Densho, a Japanese-American history-preservation group in Seattle, won $368,351 in a National Park Service grant award.
The National Park Service on Tuesday awarded $368,000 in grants to Seattle nonprofit Densho for projects focused on educating teachers and students about Japanese-American internment during World War II.
The National Park Service gave nearly $3 million in 20 grants to organizations around the country to preserve the history of Japanese-American internment, when 120,000 people were sent to camps after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. The program, called the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, is in its seventh year and has awarded more than $18 million overall.
“As stewards of our nation’s history, the National Park Service recognizes the importance of preserving these confinement sites,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis in a news release. “They are poignant reminders — today and for future generations — that we must be always vigilant in upholding civil liberties for all.”
This year’s grant-proposal winners range from an educational role-playing video game to a book based on 500 oral histories to a theatrical production.
Most Read Local Stories
- New data shows how many people in Seattle area, state could have long COVID
- Supreme Court sides with Bremerton coach who prayed on 50-yard line
- Eight people shot outside music event in Tacoma
- After another superhot day for Seattle area, cooler temps will return soon
- 13-year-old dies, 12- and 15-year-olds in critical condition after being pulled from Lake Stevens
The Japanese-American internment came on the heels of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which shook up a fear for national security across the country. A 1942 executive order issued by President Franklin Roosevelt forced Japanese Americans in areas in the western U.S. to abandon their homes and livelihoods. They were sent to centers until internment ended in 1946. Two-thirds of those sent to the camps were U.S. citizens.
For Tom Ikeda, executive director of Densho, the group’s mission to remember the story of Japanese-American internment strikes a personal chord. His parents, grandparents and all his aunts and uncles were incarcerated during World War II in a camp in Minidoka, Idaho. Both his parents were U.S. citizens, born in Seattle.
“It’s kind of a lesson to be learned, so we try to use the Japanese experience as sort of a case study,” Ikeda said.
“Densho” is a Japanese phrase meaning “to pass on to the next generation.” The organization was founded in 1996 by volunteers who were worried the Japanese community was losing its history as members got older, said Geoff Froh, deputy director at Densho.
The group has received grant money from the National Park Service since the grant program began, Ikeda said. In addition to its grant funds, Densho will raise at least $184,000 for its two projects — the National Park Service requires that grant winners match $1 for every $2 in federal funds.
The group plans to raise the money for each project through mainly small donations from the Japanese-American community, and will spend a total of at least $552,000 on both projects. It will begin to raise the money and start working on its grant projects once it officially signs a contract with the National Park Service, which will probably happen in the next two months.
About $230,000 of Densho’s grant money this year will fund its online encyclopedia, which is used by teachers and students across the world, Froh said. The encyclopedia has 1,100 multimedia articles authored by Japanese-American history scholars; the award money will help create 350 more articles, a resource finder, further article categorization and about 100 digitized books, videos and curricula.
With the rest of the money, Densho is partnering with the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Seattle, the Northwest African American Museum and a local indigenous community organization to formulate curriculum that will connect Japanese-American internment to other civil and human-rights injustices.
Densho will host teacher-training workshops to implement it into classrooms — reinforcing that civil injustice is pervasive in many different communities.
“We believe to really keep the story alive, it’s to really connect the story of what happened to Japanese Americans to stories of injustice, because by doing so, we believe that people will begin to see the patterns that happened,” Ikeda said.