Mako Nakagawa To Keynote 42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage

PILGRIMAGE: Bus Transportation Available From Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — Mako Nakagawa, the primary author of the Power of Words resolution, passed in July 2010 by the National Council of the Japanese American Citizens League, will be the keynote speaker at the 42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, sponsored by the Los Angeles-based Manzanar Committee, scheduled for noon PDT on Saturday, April 30, 2011 at the U.S. Highway 395 in California’s Owens Valley, between the towns of Lone Pine and Independence, approximately 230 miles north of Los Angeles (see map below).

Each year, over 1,000 people from diverse backgrounds, including students, teachers, community members, clergy and former internees attend the Pilgrimage, which commemorates the unjust imprisonment of over 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry in ten American concentration camps located in the most desolate, isolated regions of the United States. Manzanar was the first of these camps to be established.

Nakagawa, 74, was born in Seattle, Washington. During World War II, she was incarcerated at the Puyallup Assembly Center in Washington, then at the Minidoka concentration camp in Idaho, and then at the Crystal City internment camp in Texas.

The Power of Words resolution is part of a movement within the Japanese American community to identify and address the use of euphemistic language to describe the camps and other facilities in which Americans of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned during World War II, along with the terms used to describe the former prisoners and their experiences.

“The use of inaccurate terms can, and too often does, distort facts into outright fantasies,” said Nakagawa, the President and CEO of Mako & Associates, which provides certification and professional development training on a broad range of topics for individuals and corporations in the Seattle area. “Use of accurate terminology in describing the Nikkei experience is vital to preserve the truth of this episode in history so that we can be vigilant in our resolve to protect our democratic way of life. The Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution failed us in our time of need. Let the legacy of our experience be that it never happens again to any group of people.”

“Mako Nakagawa was instrumental in, after so many years, having the Japanese American Citizens League come to grips with the long-time need for a real, historically accurate description of what the camps were all about,” said Bruce Embrey, Co-Chair of the Manzanar Committee. “After 42 years of Pilgrimages, there is still work to be done to educate and elucidate about our community’s wartime experiences, and to speak and write about it accurately.”

“Today, there continues to be a struggle over the terminology used to describe the camps and the experience as a whole, and Mako’s writings, along with the Power of Words resolution, are a tremendous accomplishment,” added Embrey. “It’s a testimony to her perseverance, to all those who want to ensure that no one else has to face what our community was forced to endure during World War II.”

Also speaking at this year’s Pilgrimage is Alisa Lynch, Chief of Interpretation, Manzanar National Historic Site, now in her tenth year of dedicated service at Manzanar.

The afternoon program begins with a performance by UCLA Kyodo Taiko, and will conclude with the traditional interfaith service and Ondo dancing, led this year by the UCLA Nikkei Student Union’s Odori dance group.

In addition to the daytime program, the Pilgrimage continues that evening with the popular Manzanar At Dusk (MAD) program, scheduled from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Lone Pine High School gymnasium, located at 538 South Main Street (US Highway 395), in Lone Pine, nine miles south of the Manzanar National Historic Site, across the street from McDonald’s (see map below).

MAD is co-sponsored by the Lone Pine Unified School District, Lone Pine High School, the UCLA Nikkei Student Union, the Cal Poly Pomona Nikkei Student Union, the UCSD Nikkei Student Union, and the Friends of Manzanar.

MAD participants will have the opportunity to interact with former internees in attendance to hear their personal stories and discuss the relevance of the concentration camp experience to present-day events and issues.

The Manzanar Committee has also announced that bus transportation to the Pilgrimage from Los Angeles is still available.

An air conditioned bus will depart from St. Francis Xavier Chapel Japanese Catholic Center (formerly the Maryknoll Japanese Catholic Center), 222 South Hewitt Street, Los Angeles, 90012 (see map below), at 7:00 AM on April 30. They will arrive at the Manzanar National Historic Site at approximately 11:30 AM.

The bus will take participants to the Interpretive Center at the Manzanar National Historic Site after the afternoon program. The bus should arrive back in Los Angeles at approximately 8:30 PM.

Bus reservations are being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. For further information, or to make a reservation, call (323) 662-5102, or send e-mail to The non-refundable fare is $40.00 per seat.

Those wishing to attend the Manzanar At Dusk program that evening should make other transportation arrangements.

Pilgrimage participants are advised bring their own lunch, drinks and snacks as there are no facilities to purchase food at the Manzanar National Historic Site (restaurants and fast food outlets are located in Lone Pine and Independence). Water will be provided at the site.

Both the daytime program and the Manzanar At Dusk event are free and open to the public.

For more information, call (323) 662-5102, send e-mail to, or check the Manzanar Committee’s official web site at You can also follow the Manzanar Committee on Facebook and Twitter.

The Manzanar Committee is dedicated to educating and raising public awareness about the incarceration and violation of civil rights of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and to the continuing struggle of all peoples when Constitutional rights are in danger. A non-profit organization that has sponsored the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, along with other educational programs, the Manzanar Committee has also played a key role in the establishment and continued development of the Manzanar National Historic Site.


LEAD PHOTO: Mako Nakagawa. Photo courtesy Mako Nakagawa.

Manzanar National Historic Site


Lone Pine High School


St. Francis Xavier Chapel Japanese Catholic Center

Creative Commons License The Manzanar Committee’s Official web site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Manzanar Committee Official web site – Licensing and Copyright Information.

Manzanar Committee Comment Policies

13 thoughts on “Mako Nakagawa To Keynote 42nd Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage

Add yours

Please post your comment on this story below

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: