U-Idaho Archaeology Dig Unearths History at Kooskia Japanese Internment Camp

Thursday, July 11 2013

MOSCOW, Idaho – A part of Idaho history and Japanese heritage is being unearthed this summer outside of the town of Kooskia, Idaho, and the University of Idaho would like to share it on July 20 during a public outreach event at Three Rivers Resort in Lowell, Idaho, from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Stacey Camp, UI assistant professor of anthropology, is leading an archaeological field study at Northern Idaho's Kooskia Internment Camp, a World War II Japanese Internment Camp.

“We’ve found a lot of interesting items in the camp that really help tell the story of the people interned here,” said Camp. “It’s that story we want to share with the public.”

Camp and her team of faculty, graduate and undergraduate researchers are conducting archaeological research to better understand the personal lives and struggles of the internees at Kooskia. So far they have found a number of interesting artifacts, including Japanese export porcelain, gaming pieces, and artwork.

Research at the Kooskia Internment Camp began in the summer of 2010. Camp and her team will be completing excavation and research from June 24 through July 22. On July 20, the unearthed history will be made available to the public during an outreach event.

Visitors will have the opportunity to attend an archaeological site visit and a show and tell of artifacts from the Kooskia Internment Camp. There will also be educational activities for children.

Seen as enemies of the United States during World War II more than 120,000 individuals of Japanese heritage were forced to leave their homes and relocate to internment camps spread through the Western United States. The state of Idaho played a crucial role, being home to two internment camps, Kooskia and Minidoka.

Two hundred fifty six male Japanese internees occupied Kooskia Internment Camp between May 1943 and 1945. Built on the site of a former federal prison work camp, internees at Kooskia were tasked with completing the construction of Highway U.S. 12 connecting Idaho and Montana. Kooskia Interment Camp was the government’s first attempt to use internees as a work force.
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