Shirakawa _“White River Valley”

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					Shirakawa

            Shirakawa
                   - Part 3 -




                    STORIES FROM A
                  PACIFIC NORTHWEST
            JAPANESE AMERICAN COMMUNITY
Shirakawa
            6. WAR!
Shirakawa

                           On December 7, 1941,
                       Japanese military forces sprang
                            a massive air attack




            on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
Shirakawa




        America was suddenly and totally involved
                    in World War II.
Shirakawa


 Dozens of Issei community leaders on the West Coast, like
    Mat Iseri and E.K. Saito, were arrested by the FBI.




     Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada        Courtesy of Hatsume Murakami Sao



   They had done nothing wrong. But some government
   officials thought Japanese leaders might turn against
         America and help their one-time homeland.
Shirakawa


                 Both Mr. Iseri and Mr. Saito
            had come to the US as very young men.




      Both had spend about two-thirds of their lives
       living and working and raising families here.
Shirakawa




                                    Courtesy WRVM Newspaper Collection


Tom Iseri, still the Northwest District Chairman of the JACL,
 wrote to newspapers, asking for calm and understanding
       about Japanese American loyalty to the US.
Shirakawa




                                 His brother, Mike,
                                 and many other Nisei
                                 hurried to sign up for
                                 the US Army.

                                 At first, the military
                                 didn’t know
                                 what to do with them.
  Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
Shirakawa


   The country was worried about Japanese Americans.
    Frightened people expressed many strong feelings.
Shirakawa


  But the country still worried about Japanese Americans.
    Frightened people expressed many strong feelings.




  Those who had opposed the Nikkei for so long spoke out
   more loudly than anyone else, spreading the word that
   anyone with Japanese blood must surely be an enemy.
                         Both courtesy of NARA
Shirakawa


    Even the famous Dr. Seuss stood against everyone
  Japanese—the enemy nation and American Nikkei alike.




   Courtesy WRVM Newspaper Collection
Shirakawa


    Even the famous Dr. Seuss stood against everyone
  Japanese—the enemy nation and American Nikkei alike.




His cartoons portrayed
them all as sneering,
look-alike terrorists.
Shirakawa

   Never allowed to become American citizens, Issei like
  Mat and Kisa knew they would be watched like enemies.




                                   Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
Shirakawa

   Never allowed to become American citizens, Issei like
  Mat and Kisa knew they would be watched like enemies.




                                     Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada



 But what about their American children? Would Tom, Mike,
 Mae and the rest still be able to live like other Americans?
Shirakawa


            The final answer astonished them.




                               Courtesy LOC

  On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt gave national
 security leaders emergency powers to decide who might be
    dangerous. He also directed them to move those they
    considered dangerous away from possible war zones.
Shirakawa

        The US Army General in charge of defending
     the Western States decided that the Issei and all of
 their descendants had to move away from the West Coast.




                              Courtesy US Army




 A lot of government leaders disagreed with him, but they
    had given him the power to order what he wanted.
Shirakawa


   During World War II, only Japanese American citizens
   received this kind of full-group treatment in the USA.




                                   Courtesy NARA #210-G-A78



    The official racial discrimination of their country was
 shocking for young Nisei who grew up saying the Pledge of
     Allegiance and studying the Constitution in school.
Shirakawa




 Soon these gloomy signs were posted all around the valley.



                      Courtesy WRVM Natsuhara Family Collection
Shirakawa




 Soon these gloomy signs were posted all around the valley.
     The orders were aimed at ―all persons of Japanese
    ancestry, both alien and non-alien‖ – a tricky way to
       include ―American citizens‖ without saying so.
                      Courtesy WRVM Natsuhara Family Collection
Shirakawa


     Every West Coast Nikkei had to register with the
 government, and then was assigned a family number . . .




                                 and issued identity tags.




 Courtesy NARA #210-G-A573




                                         Courtesy WRVM Matsuda Family Collection
Shirakawa

The Iseri family, Hirabayashis,
Natsuharas, Hikidas, and all
their Nikkei neighbors sold or
stored their things.




                                             Courtesy LOC #8c24383u



                           They locked their businesses,
                           and packed their bags
                           for travel to inland
                           detention camps.
    Courtesy Densho
Shirakawa


                           It was a sad time for everyone.
                                   For Japanese American kids,
                                            it was totally confusing.




  Courtesy LOC #8a31197u




                                                               Courtesy LOC #8a31174u




         When the time chosen for them to leave came,
     all Nikkei felt upset by what was happening to them.
Shirakawa


  But the only Nisei in Washington State to protest openly
     against it was Gordon Hirabayashi, from Thomas.


When the war started,
he was a student living in Seattle.




                                             Courtesy of Maxie Shimojima Sugai
Shirakawa


  The authorities told him he had to obey their curfew and
           relocation orders like everyone else.



                                                                                     Gordon said doing so
                                                                                       just because of his
  Courtesy 1940 Tyee and UW Special Collections




                                                                                 Japanese ancestry would
                                                                            disregard the US Constitution,
                                                                            which would be doing wrong.



                                                  They would have to arrest him and try him in a court.
Shirakawa


 His famous case was taken all the way to the US Supreme
 Court. But he lost! The judges said the Constitution didn’t
   allow him to ignore the orders during a wartime crisis.




                                Courtesy Densho #pd-i119-00045 Minidoka Irrigator Collection



   It took more than 40 years before Gordon’s case was
     reviewed and his conviction of crimes was erased.
Shirakawa

      As for the rest of the White River Valley Nikkei,
         they boarded trains in Auburn or Renton
   and were taken away, guarded by armed soldiers . . .




                                       Courtesy Tacoma Public Library
Shirakawa


 . . . to ―assembly center‖ camps like this one in California.




                                               Courtesy LOC #3c37821v
Shirakawa


 After a few months, they packed again and were taken to
 official detention camps they called ―relocation centers‖. . .




                                                      Courtesy Bureau of Reclamation




          . . . like this one – Tule Lake in California.
Shirakawa


     Life for White River Valley Nikkei and their entire
              community was changed forever.




                                       Courtesy NARA #210-G-D207
Shirakawa


 They made the best of their new lives, and did what they
       could to get along and help each other out.




        Some people were angry or depressed.
       Others kept looking for new opportunities,
     new things to learn, new ways to pass the time.
              Courtesy NARA #210-G-A631 (l) & Densho #pd-p13-00041 Mamiya Family Collection (r)
Shirakawa


 But kept behind a fence, it was impossible for the Nisei to
  best serve their country when it most needed their help.




                                        Courtesy NARA #210-G-H444
Shirakawa


 When the chance opened up, many more Nisei joined the
     armed forces, proving their loyalty to America.




                          Courtesy Densho #pd-i114-00089 Seattle Nisei Veterans Collection


       The bravery of their units became famous.
Shirakawa


      Some soldiers, like Mike Iseri and Bill Taketa,
                 sacrificed everything.
 The Kent newspaper listed their names among those who
                    died in combat.




              Courtesy WRVM Newspaper Collection and Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee (photos)
Shirakawa
            7. Return
Shirakawa


A lot of White River Valley folks back home did not want
their former Japanese
American neighbors
to return after the war.
Their sacrifices did
not matter to you
if your heart was
bitter.

             In 1943, the
             Mayor of Kent
             had signs printed
             to show his
             point of view.
                                             Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
Shirakawa


Stores in Kent and Auburn were asked to post the signs.

                                                                                  This Kent barber
                                                                                         was glad
                                                                                          to do it.


                                                                                The story appeared
                                                                                 in newspapers and
                                                                                  inTime magazine.

 Courtesy Densho #pd-i73-00001 Bettmann Archive / Corbis Collection #BEO71994
Shirakawa




                                                                                     The story appeared
                                                                                      in newspapers and
                                                                                       inTime magazine.

 Courtesy Densho #pd-i36-00007 MOHAI Collection (Seattle P-I Collection #PI-28084)



   Over 300 Nikkei families had been taken from the valley,
      but only about 25 families returned after the war.
Shirakawa


Mat and Kisa Iseri’s family
found a welcome in the Eastern
Oregon town of Ontario.
Most of their large family
settled there.




                    But their daughter, Mae,
                    returned to the White River Valley.
            She had married Maki Yamada early in the war.
                       Both Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
Shirakawa


  Maki was overseas in the US Army, so Mae and her kids
        moved back to the old Iseri family home.




  Neighbors who already knew Mae welcomed them back.
 The rest soon realized that all Americans have basic rights,
        no matter where their ancestors came from.
                          Courtesy of Doug Yamada
Shirakawa


                          Armed
                    with decency and
         the work standards their parents taught,
        White River Valley Nikkei rebuilt their lives.
  Once again they won the full respect of their neighbors.
Shirakawa
     Mat Iseri passed away in Ontario, Oregon in1961.




 Kisa lived on. When she turned 100, the city awarded her
 and the whole Iseri family its ―Outstanding Citizen Award.‖
                         Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
Shirakawa




  In 1988, America finally admitted that it had done wrong
      toward Japanese Americans during World War II.

                The US decided to make redress payments
                         to every relocation camp survivor.
                                  Many Issei, like Mat Iseri,
                                          had already died.
                   Courtesy Densho #pd-p179-00248 Nakamura Family Collection
Shirakawa

   However, Kisa went to Washington, DC to take part in
         the very first redress payment ceremony.
    It was October 9, 1990, and she was 102 years old.




    Kisa also received this apology signed by the President.
                       Both courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
Shirakawa




About a year later, Kisa passed away.
She had survived her husband
and 7 of her 12 children.
                     Page from The Boise Statesman, March 21, 1988
Shirakawa


  Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn.
 She had many good friends and was always full of energy.




                                           Stan Flewelling


  Mae kept books of pictures and a mind full of memories,
       sharing them with anyone who would listen.
Shirakawa


  Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn.
 She had many good friends and was always full of energy.




                                           Barbara Campbell


  She joined the White River Valley Historical Society and
 was an honorary board member there until her last days.
Shirakawa


  Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn.
 She had many good friends and was always full of energy.




                                            Stan Flewelling


    She talked with school kids whenever she could . . .
Shirakawa


  Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn.
 She had many good friends and was always full of energy.




                                             Stan Flewelling


 . . . and helped organize reunions of her childhood friends
                 from Thomas Grade School.
Shirakawa


  Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn.
 She had many good friends and was always full of energy.




                                            Stan Flewelling


      She visited museums and libraries in Montana,
     where her dad, Mat, had first been locked up . . .
Shirakawa


  Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn.
 She had many good friends and was always full of energy.




                                             Stan Flewelling


  . . . and the National Archives in Washington, DC, where
 she looked up records about her family during the War . . .
Shirakawa


  Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn.
 She had many good friends and was always full of energy.




    . . . and her brother Mike’s Army service in Europe
                . . . and his death in France.
             Courtesy Densho #pd-p105-00020 Tsubota Family Collection (Purple Heart) & Mae Iseri Yamada
Shirakawa


  Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn.
 She had many good friends and was always full of energy.




                                      Courtesy of Lu Yamada Wiley


     She even visited France and talked to people who
  remembered the bravery of Japanese American soldiers.
Shirakawa


  Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn.
 She had many good friends and was always full of energy.




            Both by Stan Flewelling




  She visited Mike’s grave in Seattle every Memorial Day.
Shirakawa


  Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn.
 She had many good friends and was always full of energy.




                                           Stan Flewelling


 In 2006, Mae was elected the ―Pioneer Queen‖ of Auburn
             and was crowned by the Mayor.
Shirakawa


      She passed away in November 2010 at age 92.
   Her story will stay alive as long as she is remembered.




                                           Courtesy Auburn Senior Center
Shirakawa


      She passed away in November 2010 at age 92.
   Her story will stay alive as long as she is remembered.




      This presentation is dedicated to the memory of
          Mae Iseri Yamada and her whole family.
Shirakawa
                                  Credits:

  Thanks to Pat Filer and Historylink.org for giving the Shirakawa story a new
                                   chance at life.


     Thanks also to the many people and organizations who have shared
  generously from their photo and document collections. Here are some of the
         abbreviations for historical archives used in this presentation:


• WRVM:     White River Valley Museum (Auburn, WA)
• DENSHO: Densho, The Japanese American Legacy Project (Seattle, WA)
• MOHAI: Museum of History and Industry (Seattle, WA)
• LOC:      Library of Congress (Washington, DC)
• NARA:     National Archives and Records Administration (Washington, DC
            and College Park, MD)
Shirakawa
            THE END

				
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