July 3, 2013

Former Internees Trek to Minidoka Relocation Center

Posted in 2013 Minidoka Pilgrimage, Minidoka, Minidoka Pilgrimage, News tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:46 pm by minidokapilgrimage


Former Internees Trek to Minidoka Relocation Center

June 24, 2013 2:00 am  •  By Julie Wootton – jwootton@magicvalley.com

EDEN • Louise Kashino remembers windy days as a teenager at the Minidoka Relocation Center when the dust would fly up and sting her eyes.

At the camp surrounded by barbed wire, it would make it hard to see anything.

Saturday, the weather conditions were much the same as in the 1940s, as the wind whipped the tall grass at what’s now the Minidoka National Historic Site.

But Kashino – who is in her 80s and lives in Seattle – said when she comes back to visit what was once the internment camp, it isn’t the sagebrush and sand-covered landscape she remembers.

“It’s totally different,” she said, sitting in a tour bus during the annual Minidoka Pilgrimage.

Kashino described the experience as “nostalgic.”

She arrived at the Minidoka Relocation Center – about 15 miles north of Twin Falls – when she was 16 .

About 200 people went on the Minidoka Pilgrimage this weekend, participating in walking tours and ceremonies.

Kashino and about 10 other people on the pilgrimage – many of whom were internees – recalled their experiences as they talked to each other on a tour bus.

Most were children or teenagers when they were at the Hunt Camp. Many come back year after year for the pilgrimage.

Tosh Okamoto, who lives in Seattle, said most of the people who were sitting around him live in the Portland and Seattle areas now.

“Most of us are in our 80s,” he said.

Looking back on his time as an internee, Okamoto recalled what it was like to be forced to relocate.

“I think for most of us, it was an injustice against us,” he said.

But Okamoto said he’s proud of the Japanese-American culture.

“We could have been really angry,” he said, but noted most of his peers aren’t.

The anger over what happened hasn’t been so much that it prevented them from moving forward, he said.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in February 1942.

It forced the relocation of more than 120,000 West Coast Japanese-Americans into temporary incarceration facilities.

The Minidoka Relocation Center was one 10 centers.

When internees arrived at the Minidoka Relocation Center in 1942, the camp wasn’t even complete yet. But Hunt, Idaho, ended up becoming the seventh largest population center in the state.

In the 1940s, the camp comprised about 600 structures spanning 33,000 acres. After it closed, many of the buildings were moved. Only a few remain.

Saturday, participants in the Minidoka Pilgrimage wore paper tags on strings with their names, similar to the IDs internees wore at the camp.

Groups took walking tours along a 1.6-mile trail, making stops at buildings such as a root cellar, old warehouse and two barracks with peeling white paint.

But the most of the camp has long been dismantled.

As one of the tour groups stopped in half of an old warehouse, dozens of visitors took pictures and looked up at the old wooden ceiling beams.

In a town that had nearly 10,000 people, the tour guide said, warehouses were essential for storage.

People of several generations – from children to those in their 80s or 90s – looked around the historic site, which was created in 2001.

Many brought cameras and took pictures.

During the pilgrimage, tour groups looked at the honor roll, which lists the names of Japanese Americans from the relocation center who served in the military during World War II.

Okamoto, a World War II veteran, recalls a memorial service for his fellow internees who volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army and were killed in action.

“It was a sad time,” he said.


  1. Mustang.Koji said,

    Reblogged this on Masako and Spam Musubi and commented:
    This is one of the camps where my dad, his older brother and nieces and nephew were imprisoned in during World War II. One nephew (my cousin Bobby) also died here in 1943.

  2. Mustang.Koji said,

    As time marches on, less and less of the original camp remains. I guess that is nature… Hopefully, the wounds will also diminish like those in my father and cousins.

  3. Dr. Rex said,

    This was a sad time indeed. I fail to understand human nature …. there are so many examples!!! This is one of many ….. so sad indeed. Should have never happened …. and still so many other things take place currently. Re-blog!!

  4. Dr. Rex said,

    Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    One of the many sad times in the history of the United States!!!

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