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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Colours Of Internment (Original Colour 1943-1944)


Rarely seen color photographs capture how more than 120,000 Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans were forced into internment camps across the American West after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 more than 75 years ago. 

Public Law 503 was passed by Congress on March 21, 1942 which resulted in the relocation of Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans to one of 10 internment camps located in the American West.

Adults, including the elderly, and children were transported by bus and train with few belongings as they were forced to confinement camps leaving their homes and businesses behind with less than 48 hours of notice that they would be forced out. 
They were sent, ostensibly to avoid sabotage and spying, to camps in California, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and other states as far away as Arkansas as war hysteria gripped the nation and citizens feared another attack after the Japanese attack on Pear Harbor.

Internees, as they were called, were prohibited from having cameras inside the camps. But that rule was not strictly forced at Heart Mountain, located in Wyoming, where amateur photographer Bill Manbo and his family were forced to reside in 1942.


More than 120,000 Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans were forced into internment camps across the American West after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. 



Above a family enjoys an outing to the Shoshone River at Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming in the 1940s


They were sent, ostensibly to avoid sabotage and spying, to camps in California, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and other states as far away as Arkansas as war hysteria gripped the nation and citizens feared another attack after the Japanese attack on Pear Harbor. 




Above men and children gather to watch a sumo wrestling match at Heart Mountain

While there, photographer Billy Manbo captured everyday life at the Heart Mountain internment camp by taking photographs.


Above  a crowd of about 4,000 people gather at the high school to send off 434 detainees departing for the Tule Lake Segregation Center in California after the government deemed them 'disloyal' on September 21, 1943

While there, Manbo, who was a car mechanic from Riverside, California, documented both the bleakness and beauty of his surroundings, using Kodachrome film, a technique that was only seven years old. 


Above women chat at Bon Odori, a dance ritual performed during Obon, which is a summertime Buddhist festival commemorating one's ancestors


While at the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming, the Manbo often captured images of his toddler son, Billy, as he is pictured above holding onto a barbed wire fence



A toddler Billy is pictured above with his mother, Mary; his grandparents Junzo and Riyo Itaya; and his aunt Eunice Itaya


Mary and Billy Manbo are pictured above while looking below at the barracks at the camp

While there, Manbo, who was a car mechanic from Riverside, California, documented both the bleakness and beauty of his surroundings, using Kodachrome film, a technique that was only seven years old. There, he captured community celebrations, parades, cultural events, people at play, his toddler son, Billy, and recorded his family's struggle to maintain a normal life under the difficult conditions of racial imprisonment. As internees were house in barracks, they were forced to use communal areas for washing, laundry and eating. In addition, those taken to camps in desert areas had to cope with extreme temperatures and some internees died from inadequate medical care.



Manbo also captured community celebrations, parades, cultural events and people at play. Pictured above is a Bon Odori dancer 


Billy Manbo skating on a rink at the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming 


Heart Mountain’s swimming hole, which was dug by prisoners, so they could cool off during warmer months


Bill Manbo sits with a friend on Manbo's front steps while holding toy cars 



Pictured above is a  guard tower on the top of a ridge at Heart Mountain in Wyoming in the 1940s

A boy scout and behind him a drum majorette, at the head of a parade at Heart Mountain


People walk across a ridge at Heart Mountain in Wyoming in the 1940s

Manbo's color photographs taken between 1943 and 1944 have become crucial records of life inside internment camps.
They have since been published in a book titled 'Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome photographs of Japanese-American incarceration camps in World War II'. 

In the book, edited by Eric L. Muller, photographs are presented alongside three interpretive essays by leading scholars and a reflective, personal essay by a former Heart Mountain internee.  
The accompanying essays illuminate these scenes as they describe a tumultuous history unfolding just beyond the cameras lens, giving readers insight into both Japanese American cultural life and the harsh realities of life in the camps, which were finally closed in January 1945.

A rainbow behind a latrine and laundry building at Heart Mountain is pictured in the 1940s


Regina F Graham