The Legacy of Heart Mountain: A Documentary

Heart Mountain – An American Legacy

Heart Mountain is a spectacular and beautiful backdrop to a story of triumph and tragedy. Seventy years ago, an internment camp filled with 10,000 Japanese Americans sat in the shadow of the mountain.
It was just a few miles outside Cody, Wyoming, where the land is rugged and the weather is brutal. It’s where American citizens were imprisoned behind barbed wire and guard towers for no other reason than because of their heritage. Eight out of 10 were from Los Angeles.

The Hirahara Photo Collection tells the story of Heart Mountain through pictures. Patti Hirahara’s father and grandfather had a secret dark room under their barracks where they developed film. In the years they were imprisoned, they took thousands of photos of camp life. Each photo is an opportunity to see the daily struggles and how people worked so hard at making life livable.

We travel to Wyoming to visit the place where this camp once stood. Now there’s a museum and interpretive center to keep the memory of the camp and what happened there alive. Most vivid, however, are the stories from people who once called Heart Mountain “home”. From heart warming to heart breaking, their experience of life in an American concentration camp reminds us of the fragility of freedom.

Japanese American internment is one of the most profound chapters of American history. The film’s mission is to keep history alive. The more who know, hopefully, will rise to defend future attacks on civil liberties and personal freedom.

Powerful Stories from the award winning “The Legacy of Heart Mountain” Documentary

The Hirahara Photo Collection

Father & Son’s Secret Darkroom

How The Hiraharas Captured 2000 Photos of Camp Life
Heart Mountain Boy Scouts

Boy Scouts and Sports

Heart Mountain Diversions & Camp Life
Heart Mountain Interpretive Center

Honoring A Mother’s Wishes

The Creation of The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center
Heart Mountain Mochi Making


How One Family Made Camp Life a Little Better with Sweet Treats
Al Simpson & Norman Mineta

Al Simpson & Norman Mineta

A Friendship Born From Behind Barbed Wire & The Boy Scouts
The Heart Mountain Resisters

The Draft Resisters

They Stood Up and Said “No” and Paid the Ultimate Price
The Liberation of Dachau

The Liberation of Dachau

The US Government Hid the Truth of Japanese-American Involvement
Stanley Hayami’s Diary

Stanley Hayami’s Personal Diary

Personal Reflections from a Sensitive Teenager Fighting in WWII
Heart Mountain Internee-Toshi Ito

The Ito’s Story

Judge Lance Ito’s Mother, Toshi, Shares Her Heartbreaking Story

The Lessons of Heart Mountain Still Resonate Today

How do we define Americans? If your origin is another country, does that make you any less American? In times of great crisis, do we still fall into the trap of judging people by the way they look or where they are from simply because we are scared?
The lessons from Heart Mountain are invaluable and should never be forgotten.

Documentary Info

Producers: David Ono & Jeff MacIntyre
Camera & Editor: Jeff MacIntyre
Original Music: Michael Chikuzen Gould
Production Assistance: Michelle Kim
Format: 720p | Total Running Time: 56:25

-Special Thanks-
The George & Frank C. Hirahara Collection, Washington State University Libraries, MASC
Brian Kito
Elichi Edward Sakauye
Lloyd Evans Collection
Moving Image Collection-Japanese American National Museum
Naokichi Hasizume Collection
Patti Hirahara
Shirley Higuchi
The Honda Family Collection
The Ito Family
Frank Abe
Eric Saul
Moriah Films
Dawn Hayami
A Flicker in Eternity
Robert Horsting