Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee
The Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee is an all-volunteer run committee based in Seattle, Washington with the goal to organize an annual trip to the former Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho. The first pilgrimage began in 2003 and it is exciting to how every year is different and special. The annual pilgrimage strives to honor the generations that were at Minidoka by sharing stories of their imprisonment with the younger generation and others unfamiliar with the story so that in the future due process of the law will be demanded so no single group is targeted again.
(Picture: 2013 Pilgrimage Committee)
In 1942, almost 13,000 people of Japanese ancestry, many of whom were American citizens, were removed from their homes and sent to a desolate incareration camp"near Twin Falls, Idaho. Today, most of the 33,000 acres that once made up Minidoka has been taken over by farms. However, in 2001, 73 acres along the North Side Canal, and near the entrance to Minidoka has been designated a National Monument. Minidoka Internment National Monument was established in 2001 as the 385th unit of the National Park System to commemorate the hardships and sacrifices of Japanese Americans interned there during World War II. Also known as the 'Hunt Camp', the Minidoka Relocation Center was a 33,000-acre site with over 600 buildings and a total population of about 13,000 internees held from Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. In 1944, the internees harvested 7,300,000 pounds of produce in the surrounding agricultural fields, making the camp completely self sustainable.It was in operation from August 1942 until October 1945.
Former incarerees spent nearly 3 years incarcerated at Minidoka and other camps during WWII. Today, the site continues to hold a mixture of memories and strong emotions - feelings of denial, distrust, shame, and joy. The Pilgrimage is attended by former incarcerees, their family members, friends, and allies. The pilgrimage offers an opportunity to revisit the place and the memories amidst family, friends, supporters, and National Park Service officials. The intent is to honor the first generations of Japanese Americans who suffered most under institutionalized racist laws, to deliver the message of “Never Again,” and to pass on the legacy to anyone who will listen.
On the first full day of the Minidoka Pilgrimage, pilgrimage participants will attend the Friday Education Program and listen to talks and participate in discussion sessions of various topics relating to the incarceration experience.
On Saturday, participants will have visit the grounds of the National Monument where there will be guided tours of what remains of the former site. Saturday afternoon is our "legacy session" where we break into smaller groups made up of various ages to share stories and experience.
On Sunday, a memorial service will be held at the National Monument to honor incarcerees. Participants also have the opportunity to participate in workshops and forums during this time. Throughout the duration of the trip, there will be many opportunities to share memories and stories with fellow participants.