Minidoka National Historic Site marks 20 years as National Park

“That’s why we are at Minidoka, ... to make sure that we are being diligent during times of uncertainty to preserve people’s rights”
Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 9:28 AM MST
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HUNT, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Sunday marks 20 years of the Minidoka Incarceration Camp being part of the National Park Service.

Located in Jerome County, it recognizes and honors those that were incarcerated there during World War II.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, more than 13,000 Japanese Americans were forced to relocate to the Minidoka Incarceration Camp, which was one of 10 war relocation centers throughout the country.

“After the war ended, a lot of the property became farmland,” said Hanako Wakatsuki, the acting chief of interpretation at the site. “And as you can see, if you go out there, there is a lot of agricultural uses of the historic site, that was about 33,000 acres.”

Closing in October 1945, it wasn’t until the 1970s when Japanese Americans in Idaho wanted to memorialize and recognize the site and remember the people who were forced to live there.

In 1979, the site was designated on the National Registry of Historic Places. In 2001, Minidoka was signed on as the 385th National Park.

“To kind of honor and tell the story of Minidoka so people know the history in Idaho,” Wakatsuki said.

Now, the site is open to everyone to come to learn about what happened to those people.

“That’s why we are at Minidoka, to tell this story of civil liberties and civil rights to make sure that we are being diligent during times of uncertainty to preserve people’s rights,” Wakatsuki said.

Sunday, Jan. 17 marks the 20th anniversary of the site becoming a National Park.

“The site itself is open from sunrise to sunset,” Wakatsuki said. “We have a 1.6-mile trail that you can walk around the visitor center, (it) won’t be open until the spring, but you can still walk around, and we have 27 outdoor exhibit’s that you can read.”

While many know it as the Minidoka National Internment Camp, the correct term is incarceration.

“Incarceration is more accurate because colloquially people call it Japanese internment, but it was the Japanese American incarceration,” Wakatsuki said.

To recognize the 20th anniversary they are holding programs all day.

They can be viewed here.

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