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-02-0014

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TI: So Henry, let's get started again. And let's talk about your involvement in the student council while you're in high school. Why don't you to talk a little bit about that.

HM: Well the way that they tried to run the student government in the Hunt High School was that each class had a representative in the student council. And the student council approved the different regulations they were trying to impose on us. So the freshman year was kind of a, they're just trying to get organized. They're trying to figure out how the school should be run and what kind of student government they should have, if they should have class officers and things of this nature. So it was a kind of a formulating type period. So we we're trying to just make things work. And, and I was a very naive type student at that point, and went along with most of the different things that the student council advisors used to lay down to us. And the, this, the freshman year was kind of an evolutionary time period because we had a lot of Nikkei instructors and we had a lot of... we had about half and half, I guess, Caucasian instructors.

And unfortunately like in the science classes, chemistry classes, there was practically no equipment or hardware so everything was by the book. And if you were talking about chemistry, they had some textbooks there. And it was by mostly lectures and test functions that they were trying to achieve some kind of scholastic record. So like in the physics area or the chemistry area they had very little equipment to do any of the experiments. So freshman year to me was kind of a... interesting... I guess trying to get ourselves transitioned into a real education process. And some of the teachers were... the Nikkei teachers at that point probably were trying to get a different placement outside the camp so their interest levels were trying to advance their careers. And I think the encouragement was made by the Caucasian teachers for these Nikkei teachers to relocate. Anyway the student council was kind of a rubber stamp function for the faculty advisor group. And as it evolved they started putting in regulations like, "You could not speak Japanese in the school campus." And if you did, the first infraction is that they'll give you a warning. The second infraction was that they would give you a three-day suspension. And the third time you would have to go to the principal. And he would do whatever was necessary. And usually it was a suspension, extended suspension, or you know, things like a written note to your parents and notification that unless you stopped and desisted from doing it you were going to be expelled from school.

TI: And what were the reasons for not using Japanese on the school campus?

HM: Well they felt that the... the whole thing about Japanese culture was being subverted by the government. Anything that happened to do with Japanese things was un-American. And this kind of feeling was trying to be forced down our throat even through the school system. So it was just an evolution of what the WRA had tried to do. Unfortunately, because they had in the larger sense -- in the camp management because there were a lot of Isseis that were in positions of responsibility and authority -- when they had the meetings they had to make a lot of these meetings bilingual. Some of it was in Japanese and some of it was in English. But in the high school sense, they were trying to remove any trace or ability to go between Japanese and the, the English part of it. They just wanted to make it completely English.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.