Taking the opportunity to honor Japanese history and culture, the Cascadia Art Museum held a day of remembrance on Sunday marking the 80th anniversary of Presidential Executive Order 9066, which ordered the incarceration of more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent. Japanese American during World War II.
The U.S. Executive Order was signed and issued during World War II by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. It paved the way for the incarceration of nearly all of the 120,000 Japanese Americans during the war. Two-thirds of them were US citizens, born and raised in the United States
The Aleutian Islands of Alaska also has a history of Executive Order (EO) 9066 unknown to many. Nearly 1,000 Alaska Native Aleuts were forced from their homes and businesses because the Aleutian Islands were considered a combat zone. They were allowed to take a suitcase, herded onto boats, and their villages burned down in an attempt to prevent Japanese soldiers from using them as lodgings. An estimated 10% of the Aleuts died in the camps, never seeing their homes again.
Washington was the first state to observe a day of remembrance, in 1978, and officially recognized it in 2003. Since then, the day has become a time to reflect, remember and honor those whose lives have been shattered by this which President Joe Biden called in his February 18 Memorial Day Proclamation “one of the most shameful chapters in our nation’s history.”
Sunday’s one-day event drew more than 375 people who learned about Japanese culture from Washington-based writers, performers, artists and musicians. It also marked the end of Kenjiro Nomura’s exhibit at the museum, which showcased the Japanese-American artist’s work throughout his life. These included his early works focusing on the urban environment of Seattle and the rural landscapes of the Northwest, paintings and drawings capturing his life in World War II internment camps, and abstracts from after -war fully demonstrating Nomura’s stylistic and professional artistic growth.
Cascadia curator David Martin welcomed the crowd and explained that he had been on a mission since 1986 to secure an exhibit of Nomura that included artwork outside of the internment works. “I restored many of his works and became very interested because I thought it looked like museum quality work – and yet everywhere I went no one seemed to know who he was,” Martin said. , which restored the Nomura board. Gymnasium.
“We wanted to commemorate the end of this exhibit, as well as the signing of EO 9066 when Japanese Americans began to be incarcerated during World War II,” said Cascadia Art Museum Executive Director Sally Ralston. . “We honor and educate people about Japanese history and Japanese Americans while exposing them to the incredible and rich heritage of Japanese culture.
Historian and author Barbara Johns has spent the past 15 years writing about Seattle’s immigrant generation of Japanese-American artists, and she was on hand to sign copies of her book, Kenjiro Nomura, Journey of an Issei artist. “It’s Nomura along with two others I’ve written about (the others are Paul Horiuchi and Kamekichi Tokita),” she said. “All my subjects left traces of their experiences during World War II. Nomura left almost 100 paintings and drawings. The others left diaries. Nomura is only one of three to have returned home, to have survived and to restore recognition.
Johns added, “It’s been the gift of a lifetime to do what I’m doing right now.”
Vince Schleitwiler, a fourth-generation Japanese-American and lecturer at the University of Washington, discussed Japanese history and related issues in his lecture, “The Future Was Here: Visions Lost and Found Japanese Americans before the war”.
Schleitwiler, author of Strange Fruit of the Black Pacific: Imperialism’s Racial Justice and Its Fugitives, said: “This is an important anniversary for us, as we are fortunate to have with us many surviving members of the internment camps. But this anniversary is also important because the memory of these camps has never felt so alive, so tangible and so fraught with danger as in recent years.
Sunday performances and classes included UV Performing Arts Dance Group Koto Musicians, Haiku Poetry Writing, Japanese Calligraphy by the Meito Shodo-Kai Calligraphy Association, Taiko Drumming with Chikiri and the team of l Taiko school, flower arranging by Ikebana International, poetry reading by EPIC Poets, traditional Japanese tea ceremony by Chado Urasenke Tankokai Association and origami making.
— Story and photos by Misha Carter