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Fullerton Arboretum
OC Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum


The Fullerton Arboretum is located at 1900 Associated Rd. Fullerton, 92831.
Museum hours are Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 to 4:00 pm.
Arboretum is open daily 8 am to 4:30 pm.


Moving Walls

PHOTO EXHIBITION FEATURING REMAINING BARRACKS AT HEART MOUNTAIN CONCENTRATION CAMP DEBUTS AT THE ORANGE COUNTY AGRICULTURAL AND NIKKEI HISTORY MUSEUM

What happened at Wyoming's Heart Mountain concentration camp when hundreds of barracks built to house 11,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry during WWII were sold for a dollar apiece to veterans-turned-homesteaders is the subject of an exhibition, Moving Walls, featuring photographs by award-winning photojournalist Stan Honda, and runs through May 31, at Fullerton Arboretum's Orange County Agricultural and Nikkei History Museum.

A special program featuring a discussion of the film and book, Moving Walls: The Barracks of America's Concentration Camps, on which the exhibition was based, will be held on April 20, at 11:00 a.m. Former Cal State Fullerton professor and scholar Arthur A. Hansen will moderate a panel consisting of writer/filmmaker Sharon Yamato, New York-based photojournalist Stan Honda, and two former Heart Mountain detainees, Bacon Sakatani and Mike Hatchimonji, who played key roles in the volunteer project to preserve two barracks at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

Moving Walls explores the dual identities of the Heart Mountain barracks, hastily built to house incarcerated Japanese Americans during the war, then turned into homes and farm buildings for postwar veterans-turned-homesteaders who received free acreage and two barracks as part of a lottery program with the U.S. government.

The exhibition was launched at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center in Powell, Wyoming, to a capacity crowd of local residents in 2017. The book chronicles the history of these shoddily constructed buildings as they went from the concentration camp to the Wyoming homestead. Because the buildings at this particular camp were distributed widely after the war, they can be seen today throughout the area surrounding the camp.

One of the barracks that survived demolition is now permanently exhibited at the Japanese American National Museum, and represents one of its most important visual artifacts from the confinement period. Moving Walls tells the story of how volunteers dismantled the barracks as part of the preservation project that took place more than 20 years ago. Visitors to the Museum are able to see the limited size and substandard conditions in which Japanese American families were forced to live during the war.

Additional chapters focus on interviews with the homesteaders who continue to occupy and/or use the buildings today. The buildings are being used not only as homes, but as garages, storage sheds, and other buildings.

Writer Sharon Yamato cites the importance of the barracks as permanent reminders of the impact of the mass incarceration not only for those who lived in the barracks during the war, but also for the local population that transformed the buildings into structures necessary for their survival. As she states, "The story of the homesteaders who transformed the barracks into livable and functional structures has a fascinating history. Hopefully, the book and film will shed light on the story of the incarceration as well as what followed--a transformation that I consider turning an American nightmare into the American dream."

Stan Honda, an award-winning photographer who has become known for his night sky photography, is committed to furthering the story partially based on his own family's experience of being incarcerated at a camp in Poston, Arizona.

Funded by the Department of Interior, National Park Service (NPS) through the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) grant program for the year 2014-2015, the film and book were produced under the fiscal sponsorship of Visual Communications, Inc.

For more information on this project, contact Sharon Yamato at sharony360@gmail.com.


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