Doug Nelson, John Barrasso, and Shirley Ann Higuchi at the 2011 Grand Opening of the Interpretive Center

HMWF Praises Passage of Bills About the Japanese American Incarceration

The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation praises Congress for passing the 2023 spending bill that includes the Norman Y. Mineta Japanese American Confinement Education Act and the Japanese American History Network Act, which together will further education about one of the nation’s civil rights abuses.

Named after the late Norman Mineta, who was incarcerated at Heart Mountain as a child, the Norman Y. Mineta Japanese American Confinement Education Act dedicates $80 million in future funding for the preservation of sites where Japanese Americans were held without legal due process, and education about their unjust incarceration.

The Japanese American History Network Act, introduced in the Senate by Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, authorizes the National Park Service to “coordinate federal and nonfederal activities that commemorate, honor, and interpret the history of Japanese Americans during World War II,” according to the Senate report on the bill.

The Mineta act also provides $10 million in grants to qualifying institutions for educational programs about the Japanese American incarceration in which more than 120,000 people, two-thirds of them U.S. citizens, were imprisoned in a series of concentration camps around the country, including at Heart Mountain, Wyo.

Heart Mountain appreciates Sen. Barrasso’s efforts getting the language of the two bills included in the overall spending bill and in renaming the education bill after Mineta, who later served as a U.S. representative and secretary of Commerce and Transportation for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

“Along with our partners at other institutions and incarceration sites, Heart Mountain works tirelessly to educate the public about the ongoing legacy of this historic wrong,” said Aura Sunada Newlin, interim executive director of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation. “This legislation strengthens the future of American democracy by enabling us to reach new audiences in new ways.”

Heart Mountain thanks its fellow stakeholders in the Japanese American Confinement Sites Consortium (JACSC) for contacting their members of Congress to get the bill passed. JACSC leaders, particularly the Japanese American Citizens League and Executive Director David Inoue and the Japanese American National Museum led by President and CEO Ann Burroughs, were instrumental in getting the bills drafted and shepherded through Congress.

The support of the rest of the Wyoming delegation – Senator Cynthia Lummis and Representative Liz Cheney – was critical in the bill’s passage earlier in this congressional session.