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Browse > Theme > Power of words

9 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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Family Torn Apart: The Internment Story of the Otokichi Muin Ozaki Family (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Facing darkness, Immigrant experience, Injustice, Power of words
  • Widely available

Family Torn Apart is the story of the wartime experiences of Otokichi Muin Ozaki, an Issei who was a Japanese language school teacher, tanka poet, and a leader within the Japanese community in Hilo, Hawai'i. While most incarceration accounts focus on the mainland experience of the English-speaking Nisei who comprised nearly two-thirds of the incarcerated population, Ozaki's story provides insight into the incarceration experience of Hawai'i island Japanese, many of whom authorities detained at mainland incarceration sites. While this book includes radio scripts of Ozaki's incarceration experience and his own accounts of camp news, it is also comprised of letters that family and friends wrote responding to his correspondence. The variety and frequency of these letters and other sources provide intimate details of Ozaki's incarceration that lasted nearly four years. This story highlights the uniqueness of the Hawai'i experience from the perspective of an Issei observer and the impact of ...

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Dear Miss Breed: Letters from Camp (exhibition)

  • Museum Exhibitions
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • History
  • Importance of community, Power of words
  • Available

Exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) based on the letters sent to librarian Clara Breed by Japanese American students forcibly removed to concentration camps. Dear Miss Breed opened in JANM's Legacy Center gallery on January 14, 1997, and closed on April 13, 1997. A short film of the same name was also featured in the exhibition. Though it did not travel subsequently, an online version of the exhibition was created and is available at the JANM website.

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Mitsuye and Nellie: Asian American Poets (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Expression through art, Female roles, Power of words, Role of women
  • Available

One of the earliest documentaries to broach the topic of Japanese American wartime incarceration, Mitsuye and Nellie profiles Asian American poets Mitsuye Yamada and Nellie Wong, showing them reading their poetry, meeting their family and visiting the Minidoka and Angel Island sites.

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The Old Man on Crutches (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Companionship as salvation, Power of words, Wisdom of experience
  • Limited availability

Short story by Setsuko Nagata about the title character whom the narrator meets while serving as a waitress at a Tanforan Assembly Center mess hall. The man, named Mr. Mine, takes a liking to the narrator and shares Chinese poetry with her. When they move to the Topaz, Utah, concentration camp, he visits her on occasion, but when he requests repatriation, he moves to Tule Lake. The narrator hears that he eventually did return to his native Kumamoto, Japan.

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Why is Preparing Fish a Political Act? (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary, Biography
  • Convention and rebellion, Loss of innocence, Power of silence, Power of words, Role of women, Self-awareness
  • Available

Short documentary film by Russell Leong that profiles Sansei poet Janice Mirikitani. Mirikitani reads several of her poems (from the collections Awake in the River and Shedding Silence) and talks about her grandmother's resourcefulness; her rejection of her Asian heritage as a young college student and her first husband and daughter; the impact of the Asian American Movement; and her involvement with Gilde Memorial Church and her second husband Cecil Williams. In the final segment of the film, Mirikitani talks about the impact of the Japanese American incarceration on her family and on the community as a whole and reads the poem "We, the Dangerous."

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Children of the Camps (film)

  • Films and Video
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Documentary
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Power of words, Self-awareness, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Documentary film that explores the long term impact of the wartime incarceration on those who were children at the time. Much of the film documents a three-day workshop that brings together former child inmates for co-counseling sessions in which they discuss often repressed memories of the incarceration and its aftermath.

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Fox Drum Bebop (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Historical Fiction
  • Family – blessing or curse, Immigrant experience, Power of words
  • Widely available

Novel by Gene Oishi that tells the saga of the Konos, a Japanese American farming family from coastal California, covering the years 1940 to 1982. Largely based on the author's own life and family, each chapter is a stand alone short story set in a particular time period. Early chapters covering the prewar years and the upheavals of World War II are told from the perspective of different family members, while later chapters covering the postwar years are largely through the perspective of Hiroshi, the character based on the author. Fox Drum Bebop was published by Kaya Press in 2014 and received the 2016 Association for Asian American Studies book award in the Creative Writing: Prose category.

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A Letter (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Facing darkness, Isolation, Power of words
  • Limited availability

Short story by Sasabune Sasaki about a group of Issei internees at an unspecified internment camp in the first days of their detention. Though the men write letters to their families, few have received any letters in return, due to, they believe, delays caused by censorship of the letters and their being moved from camp to camp. One day, the narrator sees a letter in its envelope tacked on a bulletin board at the camp post office and copies it down. It is an anonymously authored letter by a Nisei in English that expresses concern and support for the internees. When the narrator reads it to a group of internees, they are greatly moved.

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