New Junior Ranger program: Families can learn about a sad chapter in Pacific Northwest (and American) history by taking a ferry to Bainbridge Island and visiting the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.
The memorial tells the story of the Japanese Americans of Bainbridge Island. They were the first to be forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated after the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II. The site is part of efforts to help people learn from past injustice and work to prevent it. Its theme is “Nidoto Nai Yoni,” let it not happen again.
The site, part of the National Park System and a unit of the Minidoka (Idaho) National Historic Site, now has a Junior Ranger program.
The Junior Ranger activity booklet (part of a popular, ongoing National Park Service program) is designed for learning by all ages and has a variety of activities. For instance, kids are invited to copy down a name from the memorial wall and identify plants on the property. In addition, there are questions to inspire thought, such as: What makes your home special? What would you take if you suddenly had to pack and had only one suitcase? There also are exercises involving maps and numbers.
The free booklet is available online, at the Memorial when the ranger is present, and at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Seattle. A free Junior Ranger badge is earned after activities are finished and reviewed with a park ranger. That can be done in-person, through the mail or via email.
The booklet features original graphics and design by Seattle-based artist Arisa Nakamura.
The site on Bainbridge became part of the National Park System in 2008. However, other groups also help manage it: the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association, Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community, Bainbridge Island Metro Parks & Recreation District and Bainbridge Island Historical Museum.
The forced removal of Japanese people from Bainbridge is the subject of a 30-minute National Park Service film, “Bearing the Unbearable.” It can be streamed online or bought on DVD at the site.
Park rangers are on duty at the Bainbridge site on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. It is next to to Pritchard Park and about 4 miles from the ferry dock. From there, it also can be reached by Kitsap Transit. Using GPS to drive there? Here’s the best address, according to NPS: 4192 Eagle Harbor Drive N.E.
Learn more about this period of history: Visit Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. In addition, walk Seattle’s Japanese-American Remembrance Trail. Nakamura also worked on a map and graphic about that.