From Wiki: The Heart Mountain Relocation Center, named after nearby Heart Mountain, was one of ten Japanese American concentration camps used to incarcerate Japanese Americans excluded from the West Coast during World War II under the provisions of Executive Order 9066 signed by president Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Heart Mountain Relocation Center was located in Park County between the towns of Cody and Powell in the northwestern corner of Wyoming, 60 miles (96.6 km) east of Yellowstone National Park and 45 miles (72.4 km) south of the Montana state line.
Now we had been to another internment camp, Manzanar, near Lone Pine, CA couple of years ago, and a site in northern CA, called Tule Lake. It just so happened by mere coincidence, that we were at Manzanar the day of the annual pilgrimage of those who were interred there, and of course their families. I guess I should really call them Relocation Centers. We were so amazed, sad, and just really surprised when we learned that day near Lone Pine, about the these (10) Centers created right after Pearl Harbor. So we couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit another. We were again very interested to learn of the events and experiences of the families that came thru & lived here at Heart Mountain during the war years of the '40s.
Above, was what welcomed the new arrivals at one of the 800 or so barracks-style structures. Below, after some improvising and a little TLC, the "interred" made the little room, home!
Now, at first the relocated Japanese-Americans were afraid, sad, & just utterly dismayed, but at the same time, safe. Safe from all the hate & anger from non-JA citizens. But it didn't take the JA here, as in all the other Relocation Centers, to learn a new (& hopefully temporary in their minds) life by using their skills they had learned in their private lives, most in Southern California. And Cody, WY was much different. Cold winters was something they had never experienced.
After the first year of developing and clearing several hundred acres authorized for raising vegetables & fruit, the Center produced more produce than the center of 10,000 could use, so they shipped the excess to local towns and other Centers for use there. What a story...of playing the cards that they were dealt, and winning, in spite of the personal hardships of the absence of private living.
Given resources to make & produce, these folks could do just about anything. The center probably could sustain itself as a city, providing for each other, as they were accustomed to doing from their heritage, I would guess.
They had pageants, played ball, and devised many opportunities to entertain and make life at least livable for all, especially for the children, present & those that were born there. Their stories are certainly ones in which we as later generation Americans need to at least be aware of. RVing Beach Bums really take to heart their stories. Believe us, spend a weekend at an annual pilgrimage, and a whole new perspective will be exposed to you.
We do understand why the Relocation Centers were part of our history. At the time I'm sure the national sentiment supported, if not mandated by Congress, and we would have been in consonance with that sentiment. But these folks were thrown a bag of rotten lemons, and they made sweet lemonade for everyone. Everyone!
Well, that about wraps up this short blog. Next blog will be about Wind Cave National Park. Till then, RVing Beach Bums from Worthington, Minnesota.