Heart Mountain

Fifty acres of land have been purchased, and the 11,000 sq ft. Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning  Center (ILC) is scheduled to open its doors August 20, 2011, thanks to major foundation grants, corporate gifts and contributions from hundreds of individual donors toward the land and construction. 

Shirley Ann Higuchi, a Washington, D.C. attorney whose parents were confined at Heart Mountain, chairs of HMWF Board of Directors comprised of men and women from across the United States dedicated to preserving the lessons embodied in the wartime experience of the Issei and Nisei for all Americans, for all time.

Board vice-chair Douglas Nelson is leading the fund raising campaign that has resulted in securing almost $4 million to date toward the $5.3 million goal.

Construction of the Heart Mountain ILC commenced in 2008.  The exterior shell is on track to be completed this year. David Reetz, HMWF President and Executive Director, has been overseeing the building progress.

Focused on creating educational exhibits and historical content that will also resonate in today’s world are HMWF law professor Eric Muller and Denver educator Carolyn Takeshita. 

Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki and Farallon Films will produce an introductory film that will be shown to ILC visitors, while Split Rocks Studios of Minnesota will design and fabricate the exhibits.  The Heart Mountain interment camp opened in August 12, 1942 and existed until November 10, 1945.  Issei and Nisei arrived from California, Washington, and Oregon and, before long, the number of Heart Mountain internees swelled to 10,767, becoming Wyoming’s third largest community.

Heart Mountain saw the formation of the Fair Play Committee, the only organized resistance by draft-age Nisei who refused to join the military while their families were being denied their Constitutional rights.  Eighty-eight were sent to prison.  Meanwhile, over 800 from Heart Mountain served in the military.  Fifteen were killed in action, and two received the nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor. 

A few haunting remnants of the camp still stand- a hospital boiler house with its towering red chimney, the concrete vault from the high school, a root cellar and the swimming hole.  These and other reminders as Manzanar and Heart Mountain, as sacred ground essential to the understanding of Japanese American as well as United States history.

Plans for a Progress Celebration and a climb up Heart Mountain led by HMWF Advisory Board member Bacon Sakatani are being finalized for August. The climb is open to all - young and old- who wish to view the interment camp site from a unique perspective.

Donations to the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center building  fund should be sent to HMWF, P.O. Box 547, Powell, WY  82435-0547

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