Densho eNews - June

From the Director: Tom Ikeda

This summer is a very active interview period for Densho. We recently completed a successful trip to Denver where Densho and the Manzanar National Park Service conducted thirteen excellent video interviews and brought back three photo collections of the Amache concentration camp for digital preservation (see below for more information and photos from the trip). The highlight was meeting and documenting the life histories of some extraordinary Japanese Americans in the intermountain region.

We enjoy visiting Nikkei communities in different parts of the country and are grateful for the welcome we are receiving. This month Densho will interview in Salt Lake City in partnership with the Topaz Museum. Later in the summer we plan to visit the Bay Area to gather more life histories.

From the Archive

New Neighbors Among Us: The Japanese American "Resettlement"

"Thousands have dropped into scattered communities without causing an economic or social ripple."
   -- War Relocation Authority

"Since early 1942, when the mass evacuation of 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast was begun as a military necessity, the business of finding new homes for the loyal citizens and law-abiding aliens among them had been steadily proceeding. Even before the last ones had been uprooted and sent to the ten relocation centers, provided for their temporary refuge, some of the first ones had already moved into new homes in communities outside the exclusion zones."

So reads a pamphlet entitled New Neighbors Among Us, published by the War Relocation Authority (WRA), the agency in charge of the Japanese American incarceration camps. Government officials realized from the outset of the mass removal that they would need to release the detained Japanese Americans into free society or take on managing a permanently dependent population.

>> Read more of this article

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Densho News

Densho and Collaborators Interview in Denver

The Densho staff headed to Denver in May as we expand our collecting of video life stories from the Pacific Northwest to locations where Japanese Americans moved after World War II. Staff members Tom Ikeda, Dana Hoshide, and Megan Asaka were assisted in the interviewing by ethnic studies professor Daryl Maeda of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and by National Park Service employees Richard Potashin and Kirk Peterson. Densho will return to Denver in July 3-6 after conducting interviews in Salt Lake City from June 2 to 5. Plans for interviewing in other cities will be announced in coming months.

>> View photos of Densho's interview trip to Denver

Densho Wins History Award

Densho has been honored by the Washington State Historical Society with the 2007 David Douglas Award. This award recognizes educational projects that expand the appreciation of a field of state history. Densho will receive the award at the historical society's annual meeting, on June 21 at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma.

>> For more information about the Washington State Historical Society

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>> To sign up for the free Densho eNews

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National News and Events

Report to Congress for Camps Preservation Grants

On June 3 the National Park Service (NPS) submitted a report to Congress summarizing how it will implement a grant program to support the preservation and interpretation of historic confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. Public Law 109-441 authorizes NPS to develop and carry out the proposed $38 million grant program when funds are appropriated. In a six-month civic engagement process, NPS solicited public input for developing grant guidelines and evaluation criteria. The report will be reviewed by the House Committee on Appropriations.

>> Read the National Park Service Report to Congress

Reminders of National Conferences

Keep in mind the dates of several national gatherings commemorating Japanese American history:

Honorary Degrees for University of Washington Nikkei Students

On May 18, a sunny Sunday afternoon in Seattle, Japanese Americans who had been forced from the University of Washington campus in spring 1942 met again on campus to receive honorary degrees. Some 450 Nikkei students had their education at the UW disrupted by the exclusion orders that sent them into detention. In a moving convocation, where Norman Mineta delivered the keynote address, 150 Japanese American former students or family representatives accepted honorary bachelor degrees from UW regents. As Mineta remarked, "It's never too late to do the right thing. It's never too late to rejoice that the right thing has been done."

>> View the Long Journey Home ceremony
>> Read a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article

Roger Shimomura's Minidoka on My Mind

Minidoka on My Mind, a new series of paintings by artist Roger Shimomura, is on display at the Flomenhaft Gallery in New York until June 28. Born in Seattle, Shimomura was detained as a young child at the Minidoka, Idaho, incarceration camp. In his career as an artist and professor of art at the University of Kansas, Shimomura has investigated ethnic identity and persistent racist stereotypes. The artist generously granted permission to Densho to use his 1999 series An American Diary as the basis of an award-winning educational exhibition, In the Shadow of My Country, available on the Densho website.

>> For more information about the Flomenhaft Gallery exhibition
>> View Densho's In the Shadow of My Country educational website

Densho Co-Presents Documentaries at Northwest Film Forum

Seattle's Northwest Film Forum and Densho present two films on the Japanese American incarceration:

Passing Poston (Joe Fox and James Nubile, 2007) screens June 20 - 26, and has a panel discussion on opening night. Passing Poston follows four former detainees who explore their traumatic memories as they return to the Poston incarceration camp, on the grounds of what became the Colorado River Indian Reservation.

Rabbit in the Moon (Emiko and Chizuko Omori, 1999) shows June 21 - 22. The film traces stories of political tensions, social and generational division, and the interplay of resistance and collaboration in the incarceration camps. The Omori sisters confront their own family history as well as the collective quiet among Japanese Americans about insecurities that still haunt their community life.

>> For tickets and information

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