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Art Watch 2/17-2/24 

Letters of Survival

Nakamura-Koyama shares his family's letters from internment.

Nakamura-Koyama shares his family's letters from internment.

On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. This order forced over 120,000 persons of Japanese descent, a majority of them American citizens, into internment camps for almost three years. The order was not officially rescinded until almost 30 years later. In 1979, Oregon was one of the first states to commemorate the Japanese American internment with a Day of Remembrance, organizing an event at a former detention center. The Day of Remembrance has since grown into a national movement, with several states holding events on or around Feb. 19 to recognize the order's signing and the displaced citizens it affected.

Bend will recognize the Day of Remembrance this year with a special event, Collections Up Close: Letters from Beyond the Fence. Using letters collected from his relatives, Weston Nakamura-Koyama will discuss his family's time in Minidoka, a relocation center in Idaho that held over 9,000 Japanese Americans during WWII. This presentation will be held at the Downtown Bend Library from 2-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20.

Nakamura-Koyama is a museum collections volunteer at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, a Japanese American history museum in Portland. Todd Mayberry, the director of collections and exhibits at the center, says Nakamura-Koyama's story is especially important during this time.

"Artifacts can give voice to family heartbreak and loss and inspire a new generation to share the stories they can tell," he says in a press release. "We need timely reminders of past injustices to prevent future mistakes."

The free event is presented in conjunction with Deschutes Public Library, the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project, and the Japanese Association of Central Oregon (JASCO). Any disabled attendees who require accommodations should contact Liz Goodrich at 541-312-1032.

Letters from Beyond the Fence

Feb. 20, 2-3 p.m.

Downtown Bend Library

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