POWELL, Wyo. — Each year hundreds of visitors make a pilgrimage to the Heart Mountain National Historic Site, where 14,000 people of Japanese ancestry – two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens – were unjustly incarcerated during World War II.
The journey is taken by former incarcerees, their descendants, friends, and members of the public who seek to understand this dark and poignant history and its impact on us today. The 2017 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage will take place July 28-30 and will highlight the concept of the “American Self,” exploring personal definitions of identity in today’s society.
In the six years since the opening of the Interpretive Center, the annual pilgrimage has grown into a much anticipated event. It has become known for its powerful speakers, innovative programming, and experiential opportunities that connect former incarcerees with the public.
This year’s keynote speaker will be Ann Burroughs, the new CEO and president of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, who has ample experience in social justice beginning with her work as an anti-apartheid activist in her native South Africa. She has over 25 years’ experience working for nonprofits like Amnesty International, L.A. Works, and the Rockefeller Foundation in management, resource development, and strategic communications with a focus on supporting democracy and community diversity.
Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Chair Shirley Ann Higuchi said the foundation is excited to host Burroughs: “When I first met Ann at JANM during last fall’s Town Hall while she was serving as its interim director, I was captivated by her generous spirit and understanding of the Japanese American community. Her participation in this year’s pilgrimage and introduction by [former Transportation] Secretary Norman Y. Mineta is all the more significant given she was incarcerated as a young activist and will now speak at the very site of Norm’s confinement 75 years ago.”
The pilgrimage will begin in Cody on Friday, July 28, featuring educational sessions and a multigenerational discussion, followed by an evening banquet and a silent auction at the Holiday Inn. The night will wrap up with a dessert reception. Burroughs’s keynote will be the centerpiece of the events scheduled for Saturday, July 29. Former U.S. Sen. Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.) is also scheduled to speak.
Other programming on Saturday includes the premiere of a new documentary by David Ono and Jeff MacIntyre, the award-winning filmmakers of “The Legacy of Heart Mountain.” National Poetry Slam champion G Yamazawa will share his spoken-word talents and three special exhibitions featuring artwork from Roger Shimomura and photographs by Stan Honda, Yoshio Okumoto, and Ansel Adams will be on display.
Registration for the pilgrimage is open to the public now. The cost for participation in all the events, including the dinner banquet, dessert reception, opening ceremony, special presentations, and exhibits, is $165 for non-members and $130 for members. Children aged 6-11 are only $50. Children under 5 are free. Attendees can register online at www.heartmountain.org/pilgrimage or by calling (307) 754-8000.