Summary of Lessons and Activities
This curriculum contains lessons for up to three weeks of instruction. The curriculum can be used either as a supplement to U.S. history textbooks' coverage of the mass removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans or as a self-contained unit on the topic. The curriculum does not have to be taught in its entirety. Each lesson, however, does have a related reading that is recommended as an introduction to each lesson. Students should be introduced to multiple perspectives on the incarceration of Japanese Americans to provide nuance to a topic that is often treated simplistically. The following is a brief summary of the lessons and activities contained in this curriculum.
Students discuss the definition of civil rights and consider the importance of civil rights in their lives. They also examine the U.S. Constitution as a document that describes the basic rights of U.S. citizens.
Students should be familiar with the following terms: citizen (a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to and is protected by a government); resident alien (a foreign-born resident who has not been naturalized).
Students define civil rights and examine the Bill of Rights along with selected amendments. They are also given situation cards and asked to identify the civil rights issues involved in each given situation.
Recommended Reading: The Issei Immigrants and Civil Rights.
This lesson introduces students to the Japanese immigration experience in the United States. The lesson involves the experiences of Japanese immigrants in the early 20th century as depicted in comic strip form. Henry (Yoshitaka) Kiyama published these comic strips as a book in 1931. The book, The Four Immigrants Manga: A Japanese Experience in San Francisco, 1904–1924, was later translated into English by Frederik L. Schodt.
Students examine the historically significant issues of segregation, alien land acts, and the Immigration Act of 1924 as depicted in three episodes from a comic strip by Henry (Yoshitaka) Kiyama.
Recommended Readings: The Issei Immigrants and Civil Rights, and Prelude to Incarceration.
This lesson introduces the precarious position Japanese Americans were thrust into following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Reactions from popular media and the Japanese American community are presented to students.
Students examine articles and cartoons that present diverse reactions to the debate on whether to incarcerate Japanese Americans.
Students examine two Japanese Americans' testimonies given before a congressional committee.
Recommended Readings: The Issei Immigrants and Civil Rights, Prelude to Incarceration, and The Incarceration Years.
This lesson provides students with information on events leading up to and including the mass removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast of the United States. Students examine the Japanese American experience through various perspectives.
Students analyze a newsreel, Japanese Relocation, produced by the U.S. War Relocation Authority and the Motion Pictures Division of the Department of War, which was shown to the U.S. public in 1943.
Students analyze 16 photographs of the mass removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans from the West Coast of the United States.
Students analyze selected writings from a Stanford University professor, Yamato Ichihashi, who was incarcerated during World War II.
Students analyze poetry and art developed by first-, second- and third-generation Japanese American poets and artists.
Students analyze the experiences of Estelle Ishigo, a Caucasian woman married to a Japanese American, through excerpts from the Academy Award-winning documentary, Days of Waiting, by Steven Okazaki. Mrs. Ishigo joined her husband in an incarceration camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming.
Students analyze the autobiography, American in Disguise, of Dr. Daniel Okimoto, a professor of political science at Stanford University. Dr. Okimoto was born in the Santa Anita Assembly Center and was incarcerated in a camp in Poston, Arizona.
Students analyze the experiences of a former Japanese Peruvian whose family was uprooted from Peru and incarcerated in Crystal City, Texas.
Students analyze the perspectives of a kibei (a Japanese American, born in the U.S. but educated in Japan) through a dramatic reading of Distant Voices--a play based on his diary entries from his days in the incarceration camp.
Recommended Readings: The Issei Immigrants and Civil Rights, Prelude to Incarceration, The Incarceration Years, and The Question of Loyalty.
This lesson introduces students to the debate surrounding a questionnaire administered in the incarceration camps to Japanese Americans who were 17 years of age or older; the questionnaire presumably tested their "loyalty" to the United States. Response to this questionnaire varied. The following activities reflect the different responses to this questionnaire.
Students analyze autobiographies and letters of Japanese Americans who served in the U.S. Army in Europe.
Students analyze an autobiography of a Military Intelligence Service (MIS) veteran who served in the Pacific War.
Students analyze perspectives of Japanese Americans known as "draft resisters of conscience," who refused to join the military as long as they believed that their rights as citizens continued to be violated.
Students analyze an excerpt from a novel about a Japanese American who answered "no" to specific questions on a questionnaire that presumably tested his "loyalty" to the United States.
Recommended Readings: The Issei Immigrants and Civil Rights, Prelude to Incarceration, The Incarceration Years, The Question of Loyalty, Legacies of the Incarceration:Redress.
This lesson introduces students to enduring legacies of the Japanese American experience.
In a debate, students argue for and against redress and reparations for Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II.
Students analyze a debate surrounding the development of a Japanese American memorial in Washington, D.C., and propose their plans for the memorial.
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