On Terminal Island in LA, 3,500 families lived and worked, making a living by fishing. They owned their boats. After Pearl Harbor, all the men were rounded up and arrested. Their families were given 48 hours to pack up and go, and then their neighborhoods were destroyed. They were sent to Manzanar.
Bainbridge Island had a large population of Japanese as well. Many of them were strawberry farmers. They were first sent to Manzanar, and then to Minidoka in 1943.
The dust came from Owens Lake which had gone dry. The "fine white dust" often described by internees is consistent with descriptions of dust from Owens Lake. Owens Lake dust is significantly different from regular dust due to its white color and fine consistency. It is often mistakenly referred to as a "mist" or "fog." Scientists have described this dust as a "pervasive, unusually-fine-grained, alkaline dust that infiltrates the smallest cracks and contaminates residences."
The Japanese spent much time planting and creating these ponds. This is a family pond, almost every barracks had a pond and a garden. They planted grass to hold the dirt, fruit trees and flowers. Over time the internees grew livestock, planted crops, made their own soy sauce, miso and tofu, and operated a few forbidden stills for sake.
I knew some of this history because Jim lived on Bainbridge during high school. However, I did not know these following tidbits.
- After Pearl Harbor was attacked, martial law was declared. All civil liberties, such as freedom of the press were suspended. Twelve hour work days became mandatory. The military took over the islands completely. In spite of these restrictions, the majority of Hawaii's 158,000 Japanese-Americans experienced greater freedom and less prejudice than those on the mainland. Comprising 1/3 of Hawaii's population, their labor was essential for the war effort. However, Japanese-Americans were excluded from occupations such as fishing, teaching, defense work and photography, and were removed from homes and businesses near harbors and railroad terminals. They were also discouraged from practicing Buddhism and speaking Japanese. "We must remember that this is America and we must do things the American way," stated Delos Emmons, Hawaii's military governor.
- Canada. Seven days after the US announced its decision to relocate all people of Japanese ancestry from the west coast, Canada passed a law which authorized relocation of "every person of the Japanese race." 20,881 people were removed from the west coast of BC, leaving their farms, businesses and homes to be sold by the government to pay for their confinement. Over half were sent to Interior Housing centers at abandoned mining towns and newly built sites in the BC interi0r. Thousands of men were separated from their families and sent to road construction camps. The remainder went to work in the sugar beet fields of Manitoba and Ontario, or settled in self supporting communities throughout the country. Japanese-Canadians were not allowed to return to the "protected zone" of BC until 1949.
- Latin America. Under pressure from the US, 16 Latin American countries interned 8,500 residents of German, Italian and Japanese descent. Over 3,000 others were deported to the US where they were to be exchanged for US prisoners of war. The deportees' passports were confiscated, and upon arrival in the US were declared illegal immigrants and placed in Department of Justice camps in Texas. The majority of the deportees of Japanese ancestry were eventually sent to Japan either as part of the exchange programs or as repatriates after the war. Of the 2,264 Japanese nationals who were deported from Latin American, 80% were from Peru When the war ended, Peru refused many of those remaining in the US reentry, and the US denied their residency requests. In 1952 364 Japanese-Peruvians were declared "permanent legally admitted immigrants" and became eligible for American citizenship.
It you're in the area, take the time to go.