Home Community “Betrayed” New Minidoka Film Airing Nationally

“Betrayed” New Minidoka Film Airing Nationally

Scenes from "Betrayed." Protesting at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, a site planned for housing migrant Hispanic children and teens separated from their parents (June 2019).

By David Yamaguchi The North American Post

A new Minidoka documentary,  “Betrayed: Surviving an American Concentration Camp” (57 min.), has be-gun airing nationally on PBS. It is well worth watching for its superb cinematography, the way it approaches the long-term psy-cho–logical effects of the World War II incarceration on older San-sei, and the way it ties the well-known Northwest Japanese American history to more current events. The latter include the scapegoating of Muslim Americans after 9/11, Donald Trump’s racist characterizations of Hispanic immigrants as “criminals and rapists” (JAs were “saboteurs and spies”) and the cruel separation of Hispanic parents and children seeking asylum at the US border. 

Kay Sakai Nakao from Bainbridge Island. Historically, the fort was used to imprison Apache Indians (1886-1914) and Issei men during World War II.

On the filmmaking art, new to me was how much crystal-clear video survives of the removal of JAs from Bainbridge Island. Also striking is the presentation of interviewees juxtaposed with their pre-WWII, childhood or family photos.

The film closes with thoughtful discussions of what our responsibilities are today as Americans aware of the impacts of racism and racist government policies on new immigrant communities.

Community thinkers and activists interviewed or shown in video include Frank Abe, Mary Abo, Tom Ikeda, psychotherapist Satsuki Ina, Louise and Debbie Kashino, Larry Matsuda, Clarence Moriwaki, Natalie (Hayashida) Ong, Monica Sone, Anna Tamura, and many others. All deserve thanks for a job well done that reflects positively on our community. 

Organizations contributing content to the film included Densho, Friends of Minidoka, and the Seattle Nisei Veterans Committee. 

“Betrayed” will broadcast in the Seat-tle-area on May 23 at 1 PM on KCTS-9. Alternatively, it can be streamed online. 

Info: pbs.org/video/betrayed-survivng-an-american-concentration-camp-1J4Nna/ 

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David Yamaguchi is a third-generation Japanese American [Sansei]. He has written for the Post since 2006, at first as a volunteer, later as a paid freelancer. He joined the paper's staff in May 2020, when he began learning how articles flow from Word files through layout to social media.