July 27, 2012

2012 Minidoka Pilgrimage Photos

Posted in 2012 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:22 am by minidokapilgrimage

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: minidokapilgrimage@gmail.com for more information.

Ryan Kozu: https://picasaweb.google.com/103180039956765998297/MinidokaPilgrimage2012?authuser=0&feat=directlink

Eugene Tagawa: https://picasaweb.google.com/100930662448489700454/2012PILGRIMAGEA?authkey=Gv1sRgCNWPmKeykdLDfg#

Idaho History Groups Disheartened by Idaho Supreme Court Decision Sanctioning Factory Farm at WWII Japanese American Incarceration Site

Posted in 2012 Minidoka Pilgrimage, CAFO, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage tagged , , , , , , , at 11:11 am by minidokapilgrimage

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.

For immediate release:
Emily Momohara, Friends of Minidoka, ehmomohara@yahoo.com
Dean Dimond, 208-280-1081edendimond@bridgemail.com
Charlie Tebbutt, Law Offices of Charles M. Tebbutt, 541-344-8312,charlie.tebbuttlaw@gmail.com
Idaho History Groups Disheartened by Idaho Supreme Court Decision Sanctioning Factory Farm at WWII Japanese American Incarceration Site
Suit appealed Jerome County District Court’s decision on County’s decision-making Process, arguing that the permit application excluded important information about potential harm to Minidoka National Historic Site and surrounding farms
Twin Falls, ID – July 7, 2012 – The Friends of Minidoka, Dimond Family, and Idaho Concerned Area Residents for the Environment are deeply disappointed by the Idaho Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a permit for a factory farm operation that poses major hazards to Minidoka National Historic Site (Minidoka) and surrounding families. As an incarceration facility for Japanese American citizens during World War II, Minidoka is an important part of local and national history.
The coalition remains deeply concerned about the ramifications that a confined animal feeding operation, or “CAFO,” would create at Minidoka and surrounding farms. The court challenge first arose after the Jerome County Board of Commissioners (Board) voted to approve an application for (CAFO) permit a mile upwind from Minidoka on September 23, 2008.  It included support from prominent national groups, such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which named Minidoka one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places in 2007. In the summer of 2010, Judge Elgee of Jerome County District Court denied the challenger’s petition for judicial review. That decision was appealed in early 2011.
The Minidoka Relocation Center, a World War II internment camp for Japanese Americans and their immigrant ancestors, operated from August 1942 to October 1945, housing 13,000 Japanese Americans from Washington, Oregon and Alaska on a 33,000-acre site with over 600 buildings.  Designated a National Monument in 2001, under the auspices of the National Park Service, the site, visited annually by thousands, tells stories about wartime division and subsequent post war unification and settlement.  In 2008, Congress passed legislation to expand Minidoka and call it a National Historic Site.
“The Friends of Minidoka is saddened to hear the verdict today,” says Hanako Wakatsuki, Chairperson of FOM. “We are large supporters of the agricultural industry in Jerome County and believe preservation at Minidoka can take place at the same time, but only if farming operations are planned in a way that recognize public uses.”
Charlie Tebbutt, coalition lawyer, says, “The Idaho Supreme Court’s extremely narrow reading reading of the law effectively eliminates the rights of people to protect themselves and their property from the scourge of industrial animal production facilities, such as the one proposed by South View.  It is a sad day for the rights of Japanese Americans who suffered the indignities of being sequestered during World War II to be told that they have no standing to protect the National Historic Site at which their and their ancestors’ civil liberties were denied.”
The Friends of Minidoka is a non-profit organization which engages in and supports education, upholds the legacy of those incarcerated and the incarceration experience, supports research, and promotes alliances with organizations and entities with common objectives, specifically, but not limited to the National Park Service. We honor the legacy of those incarcerated and the incarceration experience, thus promote site preservation. www.minidoka.org

Frank Yamagata worked the land, helped build Intern camp — to provide for his family

Posted in Minidoka tagged , , , , , at 11:06 am by minidokapilgrimage


Frank Yamagata worked the land, helped build Intern camp — to provide for his family

Frank Yamagata Portrait Frank Yamagata

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

Posted in 2012 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Japanese American Incarceration, Minidoka Pilgrimage tagged , , , , , , , at 11:04 am by minidokapilgrimage


Japanese internee during World War II recounts young life inside Minidoka camp

Nakagawa 3 Yosh Nakagawa

July 02, 2012 2:00 am  •  By Tetona Dunlap tdunlap@magicvalley.com

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.”