Imprisoned in Paradise: Japanese Internee Road Workers at the World War II Kooskia Internment Camp

Idaho Museum of Natural History is proud to host a free book lecture by Priscilla Wegars, Ph.D.  on April 22, 2015 at 7:00 pm in the ISU College of Education Auditorium (Room #243). 

Imprisoned_in_ParadiseImprisoned in Paradise explores the Kooskia (KOOS-key) Internment Camp, an obscure and virtually-forgotten World War II U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service detention facility operating between May 1943 and May 1945 in a remote area of north-central Idaho. It held “enemy aliens” of Japanese ancestry from 15 states and Japanese Latin Americans from Peru, Mexico, and Panama. Although some of the 265 internees held camp jobs, most of these all-male, paid volunteers were construction workers for a portion of the present Highway 12 between Lewiston, Idaho, and Missoula, Montana, parallel to the wild and scenic Lochsa River. “Digging in the documents” has produced INS, Forest Service, Border Patrol, and University of Idaho photographs and other records. These, combined with internee and employee oral and written interviews, illuminate the internees’ experiences, emphasizing the perspectives of the men detained at the Kooskia Internment Camp.



Wegars edited Hidden Heritage: Historical Archaeology of the Overseas Chinese (Baywood, 1993, reprinted 2003), and founded the Asian American Comparative Collection (AACC, 1982) in the Laboratory of Anthropology at the University of Idaho. Wegars has conducted extensive research into the history of the Chinese and Japanese in the Northwest, has directed several archaeological survey and excavation projects of Chinese sites in Oregon and Idaho, and has led numerous classes and tour groups to Chinese historic sites in the West.