Legacy of Heart Mountain
Heart Mountain is a spectacular and beautiful backdrop to a story of triumph and tragedy. Seventy years ago, an internment camp filled with 10,000 Japanese Americans sat in the shadow of the mountain.
It was just a few miles outside Cody, Wyoming, where the land is rugged and the weather is brutal. It’s where American citizens were imprisoned behind barbed wire and guard towers for no other reason than because of their heritage. Eight out of 10 were from Los Angeles.
The Hirahara Photo Collection tells the story of Heart Mountain through pictures. Patti Hirahara’s father and grandfather had a secret dark room under their barracks where they developed film. In the years they were imprisoned, they took thousands of photos of camp life. Each photo is an opportunity to see the daily struggles and how people worked so hard at making life livable.
We travel to Wyoming to visit the place where this camp once stood. Now there’s a museum and interpretive center to keep the memory of the camp and what happened there alive. Most vivid, however, are the stories from people who once called Heart Mountain “home”. From heart warming to heart breaking, their experience of life in an American concentration camp reminds us of the fragility of freedom.
Japanese American internment is one of the most profound chapters of American history. The film’s mission is to keep history alive. The more who know, hopefully, will rise to defend future attacks on civil liberties and personal freedom.