Heart Mountain Pilgrimage Will Feature New Awards, Highlight Key Speakers

Three Japanese Americans who help build the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation will receive the organization’s first lifetime achievement awards during its annual Pilgrimage that starts Thursday, July 27, and runs through Saturday, July 29.

Jeanette Misaka, Bacon Sakatani, and Raymond Uno will receive the first awards in acknowledgement of their contributions to the creation of the Foundation and building of its interpretive center on the site of where 14,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II. Misaka, Sakatani and Uno were incarcerated as children at Heart Mountain.

Heart Mountain will also present the LaDonna Zall Compassionate Witness Award to members of the Marshall-Williams family for the support they provided to their Japanese American neighbors in the Los Angeles neighborhood known as J-Flats during the war. Their help enabled the Japanese Americans to keep their homes and belongings when so many others lost everything.

The award is named after LaDonna Zall, who watched the last train carrying incarcerees leave Heart Mountain on Nov. 10, 1945, and who was the interpretive center’s first curator. A longtime educator in Powell, Wyo., she passed away in 2021.

Activities include discussions of mixed-race Japanese American identities, a panel of authors of books about Heart Mountain and the wartime incarceration, and a discussion of family history of the incarceration featuring actors Tamlyn Tomita and Ally Maki and moderated by newscaster and documentarian David Ono.

On Saturday, the Foundation will note the progress made in building the Mineta-Simpson Institute at Heart Mountain with remarks by Senator Alan Simpson and David Mineta, the eldest son of Secretary Norman Mineta. The Institute is being built to encourage civil dialogues and to celebrate the lives and careers of Mineta and Simpson, who first met as Boy Scouts behind the barbed wire at Heart Mountain and whose public service was marked by a commitment to finding bipartisan solutions to the nation’s challenges.

Photo: Visitors to the Heart Mountain Pilgrimage will be able to see progress made in the restoration of the root cellar built in 1943 to hold produce grown in the incarceration site’s farm.