Oregon Nikkei Endowment

The mission of the Oregon Nikkei Endowment is to preserve and honor the history and culture of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest, to educate the public about the Japanese American experience during World War II, and to advocate for the protection of civil rights for all Americans.

The Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center is a project of the Oregon Nikkei Endowment. It serves as a focal point for the preservation and sharing of the history and culture of the Japanese American community. One of the most important chapters in the Japanese American experience is the forced internment of over 110,000 persons of Japanese descent during the Second World War. This fuels their commitment to the preservation of civil rights for all Americans. The Legacy Center is a venue for cultural and research activities and an invaluable resource for the exploration of the experiences of Japanese Americans and their role in Oregon’s multi-cultural community.

Updated December 2009

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Oregon Nikkei History: A Brief Summary - Part 3

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Resettlement

At the end of the war, Japanese Americans had the difficult decision of where to go after they were released from the camps. In most cases, they had no businesses or homes to which to return. Often they faced the choice of returning to communities where they were clearly unwanted, or settling in areas unknown to them. Further limiting opportunities, the Oregon Legislature passed an amended, more restrictive Alien Land Law in 1945, prohibiting Issei from living or working on farmland. In 1949, however, Oregon became the first state to decide that the Alien Land Law violated ...

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Oregon Nikkei History: A Brief Summary - Part 2

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Second World War

The relatively tranquil life of the Japanese in Oregon came to an abrupt halt with Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. That very afternoon, the FBI initiated a roundup of Issei community leaders. Iwao Oyama, the publisher of Oshu Nippo, was working on Monday’s issue when the FBI agents came to his office in Japantown and arrested him. A few days later the FBI agents arrested the proprietor of Teikoku Shoten, around the corner from Oshu Nippo.  Later the federal officials confiscated Oshu Nippo’s printing press that was never ...

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Oregon Nikkei History: A Brief Summary - Part 1

Early Japanese Settlers in Oregon

In 1880 27-year-old Miyo Iwakoshi emigrated from Japan to Oregon with her Scottish husband, Andrew McKinnon, and their adopted daughter, Tama. Although there are records of other Japanese visitors earlier, she was the first to settle in the state. She would be one of few Japanese women in Oregon for many years. She and McKinnon built a steam sawmill near Gresham, and named the new settlement Orient in honor of Miyo. The small town of Orient exists to this day. In 1891, Tama married Shintaro Takaki. Theirs was the first Japanese wedding to take place ...

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