Slideshow - Images of Bainbridge Islanders in Minidoka

There is a stark contrast between the Issei (first generation) and Nisei (second generation) experiences in camp. Hardships fell primarily on the older Issei who lost their homes, livelihoods, and freedom. Forced to leave before harvesting what was to be a bumper strawberry crop, many Island Issei had no means of supporting their family or paying rent and thus lost their farmland. The widowed Masa Omoto soon found herself alone in camp while her four sons were away serving in the army. Many Issei couples, such as the Amatatsus, Kinos, and Nishis, were separated for the duration of the war because the men were interned in Department of Justice camps. Isseis, who were not permitted to hold leadership positions in camps, were forced to take a back seat to the younger Niseis.

For some of the younger Niseis, free from the daily chores of farming, camp–life proved to be a chance to explore new opportunities. Many took on leadership roles in camp, learned a trade such as nursing or carpentry, or enjoyed an extracurricular activity such as baseball or dancing. Some applied for indefinite leave from Minidoka for education, employment, or to join the army. These young adults from rural Bainbridge Island may never have left the Island and life as a farmer had it not been for the war. Perhaps the youngest camp residents had it the easiest. Parents shielded their children from the shame and humiliation of evacuation and tried to make their lives seem as normal as possible. Hisa Hayashida, age six, remembers a carefree youth where she could explore the camp and just had to open her front door to find many other playmates.

Though cameras were confiscated as contraband immediately after Pearl Harbor, later in the war the Japanese Americans were allowed to have and use them again. Many of the following images are family photos taken while in camp.

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HISTORY – Exclusion and Internment – Manzanar and Minidoka
HISTORY – Exclusion and Internment

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