The first grant, from the National Park Service, will support continued restoration of an original Heart Mountain root cellar.
A second grant, from the National Endowment for the Humanities, will help bring teachers from around the country to Wyoming for workshops on teaching about Japanese American incarceration in the classroom.
The NPS, through its Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program, awarded Heart Mountain a $424,700 grant to continue the restoration work started in the summer of 2018.
The cellar, which was built by Japanese Americans incarcerated at Heart Mountain during World War II, measures over 300 feet long and held produce grown by the camp’s agriculture department.
The foundation’s executive director, Dakota Russell, said the grant came at a pivotal time. “Time and exposure to the elements have weakened the log frame,” he said, “and we’re seeing sections of the roof start to fail. This grant will help us stabilize the damage and begin reversing it.”
Russell believes that work will begin next summer, and that the foundation will be able to open parts of the cellar to the public shortly afterward.
Heart Mountain also received a $170,000 grant from the NEH to conduct two week-long teacher workshops next summer. The workshops, funded by the Landmarks of American History and Culture program, will be open to applicants from across the U.S., and will be led by experts in the history of Japanese American incarceration and the West.
Shirley Ann Higuchi, chair of the foundation’s board, said there is no better place to learn about this history than on the site of the former Heart Mountain camp. “We’re thrilled for the opportunity to share our power of place with a wider audience,” she said. “We want to inspire these educators and send them back home to teach thousands of young people. A program like this expands our reach exponentially.”
The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation preserves the site where some 14,000 Japanese Americans were unjustly incarcerated in Wyoming from 1942 through 1945. Their stories are told within the foundation’s museum, Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, located between Cody and Powell. For more information, call the center at (307) 754-8000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.