The Archaeology of First Generation Japanese American Men at an Idaho WWII Internment Camp

Author(s): Stacey Camp

Year: 2015


Amidst wartime xenophobia, the United States government unjustly imprisoned over 120,100 individuals of Japanese heritage during World War II. Despite being housed in dreary, tar-papered military barracks at sites that ranged from former racetracks to prisons, Japanese internees transformed their inhospitable living conditions into places that embodied some semblance of home and Japanese culture. These transformations were material in nature; internees creatively modified and consumed American-made goods, designed, built, and grew elaborate and ornate gardens, and composed expressive art work utilizing local materials gathered from the desolate camp landscapes and trash middens. As scholars are now recognizing, such activities expressed not only internee resistance to unjust imprisonment, but also communicated differences and transformations taking place within the Japanese American community itself. This paper examines how one group of first generation Japanese (also known as "Issei") men incarcerated in the remote wilderness of North Idaho coped with incarceration based upon two archaeological field seasons at the camp in which they were imprisoned.

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Cite this Record

The Archaeology of First Generation Japanese American Men at an Idaho WWII Internment Camp. Stacey Camp. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396283)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -169.717; min lat: 42.553 ; max long: -122.607; max lat: 71.301 ;