The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation invites educators of grades 5-12 from around the country to spend a week of summer 2024 learning about the Japanese American incarceration. Beginning with the stories of the first immigrants from Japan, the workshop will take participants through the Pearl Harbor attack and wartime hysteria that followed, to the incarceration, and eventually to the apology and redress payments by the federal government in 1988. Teachers will be guided in developing dynamic place-based lessons using primary and secondary source materials such as digitized artifacts, oral histories, and newspapers.
This NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture will be offered twice: June 16-21 and July 23-28, 2024. Please indicate your preference and availability on your application due March 5, 2024. A more detailed schedule will be released soon.
Most of our sessions will be in Cody and Powell, Wyoming and at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center located between Cody and Powell, Wyoming; the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation is the institutional host. The foundation runs a world-class museum at the site of the actual World War II concentration camp and works in collaboration with two local museums–the Buffalo Bill Center of the West (Cody) and the Homesteader Museum (Powell).
We have drawn upon scholars of the Japanese American experience and the incarceration from all over the country. They have decades of experience in telling these stories to students and teachers. Our faculty consists of former incarcerees at Heart Mountain, leaders of our foundation, and scholars from California to Massachusetts who have broadened the knowledge of thousands of students over the past four decades.
Our director Sybil Tubbs from the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation and master teacher Tyson Emborg have a great deal of experience in working with teachers. For more information about those leading the workshops, please visit the faculty and project team pages.
About Our Organization
The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation
The Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation was formed in 1996 as a public nonprofit corporation and obtained its federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in 1997. Since then, the organization has worked to preserve the site that represents a period in U.S. history following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of them American-born citizens, were deprived of due process and forced to leave their homes and livelihoods to be incarcerated in “Relocation Centers.”
The mission of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation is to:
- Preserve and memorialize the Heart Mountain World War II Japanese American Confinement Site and the stories that symbolize the fragility of democracy;
- Educate the public about the history of the illegal imprisonment of Japanese Americans at Heart Mountain during World War II and its impact on the Big Horn Basin; and
- Support inquiry, research and outreach to highlight the lessons of the Japanese American confinement and their relevance to the preservation of liberty and civil rights for all Americans today.
Today, the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation is overseen by an eighteen-member Board of Directors led by Shirley Ann Higuchi, a descendant of Heart Mountain incarcerees. The Board includes former incarcerees, descendants, scholars and other local and national professionals from across the country.
The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center
In August of 2011, the Heart Mountain Wyoming Site opened the doors of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, a world-class museum on the site of the former Heart Mountain concentration camp in northwest Wyoming. The project was spearheaded by former incarcerees working alongside history-minded Wyoming locals. Contributions to build the center came from individual donors, major government and foundation grants, and corporate gifts.
Located only sixty miles away from the east gate of Yellowstone National Park, Heart Mountain Interpretive Center draws over 17,000 visitors annually, from all over the world. The center tells the story removal and incarceration of the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans, including the background history of anti-Asian prejudice in America and the factors leading to their forced removal and confinement. The award-winning permanent exhibit features original artifacts from the camp, recreations of living condition inside the Heart Mountain barracks, and many first person accounts of former incarcerees. Rotating special exhibits highlight specific facets of the camp’s history.
The Mineta-Simpson Institute
The Mineta-Simpson Institute, which is producing this workshop is under the auspices of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, was made to explore new ways to expand the reach of our mission. The Institute is named after Heart Mountain inspirational mentors Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and Senator Alan K. Simpson. The Institute focuses on utilizing publishing, filmmaking, education, and innovative technology to bring the incarceration story to new and larger audiences and to bridge differences.
Digital Research Resources
Hear the story of the Japanese American incarceration experience from those who lived it, and find thousands of historic photographs, documents, newspapers, letters and other primary source materials from immigration to the WWII incarceration and its aftermath.
The American Heritage Center’s collection on the Heart Mountain Relocation Center contains the Heart Mountain charter, community minutes, notes on resettlement plans, transcripts of a trial, and documents in Japanese.
The Heart Mountain Digital Preservation Project features documents and photographs from the Heart Mountain Relocation Center Collection housed in archives at the John Taggart Hinckley Library, Northwest College, Powell, Wyoming, and includes the Ethel Ryan Collection of Heart Mountain Relocation Center photographs. The original project was sponsored by Northwest College and funded by a grant from the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund.
This exhibit explores this history through materials created and used by those who lived in the Relocation Centers. The pieces in this exhibit highlight the challenges and contradictions faced by those confined within the detention camps.
The Heart Mountain, Wyoming and the Japanese American Incarceration 2024 Workshop has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.