April 8, 2020
Due to ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation has decided to cancel its July 2020 Pilgrimage event. The annual event brings over 350 people, mostly former incarcerees and their families, to Heart Mountain Interpretive Center. The interpretive center is located on the site of the former World War II-era Japanese American concentration camp in northwest Wyoming. The 2021 Pilgrimage is scheduled to take place July 22-24.
The board of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation deliberated over whether to cancel this year’s Pilgrimage during their quarterly meeting on Saturday, April 4. The Foundation originally hoped to carry on with this popular event as scheduled, but ultimately decided that the health and safety of its attendees, many of whom are in high-risk groups, had to come first. Many of the performers and presenters scheduled for 2020 have already committed to returning for next year’s Pilgrimage, which has been scheduled for July 22-24, 2021.
Shirley Ann Higuchi, Chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, expressed her regrets and encouraged everyone to look after each other in the current situation. “The current pandemic has disrupted our routines and taken away many of the things we most looked forward to,” Higuchi said. “However, I hope it will not take away our sense of community. We may not be able to gather together this summer, but we can still look out for one another. I encourage you to reach out to your friends from Pilgrimages past and let them know you’re here. At times like these, simply connecting can mean a lot,” Higuchi said.
Heart Mountain Interpretive Center is currently closed to the public. However, staff members have committed to posting new online content each week for the length of the closure. Content includes educational programs, short films, readings from Higuchi’s upcoming book, and video tours of the museum, including areas not yet open to the public. This content can be accessed through the museum’s website, or through the museum’s Facebook and YouTube pages.