WWII Internees Make Annual Pilgrimage to Minidoka

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Historical plaques mark the entrance to the former Minidoka Relocation Center.
  • National Park Service
  • Historical plaques mark the entrance to the former Minidoka Relocation Center.

They return to Minidoka each year.

"One day, (my teacher asked me, 'Do you know about Minidoka?' Didn't want to sound stupid, so I said, 'Yeah,'" Hanako Wakatsuki told Boise Weekly in 2012. "I googled it when it got home and I was appalled because I hadn't learned anything about it."

Today, Wakatsuki is chairwoman of the nonprofit Friends of Minidoka, advocating to preserve the legacy of Japanese-Americans who were incarcertated at the Jerome County camp during World War II.

"Between 10,000-13,000 Japanese Americans were interned at the camp during the Second World War," Wendy Janssen, superintendent of the Minidoka National Historic Site to BW. "At the time, it was the seventh-largest city in Idaho."

This morning's Twin Falls Times-News reports that more than 200 former prisoners and their families visited what is left of the Minidoka Relocation Center June 22. The pilgrimage to the camp, 15 miles north of Twin Falls, is an annual event.

"I think for most of us, it was injustice against us," former internee Tosh Okamoto of Seattle told the Times-News. "It was a sad time."