Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009


Henry and Blake Sakamoto talk to Inessa: The Minidoka Swing band...named after a WWII...


All of us have stories. All of us, each and every one, come from a different cultural backstory. Time to celebrate one. And enjoy two great nights of music with Henry and Blake Sakamoto. It seems fitting that “E pluribus unum”, Latin for “Out of many, one” was adopted as a national motto in 1776. Serves as a great reminder in our tumultuous times. But this mantra hasn't served our country well on so many occasions. Fear and ignorance bring in moments like this to the American story. In February, 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt signed an Executive Order placing all people of Japanese ancestry into relocation centers. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had occurred only two months before; the two events were related. After the sneak attack wartime hysteria had reached a fever pitch and anyone of Japanese descent was considered a potential spy, even those who were American citizens. Eventually over 110,000 people (about 2/3 of them American citizens) were sent to 10 camps that were sprinkled throughout the American West. The Minidoka Japanese internment camp, also known as Camp Hunt, was the largest with over 9,000 refugees; over a thousand of whom enlisted as soldiers to fight for America's freedom. Many of the remaining detainees were used as farm labor. By December, 1944 the United States Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal to hold American citizens as prisoners and the detainees were freed within weeks. They were given $25 and a train ticket home while Camp Hunt became Idaho's largest ghost town. When Henry was a young teen, he and his family , along with other people of Japanese ancestry were forced into internment. His family lived out several years at Minidoka Japanese Internment Camp in Idaho. Out of that historic moment, Minidoka Swing Band was born as a tribute both to those interned there and as a way to highlight the music popular at the camp. Henry and I agreed that telling, reminding, sharing our stories is more urgent than ever.

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