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Japanese American Incarceration

On February 19, 1942, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which resulted in the forced removal of over 120,000 people of Japanese descent from their west coast homes, first to “assembly centers,” then to more permanent “relocation centers.” In reality, they were prisons or concentration camps, later euphemized as “internment camps.” A majority of the people were American citizens. My parents, who were sent to the Poston, Arizona camp, were among them.

The unlawful incarceration changed the lives of all who were detained. The mass incarceration was based solely on race and aimed at a group of people with little political power. As a journalist and child of two survivors of the camps, I wanted to document current-day efforts to deal with the past trauma and educate people about what happened.

I have done personal projects on survivors and their descendants attending pilgrimages to the camp sites and gone on several trips with my older sister and her partner in a quest to visit all ten camp sites.

In 2019 I spent two weeks documenting the Minidoka National Historic Site for the National Park Service as they work to recreate a small portion of the camp that existed near Jerome, Idaho. They have recovered a barrack, mess hall and fire station and placed them on their historic locations. A guard tower was built by graduate students at Boise State University and volunteers constructed a baseball field.