In the fall of 1942, Frida Mix, a teacher in Seattle, heard about the order to remove all of people of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific Coast. She moved to Mesa, Ariz. with her 15-year-old daughter and volunteered to teach at the Gila River concentration camp. Frida told the camp authorities that her daughter Ruth was 18 years old so that she could volunteer to work at the camp hospital.
Frida was incensed by this horrific act of a nation, and gave up a teaching position in Washington to be a part of the many who helped to make a more bearable life at Gila River.
“We must make right a terrible wrong,” Frida told Ruth as they rode the military bus into the prison camp for Ruth’s first day at the hospital. Ruth was the only white nurse’s aide amongst a staff composed entirely of Japanese American internees. The film focuses on the hardships and the friendships the were created in the harsh environment of the camps.
The documentary was produced, written and directed by Ruth’s daughter Claire Mix. In 2007, when Ruth, 65, was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and had only 6 months to live, she urged Claire, a Sacramento teacher, to make a documentary about her experiences and the many horrible events she witnessed during the three years in the camp.
“Gila River and Mama: The Ruth Mix Story” was made possible with grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, Teleview Systems of Mountain View and funds raised by the Gila Reunion Committee.