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Idaho Japanese American incarceration camp renovated with human rights education site

Rachel Cohen/Boise State Public Radio
Hanako Wakatsuki, the Chief of Interpretation and Education at the Minidoka National Historical Site, stands in front of the renovated museum building.

During World War II, thousands of Japanese Americans were ordered by the U.S. government to be incarcerated in remote camps. The order, signed by President Franklin Roosevelt, was meant to prevent Japanese people on American soil from taking up arms and bringing the war inside the United States borders. Today, that period is recognized as one of the most shameful in American history. 

One of those sites is here in Idaho. Minidoka, also called Hunt Camp, housed about 14,000 Japanese Americans in its three years of operation. The site was more than 33,000 acres, but authorities packed more than 600 buildings into less than 1000 acres of the main camp. One of those buildings has been fully renovated and is now open as the new permanent visitor center.

 Joining Idaho Matters to talk about this new educational site are Hanako Wakatsuki, chief of Interpretation and Education for Minidoka National Historic Site; Mia Russell, Executive Director of the Friends of Minidoka; and Wade Vagias, National Parks Superintendent who oversees the Minidoka Historical Site. 

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Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News.

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