Densho eNews - December

From the Director: Tom Ikeda

Minidoka Reunion 2007Attending the Minidoka Reunion in Las Vegas last month was a powerful emotional experience. I laughed at the surprised recognition and banter of people renewing acquaintances after not meeting for over sixty years. And as I recounted the journey of Japanese Americans through detention at the Minidoka, Idaho, incarceration camp, I choked up thinking of my mother, whose older brother was killed in action with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Italy. Minidoka Reunion 2007 Also emotional was hearing Neil King, Superintendent of the Minidoka Internment National Monument, announce his decision to retire after forty years of public service. Two hundred Nisei gave him a standing ovation in appreciation for his work to preserve Minidoka as a reminder of an injustice that must not be repeated. I am pictured with my father Victor "Junks" Ikeda and mother, Mary. Neil King (center) is seen with Fumi Tanabe, Frank Muramatsu, Jim Akagi, and Mits Kawachi.

Congratulations to the Minidoka Reunion Committee for a great event!

From the Archive

Quest for Justice: A Profile of Gordon Hirabayashi

"I felt that during the war it would be hard to get justice... During the war nothing that the army said was questioned."
   -- Gordon Hirabayashi

Over the years Densho has interviewed hundreds of Japanese Americans and others who offer diverse perspectives of the World War II incarceration. Among the interviewees are individuals who played key roles in the fight to prove that the forced removal and detention were unconstitutional, and that the government's justification of military necessity was false. One of those key players is Gordon Hirabayashi, who as a twenty-four-year-old college student, schooled in his constitutional rights, went to jail rather than obey the "evacuation" orders. His challenge became one of four test cases to reach the Supreme Court.

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Densho News

Legal Scholar Eric Muller on the "American Inquisition"

Densho presents a talk and book signing by legal scholar Eric Muller, author of American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II. Muller will speak at 2:00pm, Sunday, December 9, at the University of Washington's Ethnic Cultural Center / Theatre, 3940 Brooklyn Avenue NE. American Inquisition is a groundbreaking examination of the government tribunals that passed judgment on the loyalty of 70,000 citizens of Japanese descent. Already imprisoned without trial, those deemed disloyal were sent into even more punishing detention at Tule Lake. Historian Roger Daniels will introduce Muller. The event is free. No tickets are required, and seating is unreserved. Books will be sold by the University Book Store. Copresented by the University of Washington American Ethnic Studies Department.

>> For more information about the event

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Community Events

2007 Minidoka Reunion Draws Hundreds

On the 62nd anniversary of the closing of the Minidoka incarceration camp, over two hundred Nisei, friends, and family attended a reunion held November 6-7 in Las Vegas. Attendees came from around the country to renew friendships formed in the harsh conditions of the Idaho detention camp. Tom Ikeda emceed the banquet and shared video reminiscences of Minidoka from the archive of Densho interviews. The site of the former camp is now a National Monument, and legislation is pending to expand Minidoka to become a National Historic Site.

Washington State Senators Back Tule Lake Study Legislation

Senator Maria Cantwell and Senator Patty Murray have co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to authorize the National Park Service to conduct a special resource study of the Tule Lake Segregation Center in northern California. A Congressionally authorized study of Tule Lake is the first step toward possible designation of the Tule Lake National Historic Site, which would create a new unit of the National Park System at the site of the detention camp for Japanese Americans labeled as disloyal. In a positive step forward for this legislation, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the bill, which was supported by the National Park Service.

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Your Gift Matters!

We know that preserving the memories of the Japanese American incarceration matters to those who lived through the ordeal. We know this important work also matters to hundreds of younger people who want to learn more about the camps than a brief mention in their history class. One student recently wrote: "I learned a lot about the incarceration of the Japanese Americans during WWII, and I also learned about my own family history. It has meant a lot to me. Thank you for your website and for allowing me to use it as such an important research source."

To help Densho collect and share more testimonies of a chapter in American history that none of us should forget, make a gift that matters. Please contribute today.

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