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This education resource introduces elementary students to the history of Japanese Americans in the White River Valley of King County, including their forced removal and incarceration during World War ...

This education resource introduces elementary students to the history of Japanese Americans in the White River Valley of King County, including their forced removal and incarceration during World War II. Shirakawa revitalizes a project originally completed in 1999 and used for many years by all Kent School district 4th graders. A new elementary school Power Point using the original website information, photographs, and documents has been developed and the curriculum supplement has also been updated to align with the newly adapted Power Point. Shirakawa, which means “White River” in the Japanese language, is also the name of an award-winning book authored by Stan Flewelling in partnership with the White River Valley Museum. The book has hundreds of photographs, documents, and excerpts from oral histories of community elders and serves as an excellent supplement when using the Shirakawa education resources in the classroom. The Shirakawa education project and publication were funded in part by the King County Cultural Education Program (now the 4Culture Heritage Program.)

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Shirakawa Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Shirakawa Shirakawa (“White River”) STORIES FROM A PACIFIC NORTHWEST JAPANESE AMERICAN COMMUNITY
  • 2. Shirakawa Shirakawa - Part 1 - STORIES FROM A PACIFIC NORTHWEST JAPANESE AMERICAN COMMUNITY
  • 3. Shirakawa 1. Immigrants
  • 4. Shirakawa America has been called a ―nation of nations.‖ We all have ancestors who immigrated here from other places, other countries.
  • 5. Shirakawa Japanese immigrants first arrived in the United States in the 1880s. . . .
  • 6. Shirakawa Japanese immigrants first arrived in the United States in the 1880s. . . . They left families and friends behind, dreaming of better jobs and opportunities in America.
  • 7. ShirakawaIn 1880,there was just 1 person ofJapanese ancestry inWashington State. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 8. ShirakawaIn 1880,there was just 1 person ofJapanese ancestry inWashington State. Courtesy of Mae Iseri YamadaIn 1900,there were over 5000. Courtesy WRVM JACL Album Collection
  • 9. ShirakawaIf you know about Japanese sports, you know that ―one, two, three‖ in Japanese is ―ichi, ni, san‖ (pronounced ―ee-chee, nee, sahn‖).
  • 10. ShirakawaIf you know about Japanese sports, you know that ―one, two, three‖ in Japanese is ―ichi, ni, san‖ (pronounced ―ee-chee, nee, sahn‖). That is written with script borrowed from the Chinese. . . . like this
  • 11. ShirakawaIf you know about Japanese sports, you know that ―one, two, three‖ in Japanese is ―ichi, ni, san‖ (pronounced ―ee-chee, nee, sahn‖). That is written with script borrowed from the Chinese.But it’s usually written from top to bottom . . . like this
  • 12. ShirakawaIf you know about Japanese sports, you know that ―one, two, three‖ in Japanese is ―ichi, ni, san‖ (pronounced ―ee-chee, nee, sahn‖). That is written with script borrowed from the Chinese.But it’s usually written from top to bottom . . . like this(Easy as 一 二 三 , isn’t it!)
  • 13. ShirakawaJapanese immigrants called themselves ―Issei‖, meaning―1st life‖ or ―1st generation.‖ It’s pronounced ee-say.
  • 14. ShirakawaJapanese immigrants called themselves ―Issei‖, meaning―1st life‖ or ―1st generation.‖ It’s pronounced ee-say.They called their 2ndgeneration children ―Nisei‖. . . pronounced nee-say.
  • 15. ShirakawaJapanese immigrants called themselves ―Issei‖, meaning―1st life‖ or ―1st generation.‖ It’s pronounced ee-say.They called their 2ndgeneration children ―Nisei‖. . . pronounced nee-say.OK, your turn.They call their 3rdgeneration grandchildren . . . . . ?
  • 16. ShirakawaJapanese immigrants called themselves ―Issei‖, meaning―1st life‖ or ―1st generation.‖ It’s pronounced ee-say.They called their 2ndgeneration children ―Nisei‖. . . pronounced nee-say.OK, your turn.They call their 3rdgeneration grandchildren ―Sansei‖Right! And it’s pronounced . . . . ?
  • 17. ShirakawaJapanese immigrants called themselves ―Issei‖, meaning―1st life‖ or ―1st generation.‖ It’s pronounced ee-say.They called their 2ndgeneration children ―Nisei‖. . . pronounced nee-say.OK, your turn.They call their 3rdgeneration grandchildren ―Sansei‖. . . pronounced sahn-say.Great!(Now you’re speaking Japanese!)
  • 18. ShirakawaJapanese immigrants called themselves ―Issei‖, meaning―1st life‖ or ―1st generation.‖ It’s pronounced ee-say.They called their 2ndgeneration children ―Nisei‖. . . pronounced nee-say.OK, your turn.They call their 3rdgeneration grandchildren ―Sansei‖. . . pronounced sahn-say.Everyone of Japanese origin is called ―Nikkei‖ (nee-kay).
  • 19. ShirakawaThe Issei came East from Japan to America on ships.
  • 20. ShirakawaThe Issei came East from Japan to America on ships.The trip across the Pacific Ocean could be long and hard. (Definitely not a Carnival Cruise!)
  • 21. ShirakawaThe Issei came East from Japan to America on ships.The trip across the Pacific Ocean could be long and hard.In 1900, Matahichi Iseritraveled to America on his own,joining his half-brother.―Mat‖ was 16 years old. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 22. ShirakawaThe Issei came East from Japan to America on ships.The trip across the Pacific Ocean could be long and hard. In 1914 at age 16, Yohei Hikida crossed the Pacific on his own to join his dad in Washington. He kept house, cooked, cleaned, helped on the farm, and enrolled at the local grade school to learn English.Courtesy of Tom Hikida
  • 23. Shirakawa Many Issei looked for work in cities like Seattle and Tacoma.
  • 24. Shirakawa But many more found jobs in the countryside away from big cities. The United States was growing fast. New technology was starting up everywhere.
  • 25. Shirakawa 2. White River
  • 26. Shirakawa Japanese labor teams worked for busy railroads, sawmills, and fish canneries all around the Pacific Northwest.
  • 27. Shirakawa Japanese labor teams worked for busy railroads, sawmills, and fish canneries all around the Northwest. Big work teams were also needed on farms.
  • 28. Shirakawa Many Issei came from farming villages in Japan.
  • 29. ShirakawaThe White River Valley was the biggest, most fertile farm belt between Seattle and Tacoma.
  • 30. Shirakawa Where does this ―WHITE RIVER‖ come from?
  • 31. Shirakawa Where does this ―WHITE RIVER‖ come from? Well, it starts on the biggest volcanic mountain in the contiguous (―connected‖) 48 States.
  • 32. Shirakawa MT. RAINIER,the most famous landmark in all of Washington State,14,410 feet tall!NW Coastal Indianscalled her "Ta-ko-ma" Courtesy Wikipedia Commons, WSiegmundwhich is said to mean . . . ―she who gives us the waters."
  • 33. ShirakawaOn Mt. Rainier is the hugeEmmons Glacier the biggest ice mass in the contiguous 48 States.
  • 34. ShirakawaOn Mt. Rainier is the massiveEmmons Glacier the biggest ice mass in the contiguous 48 States.This sea of slow-moving,slow-melting ice is the mainsource of theWhite River. 
  • 35. Shirakawa For ages, the river has run from Mt. Rainier through deep gorges and wide valleys to big salt-water bays in what we call Puget Sound.Courtesy LOC #g4284t.pm009790
  • 36. Shirakawa For ages, the river has run from Mt. Rainier through deep gorges and wide valleys to big salt-water bays in what we call Puget Sound. The deltas at the end of the rivers are where the cities of Seattle and . . . Tacoma grew up.Courtesy LOC #g4284t.pm009790
  • 37. ShirakawaNames for the White River varied with different culturesand languages . . .
  • 38. ShirakawaNames for the White River varied with different culturesand languages . . .Native Americans called it ―Stokh‖ (where it ran neartodays Kent and Auburn). They called themselves ―St-kah-mish‖— ―people of the Stokh River.‖
  • 39. ShirakawaNames for the White River varied with different culturesand languages . . .Native Americans called it ―Stokh‖ (where it ran neartodays Kent and Auburn). They called themselves ―St-kah-mish‖— ―people of the Stokh River.‖ • In the 19th century, pioneer immigrants saw the milky silt in its water and called it "White River.‖
  • 40. ShirakawaNames for the White River varied with different culturesand languages . . .Native Americans called it ―Stokh‖ (where it ran neartodays Kent and Auburn). They called themselves ―St-kah-mish‖— ―people of the Stokh River.‖ • In the 19th century, pioneer immigrants saw the milky silt in its water and called it "White River.‖ • And Japanese immigrants called it ―Shirakawa‖ – a direct translation of the English . . .
  • 41. ShirakawaShiroi means ―White‖ . . . . . .Kawa means ―River‖ . . . . . . Together they read . . . . . . “Shirakawa”
  • 42. ShirakawaThe tallest, most loved mountain in Japan is Mt. Fuji, another volcano.
  • 43. ShirakawaThe tallest, most loved mountain in Japan is Mt. Fuji, another volcano. Over the ages, it has been portrayed in countless works of Japanese art.
  • 44. Shirakawa Mt. Rainier reminded the Japanese of Mt. Fuji when they came to Washington State. They even called it Takoma-no-Fuji. . . ―Tacoma’s Mt. Fuji.‖
  • 45. ShirakawaThe character of the valley — river channels, living spaces,work places — has changed a lot in the last 160 years.
  • 46. ShirakawaThe character of the valley — river channels, living spaces,work places — has changed a lot in the last 160 years. In 1906, the route of the White River was even changed. It no longer flows through the White River Valley! The Green River took its place from Auburn to Tukwila!
  • 47. ShirakawaThe character of the valley — river channels, living spaces,work places — has changed a lot in the last 160 years. In 1906, the route of the White River was even changed. It no longer flows through the White River Valley! The Green River took its place from Auburn to Tukwila! But the historical name, ―White River Valley,‖ has not been forgotten.
  • 48. Shirakawa 3. Roots
  • 49. Shirakawa Asian immigrants often faced cruel discrimination in America. But some of their non-Asian neighbors grew to respect them and their work.
  • 50. Shirakawa Asian immigrants often faced cruel discrimination in America. But some of their non-Asian neighbors grew to respect them and their work. In 1882, the US Congress passed laws to stop the immigration of workers from China. Violent riots made it even harder for the Chinese to work in America.
  • 51. ShirakawaThe Issei came to seektheir fortunes whereChinese workers wereno longer welcomed.
  • 52. ShirakawaThe Issei came to seektheir fortunes whereChinese workers wereno longer welcomed. Japanese immigrants tried hard to imitate American ways . . . and they often took jobs nobody else wanted.
  • 53. ShirakawaThe first known recordof Issei workers in theWhite River Valleywas written in 1892. . . .
  • 54. ShirakawaThe first known recordof Issei workers in theWhite River Valleywas written in 1892. . . . Many Issei joined with Indian and Caucasian workers (kids included) to harvest hops, a crop that earned big money for White River Valley farm owners.
  • 55. Shirakawa There was a big backlash in the local press. This 1893 article in Kent’s White River Journal newspaper called Japanese workers ―distasteful‖ and ―irresponsible.‖ Courtesy WRVM Newspaper Collection
  • 56. Shirakawa Courtesy WRVM #PO-00818 But many valley farmers still counted on their help, saying they were ―conscientious, determined, and thrifty.‖
  • 57. Shirakawa The Issei also found other kinds of jobs.Mat Iseri workedas a ―houseboy‖–a kind of servant – while he enrolled in night school to learn English. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada No one knew that someday he would become a leader in his community.
  • 58. Shirakawa Courtesy WRVM Newspaper CollectionDespite their efforts to fit in, the Japanese still faced a lot of prejudice. Newspaper editors and union leaders often raged against them, but they kept on trying for jobs.
  • 59. Shirakawa Around 1900, some Issei farm workers began to lease small plots of land for their own farms.
  • 60. Shirakawa Around 1900, some Issei farm workers began to lease small plots of land for their own farms. Once again, newspapers exploded against them.
  • 61. ShirakawaAngry disrespect for the Japanese was stirred up all aroundthe West Coast.
  • 62. ShirakawaAngry disrespect for the Japanese was stirred up all aroundthe West Coast. US law said that Asian immigrants were not allowed to become American citizens.
  • 63. ShirakawaBy 1908, Japanese immigration to the US had became very restricted.
  • 64. ShirakawaBy 1908, Japanese immigration to the US had became very restricted.But the wives and brides of workers already making a living in America could still come join their families.
  • 65. ShirakawaKisa Okuna crossed the ocean to Washington in 1907 to marry Mat Iseri. She was 19.Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 66. ShirakawaKisa Okuna crossed the ocean to Washington in 1907 to marry Mat Iseri. She was 19. This is the family she left behind . . . maybe forever, she thought sadly.both Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 67. ShirakawaWhen Sen Natsuhara arrived in Seattle in 1905, the firstthing she and her husband, Chiyokichi (―Charles‖), did wasto have a wedding ceremony on board her ship.
  • 68. ShirakawaWhen Sen Natsuhara arrived in Seattle in 1905, the firstthing she and her husband, Chiyokichi (―Charles‖), did wasto have a wedding ceremony on board her ship.Then he bought her some American-style clothes and tookher home to his tiny place at an Auburn farm.
  • 69. Shirakawa Courtesy WRVM #PO03564 Natsuhara Family Collection In a few years, two children had joined the family. Now America finally felt like Sen’s home.
  • 70. Shirakawa Shirakawa - Part 2 - STORIES FROM A PACIFIC NORTHWEST JAPANESE AMERICAN COMMUNITY
  • 71. Shirakawa 4. Nisei
  • 72. ShirakawaIt was a new era.Families blossomedas children arrived.
  • 73. ShirakawaIt was a new era.Families blossomedas children arrived. both Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada A new generation of American citizens —the Nisei— sprouted in the US.
  • 74. ShirakawaWhile their families multiplied, Issei farmers grew produce and sold it at farm stands and markets.
  • 75. ShirakawaWhile their families multiplied, Issei farmers grew produce and sold it at farm stands and markets. Remember the Iseri family? Mat and Kisa leased a farm in Sumner, Pierce County.
  • 76. ShirakawaWhile their families multiplied, Issei farmers grew produce and sold it at farm stands and markets. Remember the Iseri family? Mat and Kisa leased a farm in Sumner, Pierce County. When their first child, Tom, was born in 1907, they brought him to work!
  • 77. ShirakawaWhile their families multiplied, Issei farmers grew produce and sold it at farm stands and markets. Remember the Iseri family? Mat and Kisa leased a farm in Sumner, Pierce County. When their first child, Tom, was born in 1907, they brought him to work! No one knew that this baby would grow up to be a Nisei leader.
  • 78. Shirakawa Better transportation brought new energy to the White River Valley. Courtesy WRVM #PO-00053
  • 79. Shirakawa Better transportation brought new energy to the White River Valley. Courtesy WRVM #PO-00053 This was the Seattle/Tacoma Interurban passenger train, which also took farm products to nearby cities.
  • 80. ShirakawaHuge new milk canning factories were opened in the valley. Courtesy WRVM #PO-00359
  • 81. ShirakawaHuge new milk canning factories were opened in the valley.Vintageprintable.com Courtesy WRVM #PO-00359 This building in Kent was where Carnation first canned their famous ―evaporated milk‖ in 1899.
  • 82. Shirakawa Many Issei farmers bought herds of dairy cows. If they could keep up with this hard way of life, it paid off. Courtesy WRVM #PO-00210
  • 83. Shirakawa Many Issei farmers bought herds of dairy cows. If they could keep up with this hard way of life, it paid off. Every member of the family pitched in to help with family businesses.
  • 84. ShirakawaAfter chores, there was time for fun,Like marbles and kitesAnd a whole lot more. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 85. ShirakawaAfter chores, there was time for fun,Like marbles and kitesAnd a whole lot more. both Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada Hanging out was never a bore!
  • 86. ShirakawaIn back that’s Mike with hisolder brother, Tom.In front are their other brothers,―Skeeter‖ and ―Mun.‖ The Iseri Brothers, 1915
  • 87. Shirakawa No one knew then that little Skeeter would not live long enough to become a grownup . . . Or that one day Mike would Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada become a real soldier, and give his life for his country.
  • 88. Shirakawa New Japanese stores and businesses appeared. The Natsuhara family began importing rice and tea in 1914 to sell to their Japanese neighbors. The family built the business and ran their store in Auburn for 85 years.
  • 89. Shirakawa The Iseri family was still growing. They moved to ―Thomas,‖ a tiny farming town in the White River Valley between Auburn and Kent.
  • 90. Shirakawa The Iseri family was still growing. They moved to ―Thomas,‖ a tiny farming town in the White River Valley between Auburn and Kent. Here they are in 1918, picking berries with other families.
  • 91. Shirakawa Mat is stacking boxes on the wagon. Tom is 10 now, riding a bike nearby.
  • 92. Shirakawa Mat is stacking boxes on the wagon. Tom is 10 now, riding a bike nearby. Skeeter, baby Alice, Mun, and Mike are trying to help. Tom’s 2nd sister, Mae, is there, too, but you can’t see her!
  • 93. ShirakawaKisa–sitting on the left–will give birthto Mae in about a month!
  • 94. ShirakawaWhen Mae arrivedand got old enoughto play, her dadtook her for rideson their horse,Fanny . . . unless, of course, Fanny was still at work. all Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 95. Shirakawa The Issei formed Japanese clubs and organizations of all kinds, and included family members as much as possible. Courtesy WRVM JACL Album Collection There was a close Nikkei community spirit in the valley.
  • 96. Shirakawa As kids grew older, their parents usually enrolled them in local public schools. Courtesy WRVM #PO-00024
  • 97. Shirakawa As kids grew older, their parents usually enrolled them in local public schools. The first known Japanese to attend school in the White River Valley was this 18-year-old at Thomas Grade School. Courtesy WRVM #PO-00024
  • 98. Shirakawa In 1904, James Higashida was so eager to learn English, he signed up for 1st grade! Later, he became a dentist in Seattle.
  • 99. ShirakawaBy 1915, half of these 3rd and 4th graders at Thomas School were Nisei . . . Courtesy WRVM #PO-00463 Yamada Family Collection
  • 100. ShirakawaBy 1915, half of these 3rd and 4th graders at Thomas School were Nisei . . . including Tom and Mike Iseri. Courtesy WRVM #PO-00463 Yamada Family Collection
  • 101. Shirakawa Three years later, a new Thomas School Building was built. The old two-room schoolhouse was bought by some Issei and moved down the road a mile . . . Courtesy WRVM #PO-00015
  • 102. Shirakawa Three years later, a new Thomas School Building was built. The old two-room schoolhouse was bought by some Issei and moved down the road a mile . . . Courtesy White River Buddhist Temple where it became the White River Buddhist Church.
  • 103. Shirakawa The Buddhist Church also held a weekday Japanese Language School, started by Issei parents so their children could learn about their family’s language and culture. Courtesy White River Buddhist Temple
  • 104. ShirakawaAfter regular school, Nisei kids in Thomas walked (or biked)to their other school for the rest of the day! They hated it – until they grew up and discovered all they had learned! Courtesy White River Buddhist Temple
  • 105. Shirakawa In some classrooms, like this one in Thomas, Nisei kids outnumbered others 2 to 1. Courtesy WRVM #PO-00461 Yamada Family Collection
  • 106. Shirakawa In some classrooms, like this one in Thomas, Japanese kids outnumbered others 2 to 1. There’s Mae Iseri, growing up fast. Courtesy WRVM #PO-00461 Yamada Family Collection
  • 107. Shirakawa One of Mae’s classmates was Gordon Hirabayashi. Many years later, he would be named as ―one of the 100 Washingtonians who most changed the world.‖ Courtesy WRVM #PO-00461 Yamada Family Collection
  • 108. Shirakawa Not many Issei parents spoke much English. It was hard for them to know what was going on at their kids’ schools. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada So in 1927, Mat Iseri helped start the first ever Japanese PTA in the United States at Thomas School.
  • 109. Shirakawa Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada Like other Americans, White River Nikkei were free to choose a religious faith and practice to follow. This kids’ celebration was held at the White River Buddhist Church.
  • 110. Shirakawa Courtesy WRVM JACL Album Collection Christian groups also formed in several neighborhoods. This Sunday School met near Kent. It was started by a Japanese High School student.
  • 111. ShirakawaLife was better when people worked and played together.There were births . . . Courtesy White River Buddhist Temple
  • 112. ShirakawaLife was better when people worked and played together.There were births . . . and weddings . . . Courtesy of Hatsume Murakami Sao
  • 113. ShirakawaLife was better when people worked and played together.There were births . . . and weddings . . . and funerals . . . Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 114. ShirakawaLife was better when people worked and played together.There were births . . . and weddings . . . and funerals . . .and traditional Japanese celebrations . . .like mochitsuki atNew Year’s time–making poundedrice cakes(mochi) fromsteamed rice Courtesy WRVM JACL Collectionusing bigwoodenmallets . . . Courtesy WRVM JACL Album Collection
  • 115. ShirakawaLife was better when people worked and played together.There were births . . . and weddings . . . and funerals . . .and traditional Japanese celebrations . . .. . and like Obon,a Buddhistcelebration ofancestry.These girlsdressed up inkimono for thetraditional odoridancing. Courtesy Densho #pd-p159-00240 Ochikubo Collection
  • 116. Shirakawa But lots of people were still angry about the success of Japanese immigrants and their children. Between 1921 to 1924, new Washington State laws banned land ownership and farm leasing by aliens. A new federal law stopped any more immigration from Asian countries. Courtesy WRVM Newspaper Collection
  • 117. Shirakawa Now every hope of Mat and Kisa Iseri and all other Issei in America was placed in their Nisei kids. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada Alice Tom Mike Mun Skeeter Mae George Mat Oscar Dan Carl Kisa
  • 118. Shirakawa 5. Harvest
  • 119. ShirakawaDespite many restrictions, even more family stores, like the Iseri General Store in Thomas, opened around the valley.It grew from this . . . Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 120. ShirakawaDespite many restrictions, even more family stores, like the Iseri General Store in Thomas, opened around the valley.It grew from this . . . to this in three years. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 121. Shirakawa Nearby, the Tsuchiya family opened their flower shop and greenhouses. From 1934 book “Zaibei Doho Jigyoka Shashin-cho”
  • 122. Shirakawa From 1934 book “Zaibei Doho Jigyoka Shashin-cho” The Kadoyama greenhouses were west of Kent. A K-Mart store stands on this spot today.
  • 123. Shirakawa Just up the road was the Tsubota Sawmill. Things seemed to be looking up for members of the White River Valley Japanese Community. From 1934 book “Zaibei Doho Jigyoka Shashin-cho”
  • 124. ShirakawaThe number of Japanese American kids at White RiverValley schools continued to grow. . . Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 125. ShirakawaThe number of Japanese American kids at White RiverValley schools continued to grow. . . There’s Mae . . . a 7th grader at Thomas School in 1930. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 126. Shirakawa And there’s Gordon, an 8th grader. He was such a good student, the school skipped him up a grade. No wonder he became a professor as an adult. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 127. Shirakawa Some Nisei were great athletes, too. Courtesy WRVM #PO-01070
  • 128. Shirakawa Some Nisei were great athletes, too. One of the stars on this State champion 1925 Auburn High School football team was Kimeo Hirose. Courtesy WRVM #PO-01070
  • 129. Shirakawa White River Valley people were thrilled in 1927 when the first ever international high school baseball exchange game in the United States was played in Auburn.
  • 130. Shirakawa White River Valley people were thrilled in 1927 when the first ever international high school baseball exchange game in the United States was played in Auburn. The touring Japanese National H.S. Champions played a Kent area All-star team, which included two Nisei.
  • 131. Shirakawa The Japanese community had its own sports leagues, and baseball was the favorite game. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada These kids played on a White River Buddhist Church teamlong before national Little League Baseball ever got started.
  • 132. Shirakawa Growing older, they joined youth teams. The Kent and Auburn baseball teams won championships 6 years in a row in the local Nisei League. Courtesy WRVM #PO-03288 Natsuhara Family Collection
  • 133. Shirakawa This Auburn girls’ basketball team was also Courtesy WRVM #PO-03123 Shimojima/Sugai Collection the champion of its league. (Happy coach . . . champs and girls!)
  • 134. Shirakawa Issei parents also taught their children native Japanese sports, like sumo wrestling . . . Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada (Tough guys . . . no girls!)
  • 135. Shirakawa . . . and judo. This was the White River Dojo (judo club). Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada (More tough guys . . . no girls here either!)
  • 136. Shirakawa . . . and judo. This was the White River Dojo (judo club). The Dojo started in 1927 in Mat Iseri’s warehouse. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada The teacher was called ―Sensei,‖ a very respectful title.
  • 137. Shirakawa Have you ever been to summer camp? A Seattle Japanese church group held a summer ―Fresh Air Camp‖ at the Green River near Auburn. Courtesy of Hatsume Murakami Sao
  • 138. Shirakawa Have you ever been to summer camp? A Seattle Japanese church group held a summer ―Fresh Air Camp‖ at the Green River near Auburn. Courtesy of Hatsume Murakami Sao Hundreds of Japanese American city kids came every year to enjoy country life for a week or two.
  • 139. Shirakawa Nisei kids took part in school clubs, church activities, and sometimes took private lessons. These Kent girls studied Japanese dancing (called ―odori‖). Courtesy of Amy Hanada Nikaitani
  • 140. Shirakawa Nisei kids took part in school clubs, church activities, and private lessons. These Kent girls studied Japanese dancing (called ―odori‖).Gordon Hirabayashiwas one of manyNisei who joined the Scouts. Courtesy NARA #NWDNS-210-G-B570
  • 141. Shirakawa Youth clubs grew young new leaders.  Courtesy WRVM JACL Album Collection Tom Iseri, became the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) Northwest District Chairman in 1935.
  • 142. Shirakawa Organized in 1929, the JACL soon became America’s most important organization for young adult Nisei. Courtesy WRVM Newspaper Collection Under Tom’s leadership, the district convention was held at Kent High School in 1935.
  • 143. Shirakawa The mayors of both Auburn and Kent spoke to the group of 400 delegates, who came from all around Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. After the meetings, there was a fine banquet and big dance. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 144. Shirakawa The Valley JACL group sponsored many other district activities, like Japanese-style dramas (―shibai‖). Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada Some guys cast in this comical play were good sports about wearing girls’ kimonos!
  • 145. Shirakawa In the 1930s, Japanese truck farmers in the White River Valley became very successful. From 1934 book “Zaibei Doho Jigyoka Shashin-cho”
  • 146. Shirakawa Some valley produce went to markets in Seattle or Tacoma, like the famous Pike Place Market. From 1934 book “Zaibei Doho Jigyoka Shashin-cho” (That’s a lot of carrots!)
  • 147. Shirakawa Courtesy WRVM #PO-01191 JACL Album Collection But most of it was taken to the shipping companies that cropped up around the valley, like the White River Packing Company in Kent . . .
  • 148. Shirakawa Courtesy WRVM #PO-01060 Yamada Family Collection And this packing shed in Auburn. Tom Iseri and a partner owned the business. That’s Tom’s sister, Mae, on the right – all grown up.
  • 149. Shirakawa At the packing sheds, farm-fresh vegetables and berries were cleaned and boxed and loaded onto trains, then shipped to eastern cities like Chicago and New York. Courtesy of Amy Hanada Nikaitani (Mmmm . . . more carrots!)
  • 150. Shirakawa The White River Packing Company was owned by Kent’s E. K. Saito, shown here with his family. People thought he was the richest Japanese in the valley. From 1934 book “Zaibei Doho Jigyoka Shashin-cho” Their house is now the home of the Kent Historical Society.
  • 151. Shirakawa Kent had a famous community celebration in the 1930s called . . . ―The Lettuce Festival!‖ They called Kent ―The Lettuce Capital of the World!‖ Courtesy WRVM #PO-00356 (―Lettuce Grow With Kent‖—get it?)
  • 152. Shirakawa Thousands of people came to Kent for the festival. They even invited President Roosevelt with this giant postcard, displayed by May and Amy Hanada. Courtesy of Amy Hanada Nikaitani (He couldn’t come.)
  • 153. Shirakawa Most of Kent’s lettuce was grown by Nikkei farmers. In this advertising photo for the festival, ―Bertha‖ the fake gorilla posed with a Japanese American farmer. Courtesy of Amy Hanada Nikaitani The newspaper picture showed Bertha, but not the farmer.
  • 154. Shirakawa Part of the annual celebration was making the ―world’s largest tossed salad!‖ Pretty girls in rubber boots tossed lettuce with pitchforks! Courtesy WRVM #PO-00836A (But did anyone eat the stuff?)
  • 155. Shirakawa A ―lettuce queen‖ was elected each year. Mr. Saito’s adopted daughter was the 1935 queen. Here she is with Mayor Wooden (in back with the hat) . . . Courtesy WRVM #PO-00897 and her court of Japanese attendants.
  • 156. Shirakawa Goodwill seemed to rule White River Valley neighbors. The outlook in 1941 for Nisei kids like Tom and Mae’s youngest brothers beamed brighter than ever. (Bill, Oscar, & Carl Iseri) Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 157. Shirakawa Shirakawa - Part 3 - STORIES FROM A PACIFIC NORTHWEST JAPANESE AMERICAN COMMUNITY
  • 158. Shirakawa 6. WAR!
  • 159. Shirakawa On December 7, 1941, Japanese military forces sprang a massive air attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
  • 160. Shirakawa America was suddenly and totally involved in World War II.
  • 161. Shirakawa Dozens of Issei community leaders on the West Coast, like Mat Iseri and E.K. Saito, were arrested by the FBI. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada Courtesy of Hatsume Murakami Sao They had done nothing wrong. But some government officials thought Japanese leaders might turn against America and help their one-time homeland.
  • 162. Shirakawa Both Mr. Iseri and Mr. Saito had come to the US as very young men. Both had spend about two-thirds of their lives living and working and raising families here.
  • 163. Shirakawa Courtesy WRVM Newspaper CollectionTom Iseri, still the Northwest District Chairman of the JACL, wrote to newspapers, asking for calm and understanding about Japanese American loyalty to the US.
  • 164. Shirakawa His brother, Mike, and many other Nisei hurried to sign up for the US Army. At first, the military didn’t know what to do with them. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 165. Shirakawa The country was worried about Japanese Americans. Frightened people expressed many strong feelings.
  • 166. Shirakawa But the country still worried about Japanese Americans. Frightened people expressed many strong feelings. Those who had opposed the Nikkei for so long spoke out more loudly than anyone else, spreading the word that anyone with Japanese blood must surely be an enemy. Both courtesy of NARA
  • 167. Shirakawa Even the famous Dr. Seuss stood against everyone Japanese—the enemy nation and American Nikkei alike. Courtesy WRVM Newspaper Collection
  • 168. Shirakawa Even the famous Dr. Seuss stood against everyone Japanese—the enemy nation and American Nikkei alike.His cartoons portrayedthem all as sneering,look-alike terrorists.
  • 169. Shirakawa Never allowed to become American citizens, Issei like Mat and Kisa knew they would be watched like enemies. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 170. Shirakawa Never allowed to become American citizens, Issei like Mat and Kisa knew they would be watched like enemies. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada But what about their American children? Would Tom, Mike, Mae and the rest still be able to live like other Americans?
  • 171. Shirakawa The final answer astonished them. Courtesy LOC On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt gave national security leaders emergency powers to decide who might be dangerous. He also directed them to move those they considered dangerous away from possible war zones.
  • 172. Shirakawa The US Army General in charge of defending the Western States decided that the Issei and all of their descendants had to move away from the West Coast. Courtesy US Army A lot of government leaders disagreed with him, but they had given him the power to order what he wanted.
  • 173. Shirakawa During World War II, only Japanese American citizens received this kind of full-group treatment in the USA. Courtesy NARA #210-G-A78 The official racial discrimination of their country was shocking for young Nisei who grew up saying the Pledge of Allegiance and studying the Constitution in school.
  • 174. Shirakawa Soon these gloomy signs were posted all around the valley. Courtesy WRVM Natsuhara Family Collection
  • 175. Shirakawa Soon these gloomy signs were posted all around the valley. The orders were aimed at ―all persons of Japanese ancestry, both alien and non-alien‖ – a tricky way to include ―American citizens‖ without saying so. Courtesy WRVM Natsuhara Family Collection
  • 176. Shirakawa Every West Coast Nikkei had to register with the government, and then was assigned a family number . . . and issued identity tags. Courtesy NARA #210-G-A573 Courtesy WRVM Matsuda Family Collection
  • 177. ShirakawaThe Iseri family, Hirabayashis,Natsuharas, Hikidas, and alltheir Nikkei neighbors sold orstored their things. Courtesy LOC #8c24383u They locked their businesses, and packed their bags for travel to inland detention camps. Courtesy Densho
  • 178. Shirakawa It was a sad time for everyone. For Japanese American kids, it was totally confusing. Courtesy LOC #8a31197u Courtesy LOC #8a31174u When the time chosen for them to leave came, all Nikkei felt upset by what was happening to them.
  • 179. Shirakawa But the only Nisei in Washington State to protest openly against it was Gordon Hirabayashi, from Thomas.When the war started,he was a student living in Seattle. Courtesy of Maxie Shimojima Sugai
  • 180. Shirakawa The authorities told him he had to obey their curfew and relocation orders like everyone else. Gordon said doing so just because of his Courtesy 1940 Tyee and UW Special Collections Japanese ancestry would disregard the US Constitution, which would be doing wrong. They would have to arrest him and try him in a court.
  • 181. Shirakawa His famous case was taken all the way to the US Supreme Court. But he lost! The judges said the Constitution didn’t allow him to ignore the orders during a wartime crisis. Courtesy Densho #pd-i119-00045 Minidoka Irrigator Collection It took more than 40 years before Gordon’s case was reviewed and his conviction of crimes was erased.
  • 182. Shirakawa As for the rest of the White River Valley Nikkei, they boarded trains in Auburn or Renton and were taken away, guarded by armed soldiers . . . Courtesy Tacoma Public Library
  • 183. Shirakawa . . . to ―assembly center‖ camps like this one in California. Courtesy LOC #3c37821v
  • 184. Shirakawa After a few months, they packed again and were taken to official detention camps they called ―relocation centers‖. . . Courtesy Bureau of Reclamation . . . like this one – Tule Lake in California.
  • 185. Shirakawa Life for White River Valley Nikkei and their entire community was changed forever. Courtesy NARA #210-G-D207
  • 186. Shirakawa They made the best of their new lives, and did what they could to get along and help each other out. Some people were angry or depressed. Others kept looking for new opportunities, new things to learn, new ways to pass the time. Courtesy NARA #210-G-A631 (l) & Densho #pd-p13-00041 Mamiya Family Collection (r)
  • 187. Shirakawa But kept behind a fence, it was impossible for the Nisei to best serve their country when it most needed their help. Courtesy NARA #210-G-H444
  • 188. Shirakawa When the chance opened up, many more Nisei joined the armed forces, proving their loyalty to America. Courtesy Densho #pd-i114-00089 Seattle Nisei Veterans Collection The bravery of their units became famous.
  • 189. Shirakawa Some soldiers, like Mike Iseri and Bill Taketa, sacrificed everything. The Kent newspaper listed their names among those who died in combat. Courtesy WRVM Newspaper Collection and Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee (photos)
  • 190. Shirakawa 7. Return
  • 191. ShirakawaA lot of White River Valley folks back home did not wanttheir former JapaneseAmerican neighborsto return after the war.Their sacrifices didnot matter to youif your heart wasbitter. In 1943, the Mayor of Kent had signs printed to show his point of view. Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 192. ShirakawaStores in Kent and Auburn were asked to post the signs. This Kent barber was glad to do it. The story appeared in newspapers and inTime magazine. Courtesy Densho #pd-i73-00001 Bettmann Archive / Corbis Collection #BEO71994
  • 193. Shirakawa The story appeared in newspapers and inTime magazine. Courtesy Densho #pd-i36-00007 MOHAI Collection (Seattle P-I Collection #PI-28084) Over 300 Nikkei families had been taken from the valley, but only about 25 families returned after the war.
  • 194. ShirakawaMat and Kisa Iseri’s familyfound a welcome in the EasternOregon town of Ontario.Most of their large familysettled there. But their daughter, Mae, returned to the White River Valley. She had married Maki Yamada early in the war. Both Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 195. Shirakawa Maki was overseas in the US Army, so Mae and her kids moved back to the old Iseri family home. Neighbors who already knew Mae welcomed them back. The rest soon realized that all Americans have basic rights, no matter where their ancestors came from. Courtesy of Doug Yamada
  • 196. Shirakawa Armed with decency and the work standards their parents taught, White River Valley Nikkei rebuilt their lives. Once again they won the full respect of their neighbors.
  • 197. Shirakawa Mat Iseri passed away in Ontario, Oregon in1961. Kisa lived on. When she turned 100, the city awarded her and the whole Iseri family its ―Outstanding Citizen Award.‖ Courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 198. Shirakawa In 1988, America finally admitted that it had done wrong toward Japanese Americans during World War II. The US decided to make redress payments to every relocation camp survivor. Many Issei, like Mat Iseri, had already died. Courtesy Densho #pd-p179-00248 Nakamura Family Collection
  • 199. Shirakawa However, Kisa went to Washington, DC to take part in the very first redress payment ceremony. It was October 9, 1990, and she was 102 years old. Kisa also received this apology signed by the President. Both courtesy of Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 200. ShirakawaAbout a year later, Kisa passed away.She had survived her husbandand 7 of her 12 children. Page from The Boise Statesman, March 21, 1988
  • 201. Shirakawa Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn. She had many good friends and was always full of energy. Stan Flewelling Mae kept books of pictures and a mind full of memories, sharing them with anyone who would listen.
  • 202. Shirakawa Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn. She had many good friends and was always full of energy. Barbara Campbell She joined the White River Valley Historical Society and was an honorary board member there until her last days.
  • 203. Shirakawa Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn. She had many good friends and was always full of energy. Stan Flewelling She talked with school kids whenever she could . . .
  • 204. Shirakawa Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn. She had many good friends and was always full of energy. Stan Flewelling . . . and helped organize reunions of her childhood friends from Thomas Grade School.
  • 205. Shirakawa Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn. She had many good friends and was always full of energy. Stan Flewelling She visited museums and libraries in Montana, where her dad, Mat, had first been locked up . . .
  • 206. Shirakawa Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn. She had many good friends and was always full of energy. Stan Flewelling . . . and the National Archives in Washington, DC, where she looked up records about her family during the War . . .
  • 207. Shirakawa Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn. She had many good friends and was always full of energy. . . . and her brother Mike’s Army service in Europe . . . and his death in France. Courtesy Densho #pd-p105-00020 Tsubota Family Collection (Purple Heart) & Mae Iseri Yamada
  • 208. Shirakawa Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn. She had many good friends and was always full of energy. Courtesy of Lu Yamada Wiley She even visited France and talked to people who remembered the bravery of Japanese American soldiers.
  • 209. Shirakawa Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn. She had many good friends and was always full of energy. Both by Stan Flewelling She visited Mike’s grave in Seattle every Memorial Day.
  • 210. Shirakawa Mae Iseri Yamada raised her family in Kent and Auburn. She had many good friends and was always full of energy. Stan Flewelling In 2006, Mae was elected the ―Pioneer Queen‖ of Auburn and was crowned by the Mayor.
  • 211. Shirakawa She passed away in November 2010 at age 92. Her story will stay alive as long as she is remembered. Courtesy Auburn Senior Center
  • 212. Shirakawa She passed away in November 2010 at age 92. Her story will stay alive as long as she is remembered. This presentation is dedicated to the memory of Mae Iseri Yamada and her whole family.
  • 213. Shirakawa Credits: Thanks to Pat Filer and Historylink.org for giving the Shirakawa story a new chance at life. Thanks also to the many people and organizations who have shared generously from their photo and document collections. Here are some of the abbreviations for historical archives used in this presentation:• WRVM: White River Valley Museum (Auburn, WA)• DENSHO: Densho, The Japanese American Legacy Project (Seattle, WA)• MOHAI: Museum of History and Industry (Seattle, WA)• LOC: Library of Congress (Washington, DC)• NARA: National Archives and Records Administration (Washington, DC and College Park, MD)
  • 214. Shirakawa THE END