Forced to Minidoka

Woman stepping off train and man handing her luggage
Incarcerees arriving in Idaho by train.

National Archives and Records Administration

After Executive Order 9066 was signed and the Western Defense Command established Military Exclusion Zone No. 1 and No. 2, Japanese American families were given notice to vacate the West Coast. Some had up to a month, while others only had a couple of days to move from their homes, bringing only what they could carry with them1.

Immediately following the forced removal, people were held in temporary detention facilities while the prison camps were being built. Most of the temporary detention centers were fairgrounds or race tracks. As the more permanent prison camps were being constructed, incarcerees would be put on a train with the blinds drawn shut to these sites. Minidoka imprisoned people from Oregon, Washington, and Alaska2.

When the first incarcerees arrived at Minidoka, the camp was only partially constructed. Sewage systems and plumbing would not be completed for several months3. Due to the influx of incarcerees arriving and the need for housing, the barracks were crudely and swiftly constructed. Additionally, the greenwood and tar paper used to construct the barracks offered little protection from the harsh environment4.
1Jeffrey F. Burton et al., Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation
Sites, (Seattle: National Park Service, 1999), accessed June 30, 2019.
2Our 'Home' For The Duration," Minidoka Irrigator, March 23, 1942.
3WRA Report No. 1, March 18- June 30, 1942. p.13.
4Connie Y. Chiang. “Choosing Camps, Building Camps” Nature Behind Barbed Wire. Oxford University
Press. (New York, 2018). 55.

Last updated: August 19, 2019

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