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Minidoka

This page is an update of the original Densho Encyclopedia article authored by Hanako Wakatsuki. See the shorter legacy version here .

US Gov Name Minidoka Relocation Center
Facility Type Concentration Camp
Administrative Agency War Relocation Authority
Location Hunt, Idaho (42.6667 lat, -114.2333 lng)
Date Opened August 10, 1942
Date Closed October 28, 1945
Population Description Held people from Washington, Oregon, and Alaska; in 1943 many of the incarcerees from Bainbridge Island, Washington, were transferred at their own request to Minidoka from Manzanar.
General Description Located at 4,000 feet of elevation on uneven terrain in southern Idaho, Minidoka is in the Snake River Plain of Jerome County, 15 miles east of Jerome and 15 miles north of Twin Falls. The 33,000 acres of arid desert was dominated by sagebrush; the southern boundary of the camp was formed by the man-made North Side canal.
Peak Population 9,397 (1943-03-01)
National Park Service Info

Located in south-central Idaho, the euphemistically named Minidoka Relocation Center held a largely urban population consisting in large part of Japanese Americans from Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, as well as elsewhere in Oregon. It also housed a small population from Alaska. Known as a "good" camp, Minidoka had the second highest percentage of "yes" answers to Question 28 and the second lowest rate of segregation to Tule Lake among all War Relocation Authority administered concentration camps. Minidoka also had the highest rate of volunteers for the U.S. Army and most subsequent casualties of any camp. There was however still a fair amount of unrest at Minidoka, especially after the arrival of some 1,500 from Tule Lake as part of the segregation process in the fall of 1943. Numerous work stoppages took place in 1944–45, and as a result, the high school gymnasium started in 1943 was never completed. The construction of a fence around the camp in November 1942—three incident-free months after the first inmates had arrived—proved to be a sore spot for many and after much protest and vandalism, much of the fence was removed six months later. Its peak population of 9,397 was the sixth most out of the ten WRA camps. Over 13,000 total inmates were incarcerated at Minidoka at some point.

Pre-History and Geography

The Minidoka camp site was located in Jerome County about twenty miles northeast of Twin Falls and 130 miles west of Boise. Set in the Snake River Plain, the site was at nearly 4,000 feet elevation. The average temperature for the area was 48° F, 23° in January and 73° in July, though extremes could go from well below zero to over 100°. The area was relatively dry, with annual precipitation of 9.8 inches a year, much of it in the form of snow. [1]

Part of the Great Basin Culture Area of Native Americans, Northern Shoshone and Bannock were the primary original occupants of the area. Japanese immigrants first came to Idaho as railroad workers in the 1890s, while others came to farm. In 1940, there were around 1,200 Japanese Americans in Idaho, with perhaps 150 to 200 in the Twin Falls area. The entire general population of Jerome County was only 9,000, less than the peak population of Minidoka. [2]

The land the camp was built on had been owned by the Bureau of Reclamation. Some opposition to the camp came from the local reservoir district which feared the drain the camp would make on limited water resources. Nonetheless, construction of the camp began on June 5, 1942, and employed as many as 3,000 workers, thus playing a major role in the local economy. Portland, Oregon, based architects Glenn Stanton and Hollis Johnson designed the camp and the Morrison-Knudson Company of Boise, Idaho, served as the main contractor. [3]

Layout and Physical Characteristics

Unlike most of the other WRA camps, which were essentially squares or rectangles with blocks laid out in a grid, Minidoka was shaped like a spread-out letter "M," the blocks laid out along a meandering irrigation canal and stretching nearly three miles from end to end. [4]

When inmates began arriving in August of 1942, they were greeted by a barren landscape that presented quite the contrast to the green Pacific Northwest that had been their homes. "The first thing that impressed me was the bareness of the land," said Shozo Kaneko in a 1943 interview. "There wasn't a tree in sight, not even a blade of green grass. Coming from the northwest where there was a lot of green fields and forest, the sights staggered most of us who had never seen anything like that before." The general barrenness was exacerbated by dust storms that were "so thick that we couldn't even see 3 feet in front of us," recalled Virginia Fumiko Tomita in a 1944 interview. "We felt as if we were standing in a gigantic sand-mixing machine as the sixty-mile gale lifted the loose earth up into the sky, obliterating everything," wrote Monica Sone in her 1952 memoir. "Sand filled our mouths and nostrils and stung our faces and hands like a thousand darting needles." [5]

Unfinished

Due to a parts shortage, the sewage system was late in being completed, which meant that the flush toilets could not be used initially. Thus, for the first few months at Minidoka, inmates had to use outdoor pit latrines. "Since we evacuated our bowels into a deep hole, it is very unsanitary," wrote Issei artist Takuichi Fujii in his diary. "Since it was midsummer, lots of flies had accumulated there. One time there was an epidemic." In a December 1942 report, Reports Officer John Bigelow wrote that the "patience of the center residents has been strained to near the breaking point over completion of the sewerage which has been delayed from month to month by the inability of the contractor to obtain certain scarce pieces of equipment." The outside latrines, he wrote, "have been a source of unpleasantness and inconveniences, especially since the arrival of winter weather—mud, rain, snow, and cold." The sewer system was finally put into operation at the end of January 1943. Sewer problems continued into 1943; a 1943 report noted "an overflow of raw sewage which formed a lake practically in the center of the camp." [6]

Other elements of the camp were also unfinished as the first inmates arrived. In a September 30 report, Bigelow noted the "chaotic conditions" resulting from "3,000 workmen [who] were digging, blasting, and building in and around blocks into which 500 evacuees were moving daily." Newly laid pipe lines broke so often that a water wagon had to be ready to supply kitchens, laundry rooms lacked hot water, and several blocks were without lights. As a result, the incoming inmates faced severe housing shortages in the first weeks. "There were often 30 or 40 waiting outside to get into the housing office," remembered Shig Osawa in a 1945 interview. Due to stove pipe irregularities, stoves were slow to be installed, which was a moot point, because, as acting Project Attorney A. E. O'Brien wrote in November 20, 1942 memo, "[t]he shortage of coal... overshadows all other questions on the Projects." When coal finally started to arrive in November, a lack of labor prevented its swift unloading and delivery. It wasn't until December—well after the arrival of winter weather—that the coal supply became adequate. [7]

Through it all, inmates did their best to adapt. Faced with barrack quarters that came only with cots and a bare lightbulb, inmates raided lumber stocks to make furniture, sidewalks in front of barracks so as to avoid muddy conditions, and even to burn, given the lack of coal. Inmates also took to burning sagebrush, whether in communal bonfires or in the coal stoves, despite administrative warnings that the high tar content of the sagebrush could ruin the latter. Some sought to beautify the barren landscape by building ornamental gardens , which soon sprang up in nearly every block. Most notable was a lavish Japanese style garden designed by Fujitaro Kubota built at the entrance to the camp starting in June 1943. Such spaces served as "a refuge from camp life, a place of beauty and recreation," according to gardens chronicler Anna Hosticka Tamura. [8]

Blocks/Barracks

Inmates were held in thirty-five residential blocks , each with twelve barracks and a total population of about 250. Each block also included a mess hall, an "H"-shaped building that housed the laundry and bathroom facilities, and a recreation barrack. As in the other WRA camps, the barracks were 20 x 120 and divided into varying numbers of individual units; each apartment was heated by a coal burning stove. The residential blocks were not numbered consecutively, as some blocks were empty and others were used for communal purposes such as Block 22 used as a civic center with offices for churches, internal security, the co-op and many other entities, and Block 23, used for the junior and senior high school. [9]

Other building clusters included seventeen warehouses, a WRA staff area wedged between the inmate barracks and the canal that included staff apartments and a staff mess hall, a hospital, the equivalent of two blocks dedicated to schools, and a fifteen building Military Police complex. There was no fence around the camp when inmates began to arrive in August 1942, but a barbed wire fence—along with eight guard towers—was constructed beginning in November 1942, which caused much consternation among inmates. Much of the fence eventually came down five months later, in April 1943. [More on this below, in "Unrest" section.] [10]

Latrines

The laundry and bathroom buildings housed the laundry on one side of the "H" and the bathrooms and showers on the other, with a 1,350 gallon coal heated water heater in the middle. The bathroom side was divided into men's and women's sections. The men's had ten "toilet stools," along with four urinals, twelve shower heads, and twelve wash basins; the women's had fourteen "toilet stools," along with eight shower heads, four bath tubs, and fourteen wash basins. There were initially no partitions between either the toilets or showers; they were later added to the women's facilities, but never to the men's. The laundry section included eighteen "double laundry trays." As noted above, the flush toilets were not operational for the first several months due to delays in completing the sewer system. [11]

Mess Halls

Each of the thirty-five block mess halls was 40 x 100 and designed to seat 304 people in tables of eight, meaning that all inmates in a block could be served at the same time. Each had three coal burning army ranges on which inmate chefs cooked the meals. As at other camps, food quality at the mess halls varied over time and depending on the skills and motivation of the chefs. In a 1944 interview, Virginia Fumiko Tomita recalled that some "cooks lost their ambition and they served us slop as it was to easiest to prepare," while in other blocks, there was "good food because the cooks were conscientious about their jobs." In his camp diary, artist Kamekichi Tokita noted frequent disputes between block residents and mess hall staff over food quality and service. [12]

There were also smaller mess halls for farm workers, truck drivers and other "odd hours workers," hospital workers and patients, and the administration. [13]

Population Characteristics

Minidoka had one of the most homogeneous populations, consisting almost entirely of inmates from Seattle via the Puyallup Assembly Center and from Portland and other parts of Oregon via the Portland Assembly Center . It was a heavily urban population with over 80% of the inmates at Minidoka coming from cities or towns with populations over 25,000 versus a figure of 54% for the WRA camp population as a whole. [14]

The first "advance" group from Puyallup numbering 213 arrived at Minidoka on August 10, 1942. Starting on August 16, about 500 more inmates from Puyallup arrived every day for the next eight days; after a break of a week, more Puyallup arrivals commenced on August 30. After nearly all of the Puyallup group had arrived, the inmates from Portland arrived from September 7 to 11. About 75% of the initial arrivals were from Puyallup (7,150 vs. 2,318 from Portland). Though there were some minor issues between the two groups, relations were good on the whole and relative to other WRA camps. [15]

Initial Arrivals from Assembly Centers
Assembly Center Arrival Date Number
Puyallup Aug. 10 213
Puyallup Aug. 16 493
Puyallup Aug. 17 516
Puyallup Aug. 18 508
Puyallup Aug. 19 524
Puyallup Aug. 20 511
Puyallup Aug. 21 525
Puyallup Aug. 22 516
Puyallup Aug. 30 517
Puyallup Aug. 31 512
Puyallup Sept. 1 503
Puyallup Sept. 2 505
Puyallup Sept. 3 505
Puyallup Sept. 4 412
Puyallup Sept. 5 297
Puyallup Sept. 13 92
Portland Sept. 7 500
Portland Sept. 8 494
Portland Sept. 9 501
Portland Sept. 10 506
Portland Sept. 11 317

Source: John L. Dewitt, Final Report: Japanese Evacuation from the West Coast, 1942 (Washington D.C.: U.S. Army, Western Defense Command), 282–84.


There were a number of significant sub-populations and later arrivals. There were about 135 inmates from Alaska, many of whom were of part native Alaskan ancestry. Many of this group had little prior association with other Japanese Americans and came to "form an isolated group in the center." In February of 1943, 177 Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island arrived at Minidoka; this group had been first held at Manzanar , but most opted to transfer to Minidoka so as to be with other Washingtonians when given the opportunity. After their arrival, the Bainbridge group "kept to themselves," both because they were a close-knit and more rural population and because they were seen to have brought "California customs along." There was also a small group of inmates from Hawai'i. [16]

The most significant group of later arrivals was the over 1,500 "loyal" inmates who transferred to Minidoka from Tule Lake in the fall of 1943 when the latter camp was designated a "segregation center" for the "disloyal." This group impacted Minidoka in a number of ways. Because Minidoka had a relatively small number of " no-nos " go to Minidoka (335, the second fewest from any of the camps), the net influx of over 1,000 led to a housing crisis. As a temporary measure, some families had to be housed in recreation halls that provided even less privacy than regular barracks, while other families were forced to double up. The crisis did not start to ease until the spring of 1944, when seasonal workers began to leave the camp. [17]

The Tule Lake group also changed the political dynamics of the camp. Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study fieldworker James Sakoda came to Minidoka with the Tule Lake group and noted both cultural and political divides. The Tule Lake group was a more rural population and Sakoda observed that they commented on how well many of the Minidoka inmates dressed and that they spoke a more polite form of Japanese than the Tule Lake people. Many of the Tule Lake group were from California and also faced existing anti-California feelings by the prevalent Pacific Northwestern population at Minidoka. Because they also came from a much more contentious environment at Tule Lake, the new arrivals were also much more suspicious of the Minidoka administration and of the Minidoka inmates who cooperated with it. Sakoda observed that Minidoka went from the most "loyal" camp—Minidoka had the second highest percentage of "yes" answers to Question 28 and over 300 volunteers for the army, 25% of the total from WRA camps despite having only 7% of the population—to one that came to resemble Tule Lake, after the arrival of the Tule Lake group. Unrest did indeed spike in 1944. [See "Unrest" section below.] [18]

Relationship to Local Community

Relative to other WRA camps, the Minidoka inmates seemed to have more—if not necessarily more cordial—interaction with surrounding communities, which included sixteen towns with a total population of 36,000 within twenty-five miles of the camp. The largest of these towns was Twin Falls, with a population of 12,000. Local sentiment was influenced by Governor Chase Clark's strident anti-Japanese stance—he claimed that "Japs live like rats, breed like rats, and act like rats" while trying to prevent Japanese Americans from settling in the Idaho—and the Japanese capture of 1,000 Idahoans working for Morrison Knudson in the Pacific. By the time inmates started to arrive at Minidoka in September 1942, Japanese Americans released from assembly centers to work in nearby sugar beet fields—and patronize local businesses—may have started to change at least some local opinions. [19]

By the fall of 1942 Minidoka inmates had begun to have significant interactions with the local communities. Due to the ongoing labor shortage on western farms, Japanese American inmate labor was highly sought after, and some 2,300 Minidokans left the camp that fall to do farm work, much of it in Idaho, to generally favorable local notices. Sub-groups of those out doing farm work also visited local communities. The Harmonaires, a dance band whose members were among those doing farm work, played local dances, while others played basketball against local teams or sang in churches. A Minidoka choir directed by Seattle Methodist Church Choir Director Iwao Hara also toured nearby churches drawing large and enthusiastic crowds. At the same time, Minidoka inmates were allowed to go into Twin Falls in substantial numbers where they patronized the local businesses. In his diary, Kamekichi Tokita wrote that due to the "money Japanese people spend in Twin Falls," that "Japanese people's popularity has done a complete turnaround." [20]

Still reaction continued to be mixed. In May of 1943, the Twin Falls Kiwanis Club adopted a resolution condemning the speaking of foreign languages on the streets and in stores, a measure clearly aimed at Minidoka inmates who patronized local businesses. Later that year, Twin Falls residents complained that Minidokans were "buying up a large proportion of the small liquor supply made available to the public at the State Liquor Store in Twin Falls." On the other hand, the well-publicized exploits of the Nisei soldiers of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team helped influence public opinion in a positive direction. [21]

Personnel

Harry L. Stafford was the project director of Minidoka for nearly its entire life. The executive secretary of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration in Idaho before the war, he was Minidoka's director since its inception. He left Minidoka in July 1945 and subsequently became the assistant director of the U.S. Food and Agricultural Commission in Germany. In his project director's narrative report, Stafford wrote that the mass forced removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast "was, in my opinion, wholly justifiable." William E. Rawlings, formerly the assistant project director for operations, succeeded Stafford for the camp's final few months and oversaw its closing. [22]

Philip Schafer was the assistant project director for the first year. According to an internal November 1942 report, Stafford focused on "the 'economic side' of the work," e.g. supplies, equipment, finances, while Schafer handled "social problems." In mid-1943, Schafer left the camp and his position was not filled, with Stafford subsequently playing a larger role in inmate relations. A partial list of key Minidoka personnel follows. [23]

Chiefs of community management:
George L. Townsend (June '42 to Aug. '43)
Richard A. Pomeroy (Aug. '43 to June '44)
Edward Huberman (Aug. '44 to Mar. '45)
Bert Weston (Mar. '45 to Jan. '46)
The Community Management Section included education, community activities (e.g. recreation), religion, medical facilities, welfare, internal security, and the Community Analysis Section.

Assistant project directors in charge of operations:
R. S. Davidson (July 1, 1943 to Oct. 1, 1944)
William E. Rawlings (Oct. 1, 1944 to Sept. 15, 1945)
George B. McIntyre, Acting (Sept. 15, 1945 to Feb. 9, 1946)
The Operations Division was created effective July 1, 1943 (after Schafer's departure) and included engineering, motor transport and maintenance, fire protection, agriculture, and industry.

Superintendents of education:
Richard A. Pomeroy (July 13, 1942 to June 30, 1944)
Arthur Kleinkopf (June 30, 1944 to Jan. 31, 1946)
Pomeroy had been the principal of Boise Junior High School prior to the war.

High school principals:
Jerome T. Light (July 27, 1942 to Aug. 16, 1944)
Jerry J. Fogarty (Sept. 1, 1944 to Dec. 8, 1944)
Ray L. Harker (Mar. 1 to Sept. 1, 1945)

Elementary school principals:
Mildred E. Bennett (Aug. 15, 1942 to July 1, 1943)
Ethel M. Fitzsimons (July 1, 1943 to June 10, 1944)
James A. Spriggs (July 3, 1944 to Feb. 28, 1945)
Nannie Lee Bauman (Mar. 1, 1945 to closing of camp)

Community activities supervisors:
Walter Kipp (June 14 to Nov. 18, '43)
Morris Roth (June 1 to Nov. 16, '44)
J. Wesley Johnson (Nov. 22, '44 to Jan. 31, '46)

Project attorneys:
A. E. O'Brien (divided time between Topaz and Minidoka prior to Moore's arrival)
Ralph Moore (Dec. 9, 1942 to May 30, 1943)
Moxley Featherston (June 1, 1943 to Sept. 23, 1943)
Irvin Lechliter (Sept. 24, 1943 to Jan. 15, 1944)
Ulys A. Lovell (Jan. 15 to Feb. 25, 1944)
Ralph Barnhart (Topaz project attorney who came to Minidoka intermittently for three months while position was vacant, Feb. 25 to May 18, 1944
Frank S. Barrett (May 18, 1944 to Nov. 18, 1945)
Clarence Arai led a separate Legal Aid Office. Other inmate staffers who worked under the white project attorneys included Elmer Y. Nishimoto, Frank Kinomoto, Minoru Yasui , Richard Momoda, Ralph Shinbo, Dick Y. Harada, Kenji Ito, and Yasuko Koyama.

Reports officers:
John Bigelow (Sept. 7, 1942 to July 1, 1943)
Angus A. Acree (Mar. 18, 1944 to Oct. 2, 1944)
Harry F. Tarvin, acting
John F. Graham (Oct. 7, 1944 to Aug. 18, 1945)
Richard A. Niver, acting (Oct. 24, 1945 to Jan. 31, 1946)
The Reports Office handled external and internal communications including overseeing the camp newspaper. After Bigelow left to take a position in the Washington, D. C. office, Acree took over. Acree was a WWI vet "whose health broke down during the summer of 1944 and he succumbed at the Veterans Hospital in Salt Lake City on October 2, 1944." Tarvin came over from the Denver office to serve briefly as acting during Acree's illness.

Community analysts
John E. de Young (Mar. 10, 1943 to Feb. 16, 1944)
Gordon Armbruster (Feb. 3 to Mar. 4, 1944)
Elmer Smith (Apr. 19, 1944 to Oct. 25, 1945)
Various inmate staff members—most Issei—worked under the community analysts.

Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS) fieldworker James Sakoda wrote that in the first year, "the administration in Minidoka established a good relationship with the evacuees," but noted a number of changes in mid-1943 that altered this including WRA staff changes (most notably the departure of Schafer and Townsend, the two high level staffers most popular with the inmates), the cutback on the inmate labor force which subsequently "became a source of almost continuous conflict between the administration and the evacuees," the arrival of the Tule Lake group, and the establishment of the Community Council. Writing in October 1944, Community Analyst Elmer Smith claimed that "[t]he attitudes of the evacuees toward the appointive staff members on the whole seem to be a negative one.... With the exception of several persons in the higher brackets (i.e., project director, the evacuees regard—on the whole—the appointive personnel as inefficient and incompetent." In his final report, Community Management Chief Bert Weston, Smith's supervisor, disputed Smith's claims, arguing that he "was prejudiced in his analysis." [24]

Institutions/Camp Life

Community Government

Community government at Minidoka was late to develop, and partly as a result, came to be dominated by Issei. Both results stemmed in part from the reaction to the situation at the Puyallup Assembly Center, where three-quarters of the Minidoka inmates had come from. There, a group of Nisei affiliated with the JACL had been given free rein to run the camp to decidedly mixed results. When that group approached Minidoka Project Director Harry Stafford upon entering the camp, Stafford rebuffed them, opting for a more democratic types of inmate governance. [25]

In September 1942, a planning council consisting of two representatives from each block was elected. Most—42 out of 70—were Issei, though this may have been because many Nisei were out of the camp doing agricultural work at this time. That group in turn selected a subgroup of seven—six of them Issei— as a working group charged with drafting a camp charter. Though they finished a draft by November 11, it wasn't presented to camp inmates until April 1943, as Stafford suggesting holding off on a vote due to the unrest at other camps and after the "loyalty questionnaire" situation had been resolved. In April, the charter was voted down by the inmates. After a new group of block delegates elected in July made minor tweaks to the charter, it passed overwhelmingly in December of 1943. A camp council was finally elected in February 1944; of the seven elected, all but one was Issei. Though the council functioned, many also refused being nominated for the council due to the perception that they would be "nothing but a 'stooge' of the administration." JERS fieldworker Sakoda wrote that "... during 1944 the Council struggled along until it lost so much prestige that very few people cared to identified (sic) itself with the Council," citing the lack of ability to address the gym construction conflict. In his final report, Council Chairman I. Oyama wrote that while the "concept of self-government at Minidoka was positive as far as the theory of the process went, … in reality it was not successful when compared with other Councils in other centers." [26]

Unrest

Though there were no major blow ups at Minidoka as at Manzanar or Poston there was inevitably unrest between inmates and their keepers. In the early months of the camp, one of main sources of unrest centered on the fence and guard towers, erected three months after the first inmates had arrived. Later in the history of the camp, various factors led to a series of labor related disputes in the camp's last two years.

While the first months at Minidoka were chaotic—due in large part to much of the camp being unfinished—they were generally peaceful, with no major incidents or unrest. Despite this, construction commenced on a five-foot high barbed wire fence on November 6, 1942, three months after the arrival of the first inmates. The fence blocked off access to garbage dumps and recreational areas in places. Outraged inmates began to sabotage the fence en masse, cutting wires and uprooting posts. Angered at such actions, the contractor electrified the fence on November 12 without the authorization of the army or camp administrators. Though the electrification was turned off after a few hours, outrage continued to build. The fence was completed on December 5. Eight guard towers were also built. Reports officer John Bigelow observed in January 1943 that "reaction to the barbed wire fence... isn't abating," and that "it continues to be one of the major sources of irritation to the residents." In April, Community Analyst John de Young noted that "residents are unanimous in possessing deep and bitter resentment against the fence" and that it "became a symbol of their confinement for the residents." Finally in April, much of the fence was taken down in order to allow access to the farming area and was never replaced. Due the supply shortages, the guard towers were not completed and were never actually used. Inmates salvaged fence posts to use for garden fences and for other purposes. [27]

Due to the cutback in inmate workers in 1943 and the other factors noted above, much labor unrest took place subsequently. In January of 1944, for instance, a strike by some 160 boilermen and janitors left inmates without hot water for a week in the dead of winter. The workers were protesting a dramatic decrease in the work force that forced remaining workers into longer hours. Similar work stoppages took place with mail carriers, warehouse workers, garbagemen and others. Workers building the high school gym staged work slowdowns that resulted in the gym never being completed. There was also a rise in juvenile delinquency in the schools starting in the fall of 1944. Cooks staged slowdown strikes in 1945 in protest over administration plans to close mess halls as block populations dropped. [28]

Registration/Segregation

Registration at Minidoka proceeded without incident and resulted in the "best" result of any of the WRA camps from the administration perspective, with high percentages of inmates giving "yes" answers to the loyalty questions, few being sent to Tule Lake, and the highest rate of eligible men volunteering for military service. The reasons for this result are not entirely clear, but no doubt have to do with the composition of the inmate population and its relative homogeneity and with the manner in which registration was carried out.

Prior to the official start of registration on February 8, 1943, Camp Director Stafford organized an advisory group of Issei community leaders to help with the process. Though they initially objected to some aspects of the program—particularly the segregated nature of the planned Nisei combat team—they agreed to work with the administration to promote registration. Meetings with this group, brought out "[m]any sore points and troublesome questions" and led to "fewer misunderstandings and more intelligent questioning at the first general meeting held Sunday night [February 7]," according to a report by Reports Officer John Bigelow. As registration continued block-by-block, other similar general meetings were held with inmates prior to their blocks being registered. [29]

Registration began on Monday, February 8, with the goal of completing registration of two blocks per day. Registration was conducted in block mess halls by a team consisting of sixty-five inmate interviewers, of whom forty-five were bilingual, along with twenty more clerical assistants. Registration more-or-less proceeded on schedule, with various issues that came up along the way—for instance, the wording of Question 28 for Issei and women—worked out quickly with the assistance of the Issei advisors. The numbers of Nisei men who volunteered for the army were also relatively high, as little overt opposition emerged from the inmate population relative to other camps. Registration was completed by February 25, by which point 175 Nisei had volunteered for induction. However, additional meetings were held by the administration to encourage further enlistment while the army team remained at the camp until March 4. In the end, over three hundred volunteered for the army, the most from any camp despite Minidoka's relatively small population. 98.7% answered yes to question 28 versus 91.1% for all camps. This was the second highest percentage of any camp, to Amache. Only 335 were sent to Tule Lake Segregation Center, the second fewest of any camp. [30]

The actual segregation process also proceeded relatively smoothly. Community analysis reports indicated that the relations between the small group bound for Tule and the general population were amiable and that some of the inmates looked forward to being reunited with friends or family when the Tule Lake group arrived. The actual transfer began on September 25, 1943, when a train carrying about 500 from Tule Lake arrived early in the morning. A group of 255 Minidokans left for Tule Lake on the same train later that day. Two more trains from Tule Lake arrived on September 27 and September 30. In total, 1,520 arrived from Tule Lake. Eighty more Minidokans left for Tule Lake on May 4, 1944, bringing the total to 335. [31]

The restoration of Nisei eligibility for the draft in early 1944 saw greater dissent at Minidoka as part of general rise in dissent in this period. One strand of dissent was rhetorical, highlighted by a letter/petition by a group of Issei women calling themselves the Mother's Society of Minidoka. The group initially asked lawyer Min Yasui to draft a letter on their behalf objecting to their sons being drafted, but rejected that letter to write a stronger one demanding that their sons "be granted the dignity of serving... as free and equal citizens." Signed by over a hundred women, the letter/petition drew a response from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and from WRA Director Dillon Myer . Another strand of dissent was actual resistance to the draft , even absent an organized movement. In the end, thirty-three Minidoka inmates were tried for resisting the draft starting on September 13, 1944, before former Idaho Governor Chase Clark, now a federal judge. Over a period of two weeks, each received a jury trial that resulted in quick guilty verdicts. Each received jail sentences of between eighteen months and three years, three months, served for the most part at the federal prison at McNeil Island, Washington . [32]

To honor Minidokans serving in the military an "Honor Roll" display panel containing their names was dedicated on October 17, 1943. Issei artists Kamekichi Tokita and Kenjiro Nomura designed and painted the panel. [33]

Education

Minidoka's educational program included two elementary schools, a junior/senior high school, nursery schools, and adult classes. As in other camps, the schools struggled with supplies and equipment and with hiring and retaining teachers.

Planning for the educational program was led by Richard Pomeroy, formerly the principal of Boise Junior High, hired as the superintendent of education. Jerome T. Light came from Santa Barbara, California, to become the high school principal, and Mildred Bennett from Pendleton, Oregon, to be the elementary school principal. Guided by WRA dictates, the planning group determined that the "primary task of the schools in the Relocation Center is to develop an educational program which will promote understanding of American ideals and loyalty to American institutions and train for the responsibilities of citizenship, of family, and for economic independence both on the projects and in communities to which the students may return." [34]

Due to supplies and equipment being slow to arrive and delayed construction, schools were late to open in the fall of 1942. The elementary school opened on October 19, 1942, while the high school didn't open until November 16. Nursery schools opened in five block recreation halls on September 21. Adult education classes were taught in various spaces mostly in the evening and began on October 24. Textbooks were initially obsolete books discarded by the State of California that "proved to be of little value," though newer books started to arrive in the spring of 1943. [35]

Given the length of the Minidoka site, two elementary schools eventually opened. Huntville School was located in Block 10 and served children in Blocks 1 through 19, while Stafford School was in Block 32 and served children in Blocks 21 through 44; each school took up half a block. Each used classrooms adapted from standard barracks, while other barracks were used for offices, a library, and an auditorium/gym. The playground areas were in vacant areas adjacent to the school blocks. The Hunt Junior and Senior High took up all of Block 23, with classrooms also in the barracks, the laundry room used as a science room and storeroom, and the dining hall used as an assembly room. Though begun, the gym was never completed, though it was still used for some assemblies while unfinished. The classrooms were eventually furnished with tables and chairs made at the Tule Lake wood shop. The high school also had weeks long "harvest vacations" in the fall of 1943 and 1944 that allowed Nisei students to leave the camp to do agricultural work both outside and inside the camp. The nursery schools were run entirely by inmates and were located in the recreation halls in Blocks 4, 16, 26, 36, and 40. [36]

The elementary and junior/senior high schools were staffed by white administrators and teachers as well as inmate assistant teachers. There were constant shortages of teachers given the difficulty in conditions in the camp. While wages were initially higher than they were on the outside, the booming war economy led to outside wages rising to an equal level. While inmates were limited to being "assistant teachers," shortages led to many leading classes on their own for standard WRA wages. As many Nisei resettled, turnover for inmate educational positions was also high. [37]

The adult program focused on Americanization and English classes aimed at Issei and were taught entirely by inmates. Classes were also offered in such crafts as embroidery, knitting and sewing. An adult vocational program offered classes in such topics as auto mechanics, welding, and farm machinery repair. The peak enrollment of the adult program was 1,446, with the average age being fifty. [38]

Inmate experiences at the schools varied widely. While many felt that they had fallen behind peers on the outside, George Nakata recalled that he and his sister "were able to hold our own in the classroom academically, scholastically, really from day one," upon their return, "even if it was a makeshift faculty, even if temporary barracks, even if the equipment was less than superior." "We had some very good teachers that were very highly motivated teachers," remembered Henry Miyatake . "On the other hand, we had some teachers that didn't create enough of a challenge for us. And I... I guess I would have preferred going to a conventional high school." When Eiko Shibayama returned for "my junior year at my regular school, that it seems like I was kinda far behind, as far as, especially English." [39]

Recreation

As at other camps, inmates at Minidoka engaged in a variety of recreational activities in order to make the best of their situation. The recreational programs at the camp were largely inmate run, as there was initially no white WRA staffer assigned until June of 1943. George Ishihara, who had been active in organizing youth sports leagues in Seattle, became the first inmate recreation head. Due to lack of equipment and funding, no cost activities such as group sing-a-longs, talent shows, and marshmallow roasts predominated early. While dances were popular at other camps, there were few in the fall months at Minidoka because so many of the boys and young men were out of the camp doing outside agricultural work. As late as March of 1943, there was little in the way of outdoor sports, as the "half-hearted attempts at ball games have usually gone up in clouds of dust or bogged down in ankle-deep muck," observed Frank Tanabe in a report made for the Reports Office. Inmates were so desperate for outdoor sports, that some hung up a basketball hoop on an outhouse in Block 23. "Popularity of the sport may be gauged by the constant use of this half-court," wrote Robert Hosokawa in an October 1942 report. [40]

As time went on, inmates built more recreational facilities. Many inmates swam in the North Side Canal, which flowed along the southern boundary of the camp, tacitly allowed by the administration. Some also fished in the canal. However, after two drowning deaths in the rapidly flowing canal in the summer of 1943, inmates banded together to build a swimming hole. The six-foot-deep pool measuring about 50 x 25 opened later that fall. A second swimming hole was dug near Block 30 in 1944. Hunt High School PE students also built an ice skating rink near Block 21 in December 1942, which the fire department filled with water. Many inmates subsequently learned to ice skate at Minidoka. They also built a golf course to go with fourteen softball diamonds and twenty-one outdoor basketball courts. [41]

Issei programs included handicrafts, games such as go and shogi, and performance oriented activities such as shibai. A senryu poetry club met twice a month and published regular poetry collections. The gathering of greasewood became a popular pastime among inmates, since objects carved out of it could be polished to a high gloss due to high oil content. Inmates would go miles out into the brush to look for "the most gnarled up ones and the most unusually shaped ones and then use your great imagination to figure out what you can make with," as George Nakata recalls his father telling another inmate. Canes seemed to be most common item made from greasewood, though inmates made a wide variety of both purely ornamental and utilitarian objects. The craze led to at least one tragic outcome, when in December 1942, Issei grocery clerk Takaji Edward Abe got lost while searching for greasewood and died of exposure. Some 1,200 volunteers searched for him before his body was found four miles away from the camp. [42]

When there were enough men present, regular dances were held, with an inmate band named the Harmonaires providing the music at many of them. Called the "[p]ride and joy of Minidoka" by Tanabe, the 85 voice Minidoka Mass Choir entertained audiences in and out of the camp. As at other camps, regular movie screenings were popular with inmates. Two of the block recreation halls were used for the screenings; a naming contest resulted in their being called "ReCinema" and "Spotlight." There were also Boy and Girl Scout programs and YMCA groups. [43]

Medical Facilities

The hospital complex at Minidoka was located at the western end of the camp between the northern blocks and the canal. According to an Engineering Section report, it "consisted of an enclosed walk 6' wide and 731' long from which 17 various wings branched off at 60' to 90' intervals in each side, including the laundry and boiler houses." It included 196 beds and two operating rooms, a dental clinic, and obstetric, pediatric, and communicable disease wards, along with a morgue. According to the Health Section's final report, the hospital admitted 3,094 patients and treated 88,021 on an outpatient basis, 55,150 in the dental clinic. There were about 500 births and 187 deaths. [44]

As with much of the rest of the camp, the hospital was unfinished when inmates began to arrive and lacked lights, heat, and sewer facilities at the outset. Lauren M. Nehar served as the chief medical officer for the duration of the camp, and he supervised a staff of about sixteen white staffers and 180 inmates. The former received prevailing wages that were over ten times as large as the $16 or $19 per month WRA scale wages inmate workers received. While the hospital was initially a desirable place to work for inmates, this changed over time as inmates came to object to the long hours (including nights), "dirty" conditions, and potential exposure to disease, especially tuberculosis. [45]

Newspaper

The Minidoka Irrigator was a weekly newspaper put out by camp inmates under the supervision of the Reports Office. The first issue appeared on September 10, 1942, a month after the arrival of the first inmates. A Japanese section—consisting of translations of important English language articles—debuted a month later. The camp co-op (the Minidoka Consumers' Cooperative) took over publication of the newspaper in early 1943 and opted to have the paper printed by an outside press, one of the few camp newspapers to get this treatment. They ultimately decided on the North Side News in Jerome, Idaho, about fifteen miles away, which printed 3,330 copies of the paper for $90.08. Initially, 2,800 copies were distributed in the camp, 300 to paid subscribers, and 125 to federal agencies and others; by the fall of 1944, the paid circulation had risen to 1,000 copies due largely to the increasing numbers of Minidokans who had left the camp by then. The first tabloid size printed issue appeared on February 27, 1943. From October 2, 1943, the paper went to regulation full size format. [46]

The inmate editorial staff of the Irrigator turned over frequently due both to resettlement and to disputes with the Reports Office overseeers. The first editors were Dick Takeuchi, Dyke Miyagawa, and Rube Hosokawa. Later editors included Cherry Tanaka, Mitsu Yasuda, and Kimi Tanbara as a trio, Jaxon S. Sonoda, Hideo Hoshide, and Sachi Yasui. During the period when the fence went up leading to inmate unrest, the Reports Office asked the newspaper not to print additional stories about the fence, and no editorials or letters to the editor critical of the fence were ever printed. The office also censored Dyke Miyagawa's February 6, 1943 editorial that criticized the army for allowing Nisei only in a segregated unit. The entire page 2 containing the editorial was removed from that issue of the paper. In the final report of the Reports Office, Allan Markley wrote that there were "several times" where the administration asked for articles or editorials to be removed, sometimes resulting "in either resignation from the staff of the paper or threats of resignation." He also claimed that both the English and Japanese sections came to oppose "relocation" (or perhaps administrative encouragement to leave the camp), but rather than publish editorials that they knew would be censored, instead published many articles about anti-Japanese activity on the outside. [47]

The last issue of the Irrigator appeared on July 28, 1945, three months before the last inmates left Minidoka.

Store/Co-op

The Minidoka Community Consumers' Cooperative—an inmate-led co-op—ran the stores, service businesses, movie theaters, and the camp newspaper. Run by an elected board and an inmate general manager, the co-op was incorporated on December 5, 1942. (Prior to its organization the stores were run by the WRA's chief of community enterprises.) The co-op eventually set up large canteens/general stores in Blocks 14 and 30; smaller stores in Blocks 6 and 40 and in the administration area; barber, beauty, shoe repair, and dry cleaning shops in Blocks 12 and 30; and for a time a fish store in Fire House #2. Harry Hatate served as the general manager for much of the co-op's existence. The co-op also published its own newspaper, the Cooperative News Weekly , published in Japanese. Total sales of the co-op was nearly $700,000 in 1943 and $719,000 in 1944. [48]

Industry

In the early months of Minidoka, the main industrial operations were the carpenter shop and the sign shop. The former made desks, chairs, and tables as well as other furniture for camp offices and did other repair work around the camp. An average of about forty inmate carpenters staffed the shop. The sign shop, whose staff included Seattle artists Kenjiro Nomura and Kamekichi Tokita, had produced over 5,000 signs by April 1943. [49]

In the summer of 1943, two food related enterprises began. Given the production of the camp's agriculture program, a tomato cannery began to utilize the excess. Located next to the hospital so as to share use of the steam boilers, the plant produced over 2,000 cans by November 1943. Enabled by an inmate from Seattle who had brought tofu making equipment to the camp, the tofu factory began operations in September 1943 and produced some 12,000 pounds monthly for consumption in the camp mess halls. The factory was set up in Block 22 and employed ten to sixteen inmates. [50]

Agriculture

Minidoka had an extensive agricultural program that utilized inmate labor to produce food for camp consumption and to be shipped to other WRA camps. Inmate farmers worked with WRA Agricultural Division personnel to plan the farming operations that included both vegetable crops and livestock. Despite the difficult adjustment many inmate farmers struggled with in an environment so different from what they were used to in the Pacific Northwest, inmate crews constructed a five-mile irrigation ditch in the fall of 1942 that tapped the Milner-Gooding Canal and also began clearing land adjacent to the camp for agricultural operations. (Because it was below the level of the camp, it was impractical to tap the North Side Canal that served as the camp's southern border.) Potatoes, beans, peas, onions, and tomatoes were among the most prominent crops. Livestock included hogs and chickens. By December 1943, there were enough onions to ship 30,000 pounds to Heart Mountain and 31,000 to Rohwer. 125 hogs raised in the camp were used in the mess halls. By October 1944, 1.8 million pounds of produce had been harvested, 441,000 of which was shipped to other camps. In total, Minidoka's farm produced the fifth most vegetables by weight among the WRA camps, but exported the second most, only to Gila River. [51]

In addition to in-camp agriculture, Minidoka had perhaps the largest number of inmates leave the camp to do agricultural work on the outside. Some 2,300 left in the fall of 1942, 2,500 in 1943. Many inmates eagerly took the opportunity to do this work, which promised prevailing wages and the opportunity to leave the camp, though their actual experiences were mixed. As noted above, their work in "saving" sugar beet crops garnered positive publicity for Japanese Americans on the outside, but also created serious labor shortages in the camp. To help alleviate this, Hunt High School incorporated weeks long "harvest vacations" in both 1943 and 1944 that allowed high school students to do agricultural work either inside or outside the camp. [52]

Religion

Buddhist, Christian, and Catholic organizations and services took place at Minidoka. As at other camps, Buddhists were the most numerous among the inmates, but their organization was hampered by the separate arrest and detention of many of the prewar Buddhist clergy. Nonetheless, three Buddhist sects held services and the Young Buddhist Association had a thriving membership. Referred to as "THE social and cultural organization of the center" in 1944, the YBA held meetings and events three or four times a week including carnivals, dances, picnics, lectures, etc. Its membership meetings were so large they could only be held in the high school gymnasium. [53]

As at other WRA camps, the various Protestant denominations formed an ecumenical church. Protestant leaders began planning for what would become the Federated Christian Church of Minidoka in Puyallup, incorporating Portland Assembly Center groups and working out staffing and meeting spaces upon arrival. The FCCM held regular joint services and programs for various age groups in the recreation halls. Though the FCCM maintained a steady membership throughout—while many members left Minidoka, a good number also converted in camp—the federated coalition proved shaky, as Episcopalians and Seventh Day Adventists eventually began to meet separately. Perhaps because of its relative proximity to the prewar communities of its inmates, nine white religious workers from Seattle—six of them women—moved to Minidoka and environs to continue to provide services for their congregations. The administration defied WRA rules by allowing one of them—Catholic Father Leopold Tibesar—to live in the camp. Given two barrack units, Tibesar organized them into and office, chapel, library, and social center, as well as his own living quarters in the service of a Catholic congregation numbering around two hundred. Baptist pastor Emery Andrews moved his family to Twin Falls where his home became a frequent gathering place for inmates traveling to or from the camp. [54]

Library

There were five libraries in Minidoka: a main community library in Block 23 that included both English and Japanese language books, a high school library, one in each elementary school, and a small library in the hospital complex. The main library and the high school library each took up an entire barrack, while the elementary school libraries occupied half a barrack. Total books numbered 22,000, with some coming from the Seattle Public Library and from the University of Washington Library. Newspaper collections focused on areas that the inmates came from. The average monthly circulation was 11,529. A white staff librarian oversaw about ten inmate assistants. The inmate assistants ran the library on their own for a six-month period in 1944. [55]

Closing

As of January 1, 1945, with the West Coast restrictions now lifted, Minidoka's population stood at 7,770, which was nearly 83% of its peak population. With a closing date soon announced as November 1, the administration set about encouraging inmates to leave as soon possible. In the fall of 1943, the Employment Division at Minidoka became the Relocation Division, reflecting the shifting priorities of the WRA. In the spring and summer of 1944, staff interviewers from the Relocation Division began interviewing family heads about "relocation" plans as a first step in encouraging them to leave. In early 1945, the Relocation Division and the Reports Office began putting out weekly "Information Bulletins" that provided information on jobs and housing on the outside, while also giving updates on former Minidokans seemingly adjusting well to life on the outside. [56]

But as was the case at all camps, much of the remaining population—disproportionately consisting of older Issei and families with young children—were reluctant to leave the relative security of the camp for what they perceived as a dangerous outside world, where jobs and housing were scarce and where their physical safety couldn't be guaranteed. The rough reception the first returnees to the West Coast faced served to harden the desire to stay in the camp for many. The administration was encouraged by the numbers of those leaving Minidoka in the spring of 1945—500 in March, a few less in April, and 725 in May—but dismayed when fewer left in June and even fewer in July. Barely half of the population had left by August 1, less than three months before the camp was to close, since the November 1 closing date had been moved up to October 23. Until the summer, WRA administrators assured themselves that they would be able to persuade all of the inmates to leave and that there would not be a need to force people out. But the end of July, it became clear that this was wishful thinking

In the meantime, the administration began to shut down various camp institutions to further encourage inmates to leave. Two mess halls closed as early as March, causing a brief work slowdown by mess hall workers. Another closed in April, three more in July, then eleven in August. The camp co-op began liquidation proceedings on August 1 with remaining merchandise reduced at least 10%. There was also talk about consolidating blocks, but Stafford decided not to do this, reasoning that the psychological impact of being the last family left in a block "might even make them decide to relocate."

Dillon Myer's Administrative Notice No. 289 issued on August 1 was a turning point, in that it outlined the procedure camp officials could take towards evicting the recalcitrants. By the beginning of September, the administration had identified inmates who refused to make plans to leave and began issuing three-day eviction notices on September 19. As the calendar turned to October, there were still 1,482 inmates at Minidoka. All inmate employment was halted on October 1, and inmate volunteers kept mess halls and block boilers running. Though food continued to be served, the menus became monotonous—lots of eggs, macaroni, and beans—as the administration tried to clear food from the warehouses rather than make new orders of fresh meat and vegetables. Water was shut down in blocks, sometimes even as inmates were showering or doing laundry, and curtains and dividers were taken down. There were still 390 left on October 15, a week before the camp's scheduled closing. Through a combination of further evictions and those who left "voluntarily," Minidoka closed on schedule on October 23, 1945.

Timeline

April 23, 1942
U.S. Army announces plan to build camp on Minidoka reclamation project, Idaho.

June 5, 1942
Contractor Morrison-Knudson Co. of Boise, Idaho, begins construction on the Minidoka site.

August 10, 1942
The first inmates—an "advance crew" from Puyallup—arrive at 2:30 pm.

August 16, 1942
Beginning of regular arrivals to Minidoka.

September 10, 1942
First mimeographed issue of the camp newspaper appears.

September 23, 1942
About a third of inmates who ate in the Block 34 dining hall suffer from ptomaine poisoning due to a batch of tainted tsukemono. Over sixty people are hospitalized.

September 29, 1942
The first suicide at Minidoka: Itsusaburo Mita, 62, of Portland took his life by drinking rubbing alcohol. His wife and son said that he was despondent over another son being in the U.S. Army potentially fighting Japan. Though his death was noted in the camp newspaper, the cause was omitted.

October 19, 1943
Opening of elementary school.

November 13, 1942
The contractor building the fence electrified it "to dissuade residents from cutting the wire and uprooting the fence posts." After "a brief furor," the power was turned off after a few hours.

November 16, 1942
Opening of high school.

December 3, 1942
Volunteer search party members find the body of Takaji Edward Abe, a 55-year-old Issei from Seattle, about four miles away from the camp. He had apparently died of exposure after getting lost while searching for greasewood with which to make craft objects.

December 5, 1942
Minidoka Consumers' Cooperative is incorporated.

December 1942
Twenty men from Minidoka leave to attend the Military Intelligence Service Language School in Camp Savage, Minnesota.

December 1942
A gonorrhea outbreak involving fifteen pregnant women and new mothers. Since none of the husbands were infected, officials conclude that the spread is either through "improper procedure of nurses' aides" in the obstetrics ward or "the outside latrines which cannot be kept sanitary."

January 20, 1943
Art exhibit held including the works of twenty-one artists. All of of the works were done since the removal and many depict incarceration scenes. On display for a week, the exhibit was viewed by 3,730 people.

January 28, 1943
The Minidoka Mass Choir performs at the Jerome High School Auditorium. Their two concerts drew some 1,500 people from the school and community. The 83 members of the choir had been bussed from the camp to perform.

February 8, 1943
Registration begins. Using dining halls, a mobile unit registered 200 on the first day, with just two volunteering for the army.

February 13, 1943
As registration proceeds, the army installs searchlights in the guard towers and starts manning them, adding to general discontent in the camp.

February 25, 1943
Registration is completed, with 6,866 people registering.

February 26, 1943
177 Bainbridge Islanders who had been at Manzanar arrive at Minidoka, where they opted to transfer so as to be with other Washingtonians.

March 1, 1943
Peak population of 9,397 achieved.

March 23, 1943
John de Young arrives to set up the Community Analysis Office.

April 15, 1943
John Essene, superintendent of community enterprises, marries Esther Kohara, a Portland native who had been the secretary to the project attorney, in Walla Walla. They had met a month prior. Essene left Minidoka in mid-March to await induction into the army. The union generates much discussion.

April 30, 1943
Flag dedication ceremony for flag pole installed in administration area. 500 inmates and some outsiders, including three from the Twin Falls American Legion post and the mayors of Twin Falls and Jerome, attend.

April 30, 1943
3,500 gather in the administration area to see off the first contingent of army volunteers from Minidoka. The first 39 volunteers leave by bus that evening for Fort Douglas, Utah.

May 27, 1943
The Twin Falls Kiwanis Club adopts a resolution condemning the use of foreign languages in public that is clearly aimed at the inmates. Meanwhile, representatives of the Dies Committee visit Minidoka for a few hours.

June 21, 1943
Noboru Roy Tada, 11, formerly of Seattle, drowns in the North Side Canal while playing with friends.

July 1, 1943
Camp administrators institute a program that would cut the inmate labor force by a third, an apparent attempt to encourage "relocation." This reduction leads to much conflict between inmate workers and administration.

September 1943
1,520 inmates from Tule Lake arrive at Minidoka, while 255 from Minidoka transfer to Tule Lake. The net increase in population leads to housing problems similar to what took place when inmates had first arrived a year earlier.

October 2, 1943
The last group departs for Tule Lake.

October 14, 1943
Honor Roll dedicated, a display panel with the names of those from Minidoka serving in the military. Erected at the camp's entrance, it was designed and painted by Issei artists Kamekichi Tokita and Kenjiro Nomura.

December 22, 1943
The Idaho State Grange adopts a resolution opposing the sale or leasing of land "to any Japanese," presumably including Nisei. The Idaho Statesman prints an editorial opposing this resolution.

December 28, 1943
Inmates approve charter that provides for a community council by a vote of 2,657 to 686.

December 31, 1943
2,275 Minidokans are out on indefinite leave.

January 4, 1944
160 boilermen, janitors, and supervisors go on strike, the first in Minidoka. For a week, the camp is without hot water in the bathrooms and laundry rooms. The dispute stems from inmate staff cuts and a resulting administration demand that boilermen work longer hours.

April 1944
Minidoka Interlude yearbook is issued, a 180-page volume.

May 2, 1944
War hero Ben Kuroki arrives at Minidoka for a week of festivities including a parade, reception, press conference, and speeches. He stays at the camp for six days, leaving on Sunday May 7.

January 1, 1945
Minidoka's population is 7,421, 79% of the peak.

February 19, 1945
Dillon Myer visits Minidoka and speaks before 1,500 at the gymnasium, making his case for the closing of the camps.

April 9, 1945
First issue of the Relocation Bulletin' s Japanese language edition appears, produced by the Reports Office. The first English language issue would appear on July 25.

May 23, 1945
Memorial service for twelve war dead from Minidoka held in gymnasium, the fourth such ceremony held at the camp.

June 1, 1945
Commencement ceremonies at the high school with 101 seniors receiving diplomas. The high school subsequently closes.

August 31
Adult education classes and nursery schools close.

October 28, 1945
The last inmates leave Minidoka.

Quotes

"I think that all of our hearts fell when we saw Minidoka. It was a desert in the middle of a God forsaken country. My first reaction was 'who in the hell ever conceived the idea' to build a camp in such a desolated place like this? It was a very discouraging way to start out our relocation life but people become adjusted to anything and they set to work to make improvements right away."
George Takigawa, Minidoka inmate, October 1943 [57]

"The confined area and haste of construction resulted in chaotic conditions. Approximately 3,000 workmen were digging, blasting, and building in and around blocks into which 500 evacuees were moving daily. Military police were scattered throughout the area.... Restricted areas changed overnight. Roads were open to evacuees part of the way and no farther yet there had not been time to erect signs."
John Bigelow, Minidoka Reports Officer, September 1942 [58]

"Our room was much nicer than at Puyallup and it was light and clean when we got the dust out of it. But we had a dust storm the very first night that I was there and it was so thick that we couldn't even see 3 feet in front of us. The dust seeped right through everything and we had to close the windows in our barracks so it was just like an oven. This was the last straw for me and I almost broke down. I was so upset that I almost had a nervous breakdown then and there. There was no hot water for the showers so we had to go to bed dirty for the first few nights."
Virginia Fumiko Tomita, Minidoka inmate, April 1944 [59]

"Idaho summer sizzled on the average of 110 degrees, and for the first few weeks I lay meekly on my cot from morning till night not daring to do more than totter to the mess hall three times a day…. The almighty sun was king here, its pressure overwhelming, overpowering. The sun beat down from above and caught us on the chin from below, bouncing off the hard-baked earth, and browning us to such a fine slow turn that I felt like a walking Southern fried chicken."
Monica Sone, Minidoka inmate, 1953 [60]

"The American people in charge of this camp tell us that they are running the camp democratically. I think that's false…. We don't understand what kind of democracy they are talking about. This is an internment camp. They want to make a distinction between citizens and non-citizens among the internees even though they put us all in here. That's absurd and inconceivable. I absolutely don't want to spend any of my time on this ridiculous so-called democracy."
Kamekichi Tokita, Minidoka inmate, diary entry, Sept. 25, 1942 [61]

Aftermath

After the closing of the camp, the property was transferred to the Bureau of Reclamation on February 4, 1946. Later, the land was subdivided and distributed to returning veterans in parcels of about ninety acres each, with forty-three lots awarded in 1947 and forty-six more in 1949. Each recipient also received two barracks. The first group of veterans and their families lived in the former Block 30 until their barracks could be moved to their own property. The homesteaders refashioned the barracks and used them in variety of ways. [62]

On August 18, 1979, a crowd of 500 gathered at the site to commemorate a six-acre parcel owned by the Bureau of Reclamation being added to the National Register of Historic Places. A bronze plaque was installed on the remains of the guard station at the entrance to the camp. Among the speakers at the ceremony were Idaho Senator Frank Church (the son-in-law of wartime Governor Chase Clark) and journalist Bill Hosokawa . [63]

On May 26, 1990, a memorial at the site was dedicated as part of the Idaho State Centennial Project. The monument included four plaques. [64]

Current Status of Site and Commemoration

On January 17, 2001, President Bill Clinton designated the Minidoka Internment National Monument as the 385th unit of the National Park Service in one of his final acts before leaving office. The new national monument spanned 73 acres. Work on a General Management Plan for the site commenced in 2002; based on some fifty community meetings and archeological investigation, the plan was completed in 2006 and has guided subsequent improvements at the site. The site was renamed and expanded, through Congressional action, as the Minidoka National Historic Site in July 2008. An NPS supervisor initially oversaw the site along with the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument and Craters of the Moon National Monument out of an office situated at Hagerman. [65]

With funding from a Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant, a new Honor Roll was installed in June 2011. In 2012, a 1.6-mile interpretive trail with twenty-three exhibit panels was completed. In collaboration with the Boise State University Department of Construction Management and funded by a Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) Grant, a guard tower was reconstructed. The site also includes a refurbished barracks building and mess hall from Block 22. A temporary visitor center opened at the Herrmann house at the site in 2017, and the NPS staff moved there. A new visitor center was dedicated at the 2019 pilgrimage and officially opened on February 22, 2020. Built in what had been a camp motor repair shop, the new visitor center includes a theater and an exhibition space. At the time of its opening, a new park film developed for the site titled Minidoka: An American Concentration Camp played in the theater. A JACS grant funded exhibit titled The Issei: A Legacy of Courage opened in the exhibition gallery. [66]

Since 2003, the Minidoka Pilgrimage Committee has been organizing an annual pilgrimage to the site. A Civil Liberties Symposium initially organized by Friends of Minidoka, Boise State University, the National Park Service, and ACLU Idaho began in 2005. [67]

For More Information

Books, Articles, and Dissertations

Burton, Jeffery F., and Mary M. Farrell. This Is Minidoka: An Archeological Survey of Minidoka Internment National Monument, Idaho . Western Archeological and Conservation Center, National Park Service, 2001.

Fiset, Louis. Imprisoned Apart: The World War II Correspondence of an Issei Couple . Foreword by Roger Daniels. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997. [Based on wartime letters between an Issei couple, one of whom is interned in enemy alien camps and one of whom is incarcerated at Minidoka.]

Johns, Barbara. Signs of Home: The Paintings and Wartime Diary of Kamekichi Tokita . Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011. [Based on the wartime diary of an Issei artist.]

———. The Hope of Another Spring: Takuichi Fujii, Artist and Wartime Witness . Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017. [Based on an the wartime diary and artwork of an Issei artist.]

Meger, Amy Lowe. Minidoka Internment National Monument Historic Resource Study . Seattle: National Park Service, 2005.

Minidoka National Historic Site: https://www.nps.gov/miin/index.htm

Sakoda, James M. "Minidoka: An Analysis of Changing Patterns of Social Interaction." Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1949.

———. “The ‘Residue’: The Unresettled Minidokans, 1943-1945.” In Ichioka, Yuji, ed. Views from Within: The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study . Los Angeles: Asian American Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles, 1989. 247-84.

Sims, Robert C. “Japanese Americans in Idaho.” In Daniels, Roger, Sandra C. Taylor, and Harry H. L. Kitano, eds. Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress . Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1986. Revised edition. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991. 103-11.

Stacy, Susan M., ed. An Eye for Injustice: Robert C. Sims and Minidoka . Pullman: Washington State University Press, 2020.

Tremayne, Russell M., and Todd Shallat, eds. Surviving Minidoka: The Legacy of WWII Japanese American Incarceration . Boise: Boise State University College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs, 2013.

Wakatsuki, Hanako, Mia Russell, and Carol Ash. Images of America: Minidoka National Historic Site . Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2018.

Literary Works/Memoirs

Ford, Jamie. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet . New York: Ballantine Books, 2009. [Best-selling novel about the romance of a Chinese American boy and Japanese American girl in 1942 Seattle.]

Ito, Toshiko Shoji. Endure . Bear River Press, 2005. [Autobiographical novel about the wartime travails of a young Nisei woman from Seattle.]

Nakadate, Neil. Looking After Minidoka: An American Memoir . Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013. [A Sansei born during the war writes of his family's wartime story.]

Nakagawa, Mako. Child Prisoner in American Concentration Camps . Illustrations by Mits Katayama. Troutdale, Oregon: NewSage Press, 2019.

Shadows of Minidoka: Paintings and Collections of Roger Shimomura . Lawrence, Kansas: Lawrence Arts Center, 2011. [Exhibition catalog includes essays by Karin Higa and Roger Daniels.]

Sone, Monica. Nisei Daughter . Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1953. Introduction by S. Frank Miyamoto. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1979. Introduction by Marie Rose Wong. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014. [Pioneering memoir of a young Nisei woman's life in Seattle before the war and her wartime incarceration.]

Yamada, Mitsuye. Camp Notes . San Lorenzo, Calif.: Shameless Hussey Press, 1976. [Poetry collection that includes poems written in Minidoka.]

———. Desert Run . Latham, N.Y.: Kitchen Table Women of Color Press, 1988.

Film and Video

Act of Faith: The Rev. Emery Andrews Story . Produced and directed by Janice D. Tanaka, 2015. 50 minutes.

The Empty Chair . Directed by Greg Chaney, 2014. 96/73 minutes. [Documentary film on the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans from Alaska who were sent to Minidoka.]

The Fence at Minidoka . Produced by Barbara J. Tanabe for KOMO-TV, 1971. 27 minutes. [Pioneering documentary on Minidoka produced by a Seattle TV station.]

Fumiko Hayashida: The Woman Behind the Symbol . Directed by Lucy Ostrander and Don Sellers, 2009. 15 minutes. [On a Nisei woman from Bainbridge island who was immortalized in a photograph of her being removed while holding her young daughter.]

The Idaho Homefront: Of Camps and Combat . Produced by Jim Peck for Idaho Public Television, 2007. 30 minutes. [On Minidoka and on Japanese Americans from Idaho who served in World War II.]

In Time of War . Produced and directed by Andrea Palpant and David Tanner, 2004. 54 minutes. [On the wartime experience of Japanese Americans from the Pacific Northwest.]

Minidoka . Produced and directed by Megumi Nishikura, 2019. 14 minutes [Follows Seattle based activist and Minidoka descendant Joseph Shoji Lachman to the 2017 Minidoka Pilgrimage.]

Minidoka: An American Concentration Camp . Produced and directed by Rory Banyard, 2019. 30 minutes. [Overview documentary on Minidoka commissioned by the Minidoka National Historic Site and that serves as an introductory film at the site.]

Mitsuye and Nellie: Asian American Poets . Produced and directed by Allie Light and Irving Saraf, 1981. 58 minutes. [Profiles two Asian American poets, one of whom is Mitsuye Yamada and includes Yamada visiting the Minidoka site with her daughter.]

My Friends Behind Barbed Wire . Produced and directed by Lucy Ostrander, 2008. 9 minutes. [On Rev. Emery Andrews.]

Children's Books

Larson, Kirby. The Fences Between Us: The Diary of Piper Davis . New York: Scholastic, 2010. [Children's novel about a white teenage girl from Seattle whose father ministers to incarcerated Japanese Americans, based loosely on the story of Rev. Emery Andrews' family.]

———. Dash . New York: Scholastic, 2014. [Children's novel about a girl from Bainbridge Island, her dog Dash, and her wartime incarceration at Puyallup and Minidoka.]

Archival Material Online

Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records, 1930–1974 . The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley. [This collection includes records of the War Relocation Authority pertaining to Topaz. Topaz WRA records have call numbers that begin with the letter "P." The collection also includes material from the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS). Though Minidoka was not one of the camps included in the original plans of JERS, James Sakoda , one of the best of the Nisei fieldworkers, ended up moving there from Tule Lake in September 1943 (during the segregation period) and remained there until March 1945. He also returned to Minidoka to document the camp's closing in September and October 1945. Many of his reports and diary entries are cited in this article.

Footnotes

  1. A note on sources: many of the WRA documents noted below come from the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records collection at the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley. The first set of these records went online in August 2018 in a project funded by the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program. They are cited below as "JAERR" along with the Bancroft call number and web link. Karl Lillquist, "Imprisoned in the Desert: The Geography of World War II-Era, Japanese American Relocation Centers in the Western United States" (Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, September 2007), 140, 145, 148; Memo, A. E. O'Brien [acting project attorney] to Edwin E. Ferguson, November 20, 1942, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P1.09, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/28722/bk0013c999k/?brand=oac4 ; Monroe E. Snyder and Arthur E. Ficke, Report of the Engineering Section, Minidoka, 1, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:13, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6m332zj/?brand=oac4 .
  2. Lillquist, "Imprisoned in the Desert," 154; Robert C. Sims, "Japanese Americans in Idaho," in Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress , edited by Roger Daniels, Sandra C. Taylor, and Harry H. L. Kitano (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1986; Revised edition. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991), 103.
  3. Lillquist, "Imprisoned in the Desert," 161; Connie Y. Chiang, Nature Behind Barbed Wire: An Environmental History of the Japanese American Incarceration (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 52–53; Snyder and Ficke, "Report of the Engineering Section, Minidoka," 1–2.
  4. Snyder and Ficke, "Report of the Engineering Section, Minidoka," 2; Lawrence Ray Harker, et al., Historical Narrative Report, Community Management Division, Education Section, 17, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:10, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6086cg8/?brand=oac4 .
  5. Shozo Kaneko, interview by Charles Kikuchi, 64, The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement: A Digital Archive, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley (subsequently JAERDA), BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder T1.94, accessed on June 8, 2018 at http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/jarda/ucb/text/cubanc6714_box279t01_0094.pdf ; Virginia Fumiko Tomita, interview by Charles Kikuchi, 40, JAERDA BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder T1.969, accessed on June 19, 2018 at http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/jarda/ucb/text/cubanc6714_b281t01_0969.pdf ; Monica Sone, Nisei Daughter (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1953), 192.
  6. John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 21, Dec. 17, 1942 and Minidoka Report No. 27, Jan. 9, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6p84k2t/?brand=oac4 ; Takuichi Fujii diary, in Barbara Johns, The Hope of Another Spring: Takuichi Fujii, Artist and Wartime Witness (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017), 212; Shozo Kaneko, interview by Charles Kikuchi, 64; Frank S. Barrett, Report of the Legal Division, 4, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:17 https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6320325/?brand=oac4 ; Memo, F. W. Thunberg to Dillon S. Myer, "Report on General Building Program at All Centers," May 22, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder E2.77:3, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6mk6mvs/?brand=oac4 .
  7. John Bigelow, Report for Quarter Ended Sept. 30, 1942, 2–3, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.97, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k69311cz/?brand=oac4 ; Minidoka Reports No. 1, Sept. 19, 1942, 2, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6p84k2t/?brand=oac4 ; Shig Osawa interview in James Sakoda Diary, June 8, 1945, JAERDA BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder R 20.81:35**, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6pg1rfr/?brand=oac4 ; Memo, A. E. O'Brien to Edwin E. Ferguson, November 20, 1942, 3–4; KW, Community Analysis Section Field Report #42, n.d. [March 1943], 1, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.99:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k65b08pp/?brand=oac4 .
  8. John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 20, Dec. 17, 1942 and Minidoka Report No. 26, Dec. 29, 1942, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6p84k2t/?brand=oac4 ; Chiang, Nature Behind Barbed Wire , 70–71; Anna Hosticka Tamura, "Minidoka Gardens," in Surviving Minidoka , edited by Russell M. Tremayne and Todd Shallat (Boise: Boise State University College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs, 2013), 93–95, 99, 102, quote from p. 102.
  9. Snyder and Ficke, "Report of the Engineering Section, Minidoka," 3–6; Hanako Wakatsuki, Mia Russell, and Carol Ash, Images of America: Minidoka National Historic Site (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2018), 30–31.
  10. Snyder and Ficke, "Report of the Engineering Section, Minidoka," 3–6; John de Young, Community Analysis Section, "Notes on the Fence, Watchtowers and M.P.'s," April 27, 1943, Community Analysis Reports and Community Analysis Trend Reports of the War Relocation Authority, 1942-1946, Microfilm Reel 22 (Washington, [D.C.]: National Archives, National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1984).
  11. Snyder and Ficke, "Report of the Engineering Section, Minidoka," 4; Wakatsuki, et al., Images of America: Minidoka National Historic Site , 38.
  12. Snyder and Ficke, "Report of the Engineering Section, Minidoka," 4; R. R. Richmond, Final Report of Mess Operations, Jan. 31, 1946, pp. 7–8, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:18, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6j67q4k/?brand=oac4 ; Virginia Fumiko Tomita, interview by Charles Kikuchi, April 1944, 41; Kamekichi Tokita diary, Jan. 29 and Mar. 30, 1943, in Barbara Jones, Signs of Home: The Paintings and Wartime Diary of Kamekichi Tokita (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011), 208–09, 211.
  13. Richmond, Final Report of Mess Operations, 7.
  14. Japanese Evacuation from the West Coast 1942 Final Report (Washington, D.C.: War Department, 1943), 282–84; The Evacuated People: A Quantitative Description (Washington, D.C.: United States Department of the Interior, n.d. [1946]), 61.
  15. Japanese Evacuation from the West Coast , 282–84; John Bigelow, Report for Quarter Ended Sept. 30, 1942, 1; John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 13, Dec. 2, 1942, 3, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6p84k2t/?brand=oac4 ; John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 30, Jan. 14, 1943, 3, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:2, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6jh3tcj/?brand=oac4 . In his December 2 report, Reports Officer Bigelow mentions that the inmates from Portland, having arrived after those from Puyallup, initially "caused dissention" because they felt that the Puyallup group had already taken all the good jobs, but that this issue disappeared as new desirable jobs were created by their arrival.
  16. Minidoka Reports No. 2: Alaskan Evacuees, 2–3, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6p84k2t/?brand=oac4 ; Minidoka Irrigator , Feb. 27, 1943, 1, accessed on Oct. 8, 2018 at https://ddr.densho.org/media/ddr-densho-119/ddr-densho-119-172-mezzanine-017a139a23.pdf ; James Sakoda Diary, June 2 and 3, 1945, JAERDA BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder R 20.81:35**, accessed on Nov. 12, 2020 at https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6pg1rfr/?brand=oac4 ; Kenneth Barclay, Report of Chief Internal Security, 1, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:14, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6gb2b8p/?brand=oac4 .
  17. Reports Office, Summary of Monthly Reports for Sept. 1943, 1, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P2.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6gh9r47/?brand=oac4 ; The Evacuated People , 122; John Bigelow, Reports Office, Summary of Monthly Reports for Nov. 1943, 2, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P2.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6gh9r47/?brand=oac4 ; James Sakoda Diary, Oct. 2, 1943 JAERDA BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder R 20.81:16**, accessed on Oct. 3, 2018 at http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/jarda/ucb/text/cubanc6714_b261r20_0081_16.pdf ; Angus A. Acree, Reports Office, Summary of Monthly Reports for April 1944, 2, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P2.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6gh9r47/?brand=oac4 .
  18. James Sakoda Diary, Oct. 2, 1943, 11 and Oct. 4, 1943, 4, JAERDA BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder R 20.81:16** accessed on Oct. 3, 2018 at http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/jarda/ucb/text/cubanc6714_b261r20_0081_16.pdf ; James M. Sakoda, "The 'Residue' : The Unresettled Minidokans, 1943-1945," in Views from Within: The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study , edited by Yuji Ichioka (Los Angeles: Asian American Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles, 1989), 258, 262; Community Analysis Section, "Weekly Report on Attitudes and Reactions of Residents of Minidoka Toward Segregation Program," July 30 to Aug. 5, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P4.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6cv4qxr/?brand=oac4 ; Jeffery F. Burton and Mary M. Farrell, This Is Minidoka: An Archeological Survey of Minidoka Internment National Monument , Idaho (Western Archeological and Conservation Center, National Park Service, 2001), 19–20; Allan Markley, Final Report of Reports Office, Minidoka, 10, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:21, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k65145fq/?brand=oac4 .
  19. John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 6: Public Relations, Oct. 15, 1942, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6p84k2t/?brand=oac4 ; Carey McWilliams, Prejudice: Japanese-Americans; Symbol of Racial Intolerance (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1944), 163–64; Memo, A. E. O'Brien to Edwin E. Ferguson, November 20, 1942, 11.
  20. John Bigelow, Minidoka Reports No. 13, Dec. 2, 1942, 7–14; John Bigelow, Minidoka Reports No. 14, Dec. 5, 1942, 2 and Minidoka Report No. 19, Dec. 17, 1942, 1, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6p84k2t/?brand=oac4 ; John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 32, Feb. 1, 1943, 1 and Minidoka Report No. 43, Feb. 19, 1943, 3, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:2, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6jh3tcj/?brand=oac4 ; Memo, A. E. O'Brien to Edwin E. Ferguson, November 20, 1942, 11; Tokita diary in Johns, Signs of Home , 199.
  21. John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 68, June 24, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:3, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6dv1s2j/?brand=oac4 ; John Bigelow, Reports Office, Summary of Monthly Reports for Nov. 1943, 3; Sims, "Japanese Americans in Idaho," 109.
  22. Harry L. Stafford, Project Director's Narrative, Minidoka Relocation Center, JAERR https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/28722/bk000404p8d/?brand=oac4 ; Pacific Citizen, June 2, 1945, 1, https://ddr.densho.org/media/ddr-pc-17/ddr-pc-17-22-mezzanine-96b11ee80f.pdf ; Pacific Citizen , Nov. 3, 1945, 5, https://ddr.densho.org/media/ddr-pc-17/ddr-pc-17-44-mezzanine-69e3b6c8ac.pdf ; W. E. Rawlings, Project Director's Narrative, Minidoka Relocation Center, Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/28722/bk000404p9z/?brand=oac4 .
  23. Memo, A. E. O'Brien to Edwin E. Ferguson, November 20, 1942, 2; Sakoda, "The 'Residue,'" 262. Personnel lists and dates come from various Minidoka final reports that can be accessed online as part of the JAERR.
  24. Sakoda, "The 'Residue,'" 262; Elmer Smith, "Some Notes on Labor Problems in Minidoka," Oct. 19, 1944, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P4.00, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6ws91dm/?brand=oac4 ; Bert Weston, Narrative Report, Community Management, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:9, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k641747f/?brand=oac4 . In interviews Sakoda conducted in June 1945 with various inmates and WRA staff, many cite the influence and sympathetic nature of Schafer and Townsend in contrast to Stafford, though Stafford is seen by many to have evolved as he learned more about Japanese Americans. Townsend later returned to Minidoka to aid in the closing of the camp. See Sakoda's diary entries for June 7–9, 1945, JAERDA BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder R 20.81:35**, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6pg1rfr/?brand=oac4 .
  25. I. Oyama. Final Report of Chairman of Community Council, February 1945–October 1945. JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:8, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k67s7vz2/?brand=oac4 ; Bert Weston, Narrative Report, Community Management, 7–8; Memo, A. E. O'Brien to Edwin E. Ferguson, November 20, 1942, 4–5.
  26. I. Oyama. Final Report of Chairman of Community Council; quotes from pages 33 and 34; James Sakoda Diary, Feb. 5, 1945, JAERDA BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder R 20.81:31**, http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k66h4h4z .
  27. de Young, "Notes on the Fence,” 5–6; Tokita diary, Nov. 6, 1942, in Johns, Signs of Home , 193; John Bigelow, Minidoka Reports No. 30, Jan. 14, 1943 and No. 45, Feb. 20, 1943, Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley. BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6jh3tcj/?brand=oac4 ; Johns, Signs of Home, 228n80.
  28. Chiang, Nature Behind Barbed Wire , 75–82; John Bigelow, Reports Office, Summary of Monthly Reports for Jan. 1944, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P2.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6gh9r47/?brand=oac4 ; Sakoda, "The 'Residue,’” 262–63; Minidoka Irrigator , July 8, 1944, 1; Elmer Smith, “Historical Sketch of Analysis Section,” p. 4, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:7, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6cj8mps/?brand=oac4 ; Helen Amerman, quoted in James Sakoda Diary, June 7, 1945, JAERDA BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder R 20.81:35**, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6pg1rfr/?brand=oac4 ; Richmond, Final Report of Mess Operations, 13–15.
  29. Letter, H. L. Stafford to D. S. Myer, Feb. 9, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P4.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6cv4qxr/?brand=oac4 ; [John Bigelow], Minidoka Reports No. 38, n.d. [Feb. 1943] and 40 [Feb. 10, 1943], Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley. BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6jh3tcj/?brand=oac4
  30. [John Bigelow], Minidoka Reports No. 40, [Feb. 10, 1943], 41 [Feb. 13, 1943, 42 [Feb. 16, 1943], 47 [Feb. 25, 1943], and 49 [Mar. 4, 1943], Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley. BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6jh3tcj/?brand=oac4 ; The Evacuated People: A Quantitative Description , 115–23, 165; Frank S. Barrett, Report of the Legal Division, 8, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:17, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6320325/?brand=oac4 ; Cherstin Lyon, Prisons and Patriots: Japanese American Wartime Citizenship, Civil Disobedience, and Historical Memory (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011), 123.
  31. Community Analysis Section, "Weekly Report on Attitudes and Reactions of Residents of Minidoka Toward Segregation Program," July 30 to Aug. 5, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P4.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6cv4qxr/?brand=oac4 ; John DeYoung, Community Analysis Section, "Weekly Report on Segregation Trends," Sept. 18–24, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P4.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6cv4qxr/?brand=oac4 ; Teletype, Malcolm Pitts to H. L. Stafford, Aug. 31, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P4.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6cv4qxr/?brand=oac4 ; Memo, Dallas S. Newell to H. L. Stafford, May 11, 1944, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P4.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6cv4qxr/?brand=oac4 ; Reports Division, "General Summary of Monthly Reports for September 1943," JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P2.04.
  32. Mira Shimabukuro devotes a chapter to the Mother's Society of Minidoka petition in her book Relocating Authority: Japanese Americans Writing to Redress Mass Incarceration (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2015). Eric Muller, Free to Die for Their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 70–76, 124–30, 161.
  33. Wakatsuki, et al., Images of America: Minidoka National Historic Site , 110.
  34. Lawrence Ray Harker, et al., Historical Narrative Report, Community Management Division, Education Section, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:10, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6086cg8/?brand=oac4 , 1–4. The popular Light, a Stanford graduate and advocate of progressive education, was fired by Stafford in August 1944 when the school opted to turn towards a more "traditional" curriculum, leading to protests by students and teachers. See Sakoda, "The 'Residue,'" 264 and Thomas James, Exile Within: The Schooling of Japanese Americans, 1942-1945 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), 141.
  35. Harker, et al., 7, 29.
  36. Harker, et al., 13–14, 17–18, John Bigelow and John F. Graham, Reports Office, Summary of Monthly Reports for Nov. 1943 and Oct. 1944, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P2.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6gh9r47/?brand=oac4 .
  37. Harker, et al., 8–11.
  38. Harker, et al., 42–46.
  39. Densho interviews with George Nakata (by Masako Hinatsu), Segment 18, Portland, Oregon, August 23, 2004, Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection, Densho Digital Repository, https://ddr.densho.org/media/ddr-one-7/ddr-one-7-29-18-transcript-466828daab.htm ; Henry Miyatake (by Tom Ikeda), Segment 19, Seattle, May 4, 1998, Densho Visual History Collection, Densho Digital Repository, https://ddr.densho.org/media/ddr-densho-1000/ddr-densho-1000-54-19-transcript-1e360d406e.htm ; and Eiko Shibayama (by Debra Grindeland), Segment 10, Bainbridge Island, Washington, November 5, 2006, Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection, Densho Digital Repository, https://ddr.densho.org/media/ddr-densho-1001/ddr-densho-1001-14-10-transcript-80a607110c.htm , all accessed on Oct. 15, 2018.
  40. Robert Hosokawa, Minidoka Report No. 8: Recreation Activities, October 22, 1942 and Frank Tanabe, Minidoka Report No. 50, March 16, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6p84k2t/?brand=oac4 . The first WRA staff community activities director, Walter Kipp, arrived in June 1943.
  41. John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 73, Sept. 3, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:3, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6dv1s2j/?brand=oac4 ; Chiang, Nature Behind Barbed Wire , 149; Wakatsuki, et al., Images of America: Minidoka National Historic Site , 51, 53; J. Wesley Johnson, Final Report, Community Activities Section, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:6, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/28722/bk000404q12/?brand=oac4 . Noboru Tada, 11, drowned on June 22, 1943 when he slipped off a rock south of Block 26; Yoshio Tom Tamura, 21, drowned on August 28, 1943, his body recovered by fishermen 2½ miles away. See the Minidoka Irrigator , June 26, 1943 and Sept. 4, 1943.
  42. Frank Tanabe, Minidoka Report No. 50; George Nakata interview by Masako Hinatsu, Segment 17, Portland, Oregon, Aug. 23, 2004, Oregon Nikkei Endowment Collection, Densho Digital Repository, https://ddr.densho.org/media/ddr-one-7/ddr-one-7-29-transcript-07a16204ab.htm ; Tokita diary in Johns, Signs of Home , 190, 199; John Bigelow, Minidoka Reports No. 18, Dec. 5, 1942, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6p84k2t/?brand=oac4 ; John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 58, Apr. 10, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:3, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6dv1s2j/?brand=oac4 .
  43. Robert Hosokawa, Minidoka Report No. 8; Frank Tanabe, Minidoka Report No. 50; Wakatsuki, et al., Images of America: Minidoka National Historic Site , 58; Chiang, Nature Behind Barbed Wire , 160–61.
  44. Snyder and Ficke, "Report of the Engineering Section, Minidoka," 5; Bert Weston, Report of Health Section, Minidoka Relocation Center, October 15, 1943–December 15, 1945, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:16, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k66t0tvp/?brand=oac4 .
  45. John Bigelow, Report for Quarter Ended Sept. 30, 1942, 3; Lauren M. Nehar, Personal Narrative Report of the Chief Medical Officer, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:16, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k66t0tvp/?brand=oac4 ; Bert Weston, Report of Health Section, 2; Elmer Smith, "Some Notes on Labor Problems in Minidoka," 6–7.
  46. Patricia Wakida, "Minidoka Irrigator (newspaper)," Densho Encyclopedia , accessed on Oct. 16, 2018 at https://encyclopedia.densho.org/Minidoka_Irrigator_(newspaper)/ ; John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 51, Mar. 16, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:3, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6dv1s2j/?brand=oac4 ; Allan Markley, Final Report of Reports Office, Minidoka, 12, 16–17, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:21, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k65145fq/?brand=oac4 .
  47. Markley, Final Report of Reports Office, 13, 15–17; Wakida, "Minidoka Irrigator (newspaper)"; John de Young, Community Analysis Section, "Notes on the Fence, Watchtowers and M.P.'s," April 27, 1943, Community Analysis Reports and Community Analysis Trend Reports of the War Relocation Authority, 1942-1946, Reel 22 (Washington, [D.C.]: National Archives, National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1984), 8; John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 43, Feb. 19, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6jh3tcj/?brand=oac4 .
  48. Frank S. Barrett, Report of Business Enterprises Minidoka Community Consumers' Cooperative, 1, 13–14, 16, 18, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:5, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6h99cc2/?brand=oac4 ; Memo, A. E. O'Brien to Edwin E. Ferguson, November 20, 1942, 10–11; Angus A. Acree, Reports Office, Summary of Monthly Reports for July 1944 and April 1945, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P2.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6gh9r47/?brand=oac4 .
  49. John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 60, Apr. 15, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:3, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6dv1s2j/?brand=oac4 ; Anna Hosticka Tamura, "Minidoka Gardens," in Surviving Minidoka , 93–95.
  50. Reports Office, Summary of Monthly Reports for Sept. 1943, Oct. 1943, and Nov. 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P2.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6gh9r47/?brand=oac4 ; Richmond, “Final Report of Mess Operations.”
  51. W. E. Rawlings, Project Director's Narrative, Minidoka Relocation Center, JAERR https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/28722/bk000404p9z/?brand=oac4 ; Chiang, Nature Behind Barbed Wire , 100–01; Minidoka Reports No. 1, Sept. 19, 1942, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6p84k2t/?brand=oac4 ; John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 63, Apr. 22, 1943, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:3, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6dv1s2j/?brand=oac4 ; Reports Office, Summary of Monthly Reports for Sept. 1943, Dec. 1943, and Oct. 1944, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P2.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6gh9r47/?brand=oac4 . Status of camp agriculture relative to other WRA camps comes from statistics compiled in Lillquist, "Imprisoned in the Desert" and by the author from agricultural reports from each of the WRA camps.
  52. John Bigelow, Minidoka Report No. 13, Dec. 5, 1942, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.95:1, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6p84k2t/?brand=oac4 ; John Bigelow and John F. Graham, Reports Office, Summary of Monthly Reports for Nov. 1943 and Oct. 1944, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P2.04, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6gh9r47/?brand=oac4 .
  53. J. Wesley Johnson, Final Report, Community Activities Section. JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:6, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/28722/bk000404q12/?brand=oac4 .
  54. Anne M. Blankenship, Christianity, Social Justice, and the Japanese American Incarceration during World War II (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2016), 167–76, op cit., 191, 203, 208; Bert Weston, Narrative Report, Community Management, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:9, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k641747f/?brand=oac4 ; J. Wesley Johnson, Final Report, Community Activities Section; Tsuguo "Ike" Ikeda interview I by Alice Ito, Segment 17, Seattle, September 27, 2000, Densho Visual History Collection, Densho Digital Repository, Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-123-17, accessed on Oct. 15, 2018 at https://ddr.densho.org/media/ddr-densho-1000/ddr-densho-1000-123-17-transcript-9009644455.htm .
  55. Lawrence Ray Harker, et al., Historical Narrative Report, Community Management Division, Education Section, 13, 49–50, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P6.00:10, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k6086cg8/?brand=oac4 .
  56. This section is based on the author's "The Final 'Confusing, Cumbersome' Days in Minidoka Concentration Camp" in the Densho Blog, Oct. 22, 2020, https://densho.org/the-final-confusing-cumbersome-days-in-minidoka-concentration-camp/ .
  57. George Takigawa, interview by Charles Kikuchi, October 1943, 65–66, JAERDA BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder T1.94, http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/jarda/ucb/text/cubanc6714_b280t01_0946.pdf .
  58. John Bigelow, Report for Quarter Ended Sept. 30, 1942, 2, JAERR BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder P3.97, https://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/k69311cz/?brand=oac4 .
  59. Virginia Fumiko Tomita, interview by Charles Kikuchi, April 1944, 40, JAERDA BANC MSS 67/14 c, folder T1.94, accessed on June 19, 2018 at http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/jarda/ucb/text/cubanc6714_b281t01_0969.pdf .
  60. Monica Sone, Nisei Daughter (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1953) 194.
  61. Tokita diary in Johns, Signs of Home , 184.
  62. Burton, This Is Minidoka , 22; Todd Shallat, "Return to Minidoka," in Surviving Minidoka: The Legacy of WWII Japanese American Incarceration , edited by Russell M. Tremayne and Todd Shallat (Boise: Boise State University College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs, 2013), 173–74.
  63. Pacific Citizen , Sept. 14, 1979, 1–2; Amy Lowe Meger, Minidoka Internment National Monument Historic Resource Study (Seattle: National Park Service, 2005), 164.
  64. Frank and Joanne Iritani, Ten Visits: Brief Accounts of Our Visits to All Ten Japanese American Relocation Centers of World War II, Relocation Recollections, the Struggle for Redress, Human Relations and Other Essays (San Mateo, Calif.: Japanese American Curriculum Project, 1994), 25–27.
  65. Meger, Minidoka Internment National Monument Historic Resource Study , 1, "Management," Minidoka National Historic Site website, accessed on Oct. 17, 2018 at https://www.nps.gov/miin/learn/management/index.htm ; Anna Tamura, comments at "Origin Story of Minidoka National Historic Site" online event, Jan. 17, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwfKmOwvyXM . The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial was also added as unit of Minidoka.
  66. Shallat, "Return to Minidoka, 177; Past Projects, Friends of Minidoka website, http://www.minidoka.org/past-projects ; Basic Information, Minidoka National Historic Site, https://www.nps.gov/miin/planyourvisit/basicinfo.htm ; Hanako Wakatsuki, "Update from the National Park Service," Friends of Minidoka Fall/Winter 2017 newsletter, 2, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57295d53356fb092b259a116/t/5a309a07085229b367ba8732/1513134636935/Newsletter_Fall_Winter+2017+web.pdf ; Friends of Minidoka newsletter, Fall/Winter 2019, 2 https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57295d53356fb092b259a116/t/5dd379ef73af0e4699f83300/1574140426979/Newsletter2019_Fall.pdf ; "Updates from the National Park Service," Friends of Minidoka newsletter, Fall/Winter 2020, 2, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57295d53356fb092b259a116/t/5fbb465605f44a5f70a19019/1606108761010/FOM_Newsletter_FallWinter2020_webColor.pdf , all accessed on Mar. 1, 2021.
  67. "Minidoka's Honor Roll," https://www.nps.gov/miin/learn/historyculture/minidokas-honor-roll.htm and "Interpretive Trail and Exhibit Panels," https://www.nps.gov/miin/learn/historyculture/interpretive-trail-and-exhibit-panels.htm , Minidoka National Historic Site website, both accessed on Oct. 17, 2018; Meger, Minidoka Internment National Monument Historic Resource Study , 168.

Last updated Aug. 25, 2021, 9:10 p.m..