On a warm summer’s day, on a drive from Cody, Wyoming to Billings, Montana, we came upon a roadside historical marker. On March 18, 1942, President Roosevelt issued an executive order establishing 10 concentration camps to intern Japanese-Americans. During the course of the war, up to 120,000 men, women and children of Japanese origin were housed at the 10 concentration camps. Most of these from the west coast.
In the shadows of Heart Mountain, lies the remains of the Heart Mountain Relocation Site, aka a concentration camp, circa 1942. This camp was used to house up to 11,000 folks of Japanese origin from west coast following the attack on Pearl Harbor. This camp, located just 60 miles east of Yellowstone, was picked for both its remoteness and its convenience.
By January 1943, the camp had reached its maximum capacity. Finally, by November 1945, the camp was finally closed and all those housed there allowed to return to their homes. It has since become a National Historic Landmark as of 2007. The land is now maintained partly by the Land Bureau of Reclamation and the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, a non-profit group aimed at preserving and interpreting the site.
An interesting note and a source of harsh criticism was the fact that the people housed at the concentration camps were also subjected to the U.S. Draft.