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Minidoka Dresses

    Minidoka Dresses

    Handmade Dress
    ca. 1942-1944
    Made by Yukiko Okimoto Sumoge
    Embroidered tulle and satin fabric with organza flowers
    Gift of Cheryl Okimoto Russell and Donna Okimoto
    2020.8.6
    Hand knitted sleeveless dress
    ca. 1942-1944
    Made by Yukiko Okimoto Sumoge
    Cotton yarn
    Gift of Cheryl Okimoto Russell and Donna Okimoto
    2020.8.11
    Handmade Dress
    ca. 1942-1944
    Made by Yukiko Okimoto Sumoge
    Tulle and nylon fabric with grosgrain ribbon
    Gift of Cheryl Okimoto Russell and Donna Okimoto
    2020.8.2
    Yokiko Okimoto Sumoge in March, 1945 at Minidoka. Gift of Debra Okimoto Whitecotton, 2024.1.2

    These dresses were made by Yukiko Okimoto Sumoge (née Katayama) while she was incarcerated at the Minidoka concentration camp in her early twenties. She borrowed a sewing machine and collected fabrics from the Consumers’ Co-op and friends outside camp to make these beautiful garments.

    Yuki grew up in Oregon, first in Oak Grove and then in Parkdale, south of Hood River. She had started attending Pacific University in Forest Grove, completing two years before World War II upended everything.

    From May 1942 until April 1945, she and her parents were incarcerated at the Pinedale detention center outside Fresno, California, then transferred to Tule Lake and eventually Minidoka. While at Tule Lake, Yuki took sewing classes in the home economics department.

    Yuki also began a pen pal relationship with Harold Yukimori Okimoto, who was serving in the U.S. Army. They married at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where Harold was going through specialized training for the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Yukiko had to request special permission to leave Minidoka and travel by train for the occasion. 

    After the war, they made their way back to Parkdale, where they raised their daughters Cheryl, Donna, and Debbie. Yukiko continued sewing throughout her life and made all of her daughters’ dresses.

    Harold passed away on November 30, 1958 at the age of 41, but Yuki eventually remarried. The family continued living in Parkdale and ran a farm there until the late nineties. Yuki kept up with sewing and was well known for her tailoring, crochet, and needlework skills, which she passed on to her daughters.