Archival photo of children walking by barracks at Heart Mountain

Heart Mountain Receives National Endowment for the Humanities Grant

August 17, 2021

The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation has received a grant from the National Endowment of Humanities to conduct workshops for 72 teachers from around the country for the second consecutive year. The workshops will take place in the summer of 2022 and will focus on the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans in Wyoming during World War II.

The National Endowment for the Humanities announced today that Heart Mountain has been awarded a $187,804 grant as part of its Landmarks in American History and Culture program. The grant will bring teachers from across the nation to Park County for two one-week place-based education workshops exploring the history of the Heart Mountain camp. Participants will learn from former incarcerees and recognized scholars of Japanese American incarceration. During the course of the week, they will develop lessons and activities to take back to their classrooms.

The team developing the program includes master teacher Tyson Emborg, a high school history teacher at Highlands Ranch, Colorado; Ray Locker, Heart Mountain’s editorial consultant and project director; and Julie Abo, its Washington affairs director.

In the announcement, NEH Acting Chairman Adam Wolfson noted that projects like this one help students develop a better grasp of American history. “The grants announced today demonstrate the resilience and breadth of our nation’s humanities institutions and practitioners,” Wolfson said. “From education programs that will enrich teaching in college and high school classrooms to multi-institutional research initiatives, these excellent projects will advance the teaching, preservation, and understanding of history and culture.”  

Heart Mountain previously received a Landmarks in American History and Culture grant to hold educator workshops in 2020. These workshops were delayed due to the spread of COVID-19, and were ultimately held virtually in June and July of 2021. In spite of the challenges, the workshops were a resounding success.

Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Executive Director Dakota Russell said that he is excited about plans to hold the 2022 workshops in person. “The online events were phenomenal,” Russell said, “but there’s no substitute for teaching this history in the place where it happened. It really helps to connect this story to the other stories of the West, from the Apsáalooke people to Buffalo Bill Cody to the homesteaders that came after the camp.”

These teacher workshops are key to the long-range vision of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation. In July, the Foundation announced The Mineta-Simpson Institute at Heart Mountain, a planned addition to Heart Mountain Interpretive Center. Named for lifelong friends Senator Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming and Secretary Norman Y. Mineta of California, the new wing will be a dedicated space to host groups and workshops like these. Heart Mountain is currently raising funds for the construction of the Mineta-Simpson Institute.

Applications for the 2022 workshops will open on November 1 and close on March 1, 2022.

Photo: Historic photo of the Japanese American confinement camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.