Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rick Sato Interview
Narrator: Rick Sato
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 2, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-srick-01-0004

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AI: Now in that area, the whole Yakima valley, a lot of that area is the Yakima Indian reservation, is that right?

RS: That's right. That was all, mostly reservation, they had a few -- deeded land, but most of them was Indian land.

AI: And so most of it was Indian land, and there was the hakujin families, and were there a lot of hakujin farmers as well?

RS: Well, there was a few. But, I don't know what the percentage is. Most of the hakujins was growing -- raising orchard. They didn't too much go in for that row crop, because a lot of work involved.

AI: Now what about the Japanese farming families, what did they mostly do?

RS: At that time it was all garden crop, vegetables and things.

AI: Now your farm, did your parents lease the farmland or...

RS: Yeah, it was leased land from the Indian and most of the Japanese, I would say, was leasing land from Indian. And you know when you rent Indian land, it involves about ten ownership sometimes. Because the Indians got a tenth owner and another one's got another tenth and so forth. So we had to -- it was quite a mess trying to get all their signatures in the springtime to lease the land.

AI: Well, so it sounds like it was a lot of work going around to do that. But what about the relations between the Japanese farming families and the Indians who were leasing the land?

RS: We had good relationship with the Indians. And in fact the Indians told me that they would rather lease to the Japanese than to anybody else.

AI: Really.

RS: So I heard that many, many times over there. I guess they're closer to Japanese than, you know, hakujins.

AI: So, did you ever experience any kind of prejudice from the Indians toward you because you were Japanese?

RS: No, I have never experienced that from Indians. I might have heard some, very few or very seldom being called "Jap". But otherwise they were really -- they were okay.

AI: And what about with the hakujin?

RS: The hakujin at that time, maybe just before the war it wasn't so good. But beyond there it wasn't bad.

AI: So in the earlier days, relations were pretty good?

RS: Yeah, pretty good, pretty good really, because we had all hakujin neighbors at that time. Well, I guess I'll take that back, there's a couple of Japanese close by too. But, ah...

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.