2015 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage: An ‘All Camps’ Celebration


This year's pilgrimage will celebrate the return of a barrack to Heart Mountain. (Photo by Stan Honda)

This year’s pilgrimage will celebrate the return of a barrack to Heart Mountain. (Photo by Stan Honda)

The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation announces its annual pilgrimage, with the focus of bringing together representatives from all ten original confinement sites.

With the theme of an “All Camps” Celebration, this year’s events will include an all-day fair featuring former incarcerees not only from Heart Mountain, but from various other sites. The events will take place at the Heart Mountain World War II Japanese American Confinement Site in northwest Wyoming on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 21-22.

If you are a former incarceree and would like to represent your site during the “All Camps” Fair on Aug. 21, or would like to participate in the panel discussion on Aug. 22, contact HMWF.

Headlining the event will be the return of an original Heart Mountain barrack and the dedication of the root cellar. HMWF will be saving the barrack from demolition at its current site in Shell, Wyo., in what is hoped to be a community-wide effort. The barrack will travel nearly 80 miles for its return. To maintain the historic integrity of the Heart Mountain site, the barrack will be placed on the original site where five barracks once sat as part of the military police complex adjacent to where the Interpretive Center currently sits.

With its return, the barrack brings important historical significance as a powerful artifact of camp life and beyond.

Other events at the site include guest speakers, including featured artist G. Yamazawa. Born in Durham, N.C. and raised by Japanese immigrants, George Masao Yamazawa Jr. is widely considered one of the top young spoken-word artists in the country. At 24 years old, “G” is the youngest poet to become a National Poetry Slam champion, Individual World Poetry Slam finalist, and Southern Fried champion, and has toured in over 40 American cities and five European countries.

An advocate for youth empowerment, G also has extensive experience as a teaching artist facilitating writing/performance workshops for inner-city youth in the Washington, D.C. public school system through Split This Rock, a nationally recognized non-profit organization with a focus in political poetry.

Other speakers include former Sen. Al Simpson and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta. In addition, a dinner banquet with distinguished speakers will be held on Aug. 21 at the Holiday Inn in Cody, Wyo.

“As our most important event, the annual pilgrimage serves our mission by educating the public about the history of Japanese American confinement and engaging visitors in a discussion about racial prejudice and civil rights, as well as hopefully providing an opportunity for healing for former internees and their families,” said HMWF Executive Director Brian Liesinger.

Fundraising is under way to help bring back the barrack to Heart Mountain through the foundation’s “Save-A-Barrack” campaign. Any contributions to this fund can be made through the website at barrack.shopheartmountain.org or by phone at (307) 754-8000.

This structure represents many things: injustice and pain, but also perseverance and resourcefulness. Being back on this historic site will allow HMWF to extend not only its preservation mission but its educational goals as well, not to mention the gravity it will lend when reminding people of a mistake that must not be repeated. The declining number of former incarcerees from every camp further highlights the need not only for this “All Camps” consortium but for preservation of sites where these people were unjustly incarcerated.

“The reason we continue to use the moniker ‘The Greatest Generation’ is because it still rings true, and the veterans of World War II continue to inspire future generations with their selfless service,” Liesinger said. “We feel we must bring back and honor those whose lives were intertwined not only with war but also with incarceration at Heart Mountain.”

Registration for both days of events can be made at heartmountain.org/pilgrimage.html. Registration can also be done over the phone at (307) 754-8000. Registration includes both days’ events, as well as the dinner banquet on Friday and lunch on Saturday at the Heart Mountain site.

Located between Cody and Powell on Highway 14a, the Heart Mountain World War II Japanese American Confinement Site features an Interpretive Center that is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, free for children under 12. For more information, call the above number of visit www.HeartMountain.org.



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