POWELL, Wyo. — The 2023 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage has been scheduled for July 27-29.
Early registration for Heart Mountain members is under way. General registration begins April 1.
Located midway between the northwest Wyoming towns of Cody and Powell, Heart Mountain was one of ten concentration camps established by the War Relocation Authority in 1942. It held more than 10,000 Japanese Americans removed from the West Coast under Executive Order 9066.
This year’s theme: “Friends and Allies: A Path Toward Greater Understanding.”
For African Americans and Japanese Americans in Los Angeles before World War II, many neighborhoods were off limits. Restrictive covenants prevented them from buying land in white neighborhoods, and redlining limited their abilities to get loans and insurance. That forced them to look out for each other in the neighborhoods they shared.
One such neighborhood was East Hollywood, also known as J-Flats. There emerged an inspirational alliance between the African American Marshall family and their Japanese American neighbors. When families such as the Hoshizakis and Kakibas were forced from their homes and incarcerated at Heart Mountain, the Marshalls watched over their property and belongings, so that they had homes and possessions waiting for them after the war.
At this year’s pilgrimage, the summer exhibit features the remarkable story of the J-Flats community, and shows how our racial and ethnic differences do not have to divide us. The Marshall family, who will be honored with the LaDonna Zall Compassionate Witness Award, has shown that allies can transcend language and race.
This year’s featured image is a watercolor painting by Kyokuo Iko, who was incarcerated at Heart Mountain from 1942 to 1945. The painting was described as “Heart Mountain, looking down a street at sunrise.”
The pilgrimage features a variety of activities:
• Several optional Thursday activities and workshops from which to choose, including time to visit the Interpretive Center with optional tours and special presentation
• Two Friday afternoon panel discussions from which to choose
• Multigenerational discussions (with the opportunity to be a discussion leader)
• Three different Saturday tours across the grounds of the former confinement site from which to choose
• Special summer exhibit telling the story of Los Angeles’ J-Flats community
• Saturday night Sayonara Banquet in Cody (optional addition to the weekend)
• New: Opportunity to conduct a family research session
For the full schedule and registration, go to: https://www.heartmountain.org/visit/events/pilgrimage/
For the first time ever, private family research for Heart Mountain descendants is being offered at the pilgrimage. This service is best suited for people who have very little knowledge of their family history, and need help starting on their research journey.
Highly trained staff members will prepare a file of documents about your family’s time at Heart Mountain, and sit down with you and your group to explain their meaning and answer any questions you may have. They will also provide more information about resources you can use to discover more in-depth information about your family history at Heart Mountain.
You can indicate your interest to participate in a family research session when you complete your online or printed registration form. Register once per family to ensure no repeat sessions are booked.
Many attendees choose to arrive earlier in the week, to spend time exploring the Interpretive Center and the historic site on their own before the hustle and bustle of the pilgrimage. It is also a good opportunity to explore Cody, Powell, the surrounding wilderness, and Yellowstone National Park, slightly farther afield.
On Thursday, July 27, newcomers and those who have not been able to visit the Interpretive Center for a while are provided the chance to explore in a more relaxed and less crowded setting before the excitement of the main pilgrimage activities on Friday and Saturday.
One of the most unique and precious aspects of the pilgrimage experience is the chance to interact with other former incarcerees and their descendants, whether they be old friends or new acquaintances. The survivor meet-up and Thursday night social (including the classic Frank Emi Karaoke) are the first of several activities throughout the weekend providing the time and space to make new memories and have the time to catch up.
The registration table will be open at the Holiday Inn starting on Wednesday, July 26. Participants will be provided with registration packets including nametags, guidelines, a detailed schedule, and information for the entire weekend.
Speakers will include: Sam Mihara, who will present “Memories of Heart Mountain”; cartoonist and animator Willie Ito, illustrator of “Hello, Maggie!”; authors Emily Inouye Huey (“Beneath the Wide Silk Sky”), Gail Kuromiya (“Beyond the Betrayal”), Eric Muller (“Lawyer, Jailer, Ally, Foe”), Douglas Nelson (“Heart Mountain: The History of an American Concentration Camp”), Shirley Ann Higuchi (“Setsuko’s Secret”) and Frank Abe (“We Hereby Refuse”); and Los Angeles anchorman David Ono.
A discussion of the mixed Nikkei experience will feature Matthew Weisbly (Japanese American Citizens League), Mia Russell (Japanese American National Museum), Rachel Watanabe-Batton (Contradiction and Struggle), Krist Ishikawa Jessup (Heart Mountain Interpretive Center) and moderator Alan Maeda.
Host hotels in Cody have rooms available at a discounted rate that can be obtained by mentioning that you will be attending the pilgrimage. Contact: Holiday Inn, (307) 587-5555; Comfort Inn, (307) 587-5556; Buffalo Bill Cabins, (307) 587-5544.
Yellowstone Regional Airport is served by United Airlines with connecting flights through Denver. The next-closest airport is in Billings, Mont., which is approximately 90 minutes away by car. For more information regarding travel arrangements for getting to and around Cody and Powell, visit www.codyyellowstone.org.