In March, we celebrate Women’s History Month by highlighting the lives of some of Heart Mountain’s most influential women. The experience of the camp showed many the importance of challenging stereotypes. This program celebrates three women who refused to conform to simple ideas of race and gender, and rose to become leaders not only among Japanese Americans, but Americans as a whole.
Learn more about notable women of Heart Mountain through their own words in the following books:
Mine Okubo was one of over one hundred thousand people of Japanese descent–nearly two-thirds of whom were American citizens–who were forced into “protective custody” shortly after Pearl Harbor. Citizen 13660, Okubo’s graphic memoir of life in relocation centers in California and Utah, illuminates this experience with poignant illustrations and witty, candid text. Now available with a new introduction by Christine Hong and in a wide-format artist edition, this graphic novel can reach a new generation of readers and scholars.
Nine-year-old Michiko Minagawa bids her father good-bye before her birthday celebration. She doesn’t know the government has ordered all Japanese-born men out of the province. Ten days later, her family joins hundreds of Japanese Canadians on a train to the interior of British Columbia. Even though her aunt Sadie jokes about it, they have truly reached the “Land of No”. There are no paved roads, no streetlights and not streetcars. The house in which they are to live is dirty and drafty. At her new school Michiko learns the truth of her situation. She must face local prejudice, the worst winter in forty years, and her first Christmas without her father.
Stubborn Twig is a classic American story, a story of immigrants making their way in a new land. It is a living work of social history that rings with the power of truth and the drama of fiction, a moving saga about the challenges of becoming an American. Masuo Yasui traveled from Japan across the “other Oregon Trail‚” the one that spanned the Pacific Ocean in 1903. Like most immigrants, he came with big dreams and empty pockets. Working on the railroads, in a cannery, and as a houseboy before settling in Hood River, Oregon, he opened a store, raised a large family, and became one of the area’s most successful orchardists. As Masuo broke the race barrier in the local business community, his American-born children broke it in school, scouts and sports, excelling in most everything they tried. For the Yasui’s first-born son, the constraints and contradictions of being both Japanese and American led to tragedy. But his seven brothers and sisters prevailed, becoming doctors, lawyers, teachers, and farmers. It was a classic tale of the American dream come true‚ until December 7, 1941, changed their lives forever. The Yasuis were among the more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry along the West Coast who were forced from their homes and interned in vast inland‚ “relocation camps.” Masuo was arrested as a spy and imprisoned for the rest of the war; his family was shamed and broken. Yet the Yasuis endured, as succeeding generations took up the challenge of finding their identity as Americans. Stubborn Twig is their story‚ a story at once tragic and triumphant, one that bears eloquent witness to both the promise and the peril of America.