Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Heart Mountain: Life in Wyoming's Concentration Camp

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Heart Mountain: Life in Wyoming's Concentration Camp

Article excerpt

Heart Mountain: Life in Wyoming's Concentration Camp. By Mike R. Mackey. (Powell, WY: Western History Collection, 2000. Pp. vi, 179. Dedication, acknowledgments, introduction, epilogue, notes, bibliography, index. $15.95.)

This volume marks the second comprehensive history of Wyoming's Heart Mountain Relocation Center and follows on the heels of Mackey's earlier edited volumes on the Japanese-American internment in that state during World War Two. The book is, admittedly, not a definitive history, but, without question, adds significantly to the accumulated history of that desolate camp.

Mackey, in this volume, seeks to reevaluate the sources of Douglas R. Nelson, who wrote the first history of the camp more than thirty years ago. He has indeed uncovered new documents unavailable and unknown to Nelson at the time and included, more importantly, the firsthand recollections of more than forty former Heart Mountain internees-many of whom were in the forefront of the more controversial and contentious developments at the camp.

Beginning with a brief synopsis of the political events that forced the west coast's entire Japanese-American population into wartime internment camps, the author offers an insightful chapter detailing the camp's internal government and how it functioned with the War Relocation Authority's caucasian officials. He explains how the camp's newspaper (under the guidance of Bill Hosokawa and Mary Oyama) became, at times, a soothing force between the camp's Japanese population and the surrounding Wyoming communities. He relates how Wyoming's political leaders and economic interests dealt with the interned Japanese-American population throughout the operation of the camp, and offers us a brief view of the camp's inadequate school system and understaffed medical services. Finally, Mackey analyzes the moral and legal issues of signed loyalty oaths and the segregated military draft.

Mackey takes issue with Nelson's earlier claim that community government at Heart Mountain was a farce, writing that the internal government structure was able to solve many problems in the center and "present grievances to the administration in a manner which did not appear threatening or demanding" (p. …

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