2023 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage
July 27-29, 2023
Early Registration: March 1
Early registration is for Heart Mountain members. Learn more about becoming a member HERE!
General Registration: April 1
Members and non-members alike can register starting on April 1
Friends and Allies: A Path Toward Greater Understanding
For African Americans and Japanese Americans in Los Angeles before World War II, many neighborhoods were off limits. Restrictive covenants prevented them from buying land in white neighborhoods, and redlining limited their abilities to get loans and insurance. That forced them to look out for each other in the neighborhoods they shared.
One such neighborhood was East Hollywood, also known as J-Flats. There emerged an inspirational alliance between the African American Marshall family and their Japanese American neighbors. When families such as the Hoshizakis and Kakibas were forced from their homes and incarcerated at Heart Mountain, the Marshalls watched over their property and belongings, so that they had homes and possessions waiting for them after the war.
We are excited to explore the themes of cross-cultural allies and friendships at this year’s Pilgrimage! Our summer exhibit features the remarkable story of the J-Flats community, and shows how our racial and ethnic differences do not have to divide us. The Marshall family, who will be honored with our LaDonna Zall Compassionate Witness Award, has shown that allies can transcend language and race.
This year’s featured image is a watercolor painting by Kyokuo Iko, who was incarcerated at Heart Mountain from 1942-1945.
The painting was described as “Heart Mountain, looking down a street at sunrise.”
This year’s Pilgrimage features a variety of activities:
- Several optional Thursday Activities & Workshops from which to choose, including time to visit the Interpretive Center with optional tours and special presentation
- Two Friday afternoon panel discussions from which to choose
- Multigenerational Discussions (with the opportunity to be a discussion leader)
- Three different Saturday Tours across the grounds of the former confinement site from which to choose
- Special Summer Exhibit telling the story of Los Angeles’ J-Flats Community
- Saturday night Sayonara Banquet in Cody*
- NEW: Opportunity to conduct a Family Research Session
*This is an optional addition to the weekend
Have questions? Check out our Pilgrimage FAQs Page:
See BELOW for suggestions to help you plan your trip including accommodation and travel arrangements.
Family Research Session:
For the first time ever, we are offering private family research for Heart Mountain descendants at the 2023 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage. This service is best suited for people who have very little knowledge of their family history, and need help starting on their research journey. One of our highly trained staff members will prepare a file of documents about your family’s time at Heart Mountain, and sit down with you and your group to explain their meaning and answer any questions you may have. They will also provide more information about resources you can use to discover more in-depth information about your family history at Heart Mountain.
You can indicate your interest to participate in a Family Research Session when you complete your online or printed registration form.* Please register once per family to ensure we don’t have repeat sessions book.
*Please note, registering your interest does not guarantee a spot.
General Schedule Overview for Pilgrimage Weekend
This is a general overview for the Pilgrimage weekend schedule. More details and a full schedule will be provided during check-in at the Holiday Inn in Cody, WY.
Click below to view the schedule:
Thursday, July 27
Many Pilgrimage attendees choose to arrive earlier in the week, to spend time exploring Heart Mountain Interpretive Center and the historic site on their own before the hustle and bustle of the Pilgrimage. It is also a good opportunity to explore Cody, Powell, the surrounding wilderness, and Yellowstone National Park, slightly farther afield.
This day provides newcomers and those who have not been able to visit the Interpretive Center for awhile the chance to explore in a more relaxed and less crowded setting before the excitement of the main Pilgrimage activities on Friday and Saturday.
One of the most unique and precious aspects of the Pilgrimage experience is the chance to interact with other former incarcerees and their descendants, whether they be old friends or new acquaintances. The Survivor meet-up and Thursday night social (including the classic Frank Emi Karaoke) are the first of several activities throughout the weekend providing the time and space to make new memories and have the time to catch up.
The registration table will be open at the Holiday Inn starting on Wednesday, July 26. Onsite registration is where participants check in with us so we know you’ve arrived and can provide you with registration packets including nametags, guidelines, a detailed schedule, and information for the entire weekend.
Pre-Pilgrimage activities begin the morning of Thursday, July 27, with the first of two optional visits to the Interpretive Center. These visits include opportunities to see Sam Mihara’s “Memories of Heart Mountain” presentation, tour the root cellar and Mineta-Simpson Institute construction, and explore our permanent exhibit & special summer exhibit.
Attendees can also choose from two workshops in which to participate on Thursday afternoon.
THURSDAY ACTIVITIES & WORKSHOPS:
Cartooning with Willie Ito
Join legendary animator Willie Ito for an afternoon of cartooning and storytelling. Bring your sketchpad and learn from a master, while he spins tales from his long career working in cartoons at Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, and Hanna Barbera. You may even get a sneak peek at his upcoming animated short, Hello, Maggie!
What does it mean to be a writer? What does the writing process look like, especially when it comes to the history of one’s own family? Join Emily Inouye Huey (Beneath the Wide Silk Sky) and Gail Kuromiya (Beyond the Betrayal) as they discuss their own processes of research, storytelling, publication–and how writing can be a tool for self-expression and healing. After they have spoken about their own experiences, participants will have time to write and share their own ideas too.
Memories of Heart Mountain
Sam Mihara is a second-generation Japanese American whose parents were born in Japan and immigrated to the U.S. in the 1920s. Sam was born in the early 1930s and raised in San Francisco. When World War II broke out, the U.S. Government forced Sam and his family to move, first to a detention camp in Pomona, California, and then to Heart Mountain, where they stayed for three years. Sam’s family lived in a single room, measuring 20 feet by 20 feet, for their entire imprisonment, which he will discuss in his talk. He also explores the root causes and the legacy of Japanese American incarceration.
Root Cellar Tour
Tour the Heart Mountain root cellar, currently under restoration. The original 1943 cellar is the only surviving Heart Mountain structure designed and built entirely by incarcerees. This tour will highlight unique features of the structure, detail the restoration process, and provide a preview of upcoming plans for the cellar.
Friday, July 28
This year’s Pilgrimage begins with a panel discussion at the Wynona Thompson Auditorium in downtown Cody, leaving participants well-positioned to explore the town a bit during the lunch break and to choose from a variety of restaurants around Cody’s main street, Sheridan Avenue.
The afternoon will feature a choice of two different panel discussions. These sessions will explore the Nikkei experience and give attendees a chance to hear from and talk with some of the leading authors writing about Japanese American history today. The day ends with ample time for Multigenerational Discussions and photo opportunities for families and generational groups.
FRIDAY PANELS & DISCUSSIONS:
Looking Toward the Future
Los Angeles anchorman David Ono, a longtime friend of Heart Mountain, hosts this panel of Japanese American and African American entertainment figures as they discuss how to create a future that bridges racial and
Authors of the Incarceration
Join some of the leading authors writing about the Japanese American experience today for an enlightening conversation about their works and its inspirations. This year’s panelists include Eric Muller (Lawyer, Jailer, Ally, Foe), Douglas Nelson (Heart Mountain: The History of an American Concentration Camp), Shirley Ann Higuchi (Setsuko’s Secret), and Frank Abe (We Hereby Refuse).
Mixed Nikkei Panel
Being mixed Nikkei brings joys and challenges that are unique to each individual’s experience, but can also reveal shared truths. Join Matthew Weisbly (Japanese American Citizens League), Mia Russell (Japanese American National Museum), Rachel Watanabe-Batton (Contradiction and Struggle), Krist Ishikawa Jessup (Heart Mountain Interpretive Center), and moderator Alan Maeda as they discuss the rich and varied experiences of growing up and living in the world as a mixed Japanese American.
These small group discussions will give participants a chance to reflect on the Japanese American confinement experience, and express their thoughts in a safe, supportive, small group environment. Former incarcerees and others who experienced the camp first-hand will be invited to speak first, but all participants—of all ages and ethnicities—will be encouraged to share.
Saturday, July 29
Saturday will begin with a brief flag ceremony and opening remarks. Following this, activity choices for the morning and early afternoon will include guided tours and talks led by former incarcerees and Heart Mountain staff at three possible locations around our National Historic Landmark site: the original hospital grounds (with its iconic red chimney); the memorial, honor roll, and walking trail; and our original Heart Mountain barrack.
Attendees can also use this time to explore the interpretive center, another great opportunity to view our permanent exhibit and the special exhibit focused on the J-Flats neighborhood of Los Angeles.
During the catered lunch, keynote speeches will take place. Heading back to Cody in the late afternoon, Pilgrimage participants will have a chance to mingle and commence the evening with a cocktail reception. Dinner will come next, either on your own or at our Sayonara Banquet, for those who choose to attend this event. The Pilgrimage will then wind down with a dessert buffet for all.
The J-Flats area of Los Angeles was a multicultural neighborhood where Japanese Americans and their African American neighbors came together in ordinary and extraordinary times, creating a true community. Our summer exhibit explores the close bond between the Marshall and Hoshizaki families, honoring this relationship and the strong alliance that grew even in a time of adversity.
Compassionate Witness Award
In 1942, members of the African American Marshall family watched over the homes and belongings of their Japanese American neighbors as they were incarcerated at Heart Mountain. We honor family members Barbara Marshall Williams, Karen Burch, & Robin Waller for their family’s allyship during the Japanese American incarceration by presenting them with this year’s LaDonna Zall Compassionate Witness Award.
SATURDAY SITE TOURS:
When it opened in 1942, the hospital complex on top of the hill could care for up to 150 patients. The hospital’s boiler house chimney is one of the most iconic structures of the former incarceration site. Explore the medical experiences of incarcerees at this original structure.
Memorial & Honor Roll
The Honor Roll lists all Heart Mountain incarcerees who served in the military during WWII (as well as WWI and the Korean War). After hearing about this structure, participants will have the opportunity to tour the Setsuko Saito Higuchi Memorial Walking Trail, which features images and facts about the original layout of the confinement site.
Learn about life and camp experiences in the barrack setting. This original barrack building was brought back to Heart Mountain in 2015 and has been undergoing restoration work since then.
After three days of sharing, learning, discussing, and exploring, enjoy a final evening of socializing by catching up with old friends and solidifying new friendships made throughout the event at a cocktail reception, the Sayonara Banquet, and a dessert buffet! This year, we will be honoring the longtime service and friendship of our Pilgrimage Co-Chairs, Kathy Yuille and Claudia Wade. We will also be serving cake for Kathy’s 80th birthday, and will be honoring all those who, like Kathy, were born at Heart Mountain.
If you were born at Heart Mountain and will be attending the Sayonara Banquet, please email Eva Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our host hotels in Cody are the Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn, and Buffalo Bill Cabins. We have a discounted rate available at all of these locations.
***If you plan to stay at any of the above hotels, please call them directly to make your booking and mention that you are attending the Heart Mountain Pilgrimage to take advantage of the discounted rate. If you book online, you will not be able to get the discount.
- Holiday Inn (307-587-5555)
- Comfort Inn (307-587-5556)
- Buffalo Bill Cabins (307-587-5544)
Cody, Wyoming has an airport (named Yellowstone Regional Airport—COD) that is served by United Airlines with connecting flights through Denver, CO. The next closest airport is in Billings, Montana, which is approximately 90 minutes away by car. If you’re flying through Billings, you will need to make arrangements to rent a car at that airport as there is no public transportation between Billings and Cody.
For more information regarding travel arrangements for getting to and around Cody and Powell, Wyoming, you can visit www.codyyellowstone.org.
Archives & Collections Donations:
If you are considering bringing artifacts, documents or photographs from camp to the Pilgrimage for donation, please contact us beforehand at email@example.com or 307-754-8000
Silent Auction Donations:
The 2023 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage is just a few months away and we are now collecting donations for the silent auction. Perhaps you have a treasure from Japan that you would like to pass on, frequent-flyer miles or a piece of artwork—any of these items would be greatly appreciated in this year’s auction.
To donate an item, please email a photo and description of the item to Sara Brunton at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to include your contact information! Sara will get back to you with additional information. We would like to offer a broad selection of items to make the auction successful. Please help us carry on this worthwhile Pilgrimage tradition. We appreciate your continued support!
If you need to cancel your registration anytime between now and June 30, 2023 we will issue a full refund, less a $50.00 processing fee.
If you cancel between July 1 and July 10, 2023, we will issue a 50% refund, less the $50.00 processing fee.
The HMWF will waive these cancellation fees, on an individual basis, for those who have health or other serious issues.