photo Credit: Eugene Tagawa

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2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage Participants

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Everyone who was incarcerated in Camp

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Sanseis

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Yonsei/Gonsei

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Hapas

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2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee

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2014 Seattle Bus Riders

June 10, 2014

Minidoka: Memory and Survival Captured in Literary Works

Posted in 2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Friends of Minidoka, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage, News, Photos tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:17 am by minidokapilgrimage

http://www.iexaminer.org/2014/06/minidoka-memory-and-survival-captured-in-literary-works/

Minidoka: Memory and survival captured in literary works

STAN SHIKUMA JUNE 9, 2014

Minidoka War Relocation Center, Idaho, USA. Inside the coop store of block 30, 1943. • Photo by U.S. Department of the Interior

In 1942, almost 13,000 people of Japanese ancestry, many of whom were American citizens, were removed from their homes and sent to a desolate incarceration camp near Twin Falls, Idaho. Japanese Americans spent nearly three years incarcerated at Minidoka and other camps during World War II.  Today, the Minidoka site continues to hold a mixture of memories and strong emotions—feelings of denial, distrust, shame, and joy.

 —Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee

The memories won’t die and the legacy lives on in generations that never lived inside the barbed wire of Minidoka. This is due in large part to the work of groups like the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee and Friends of Minidoka who continue to raise consciousness around the Japanese American concentration camp experience and the designation of Minidoka as a National Historic Site.

Credit is also due to the work of many authors, scholars, filmmakers, photographers and journalists who continue to research and write about the incarceration and removal, finding new details, new stories, and new connections that help keep the story alive and relevant to the present.

Two such works were recently published. One is a book by photojournalist Teresa Tamura and the other is a compilation of essays edited by historians Russell M. Tremayne and Todd Shallat.


Minidoka

Minidoka: An American Concentration Camp
By Teresa Tamura
Caxton Press, 2013

Tamura’s Minidoka chronicles the author’s own journey from a passive state of ignorance and embarrassment about Minidoka to a passionate desire to unearth and illuminate the history of the people and the place. As a photojournalist, she achieves this largely through the photos she takes of people, sites, and artifacts associated with Minidoka and the explanatory captions supplied.

Through her research, well documented in footnotes and bibliography, Tamura reveals several little known facts and provides a clear historic context. The author’s intro and a special essay by Mitsuye Yamada make fascinating reading, but the heart of the book lies in the black and white photographs taken by the author.

Tamura includes many voices in her book, providing us with the photos and perspectives of those who lived or worked in the camp; those who left Minidoka for school, work, the army or prison; those who were actually born in camp; and those who worked to keep the memories alive through organizing, teaching, speaking, writing, art, literature, and poetry. She gives a voice, a name, a face, and a historical backdrop to each portrait.


surviving_minidoka

Surviving Minidoka: The Legacy of WWII Japanese American Incarceration
Russell M. Tremayne and Todd Shallat, editors
Boise State University, 2013

In Surviving Minidoka, editors Tremayne and Shallat preserve 10 “essays and insights from the College of Southern Idaho’s annual Minidoka Civil Liberties Symposium. Contributors, in pictures and words, honor the enduring spirit of nidoto nai yoni: “let it not happen again.” (Tremayne, from An American Tragedy).

The pieces range from historical scholarly works like that of Professor Greg Robinson on Mixing the Races, to personal remembrances from artist Roger Shimomura and the late Frank Kitamoto, to reflections on specific topics or personalities like Anna Hosticka Tamura’s piece on Minidoka Gardens or Russell M. Tremayne’s piece on Nakashima woodworker. Interspersed throughout are poems and excerpts from the writings of Lawrence Matsuda, Mitsuye Yamada, Lawson Fusao Inada, and others.

Like any collection of writings by several authors, the leap from one essay to the next is sometimes wide, both in style and content. Taken as a whole, however, the 10 essays, punctuated with numerous ancillary photos and writings, create a nuanced picture of Minidoka concentration camp and of the social milieu in which it was created: early 20th century America.

Viewed side by side, Minidoka and Surviving Minidoka offer a stark contrast: one in muted black and white with a single narrative and author, the other a busy full-color volume with multiple viewpoints and far-ranging topics. Both, however, are artistically attractive, both apt to kindle some emotional response, each with a unique take on one of America’s ten concentration camps of WWII: Minidoka.

The 2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage takes place from June 19 to 22. This 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. For more information, visit www.minidokapilgrimage.org.

June 3, 2014

Visitor Center Planned for Minidoka National Historic Site

Posted in Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage, News tagged , , , , , , , at 9:55 am by minidokapilgrimage

http://magicvalley.com/news/local/visitor-center-planned-for-minidoka-national-historic-site/article_feed3a24-e625-11e3-878f-001a4bcf887a.html

Visitor Center Planned for Minidoka National Historic Site

May 28, 2014 1:30 am  •  

EDEN • The Minidoka National Historic Site near Eden was an internment camp established during World War II where approximately 13,000 Japanese-American internees were detained. Now, through the National Park Service, the old Minidoka Relocation Center will be receiving a brand new visitor center to tell the story of the hardships of Japanese-Americans held there.

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. The order authorized the Secretary of War to exclude any persons from designated areas as a national security measure. According to Carol Ash, chief of interpretation and education for the National Park Service at Hagerman Fossil Beds and Minidoka, nearly 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were rounded up along the Pacific Coast following Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and placed into internment camps throughout the country.

In addition to a new staffed visitor center at the site in Eden, some of the camp’s original buildings will be rehabilitated to provide a better perspective of life while imprisoned there. Exhibits detailing the incarceration experience will be built and a public reflection area will also be available where visitors to the site can record their feelings about the camp.

“There were government reports that said they (Japanese-Americans) were no threat to their country during WWII,” Ash said. “After the war was over there was not one single documented case of sabotage by the Nisei, by the Japanese. It truly, truly was a civil liberties issue and that’s what makes these sites so very important.”

Ash also said that an oral history area will be on-site and contain audio of camp internees talking about their experiences. Ash hopes that a new visitor’s center at the site will help better educate and illustrate the importance of remembering what happened. Ash said that plans are moving Planning for the new visitor’s center began in April and it will hopefully completed by 2017, Ash said.

“We call it a site of conscience,” said Ash of the Minidoka site. “Two thirds of those people were American citizens. There was no due process of any kind and they were forcibly removed from their homes.”

The internees were sent to detention centers where they stayed for months until the relocation centers were built. From 1942 to 1945, the internment camps would be home to American citizens because of widespread paranoia following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

“They spent three years in prison,” Ash said. “With no due process it becomes a civil liberties issue and that’s why it’s so critical that we remember that.”

March 23, 2014

Dr. Frank Kitamoto, 74, Japanese-American leader dies

Posted in Bainbridge Island, Friends of Minidoka, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage, News tagged , , , , , , at 9:09 am by minidokapilgrimage

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2023194344_kitamotoobit1xml.html

Dr. Frank Kitamoto, 74, Japanese-American leader dies

Dr. Frank Kitamoto, a leader of Bainbridge Island’s Japanese-American community, who spread awareness about Japanese internment camps, died of kidney and heart complications March 15 at a Seattle hospital. He was 74.

March 22, 2014

By Paige Cornwell
Seattle Times staff reporter

Frank Kitamoto sits next to a plaque at the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.
COURTESY THE KITAMOTO FAMILY, 2008
Frank Kitamoto sits next to a plaque at the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.

When Japanese Americans returned home after being incarcerated in internment camps during World War II, no one wanted to talk about their experiences. It was too painful. They wanted to move on.

Determined to ensure that what his community experienced would never happened again, Frank Kitamoto broke that silence.

Dr. Kitamoto, a dentist, was a leader of Bainbridge Island’s Japanese-American community, who spread awareness about Japanese internment camps, died March 15 at a Seattle hospital. He was 74.

He died of heart and kidney complications, according to his sister Lilly Kodama, of Bainbridge Island.

Frank Kitamoto was 2½ years old in 1942 when he, his mother and three sisters were sent to the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California after President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. His father had already been rounded up by the FBI for questioning; he joined the family later.

The Japanese Americans on Bainbridge Island were the first group in Washington to be taken to the internment camps, Dr. Kitamoto said during an interview with Idaho Public Television in 2007. The Kitamoto family stayed in Manzanar for 11 months, then they were transferred to Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho.

Dr. Kitamoto’s earliest memories were from the camps, so, he said, he didn’t know what he was missing then. Later, he realized how difficult it must have been for the adults. He remembered spit-wad fights with other children and getting trampled at the end of the Miss Minidoka contest. When he was 5, he stole cigarettes from his dad’s dresser and smoked the whole pack, he told the television interviewer. Afterward, he was sick for a week.

“But I did give up smoking when I was 5 years old,” he said. “I remember that.”

Dr. Kitamoto was 5 when his family returned to Bainbridge Island near the end of the war. He struggled with identity, said Gerald Elfendahl, who met him in the early 1980s when they worked together on an exhibit at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, where Elfendahl was the curator.

“After World War II, there was such a strong social pressure for the Japanese to assimilate and not share their culture,” Elfendahl said. “He didn’t think it was good to be Japanese,” Dr. Kitamoto told him.

That changed when Dr. Kitamoto realized the public needed to hear about their experiences, Kodama said. When he tried to interview those who had been interned, some members of the community viewed him as an “angry young man who was rocking the boat,” said Clarence Moriwaki, who met Dr. Kitamoto in 1998 when Dr. Kitamoto was president of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community.

“There were 120,000 stories, and all their stories are different, “Moriwaki said. “Some have spent their whole time trying to forget it. Talking about it picks at that scab, and it’s painful. Frank did understand that, but he wanted to make sure that it didn’t happen again.”

Dr. Kitamoto worked with others to create an oral-history project, which he presented to students in Washington and across the nation. When Dr. Kitamoto’s exhibits and the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial were completed, the same men who initially had been opposed came forward, Kodama said.

“They told Frank they were sure glad he didn’t pay any attention to them,” Kodama said.

Dr. Kitamoto had a successful dental practice on Bainbridge Island. In his offices, there were rooms filled with heirlooms donated to him by Japanese-American families. It must have driven his wife, Sharon, crazy, Moriwaki said, but she also recognized how important the items were.

“The artifacts were all over the place, and yet he felt these were important to save,” Moriwaki said. “He knew those pieces weren’t junk, they were somebody’s story.”

In addition to his sister, Lilly, survivors include Dr. Kitamoto’s wife, Sharon, and son Derek, both of Bainbridge Island, and sister Frances Ikegami of Bremerton.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2530 or pcornwell@seattletimes.com

March 20, 2014

2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage Registration Information

Posted in 2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage, News tagged , , , , , at 9:05 am by minidokapilgrimage

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Registration for the 2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage is now open.  Registration can either be done online or via mail.

Links:
2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage Information Page: http://minidokapilgrimage.wordpress.com/2014-minidoka-pilgrimage-information-page/
Online Registration: http://minidokapilgrimage2014.bpt.me/
2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage Registration Form:  http://www.minidokapilgrimage.org/2014_Minidoka_Pilgrimage_Registration_Form.pdf
2014 Senior Scholarship Form: http://www.minidokapilgrimage.org/2014_Senior_Registration_Form.pdf
Information and Hotel Info Sheet: http://www.minidokapilgrimage.org/2014_Information_and_Hotel_Info_Sheet__1_.pdf

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2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage Press Release

Posted in 2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Friends of Minidoka, Honor Roll, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage, News tagged , , , , , , , at 9:02 am by minidokapilgrimage

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Press Release – For Immediate Release

2014 Minidoka Pilgrimage
June 19 – June 22, 2014

Announcing the 12th Annual Minidoka Pilgrimage and the 72nd Anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066

Seattle, WA – March 4, 2014

The Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee announces the 2014 pilgrimage dates are Thursday, June 19 through Sunday, June 22, 2014.

Registration forms and additional information for the pilgrimage can be found at www.minidokapilgrimage.org.

There are two different registration packages:
• The Seattle/Bellevue package includes bus transportation from Bellevue, Washington to Twin Falls, Idaho. The registration fee is $385.00.
• The Boise/Twin Falls Package requires participants to provide their own transportation to Twin Falls, Idaho. The price is $185.00. **There is a discount on both packages for children and seniors 75 years and older. 

The registration fee includes meals and all activities during the pilgrimage. Lodging must be made by each participant. Please review the Hotel and Information document and the Registration Form for more information on Pilgrimage packages (Seattle and Twin Falls). This information can be found on the Minidoka Pilgrimage web site at www.minidokapilgrimage.org.

Pilgrimage Details 
In 1942, almost 13,000 people of Japanese-ancestry living in Washington and Oregon, many of whom were American citizens, were removed from their homes and sent to a desolate “incarceration camp” near Twin Falls, Idaho. This summer, the 12th 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 Minidoka Pilgrimage officially begins in Twin Falls, Idaho on Thursday evening, June 19, for dinner. On Friday, this year will feature a full day of educational programming. On Saturday, the group tours the Minidoka National Park Site followed with small group discussions to learn and share experiences of the incarceration experience. On Sunday morning, we will conclude our pilgrimage with a commemorative closing ceremony at Minidoka National Park Site.

The Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee is excited to once again offer a SENIOR SCHOLARSHIP for those who are over 80 years of age and were imprisoned in any of the American concentration camps during WWII. Please review the Senior Scholarship Registration Form to apply for the scholarship.

All forms and information can be found on the Minidoka Pilgrimage website at www.minidokapilgrimage.org.

For other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at minidokapilgrimage@gmail.com.

For those who cannot access the forms and information by computer, please leave your name and address with Dale H Watanabe at 206-296-6260 and they can be mailed to you.

Contact: Dale H Watanabe
(206) 296-6260
watanad@seattleu.edu

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March 19, 2014

The Minidoka Pilgrimage and Continuing the Legacy

Posted in Bainbridge Island, Japanese American Incarceration, Manzanar Pilgrimage, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage, News tagged , , , , , , , at 9:52 am by minidokapilgrimage

This piece was contributed by Chanda Ishisaka, co-chair of the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee

http://chiyokomartinez.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/the-minidoka-pilgrimage-and-continuing-the-legacy/

The Minidoka Pilgrimage and Continuing the Legacy

March 16, 2014 

minidoka pilgrimage committee 2011

Today I received the news that my friend and fellow Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee member passed away. Frank was a baby during World War II when his family was told to leave Bainbridge Island and go to the War Relocation camp in Manzanar, California and later sent to the camp called Minidoka in Idaho. To me, Frank was my elder, a man I respected and looked for guidance and wisdom. With his passing, I can’t help but reflect what the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee has meant to me over the years.

I joined the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee in 2009 whenI was a graduate student and received a scholarship to attend the pilgrimage. I am a yonsei, fourth generation Japanese American where my great grandparents were the first to immigrate to this country in the late 1800′s. My  family was incarcerated at several camps during WWII: Tule Lake in California, Gila River in Arizona, and Heart Mountain in Wyoming. My grandfather enlisted in the U.S. Military Intelligence Service. But like most other Japanese Americans, my family did not talk about the incarceration experience although it has impacted us and our communities during World War II and continues to this day.

As a kid I spent a lot of time at my auntie’s house where also lived my grandfather and his sister, my great aunt, who I consider my obachan (grandma). If I could characterize my interactions with my grandparents I would say we were always polite, obedient, and with very few words exchanged. This is where I mastered indirect communication. I could tell my grandparents wanted to know about my parents, about us children, and our upbringing but didn’t know how to talk to us. One day my obachan waved a can of soup and said to me, “Is this what your mother makes you?” I nodded and then she started to shake her head and mutter to my grandpa in Japanese. I know they thought we lived like barbarians back at home with my two working parents.

When my parents were going through hard times I spent the summer with my grandparents. My grandpa wouldn’t say anything but once a week he would plan an outing for us. He would just walk out of his room and tell my brother, sister and I to get in the car. He took us to his favorite lake, the mall, the movies, the zoo, and the beach and fishing pier. One of the funniest moments was when he turned on the car and started playing the Mexican radio station. Then after awhile on the road he looked at me and said, “Is this what your mother plays to you?” I looked over to my brother and started smiling. My mother is Mexican and I think that’s what brought a lot of confusion and speculation from my grandparents. I told my grandpa I don’t listen to that kind of music and reminded him we don’t know Spanish. He nodded his head and changed the station.

Fast forward to 2009 and attending the Minidoka Pilgrimage. I was a transplant to Seattle from Los Angeles and thought going to this pilgrimage would help me connect to my roots and also to learn about the Japanese community from the Pacific  Northwest. The Minidoka Pilgrimage is a four-day trip in Twin Falls, Idaho where we visit the former Minidoka incarceration camp which was one of ten incarceration camps in the United States for people of Japanese ancestry. We offer an option to take a coach bus for twelve hours from Seattle, Washington to Idaho. What happens on this bus ride to and back from Minidoka is transformational and hard to explain. Yes, it’s exhausting, but allows a moment to bond with a group of strangers where we share stories, watch war related films, and be together through the entire journey.

On the Minidoka Pilgrimage I was able to understand and find solace of the issues that have impacted the Japanese American community for generations. I was able to have the inter-generational dialogue and the tough conversations I didn’t realize I was craving. When I walked on the grounds of the Minidoka camp I found myself gravitate to a woman that looked like myobachan. I asked her how she was feeling being back at Minidoka. I expected her to say she was fine or having a good time but instead she looked at me and said, “I’m angry. Why did they have to send us here?”

After talking to her I thought of my own grandma who was my age in camp, and in this crappy, desolate location. Angry and sad tears came down my face as I closed my eyes and sent a prayer to my grandma. I could now see the trauma and racism my ancestors experienced in this country, and being on that land made me feel closer to my ancestors.

My plan after the pilgrimage was to talk to my grandfather. I was going to tell him all about the trip and for us to talk more about our family experience in camp and after camp. I wanted to ask his permission to request from the United States National Archives our family members war relocation authority files  where I could get all of their documentation during camp. Yet I never got to ask my grandpa. On July 18, 2009 I was volunteering for the Minidoka Pilgrimage Committee at the Seattle Buddhist Temple during their Bon Odori festival when I received the news from my dad that my grandpa passed away.

I had a hard time opening up to others about my grandpa’s death. Again I was reminded by my indirect communication style and how my grandparents and I liked to bury our emotions and be stoic. I lied to my boss and co-workers saying I needed to go home for vacation instead of the reality that I was going  back for my grandpa’s funeral.

In my own healing process with my grandpa’s passing, I decided to stay involved with the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee. Every year I attend the pilgrimage, I cry. I miss my grandpa. But I also laugh and smile. Every year I find community, compassion, and kinship.

At the end of the Minidoka pilgrimage two years ago I was waiting at the airport in Idaho to return to Seattle with a group of the community leaders including Frank. Together we strategized and discussed the importance of the pilgrimage and what we saw for the future. I was in awe of these elders who were the leaders in the community and who included me in this process. Then the elders shared with me how the community is changing. The elder generation who was in camp have been dying off by the minute. They foresaw the pilgrimage having to change with the next generation and they were going to need me to help take over with the leadership. I shrugged and shook my head at their comments. I believed they shouldn’t be talking like that and they would be here for many more years to continue on the pilgrimage.

Not too much later, I was asked by the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee to co-chair the committee. I could hear my grandfather in my ear, encouraging me to do it, and I said yes.  With the support of Frank, the other pilgrimage committee members and my community, I am happy to be part of such a great group of people.

I didn’t know what I was signing up for back in 2009 by going to the Minidoka Pilgrimage, but in the process I was able to learn more about my family, my community, and finding my voice.  It is important for me to continue the legacy of my grandpa and my ancestors, and now also people like Frank and those I have met on the pilgrimage who have passed on.

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