Remembering Heart Mountain

Feb 22, 2016

Credit Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation

Seventy-four years ago as of last Friday, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order to imprison thousands of Japanese Americans in internment camps nationwide. One of those camps was the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in northwest Wyoming, which operated for three years - from June 1942 to November 1945. More than 14,000 Japanese Americans passed through the complex.

Five years ago, the Heart Mountain Interpretative Center opened its doors to the public. Museum Director Brian Liesinger says when the U.S. Government apologized 25 years ago for Japanese internment, it admitted a failure in leadership.

Liesinger says there are parallels to be drawn with politics in the country today. "We have racial profiling issues in our recent past and arguably our present. And there are issues related to the acceptance of refugees to our country and certain perceptions of Muslim Americans - unfair perceptions," he says.

Liesinger says it's important to learn from the past - to repeat successes and avoid mistakes. Heart Mountain, he says, was one of those mistakes.