May 08, 2008

Minidoka Expansion Signed Into Law

Could expand human rights awareness efforts in Idaho

Washington, DC - Legislation that expands the borders of the Minidoka Internment National Monument near Jerome is now law, after being signed today by President George W. Bush. Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig and 2nd District Representative Mike Simpson authored the provision, which was included in S. 2739, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008. Among the directives included in S. 2739 is one to adjust the boundaries of the Minidoka site, which was designated a national monument in January 2001. The full bill also adds a Bainbridge Island site in Washington State that was also used to house Japanese Americans during World War II. First District Representative Bill Sali also supported the legislation in the U.S. House.

"While visiting the site last summer, I couldn't help but be buoyed by the enthusiasm that many Japanese Americans and other Idahoans have regarding the potential for this site educating the world about human rights," Crapo said. "The signing of this bill helps clear the way for private fundraising by the Friends of Minidoka and other groups that will make Minidoka a permanent landmark in the education of all Idahoans about civil rights in Idaho."

"The events that took place at the Minidoka National Historic Site decades ago are a part of our nation's history that must be preserved for future generations," Craig said. "I am pleased President Bush recognizes the value of this legislation, and I hope all Idahoans will take the opportunity to visit this monument to human rights."

"I am happy to see this legislation finally signed into law," said Simpson. "The Minidoka internment camp gives Idaho a unique place in history. This legislation will ensure that future generations will learn important lessons from a critical time in our nation's history."

"This legislation will ensure that we will never forget the people whose lives were irrevocably altered by the government's actions during World War II.," Sali said. "We must never forget the faces of the men, women and children who were uprooted from their communities, their jobs, their friends and neighbors. Expansion of this site will help forever remind Americans of their experience and the necessity to be vigilant in support of human rights, especially in times of crisis."

During World War II, more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were interned at ten sites around the U.S.; Minidoka, which is also referred to as the Hunt Camp, was the largest site. Annual human rights events and discussions are held every year at the site and at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. The lands bill containing the Minidoka provisions also allows some Idaho irrigators to prepay unallocated water rights to the federal government in some cases, in order to pass along their family farms and ranches.