Study examines little-known Second World War internment camp in Alaska

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Alice Tanaka Hikido clearly remembers the bewilderment and sense of violation she felt 74 years ago when FBI agents rifled through her family's Juneau home, then arrested her father before he was sent to Japanese internment camps, including a little-known camp in pre-statehood Alaska.

See Full Article

The 83-year-old Campbell, California, woman recently attended a ceremony where participants unveiled a study of the short-lived internment camp at what is now Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

Archaeologists working on the research used old records to pinpoint the camp location in an area now partially covered by a parking lot. The Army study is expected to be finalized later this year.

"As I look back, I had no idea as a child that the U.S. and Japan were having difficulties," Hikido said. "It was a tremendous surprise to me."

Hikido herself was interned at Idaho's Minidoka camp with her mother, younger sister and two brothers a few months after her father's arrest during one of the nation's darkest chapters - the forced incarceration of tens of thousands people of Japanese ancestry, including Americans, during the Second World War.

Her father eventually joined his family in Idaho in 1944. They spent more than a year there together before the war ended and they returned to Juneau.

Her father, Shonosuke Tanaka, was among 15 Japanese nationals and two German nationals who were rounded up in the territory of Alaska almost immediately after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

That number would grow to 104 foreign nationals, mostly Japanese, who were arrested in Alaska as alien enemies. An estimated 145 others, including some Alaska Natives who took Japanese names in marriage, also would be sent to internment camps outside the territory under Executive Order 9066, which launched the exile of about 120,000 Japanese-Americans.

Before leaving Alaska, Tanaka and 16 other men were briefly housed at the Anchorage Army post formerly known as Fort Richardson.

Archaeologists recently zeroed in on the site based on documents including a map and the only two known photographs, according to Morgan Blanchard, a local archaeologist who worked on the study.

"Although it was known that this camp existed - it shows up on all the lists of camps that existed during the war - no information was available," Blanchard told a small crowd during a Feb. 19 Day of Remembrance ceremony at the base. "So we filled in a lot of the blanks."

Researchers discovered debris such as .30 carbine rounds and barbed wire fragments at the site, but they were unable to find anything definitely connected with the camp, Blanchard said. Researchers believe - but can't say with certainty - that the 17 foreign nationals who were sent to the post were actually held at the camp, constructed between February and June 1945.

It was only after her father joined them in Minidoka that Alice Hikido and her family heard his story for the first time, from his apprehension in Juneau to various internment camps including at least one in New Mexico.

The family's time in captivity forced the closure of her father's Juneau cafe. They reopened it upon their return, with the help of a welcoming community.

Hikido and her 75-year-old sister, Mary Tanaka Abo, are the only surviving members of her family who experienced the internment.

Today, Hikido sees the same distrust of some foreigners that her family experienced so many decades ago. It's troubling to her to hear politicians whipping up that fear by demonizing certain minorities.

If there's a lesson to learn, she said, it's how crucial it is for individuals to arm themselves with knowledge.

"It's incumbent upon citizens to be well-informed," Hikido said. "If you're well-informed, then fear doesn't overcome your better judgment."



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Heat wave suffocates American Southwest on 1st day of summer

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Don Kushner emerged from his afternoon hike on Camelback Mountain clearly a little run down from the heat. Kushner was one of the few who ignored warnings to avoid strenuous outdoor activity and decided to exercise outside on one of the hottest days in Phoenix's recorded history. Source
  • World population to hit 9.8 billion by 2050: UN

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A new UN report forecasts that the current world population of 7.6 billion will reach 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. The report by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs' Population Division released Wednesday said roughly 83 million people are being added to the world's population every year. Source
  • Flying bikes, anti-drone trackers, and the next Concorde: The best of the 2017 Paris Air Show [Video]

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    PARIS — There are flying cars and Concorde’s would-be supersonic successor, a company offering to deliver cargo to the Moon — for a mere $1.2 million per kilogram — and the latest in funky futuristic aviation ideas, both big and small. Source
  • Crack in Antarctic ice shelf ready to produce giant iceberg

    Tech & Science CBC News
    One of the biggest icebergs on record is like a "niggling tooth" about to snap off Antarctica and will be an extra hazard for ships around the frozen continent as it breaks up, scientists said on Wednesday. Source
  • Crack in Antarctic ice shelf ready to produce 5,000-square-kilometre iceberg

    Tech & Science CBC News
    One of the biggest icebergs on record is like a "niggling tooth" about to snap off Antarctica and will be an extra hazard for ships around the frozen continent as it breaks up, scientists said on Wednesday. Source
  • OMG new emojis :) Unicode Consortium releases Unicode v10.0 [Photos]

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    Oh My God – or, OMG, as the kids say – new emojis are coming our way! The Unicode Consortium, a non-profit group responsible for standardizing digital characters, released version 10.0 of the Unicode Standard on Tuesday. Source
  • Intel looks to Israel for the next big thing in cybersecurity

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Intel has joined Team8, an Israeli creator of cybersecurity startups, as a strategic partner and will help with the formation of companies that address the largest cybersecurity problems, Team8 said on Wednesday. Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, joins Team8's syndicate members Microsoft, Cisco, Qualcomm, AT&T, Citigroup, Accenture, Nokia, Bessemer Venture Partners and Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt's Innovation Endeavors. Source
  • Coffee crops at risk from climate change: higher prices ahead?

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Your morning cup of coffee could be threatened by climate change. Researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens in the United Kingdom have found that more than half of Ethiopia's coffee production could be wiped out unless farmers move to higher ground. Source
  • Why your morning caffeine fix could be in jeopardy, given a warming planet

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Your morning cup of coffee could be threatened by climate change. Researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens in the United Kingdom have found that more than half of Ethiopia's coffee production could be wiped out unless farmers move to higher ground. Source
  • Egypt watchdog says authorities now blocking 101 websites

    Tech & Science CTV News
    CAIRO -- An Egyptian watchdog says authorities are widening their internet censorship and are now blocking 101 websites, including some that provide software that allows users to bypass restrictions. The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression in a statement late on Tuesday said that Egypt has blocked seven additional sites, noting that the number occasionally differs depending on which company is used to access internet. Source