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Browse > Theme > Power of the past

110 articles

An American Contradiction (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Evils of racism, Injustice, Power of the past, Power of words
  • Widely available

Filmmaker Vanessa Yuille goes to visit the Heart Mountain site, where her mother was born, to learn more about its history. Through interviews with former inmates—particularly Bacon Sakatani—and local residents and experts, she provides an overview of the mass removal and incarceration and of life at Heart Mountain. We also see LaDonna Zall, acting curator at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, lead tour of the site as it is today. The film concludes with Sakatani leading what looks like a local community meeting in a discussion about whether the camp should be called a "concentration camp."

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Diamonds in the Rough (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Power of the past, Role of men
  • Widely available

Documentary film on Japanese American baseball that focuses on Kenichi Zenimura (1900–68), a pioneering Issei baseball player and coach in Hawai'i and in Fresno, California. The film includes four main sections. The first looks at Zenimura's prewar baseball exploits, and by extension, Japanese American baseball in general, featuring interviews with those who played with or against him. The next focuses on the World War II incarceration that saw Zenimura and his family sent to the Gila River, Arizona, concentration camp, where he famously built a baseball field. Next, the film looks at the postwar phenomenon of Nisei players going to Japan and becoming stars in the Japanese major leagues, focusing on the most prominent such player, Wally Yonamine. The final segment sees Zenimura's son Howard returning to the site of the Gila River camp and visiting the location of the former barracks and of the baseball field. Actor Noriyuki "Pat" ...

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The Empty Chair (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Power of the past, Importance of community
  • Available

Feature length documentary film by Greg Chaney that recounts the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans from Juneau, Alaska, during World War II.

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From a Different Shore: An American Identity (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Change versus tradition, Importance of community, Power of the past, Reunion
  • Limited availability

Documentary film produced by Great Britain's The Open University that examines the Japanese American community by focusing on three families in Los Angeles.

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Forced Out: Internment and the Enduring Damage to California Cities and Towns (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Importance of community, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

A 2003 documentary film that explores the subject of the Japanese American forced removal and mass incarceration during World War II and its economic impact on California's Japantowns through the stories of merchants and community institutions. Among the stories highlighted are Honnami Taedo, a ceramics shop in San Francisco Japantown; the Rafu Shimpo newspaper, Fugetsudo sweet shop, and the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo; a San Francisco-based quilt project by Japanese American women that documents the wartime events; and the Asahi Market in Oxnard, which was run for the Japanese American proprietors by a Mexican American family during the war.

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Gasa-Gasa Girl (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Fiction, Mystery
  • Family – blessing or curse, Greed as downfall, Power of the past
  • Widely available

The second mystery novel in Naomi Hirahara's "Mas Arai Mysteries" series, Gasa-Gasa Girl finds the Kibei crime solver in New York where he reconciles with his estranged daughter and unravels the mysterious death of a wealthy Nisei businessman.

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In America's Shadow (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Children's
  • Patriotism – positive side or complications, Power of the past
  • Available

Children's picture book by Kimberley Komatsu and Kaleigh Komatsu told from the perspective of a young girl recounting her family's wartime incarceration story.

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Manzanar (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Power of the past, Quest for discovery, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Limited availability

Experimental documentary film by Bob Nakamura made in 1971 that was one of the first films to explore the legacy of the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans.

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Main Street, Wyoming: Heart Mountain (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Episode of the local PBS program Main Street, Wyoming that focuses on Heart Mountain. Originally produced and aired in 1994, it was repackaged with a brief new opening as part of the Main Street, Wyoming Classics series in 2006. Featuring on-camera host Deborah Hammons, the episode includes three segments: : an extended interview with Paul Tsuneishi on his incarceration experience and subsequent military service; a profile of Kaz Uriu, one of the only Heart Mountain inmates to later settle in Wyoming as a farmer, based on an interview with his daughter; and local efforts to build a memorial at the site—which was dedicated in July 1978—featuring interviews with local residents. Produced by Wyoming Public Television, it was funded by the Wyoming Council for the Humanities ad Kennecott Energy. It has been made available online as part of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting.

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Old Man River (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Family – blessing or curse, Power of the past, Power of silence, Quest for discovery
  • Available

One-woman play about the playwright's search for the truth about her actor father's life story. Jerry Fujikawa was a successful Nisei actor after World War II who worked steadily in character roles in movies and television and who did well enough to own a home and put three children through college. But after his death in 1983, playwright and performer Cynthia Gates Fujikawa found a picture of her father with a woman who is not her mother and a little girl who looks like her, but is not. Old Man River documents her search for her father's history, in which his wartime incarceration at Manzanar and stint in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team play a key role.

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Relocation, Arkansas: Aftermath of Incarceration (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Circle of life, Evils of racism, Power of the past, Reunion, Rights - individual or societal
  • Limited availability

Documentary film by Vivienne Schiffer about the legacy of the Rohwer, Arkansas, concentration camp that focuses on the incarceration's impact on the Sansei and the role of a local mayor in preserving Rohwer's history.

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Personal Justice Denied: An Issue for All Americans (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Convention and rebellion, Evils of racism, Injustice, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

Video of a February 19, 1998, panel discussion at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History on the topic of the coram nobis cases, featuring presentations by principals Fred Korematsu and Gordon Hirabayashi and lead attorneys Dale Minami, Peggy Nagae, and Rod Kawakami.

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Pilgrimage (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Power of the past, Fear of other
  • Widely available

Documentary film that traces the origins of the first Manzanar pilgrimage in 1969 and links it to the 2005 pilgrimage and to efforts to uphold the rights of Arab and Muslim Americans after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The film includes interviews with many of the organizers of the 1969 pilgrimage and archival footage and photographs of that event and of related events from that time. Directed and edited by Tadashi Nakamura, the film was a production of the Center for EthnoCommunications of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center in 2008. The film is dedicated to the memory of Sue Kunitomi Embrey, who passed away in 2006. It was funded in part by grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, the UCLA in LA Center for Community Partnerships, the California Wellness Foundation, and the Center for Asian American Media.

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Resistance at Tule Lake (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

Documentary film that tells the story of the Tule Lake concentration camp, with a focus on the post-segregation period, through interviews with former inmates, archival images, and scenes from contemporary pilgrimages.

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Return to the Valley: Japanese American Experience After WWII (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Rebirth, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Documentary film that tells the story of Japanese Americans returning to the Santa Clara, Salinas and Pajaro Valleys and the Central Coast after World War II. Produced by KTEH, a San Jose public television station, Return to the Valley was the first episode of an anthology series titled Voices of the Valley and debuted in 2003. It received a region Emmy Award in 2004 for "Outstanding Community Program."

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Remembering Manzanar (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Injustice, Power of the past
  • Limited availability

Introductory video at the Manzanar National Historic Site's Visitor Center. Commissioned by the National Park Service and produced by Signature Communications of Huntingtown, Maryland, in 2004, Remembering Manzanar provides a broad overview of the Japanese American wartime forced removal and incarceration based on interviews with a dozen former inmates, along with residents of the area around Manzanar and a teacher at Manzanar. None of the narrators are identified as they talk and none are pictured onscreen. Visuals consists entirely of archival still and moving images, including clips from newsreels and War Relocation Authority films along with home movies shot by inmates; period cartoons and caricatures; period artifacts; and contemporary footage of the Manzanar site. The 22-minute video is shown every half-hour at the Manzanar Visitor Center. No director, editor, or cinematographer is credited.

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Reunion: The 50th Anniversary Celebration of the 442nd (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Reunion, Power of the past, Circle of life
  • Limited availability

Television program documenting the week of events that took place in Honolulu, Hawai'i, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The hour-long program produced by JN Productions aired on April 29, 1993 on Oceanic Cable in Hawai'i and on May 9, 1993 on KHNL Honolulu.

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Snow Falling on Cedars (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama
  • Fear of other, Lost love, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Film based on the popular novel by David Guterson set in a small island village in Washington state about a young white newspaper publisher covering the postwar murder trial of a Japanese American fisherman. Flashback scenes depict the forced removal of Japanese Americans and their wartime incarceration. Directed by Scott Hicks from a screenplay by Hicks and Ronald Bass, Snow Falling on Cedars garnered an academy award nomination for its cinematographer, Robert Richardson.

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Snapshot, 1944 (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Power of silence, Power of the past, Wisdom of experience
  • Limited availability

Short story by David Mas Masumoto told in the first person voice of a Sansei young adult reflecting on the meaning of an old snapshot of his father's family taken at Gila River in 1944. The occasion is the funeral of his Uncle George, killed as an American soldier in the war. In the photo, the narrator's grandfather holds a flag and his grandmother holds a picture of George, while his father and aunts and uncles stand uneasily to the side. The narrator writes in turn about the postwar fates of his grandfather, who died before he was born; his grandmother, who lives with the family, but suffers from dementia; and his father, who struggled to buy a farm after the war and now grows raisins and other crops on eighty acres. Each in his her own way remains as silent to the narrator as in the photograph.

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Sushi (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Loss of innocence, Power of the past, Coming of age
  • Limited availability

Short story by Rei Noguchi about a young Japanese American girl who learns about the wartime incarceration from an Issei woman neighbor. It is a cold New Year's Eve in Dover, New Jersey, and Maya Okano has been dispatched by her parents to return a plate to a woman they call Grandmother Okamoto. The older woman, who is making sushi for New Year's, is happy to see the girl and serves her tea. Maya tells Grandmother Okamoto that she doesn't like sushi or Japanese food in general, preferring "American" food. Grandmother Okamoto sends Maya into the bedroom to fetch a can of nori from the dresser; when she does, she sees a little shrine on the dresser and the photograph of a young man in military uniform in front of barracks. When Maya asks, Grandmother Okamoto tells her about her son, who was killed fighting (presumably in the 442nd Regimental ...

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The Broken Lines of Age (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Desire to escape, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Short story by Jimmy Tokeshi about an Issei grandfather who takes his nineteen-year-old granddaughter on an impromptu pilgrimage to Manzanar on Christmas Eve decades after his wartime incarceration there.

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The Sun Gods (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Power of the past, Power of silence, Quest for discovery, Everlasting love
  • Widely available

Novel by Jay Rubin set in Seattle and that involves wartime incarceration at the Minidoka, Idaho, concentration camp.

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When National Security Trumps Individual Rights (curricula)

  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Individual versus society, Injustice, Patriotism - positive side or complications, Power of the past, Rights - individual or societal, War - glory, necessity, pain tragedy
  • Widely available

This lesson prompts students to think about the balance of civil liberties and national security during times of national crisis by considering the Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. United States (1944). Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu fought against the mass removal of Japanese Americans during World War II by refusing to report to the Tanforan Assembly Center in 1942. He challenged his felony conviction on constitutional grounds, and the case was appealed to the Supreme Court where he lost in a 6-3 decision. In 1983, this conviction was vacated after information surfaced proving that the government had originally withheld critical evidence.

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Conscience and the Constitution (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Convention and rebellion, Illusion of power, Injustice, Power of the past, Rights - individual or societal
  • Widely available

Influential documentary film that tells the story of the draft resistance movement at Heart Mountain. Journalist Frank Abe produced, directed, and wrote the hour-long film, which was released in 2000.

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California's Gold with Huell Howser: Manzanar (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Power of the past
  • Available

Episode 4012 of the California public television series features a visit to the Manzanar site with a group of former inmates. Host Huell Howser interviews activist Sue Kunitomi Embrey, who provides some background on Manzanar's history and points out the administration and inmate areas. Archie Miyatake talks about the photographs his father Toyo Miyatake took at Manzanar and displays the camera Toyo had made at Manzanar with a lens he had smuggled into the camp. The rest of the episode focuses on names carved into cement by inmate laborers, with three such laborers—Goro Kurihara, Jiro Matsuyama, and Gimp Izumi—brought back to the camp to see their handiwork for the first time in nearly sixty years.

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