Minidoka National Historic Site

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Minidoka National Historic Site
Miin 21-1698a.jpg
Minidoka War Relocation Center in 1943
Map showing the location of Minidoka National Historic Site
Map showing the location of Minidoka National Historic Site
Minidoka NHS
Location in south central Idaho
LocationJerome County, Idaho, U.S.
Nearest cityEden
Coordinates42°40′44″N 114°14′38″W / 42.679°N 114.244°W / 42.679; -114.244Coordinates: 42°40′44″N 114°14′38″W / 42.679°N 114.244°W / 42.679; -114.244
Area210 acres (85 ha)[1]
AuthorizedJanuary 17, 2001[2]
Governing bodyNational Park Service
WebsiteMinidoka National Historic Site
Minidoka NHS is located in the United States
Minidoka NHS
Location in the United States

Minidoka National Historic Site is a National Historic Site in the western United States. It commemorates the more than 9,000 Japanese Americans who were imprisoned at the Minidoka War Relocation Center during the Second World War.[3]

Located in the Magic Valley of south central Idaho in Jerome County, the site is in the Snake River Plain, a remote high desert area north of the Snake River. It is 17 miles (27 km) northeast of Twin Falls and just north of Eden, in an area known as Hunt. The site is administered by the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and was originally established as the Minidoka Internment National Monument in 2001.[2] Its elevation is just under 4,000 feet (1,220 m) above sea level.

Minidoka War Relocation Center[edit]

The Minidoka War Relocation Center was in operation from 1942–45 and one of ten camps at which Japanese Americans, both citizens and resident "aliens," were interned during World War II. Under provisions of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066, all persons of Japanese ancestry were excluded from the West Coast of the United States. At its peak, Minidoka housed 9,397 Japanese Americans, predominantly from Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.[3][4]

The Minidoka irrigation project shares its name with Minidoka County. The Minidoka name was applied to the Idaho relocation center in Jerome County, probably to avoid confusion with the Jerome War Relocation Center in Jerome, Arkansas.[citation needed] Construction by the Morrison-Knudsen Company began in 1942 on the camp, which received 10,000 internees by years' end. Many of the internees worked as farm labor, and later on the irrigation project and the construction of Anderson Ranch Dam, northeast of Mountain Home. The Reclamation Act of 1902 had racial exclusions on labor which were strictly adhered to until Congress changed the law in 1943.[5] Population at the Minidoka camp declined to 8,500 at the end of 1943, and to 6,950 by the end of 1944. On February 10, 1946, the vacated camp was turned over to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which used the facilities to house returning war veterans.[6]

The Minidoka War Relocation Center consisted of 36 blocks of housing. Each block contained 12 barracks (which themselves were divided into 6 separate living areas), laundry facilities, bathrooms, and a mess hall. Recreation Halls in each block were multi-use facilities that served as both worship and education centers. Minidoka had a high school, a junior high school and two elementary schools - Huntville and Stafford.[7] The Minidoka War Relocation Center also included two dry cleaners, four general stores, a beauty shop, two barber shops, radio and watch repair stores as well as two fire stations.[8]

The U.S. Army opened military service to Japanese-Americans in 1943. Enlistees from Minidoka accounted for 25% of total volunteers and Minidoka suffered more casualties, male and female, than any other camp. The Minidoka Internees created an "Honor Roll" to acknowledge the service of their fellow Japanese-Americans.[7] Although the original was lost after the war, the "Honor Roll" was recreated by the "Friends of Minidoka" group in 2011 following a grant from the National Park Service.[9]


Since the end of World War II, there has been debate over the terminology used to refer to Minidoka, and the other camps in which Americans of Japanese ancestry and their immigrant parents, were incarcerated by the United States Government during the war.[10][11][12] Minidoka has been referred to as a "War Relocation Center," "relocation camp," "relocation center," "internment camp", and "concentration camp", and the controversy over which term is the most accurate and appropriate continues to the present day.[13][14][15]

National Historic Site[edit]

Japanese-American internees in Idaho
at the Minidoka War Relocation Center

The internment camp site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 10, 1979. A national monument was established in 2001 at the site by President Bill Clinton on January 17, as he invoked his authority under the Antiquities Act.[2] As one of the newest units of the National Park System, it does not yet have any visitor facilities or services available on location. However, a temporary exhibit and information about the monument is on display at the visitor center of the nearby Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument. Currently, visitors see the remains of the entry guard station, waiting room, and rock garden and can visit the Relocation Center display at the Jerome County Museum in nearby Jerome and the restored barracks building at the Idaho Farm and Ranch Museum southeast of town. There is a small marker adjacent to the remains of the guard station, and a larger sign at the intersection of Highway 25 and Hunt Road, which gives some of the history of the camp.

The National Park Service began a three-year public planning process in the fall of 2002 to develop a General Management Plan (GMP) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).[citation needed] The General Management Plan sets forth the basic management philosophy for the Monument and provides the strategies for addressing issues and achieving identified management objectives that will guide management of the site for the next 15–20 years.[citation needed]

In 2006, President George W. Bush signed H.R. 1492 into law on December 21, guaranteeing $38 million in federal money to restore the Minidoka relocation center along with nine other former Japanese internment camps.[16]

Less than two years later on May 8, 2008, President Bush signed the Wild Sky Wilderness Act into law, which changed the status of the former U.S. National Monument to National Historic Site and added the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial on Bainbridge Island, Washington to the monument.[17][18]

Notable Minidoka internees[edit]

Minidoka Relocation Center, watch repair shop. Sokichi Hoshide, head watch-maker

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
  2. ^ a b c Wikisource-logo.svg Proclamation 7395 - Establishment of the Minidoka Internment National Monument. by President Bill Clinton
  3. ^ a b "Minidoka," Hanako Wakatsuki. Densho Encyclopedia, 10 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Friends of Minidoka: Japanese American Internment during World War II". Archived from the original on 2014-11-11. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
  5. ^ National Park Service - history - Anderson Ranch Dam & Powerplant, Idaho - accessed 2012-02-09
  6. ^ Stene, Eric A. (1997). "The Minidoka Project" (PDF). U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-05.
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-23. Retrieved 2013-03-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Rebuilding the Honor Roll at Minidoka". Friends or Minidoka. Archived from the original on March 30, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
  10. ^ "The Manzanar Controversy". Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved July 18, 2007.
  11. ^ Daniels, Roger (May 2002). "Incarceration of the Japanese Americans: A Sixty-Year Perspective". The History Teacher. 35 (3): 4–6. doi:10.2307/3054440. JSTOR 3054440. Archived from the original on June 9, 2007. Retrieved July 18, 2007.
  12. ^ Ito, Robert (September 15, 1998). "Concentration Camp Or Summer Camp?". Mother Jones. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  13. ^ Reflections: Three Self-Guided Tours Of Manzanar. Manzanar Committee. 1998. pp. iii–iv.
  14. ^ "CLPEF Resolution Regarding Terminology". Civil Liberties Public Education Fund. 1996. Retrieved July 20, 2007.
  15. ^ "Densho: Terminology & Glossary: A Note On Terminology". Densho. 1997. Archived from the original on June 24, 2007. Retrieved July 15, 2007.
  16. ^ "H.R. 1492".
  17. ^ Pacific Citizen Staff, Associated Press (2008-05-16). "Bush Signs Bill Expanding Borders of Minidoka Monument". Japanese American Citizens League. Archived from the original on August 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  18. ^ Stahl, Greg (2008-05-14). "Congress Expands Minidoka Site". Idaho Mountain Express. Archived from the original on 2008-05-21. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
  19. ^ "Newton K. Wesley: 1917-2011 Eye care pioneer helped evolve contact lenses". Chicago Tribune. 25 July 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2011.

External links[edit]