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A 70-year Anniversary

A guest post from Nadene Carter, publisher and author:

Japanese mapDuring the past few weeks we’ve heard much about 2014 being the 70th anniversary marking the end of the Japanese American detention during World War II. In December 1944, Public Proclamation number 21 marked an end to the Japanese internment, following four years of the mass incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans who had lived on the West Coast prior to the War.

I was only four years old in 1944, but the aftermath of the War had a profound effect on me. I had a nightmare that to this day I remember clearly. I suppose my parents talked about the German concentration camps that were discovered following the war, and about the mass execution of millions of Jewish people. That must have left a serious imprint on my young, impressionable mind to instigate that nightmare. But in the dream there was a big, round, brick building with several big windows and a fire burning inside. People were being herded along wood planks, through those windows, and into the fire. I was there—a little girl being pushed along a plank toward that fiery furnace

Now, fast forward 36 years.

In 1980 I was living in Adrian, Oregon, a small town about sixty miles west of Boise, Idaho. I belonged to the Spinners and Weaver’s Guild, and three of us from that Guild traveled to a Weaving in the Woods Workshop near Chiloquin, Oregon. The workshop taught Native American weaving, where each of us built and lashed an upright loom between two trees, designed our own pattern, and created a tapestry.

The three of us from our guild camped in a tent together. One evening around the campfire, we were exchanging background information about ourselves. I had moved to Adrian the year prior, and one of the women and her husband had recently moved there from the Midwest and purchased a business. The other was a Japanese woman—Janet Takami, about 25 years old at the time. I asked her how she had come to live in east-central Oregon.

I will never forget the shocked look on her face and her words, “My parents were part of the Japanese internment during World War II.”Japanese 3

Then it was my turn to feel shock. I was 40 years old at the time and had never heard of the Japanese internment. Hearing that U. S. citizens had been detained in camps was impossible for me to understand. That bit of history had never been included in any of our history books, and was never touched on during my school years. I had an immediate flashback to the dream I had as a kid and experienced the horror of it all over again.

japanese-evacuation1After the workshop I went home and spent days in the Ontario, Oregon public library, researching information about the Japanese internment. I learned that “the internment” was a taboo subject, seldom discussed or acknowledged. Later, I talked at length with George Iseri, who had lived in the camp. He was Nisei, second generation Japanese-American. He told me the history of that small group of families from the Minidoka, Idaho internment camp who agreed to move to a small work camp near Nyssa, Oregon, to help as laborers in the sugar beet fields of eastern Oregon rather than sit idle until the war was over. That’s how they came to be located there.

He told of their plight after the war. Everything they owned before the war began was gone; they had nowhere to go. A camp council was held and a decision was made. This group of Japanese families pooled their funds, formed a lottery, and bought the first family a farm. The farm family and the people still at camp continued pooling their money Japanese camp 1until they had enough to buy the second family a farm, and so on until all of the Japanese families owned their own land. They have since become some of the most successful farmers in Malheur County, Oregon

I spent many years gathering information and trying various ways to construct a fictional format that would present a story of the courage and tenacity of these people in the face of adversity. Out of that research,my book  Echoes of Silence was born.  This book juxtaposes the innocence of childhood against the backdrop of bigotry and prejudice prevalent during World War II. It provides a unique perspective into the lives of three families who endured those years and who were shaped by the events of this period in U.S. history. This novel also illustrates the complex choices we all make without considering the effect on future generations. The choices, made years earlier by the adult characters of this story, create echoes that reverberate forward into the lives of their children, which change and shape all of them in unexpected ways.Echoes of Silence

Find the book here:

NadeneAbout Nadene Carter

I have always loved books. Growing up in Bear Lake County, Idaho, they enriched my young life and provided an outlet for my insatiable curiosity. So I suppose it’s no accident that I gravitated toward publishing. As the prepress arm of NorLightsPress I have the opportunity to work with each of our authors, turning their edited manuscripts into print and ebooks.

My other interests focus around the fiber arts: knitting, spinning, and weaving. They provide balance to my life and a much needed diversion from books and publishing, which can become intense at times.

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