The past and present state of the barracks from Heart Mountain incarceration camp for Japanese Americans after WWII is the subject of a special program at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West on …
The past and present state of the barracks from Heart Mountain incarceration camp for Japanese Americans after WWII is the subject of a special program at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West on Thursday, July 25, at 5:30 p.m. The 25-minute documentary film “Moving Walls” will be shown, followed by a panel discussion with two former Heart Mountain incarcerees, Judge Raymond S. Uno and Takashi Hoshizaki, historian Mike Mackey, and filmmaker Sharon Yamato. The panel will be moderated by California State University at Fullerton professor emeritus Dr. Arthur A. Hansen. A reception with light refreshments will follow the program. The program will be held in conjunction with the annual Heart Mountain Pilgrimage.
Hansen, an Asian American Studies professor, is a preeminent Japanese American history scholar. His most recent book, “Barbed Voices,” includes a chapter about protest and resistance at the Heart Mountain camp. Author Mackey has written several books on the history of Wyoming, including “Heart Mountain: Life in Wyoming’s Concentration Camp.”
The two former Heart Mountain detainees are Uno, a retired Salt Lake City judge whose father was a WWI veteran who died while incarcerated at Heart Mountain, and Hoshizaki, a board member of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation and former Heart Mountain draft resister.
The film tells the little-known story of how the barracks survived after the war when distributed to homesteaders, former veterans who were selected via lottery to also receive parcels of land to farm. Featuring interviews with the few remaining homesteaders who still live in them today, both the film and book offer a rare inside look at the lives of farmers in the dry high plains area of Wyoming.
Among the few remaining homesteaders interviewed are Forrest Allen, Evaleen George, Tak Ogawa and LaVerne Solberg, who offer their unique insights into what it was like to survive in the grueling conditions of homestead life. Their descendants who remain in Powell and Cody discuss the difficulties of living in them after the war, and how the Japanese American incarceration has left its mark on the area today.
The film is accompanied by a book, “Moving Walls: The Barracks of America’s Concentration Camp,” featuring photographs by nationally-acclaimed photojournalist Stan Honda.
Former U.S. Sen. Alan K. Simpson is among the longtime residents interviewed in the film, in addition to local historian Beryl Churchill.
Filmmaker Yamato cites the importance of the barracks as permanent reminders of the mass incarceration not only for those who lived in them during the war, but also for the local population that transformed the buildings into structures necessary for their survival in the harsh conditions surrounding the camp.
“The story of the homesteaders who transformed the barracks into livable and functional structures has a fascinating history,” Yamato said. “Hopefully, the book and film will shed light on the story of the incarceration as well as what followed — a transformation that I consider turning an American nightmare into the American dream.”
Yamato also wrote and directed “A Flicker in Eternity,” a film about a young man drafted from Heart Mountain and killed while serving in Italy,
For more information, contact Yamato at firstname.lastname@example.org or Josie Hedderman at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.