Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Henry Miyatake Interview II
Narrator: Henry Miyatake
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 4, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-mhenry-02-0011

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TI: Well going back to your freshman class, I think there were three freshman classes that came together to listen to Gordon. Can you recall how Gordon's talk influenced members of that class, later on in their high school curriculum? Did, did, I guess, did that freshman class sort of stand out because of, of some of the things that perhaps Gordon said, and influenced the people in that class?

HM: Well, I guess it had some effect because a number of us got expelled as a function of our activities later on. It was not during that year, it mainly occurred in 1944-1945, when some of our activities were not held in high respect by some of the faculty advisors. And I had my run in with one of the teachers. But I think it was a consequence of a number of things that occurred. And in my case I, I had the unfortunate or fortunate happenstance of being in the, one of the school members that was supposed to meet the Truman un-American activities investigation team that was making a tour of different camps. They were supposed to come to Minidoka and they appointed one member from each of the classes, the freshman, sophomore and senior and junior year classes to represent the high school, and we were supposed to greet these people at the guard gate of the Minidoka camp entry area. And anyway, we stood there for about two and a half hours standing in the rain and these guys never showed up.

TI: And what was told to you as to the purpose of this group? And you at this point when you were waiting at the entrance way, what, what were you thinking and what were your thoughts as to the purpose of this group in coming to Minidoka?

HM: Well, there were some allegations made in Congress about the fact that we were being coddled. The word, "coddled" sticks in my mind... that Japanese Americans were treated with more generosity than they should receive. And so Harry Truman was a senator from Missouri at that time and he was, he was supported by the Pendergrass political machine in Missouri. He was a former haberdasher that went bankrupt. And anyway, prior to that there was another un-American activities committee. Martin Dies used to run that committee in Congress and Truman was the heir of that activity. And they were, they considered some of the things that the Japanese Americans might have done as, as a function of their un-American activities interest area. And because of this coddling allegation that was made in Congress, they decided to tour the different camps to see what the camp life was really about. And so they had the team of people from this committee go around to these different camps. And Minidoka was one of the five camps they visited. And our job in the student committee was to greet them and give them a tour of the school facilities, and that was our intent. But we never saw them. They never stepped inside of the camp itself. They were in the administrative area, we later found out. And when they wrote the report, which was kind of the thing that Mrs. Pollock encouraged me to do, I tried to get the congressional record of the report they generated for Congress and I could not believe what they wrote in the damn thing.

TI: What did they write?

HM: They wrote that they were served with silverware, with linen on the table, the dinner, dining table. They were served with waitresses and they were served extremely well prepared, and what did they call it, edible food. Now they were served in the administrative area. There was an area outside of the camp area, adjacent to the camp where they had the administrative personnel housed. And at that dining area they did have tablecloths, and they did have all these things that they commented about. But they never stepped inside the camp that I know of. I never saw them come into the camp and we were the greeting group waiting for them to come inside the camp.

TI: But the perception in the report was that this was how they, the, the people who were in the camps were being treated.

HM: Yes. Yes.

TI: That they had all these amenities.

HM: That was their official record.

TI: Interesting.

HM: And this started the whole procedure, and my mindset to become a little bit more cynical about what was published in the news media versus what was really happening.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.