(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on August 26, 2010.)
This is an opinion and response from reading about the oral history on internment camps. I was doing research on history projects conducted in New Mexico to view what has been funded. Myself an oral historian, I had the opportunity in 1993 or so to present on a panel with Elizabeth Chestnut during an oral history conference at UNM. She on the Japanese American Experience in Gallup, New Mexico through photographs and myself on an oral history project I conducted in a semi-rural area of Albuquerque’s South Valley, a 500-year-old community with no written history. I am glad to see the progression of her work on Japanese Americans in Gallup moved into the mainstream. Today I am beginning a film project on the captive indian slaves in New Mexico known as Genizaros, another little known history of heroism, struggle, monumental contributions and survival.
We all need to know one another’s history from the perspective of those who experienced it. It is critical to bring about a balance to shameful damage Western history and historians have imposed on so many of its citizens of all races and ethnicities.
I often reinforce this truth in a Facebook page I began as a part of the Arizona anti-immigration laws and its copy-cat laws popping up across the country. I added your link for member friends to read on my FB page; Albuquerque Consumers Boycott Arizona -I hope it is well visited. There have been Asian positions of support as well as Native American positions that reinforce their first nation rights to challenge SB 1070.
Thank you for your work and your stories. These stories are of national interest and concern and like all stories, an important contribution to a Critical American experience and the American promise of which you speak…the promise guaranteed by the US Constitution.
Fear-based people will not be allowed to repeat history because -we will come to know and share our stories -understanding from were we came with such a fine tuned critical mind.
Cynthia Jeannette Gomez