Minidoka National Historic site celebrates opening of new visitor center

JEROME, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) The National Park Service has opened up the newest visitor center in the nation, in Jerome at the Minidoka national historic site Saturday morning.

Minidoka National Historic site celebrates opening of new visitor center (Jake Manuel Brasil KMVT/KSVT)

At one point over 13,000 Japanese-Americans walked through the gates, of what is now the Minidoka National Historic Site, thousands of them incarcerated there, at what was once an internment camp.

On Saturday, the rich history of the Minidoka National Historical Site was celebrated with a new addition.

People from across Idaho were invited to the ribbon cutting, including Governor Brad Little, and even those who themselves were incarcerated at Minidoka.

"I urge people to come here and support this facility, to learn about it, so that we don't forget going forward, about the parts of our constitution who give particularly American citizens certain rights, that occasional the majority runs over the top of them, we should never do that again," said Governor Little.

The space includes a theater screening of the new park film; two brand new exhibits on the history of the Japanese American incarceration, a bookstore, and much more. The new visitor center will begin regular winter hours, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"I find myself just wanting to pause for a minute, and take a big deep breath, and look around and appreciate the accomplishment that this building reflects, and the story it tells," said Wade Vagias with the National Park Service.

Saturday's ribbon cutting is the culmination of 19 years of hard work with the National Park Service. The Minidoka National Historic Site wants to remind the community that we need to preserve the legacy of this is area, in order ensure that mass incarceration does not happen again.

"This whole area is called the Magic Valley, because it's so magical that we reclaimed the desert for agricultural purposes, but we don't recognize or tell the story of Japanese-Americans and how they contributed to this legacy," said Hanako Wakatsuki, Chief of Interpretation and Education.

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