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Minidoka Teacher Workshop

July 5, 2023 - July 9, 2023

Please note–the deadline has been extended to April 14.

The Japanese American Museum of Oregon, Minidoka National Historic Site, and Friends of Minidoka are accepting applications from Oregon educators to participate in a 5-day teacher workshop in Twin Falls, Idaho. The workshop, entitled “Minidoka: The Legacy of the WWII Japanese American Incarceration,” will take place on July 5-9 at Minidoka National Historic Site.

Participants of the workshop will be invited to participate in the 2023 Minidoka Pilgrimage, July 6-9. The annual pilgrimage, organized by the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee, is a gathering of incarceration survivors, their descendants, and allies to honor the experience of Japanese Americans through educational sessions, tours, and community building.

Participants will hear from Japanese American community members, scholars, and local educators about the forced removal and incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast during World War II. The workshops will include a park ranger-led tour of Minidoka National Historic Site and a deep dive into the Minidoka Educational Curriculum, which includes four short films and corresponding lesson plans, created by Northshore Productions and Friends of Minidoka.

A group of 8 Oregon educators (K-12) will be selected to participate. The application deadline has been extended to Friday, April 14th. Successful applicants will be notified by April 22, 2023.

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The WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans was a period of history when over 150,000 people, two-thirds of them American citizens, were by Executive Order forcibly removed from their homes and placed in confinement sites without due process of law. Anti-Asian racism combined with tensions from the attack on Pearl Harbor caused the loyalty of Japanese Americans to be put into question. The government claimed that the incarceration was a military necessity, but a Congressional investigation over 30 years later found that it was motivated by “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” Minidoka, in Idaho, is one of the ten US concentration camps where Japanese Americans from the West Coast were incarcerated.

Although little remains of the barbed-wire fences and tar-papered barracks, the Minidoka concentration camp once held over 13,000 Japanese Americans in the Idaho desert. The majority of those incarcerated at Minidoka were forcibly removed from Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and California. Established in 2001, Minidoka National Historic Site preserves their legacy and teaches the importance of civil liberties. Year-round, visitors may enjoy a self-guided tour along the 1.6 mile trail with outdoor exhibits. The Visitor Center is open for the summer season on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from late May to early September. More information here.

The teacher workshop will be led by Minidoka National Historic Site and Japanese American Museum of Oregon staff. Workshop will occur from Wednesday, July 5 to Sunday, July 9. Only Oregon based teachers qualify for this workshop.

Tentative schedule:

-Wednesday, July 5: Travel from Oregon to Twin Falls, Idaho.
-Thursday, July 6: Park Ranger guided tour and teacher workshop at Minidoka National Historic Site (Jerome, Idaho). Minidoka Pilgrimage begins that afternoon.
-Friday, July 7 – Sunday, July 9: Participants will join the Minidoka Pilgrimage.
-Sunday, July 9 (afternoon): Minidoka Pilgrimage ends by midday. Travel from Twin Falls, Idaho to Oregon.

Travel Logistics:
Travel logistics will be coordinated with support from Japanese American Museum of Oregon staff. Participants will receive a participation stipend and travel stipend upon completion of the workshop program. Participants are expected to fly from Oregon to Idaho but may opt to drive. Hotels and transportation within Twin Falls and during the Minidoka Pilgrimage will be coordinated by the workshop team. Most meals will be coordinated by the workshop team. Participants personal information for travel logistics will be collected upon acceptance.

2023 Minidoka Pilgrimage
Participants do not need to register for the Minidoka Pilgrimage separately. Minidoka Pilgrimage registration fees and registration logistics will be covered by the workshop. Limited teacher workshop spots have been reserved for the 2023 Minidoka Pilgrimage. If participants would like to bring other guests, they will be expected to coordinate travel logistics, registration, and lodging for their guests on their own.

Registration and more information can be found on the 2023 Minidoka Pilgrimage Eventbrite page. Priority registration for the 2023 Minidoka Pilgrimage will open on Wednesday, March 15, at 12:00 noon Pacific for survivors and descendants of the Japanese American incarceration and their families. General registration will open Wednesday, April 12, at 12:00 noon (PDT). More information at

Minidoka Educational Curriculum and Short Films
The training will include a workshop on the free educational resources created for the full-length documentary “Betrayed: Surviving an American Concentration Camp” by Northshore Productions and Friends of Minidoka. Four short documentaries (5-6 mins) were created, each providing a deep dive into different aspects of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Each film and corresponding lesson plan can be stand-alone, but educators may choose to use multiple films based on the goals and needs of their classes. The materials, recommended for grades 6 to 12, focus on the experience of Japanese Americans who were forcibly removed from their communities and incarcerated at Minidoka, an American concentration camp in southern Idaho. The topics in these films and lessons apply broadly to the experience of Japanese Americans at other camps as well.  The lesson plans utilize primary sources as learning tools and are standards based. The lessons range from a full one-hour lessons to short ten minute activities, so educators are encouraged to adapt them to meet the needs of their students and classes. More information at

Workshop Team
Kurt Ikeda, Director of Interpretation and Education, Minidoka National Historic Site
Kurt is a 2nd generation Japanese American educator and descendant of WWII incarceration survivors. He previously served as the Education Specialist for the southern Idaho Parks and as a Northwest Youth Corp intern for Minidoka in 2018. Prior to the National Park Service, he worked at the Japanese American Museum of Oregon, OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates, and as a High School English teacher through Teach for America. Kurt received his B.A. from University of California, Los Angeles and M.A. in Urban Education: Educational Policy and Administration from Loyola Marymount University. Raised in the Asian American communities of Los Angeles, Kurt now resides in Twin Falls, Idaho with his beloved wife April. His mission is to preserve the legacy of the unjust WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans through education, poetry, and community building.

Elissa Dingus, Director of Education and Engagement, Japanese American Museum of Oregon
Elissa spent the last 12 years as an elementary school teacher in Portland, Oregon metro area, where she developed social studies curricula that expanded the focus beyond Oregon’s well-known white settler colonial past in order to make space for the less frequently told histories of marginalized groups in Oregon. She was awarded the 2017 Oregon Elementary Social Studies Teacher of the Year Award and the 2019 Lewis & Clark MAT Alumni Teacher of the Year Award. She is now the Director of Education and Engagement at the Japanese American Museum of Oregon where she facilitates educational programming at the museum to connect student groups, educators, and the general public with Japanese American history.

Community Partners
Minidoka National Historic Site: The purpose of Minidoka National Historic Site is to provide opportunities for public education and interpretation of the exclusion and unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II.

Japanese American Museum of Oregon: The mission of the Japanese American Museum of Oregon is to preserve and honor the history and culture of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest, educate the public about the Japanese American experience during WWII, and advocate for the protection of civil rights for all Americans.

Friends of Minidoka: Friends of Minidoka engages in and supports education, research and historic preservation of the WWII incarceration experience. We strive to pass on the history, legacy, and lessons of civil liberties through transforming and inspiring experiences for the general public and those with personal and familial ties to Minidoka. We are committed to working with partners, including the National Park Service, to accomplish these goals.

Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee: The Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee is a volunteer-run organization of survivors and descendants of the Japanese American incarceration, as well as allies. Through our annual pilgrimage to the Minidoka National Historic Site and other programming, our guiding mission is to honor and provide healing for the generations of our families and community members who were imprisoned during World War II in one of 75 American prison camps. We also strive to educate the general public on this often erased history. Our homebase is Seattle, WA.


July 5, 2023
July 9, 2023
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