Minidoka Pilgrimage wraps up 17th annual gathering at Minidoka National Historic Site

Published: Jul. 8, 2019 at 4:38 PM MDT
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Cheryl Freeman feels the dust and wind in her face at the Minidoka Internment Camp. It gives her a glimpse on what it must have been like for her mother during the 1940s.

"How they were always have to do laundry because there was just dust everywhere and the wind will be blowing," Freeman said. "Being out here in the wind it must be a reminiscent on what she was talking about."

Freeman was just one of hundreds of people who visited the site of the former Japanese internment camp for an annual gathering hosted by the Mindoka Pilgrmage. The four-day education experience presents speeches, ceremonies and discussions on the camp.

Sisters Freeman and Jayne Ichikawa attended the closing ceremony on Monday, both were born at the camp they don't remember much about their experience, relocating at such young age but their father didn't share many stories about the camp.

"My father would always say it was OK," Ichikawa said. "He didn't want to share, I think some of his shame and being discriminated it must of been very bitter and resentful that this is something American citizens had to go through."

Jayne's husband Shinya Ichikawa also attended. He said and his family were relocated to the camp when he was about 4 months old, but his father was separated from them.

"My father was arrested for being Buddhist priest," he said.

Ichikawa said they were reunited with his father in 1946.

An event organizer said this year's Minidoka Pilgrimage is the second to largest of attendance in its 17-year history.

"We really learn more about it, so I'm glad this preservation is going on," Ichikawa said.

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