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Heart Mountain pilgrimage returns for 2021

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Posted at 2:31 PM, Jul 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-25 16:47:12-04

The Heart Mountain Pilgrimage is back after COVID canceled the event last year.

It's the 25th anniversary of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation and the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Interpretive Center.

It was a hybrid event this year, with about 50 people at the Interpretive Center and many more watching live events and recorded stories online.

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About 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent were interned during World War II and about 10,000 at Heart Mountain.

"We forget that a lot of this is based on the politics of emotion," said Dakota Russell, the foundation's executive director. "There was no proof that Japanese-Americans had done anything to betray their own government at this point. But people were so angry and so afraid, in the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, that they were looking for people to blame, looking for anybody that they could possibly punish for this. And I think that that's something that we need to be mindful of today."

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Russell says it is an important part of history to preserve, remember and learn.

"It's extremely key," Russell said. "Our system of government is one that is supposed to guarantee equality and justice for everyone. And when you start taking certain groups out of that and saying, 'except these guys,' then the whole system starts to fall apart. And so if we cherish our Constitution, if we cherish our form of democratic government, then we have to be conscious of the places in the past where we have not done as good to live up to those values as we would like, because that's what keeps us striving to do better in the future and honor those values going forward."

More information is available on the foundation's Facebook page and on its website.

Russell said last year, his staff worked with those at other camps for an online event.