Manzanar Celebrates Paiute-Shoshone Family with New Exhibit

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INDEPENDENCE — Manzanar National Historic Site will hold a public reception for its newest exhibit showcasing 100 years of the Button family’s history at Manzanar.

Irene Button at age 4. (NPS/Irene Button Collection)

The reception will be held on Friday, Sept. 15, at 10 a.m. inside the Visitor Center.

The Button family, members of the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone tribe, has a long history with Manzanar dating back to the farming era. The family matriarch, Irene Button, lived with her family on Moffat Ranch, about four miles south of Manzanar. Irene’s uncle and great uncle, Louie and John Shepherd, were employed by John Shepherd on his ranch and were some of the first Paiute to take on their employer’s surname. The Eastern California Museum partnered with Manzanar to provide historic photographs for the exhibit.

Superintendent Bernadette Johnson said, “Park Ranger Mark Hachtmann and Latino Heritage Intern Rocio Gomez collaborated with the Button family over the past three months. We are pleased to share the family’s story with the public. The Paiute-Shoshone connection to Manzanar is significant to the site and stories like these shared by the Button family help us to preserve the history of the first inhabitants of the Owens Valley.”

Irene and her family donated several photographs, artifacts, and documents to the site, most of which are on display in the exhibit. She and her family will be present at the reception. The Manzanar History Association will provide coffee and muffins to those attending the event.

The Manzanar Visitor Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. The center also features extensive permanent exhibits and a 22-minute introductory film, “Remembering Manzanar.” An auto tour road circles the site, highlighting Japanese gardens, historic orchards, the cemetery, and more.

Manzanar is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence. For more information, call (760) 878-2194, ext. 3310 or go online to www.nps.gov/manz or www.facebook.com/ManzanarNationalHistoricSite.

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