The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation (HMWF) was formed in 1996 by a group of Wyoming citizens and former internees who were determined to tell the Heart Mountain “Relocation Center” story.
Since then, the organization has worked to preserve the site that represents a period in U.S. history following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of them American-born citizens, were deprived of due process and forced to leave their homes and livelihoods.
One of the Foundation's first projects was the restoration of the Honor Roll bearing the names of over 800 men and women who served in the U.S. military. A replica of the Honor Roll was completed in 2003. In 2005, a Walking Tour of the site was completed and Heart Mountain was designated as a National Historical Landmark in 2007.
In August 2011, HMWF opened the doors to the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, a world-class museum dedicated to passing on the Heart Mountain story to future generations. Special emphasis is given to the experience of incarceration, the diverse personal responses of Japanese Americans to their imprisonment, constitutional issues, violations of civil liberties, and broader issues of race and social justice in America. The Center has received awards from the American Alliance of Museums, the Wyoming Education Association, and the National Association of Interpretation.
In 2014, in collaboration with several partners, a restoration of the original hospital boiler house chimney was completed. The chimney was extensively stabilized in a manner that allows it to retain its historical significance, while ensuring that it will stand for decades to come.
Today, HMWF owns 53 acres of the original historic site and our staff serves as caretakers for an additional 70 acres of the site owned by the Bureau of Reclamation. The HMWF is overseen by a 15-member Board of Directors, led by Shirley Ann Higuchi, a descendant of Heart Mountain incarcerees. The Board includes former incarcerees, incarceree descendants, scholars and other local and national professionals, all dedicated to social justice, history, and the Japanese American perspective.