Kooskia Internment Camp Archaeological Project

For more information contact:

Dr. Stacey Lynn Camp
CELL: (626) 429-2912
EMAIL: scamp@uidaho.edu

Banner Photo: 
Kooskia Internment Camp Anniversary Picnic, May 25, 1944. Photographer unknown. Photo courtesy of Mickey Barton and the Asian American Comparative Collection, University of Idaho, Moscow.



Phone: 208-885-6111
Toll-free: 88-88-UIDAHO
Fax: 208-885-9119
Student Union Building
875 Perimeter Drive MS 4264
Moscow, ID 83844-4264


Phone: 208-334-2999
Fax: 208-364-4035
322 E. Front Street
Boise, ID 83702


Coeur d'Alene

Phone: 208-667-2588
Toll-free: 888-208-2268
Fax: 208-664-1272
1031 N. Academic Way,
Suite 242
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814


Idaho Falls

Phone: 208-282-7900
Fax: 208-282-7929
1776 Science Center Drive, Suite 306
Idaho Falls, ID 83402


Kooskia Internment Camp Anniversary Picnic, May 25, 1944

About The Project

On February 19, 1942, over 120,000 individuals of Japanese heritage were forced to leave the comfort and solace of their homes and communities and relocate to internment camps spread throughout some of the harshest and destitute locales in the Western United States (Helphand 2006:156). Seen as enemies of the state during World War II, Japanese Americans were given an ultimatum: abandon their homes within six to twenty-one days or be imprisoned. The state of Idaho played a crucial role in Japanese internment as it was home to two sites of confinement: Kooskia (Wegars 2001) and Minidoka (Burton et al. 2003).

Two hundred and fifty-six male Japanese internees occupied Kooskia Internment Camp between May 1943 and 1945, while Minidoka Relocation Center housed over 7000 individuals of Japanese heritage from August 1942 to 1945. Minidoka has been the subject of substantial historical and archaeological research, while Kooskia remains a neglected historic site, perhaps partially due to its remote location. As well-known Japanese and Chinese historian and archaeological scholar Priscilla Wegars poignantly describes, "except for a concrete slab where the water tower once stood, and level areas that held the former buildings, almost nothing remains to remind us of the Kooskia Internment Camp's place in Japanese American, and American, history" (2001:167).

The proposed research involves preliminary archaeological testing, minimal excavation, GIS work, and public outreach to be performed at the former location of Kooskia Internment Camp, a World War II U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) detention facility and work camp for individuals of Japanese heritage. Built on the site of a former federal prison work camp (Canyon Creek Prison Camp) (Sappington and Carley 1989; Burton 1999; Wegars 2001), Kooskia Internment Camp was occupied by a diverse group of 256 Japanese internees between May 1943 and 1945. Internees were charged with the daunting and dangerous task of completing the construction of Highway U.S. 12 (located between Idaho and Montana). Besides being a relatively neglected and remote site of Japanese confinement, Kooskia Internment Camp represents the U.S. government's first attempt to use internees as a work force. In addition, many of the Japanese occupants of the camp were forcibly removed by the United States government from Latin American countries such as Peru, Mexico, and Panama. These understudied aspects of American history demand and require more exposure and research.

Learn more about the Kooskia Internment Camp's history by selecting "Historical Background" on the left sidebar.

Project Featured

on KHQ

Our project was recently featured on Spokane TV station KHQ. Click below to watch a short video. More