Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Gordon Hirabayashi Interview V
Narrator: Gordon Hirabayashi
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Alice Ito (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 4, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-hgordon-05-0008

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TI: Well, when you're in the camps, what did you do? I mean, how did you talk or what type of forum did you have in discussing relocating to Spokane?

GH: Well, we had some contacts, and we met them and we talked to them, and there were schoolteachers and so on. And in my case, both at Heart Mountain and particularly at Minidoka, I had people that knew me in the valley or of populations like me, having graduated in the Auburn area, Auburn High School and university student. I was invited into history classes and so on, and, and would answer, give some descriptions about the situation that they weren't in, what they would be studying and so on. And I found it, I found it quite a challenge that you -- what would you talk about in terms of American principles and American Bill of Rights and principles of freedom, citizens' rights and all that sort of thing, when you're talking about civics and history, and the history courses, history of U.S. and that sort of thing.

TI: Right. Just to clarify for the viewer, you're talking, because they weren't, you weren't going to classrooms to talk about relocating to Spokane. You were talking more in terms of your pending case to the Supreme Court.

GH: Yeah.

TI: And that's what they were interested in.

GH: Yeah, and that one of my work opportunities, being out of prison, work opportunities, was something set up by the Quakers who, who have had experience in having social service type officers who helped with the community in different ways. And in my case, I'll be working on finding housing and finding jobs. And I said, "I haven't done any of it yet, but I may, I may have to do some educating first. That these are people that could be an asset to your community," and that sort of thing. And to bring to the business community -- instead of chamber of commerce, at that time, they had places like, I mean groups like board of trade, they used to call it. It's like chamber of commerce, business-types. And then I'd talk to them about, about the kinds of potential work force.

TI: Right. This is back in Spokane that you would do that to prepare?

GH: Yeah, yeah.

TI: Before we go there, I want to go back to when you did talk to high school classes and others about your stand against the government in this case. How supportive were people in the camps for what you were doing?

GH: I think, I think they were quite supportive, and particularly the teachers. The teachers who would be working in camps were generally people who wanted to be helpful to the community. They had some interest in that. They didn't go there to exploit, but to be of some assistance. That was one, one thing they could do. So some of the teachers were very interested in having me come and letting me say what it was I was doing, what for and what I felt about it and so on. And I, I only was invited to some classes, you know, and that was only part of my activities. And rest of the time, I'm talking to individuals and people who wanted me to look up, if I can find this and that type of work and so on, so that I can get some, some focus here and there in terms of particular requests. On that trip -- I didn't take another trip of this type. Takes quite a while to go through. And traveling from one camp to the other, from Heart Mountain to Minidoka wasn't easy because there wasn't a good, clean connection. If you had a helicopter that took you there, it's not bad, but you had to follow the lines that were available, and it took quite a while to go.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.