PIECES OF HISTORY. Yoshiko Hide, 82, who grew up in Toppenish
and Wapato, donates family gifts from Yakama Nation landowners
to the Yakima Valley Museum in Yakima, Washington. Japanese
immigrants and Yakama Nation citizens go back decades, to the
earliest years that immigrants came to the Valley to help clear
the land, dig irrigation canals, and work in agriculture. The
Yakama Reservation offered a unique opportunity for the
immigrants to lease land because as a sovereign nation, it was
not subject to the anti-Chinese and anti-Japanese laws
implemented by the state. (Amanda Ray/Yakima Herald-Republic
From The Asian Reporter, V28, #19 (October 1, 2018),
Keepsakes reveal clues of life for Japanese in
By Tammy Ayer
YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Yoshiko Hide Kishi gazed at the small
buckskin moccasins in her cupped hands as she recalled her early
childhood in rural Toppenish.
Her father and mother, Mantaro and Kiyo Hide, were farmers
with five children, Yoshiko their youngest. Her father raised
several crops and Kiyo helped him amid her household duties,
which included making dresses for Yoshiko because money was
The moccasins came from their landowner, George Adams, a
citizen of the Yakama Nation in White Swan. They are soft, with
little adornment — ideal for a toddler learning how to walk.
"I was seven, eight months old," said Kishi, 82.
She has photos taken in 1936 of her wearing them, one as she
stood outside in a walker and the other sitting in a high chair
Kishi received other gifts from the Adams family, including
two small beaded bags that her mother carefully packed away with
the moccasins. One is round with bright geometric patterns on
each side; the other is heart-shaped, with a scene of two deer.
That was her favorite.
"It’s really worn because I probably carried it around and
played with it," Kishi said.
Like others in the Lower Yakima Valley’s Japanese community,
the Hides enjoyed a close relationship with the Yakama Nation
citizens from whom they leased land.
When Japanese immigrants began coming to the Valley in the
early 1890s, they cleared land, dug canals, and worked on the
railroad. But due to legislation collectively referred to as
alien land laws, they could not own or lease land in most areas.
The sovereign Yakama Nation, though, was not subject to those
"The (Yakamas) were the only people willing to rent land to
Japanese immigrants in the area," Wapato native Isao Fujimoto
notes in his book, Bouncing Back: Community, Resilience &
"As a result, thriving Japanese immigrant communities arose
around the towns of Yakima, Wapato, and Toppenish."
Those immigrant communities included dozens of Lower Valley
farms and several businesses in each city — hotels, stores,
laundries, restaurants, and barber and beauty shops. Yakima,
Wapato, and Toppenish were each home to a Buddhist temple and a
The signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D.
Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, about 10 weeks after Japan
attacked Pearl Harbor, changed those communities forever. It set
in motion the World War II incarceration of more than 120,000
west coast residents of Japanese descent.
That included 1,017 people from the Yakima Valley, two-thirds
of whom were born in the United States. Transported from the
Yakima Valley to the Portland Assembly Center in early June
1942, they were detained there for three months until they were
taken to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. It
closed in November 1945.
Only about 10 percent returned to the Valley, almost all to
Wapato. The Hides moved to California, where Mantaro and his
sons began growing wholesale flowers, specializing in
Kishi, who lives in Seal Beach, California, was in Yakima in
August with Patti Hirahara of Anaheim, California, who was
honored as grand marshal of the Pioneer Power Show & Swap Meet
in Union Gap.
During her visit, Kishi donated the moccasins and one of the
beaded bags to the Yakima Valley Museum, home to the exhibition
"Land of Joy and Sorrow: Japanese Pioneers in the Yakima
Her brother, Tom, was deeply involved with the exhibition,
which opened in 2013, and a related reunion. The Brownie uniform
she wore at Heart Mountain is on display, along with items that
he donated that included her family’s mochi pounding set,
clothing, other Heart Mountain items, and photographs.
"The only reason I came twice before was the museum exhibits
and the reunion," Kishi said.
Just six years old when her family was forced to leave, Kishi
doesn’t remember a lot about their farm, which was near the
intersection of East Branch and Oldenway roads on property
crossed by the Wanity Slough. The house burned years ago.
"We were out in the boonies. I have pictures of the house,
packing shed, chicken coop ... my mom took them all," she said.
"I remember when I was older, five or six, I was the one to go
in the coop and collect the eggs."
Her father grew sugar beets, onions, potatoes, cucumbers,
cantaloupe, watermelon, and tomatoes and, for his horses, hay.
"Dad plowed the field with horses. I was sitting on the horse
while dad went plowing," she said. "Growing up, I did have an
affection for horses."
Like the Adams family of White Swan, Ken Hoptowit’s family
leased land to Japanese Americans, including the Honda family,
he recalled during a tour of Yakima’s Japan Town in 2017.
"My grandfather Charlie had farmed 900-plus acres in the
Lower Valley," Hoptowit said then. "A lot of (Japanese
Americans) farmed with my grandfather."
Growing up on reservation land, Fujimoto would often see
Yakamas walking by their house as they cut across his family’s
fields, he wrote in Bouncing Back.
"A Yakama named Old Tom lived in a small cabin on the plot of
land we rented. The older Yakamas still spoke (Ichiskiin). The
Japanese immigrants, unsurprisingly, primarily spoke Japanese,"
"Since neither the elder Yakamas nor the Japanese families on
the reservation spoke English, I later asked my mother how she
had communicated with Old Tom. ‘Oh, we used our hands,’ she
Kishi has no recollection of her family’s landlord and hadn’t
thought about the moccasins and beaded bags until a grandson who
lives in Berkeley, California, took a closer look at his family
history for a class project.
"When he had to follow grandma’s path during the school year
last year, in fifth grade, that’s when they had to tell about
their family. Now he has some background," Kishi said.
She went to a trunk packed with family heirlooms for
information for his project and rediscovered the moccasins and
beaded bags. Her mother probably had that trunk shipped to Heart
Mountain, Kishi said.
"After my mother passed, I had the trunk," she said.
It also held a pink silk dress and knit bonnet and matching
cape, all made by her mother. Kishi wore the dress for a family
portrait taken at Fern Studio in Toppenish in April 1942 and the
cape and bonnet for a picture of her taken at Jackson Studio in
Seattle in 1949.
Kishi donated those items to the Yakima Valley Museum, but
one of the beaded bags — her favorite, the one with deer — is
staying in the family. Her grandson’s family history project
sparked a new appreciation for that in her daughter, too, who
asked if she could keep one of the bags.
"She’s going to frame it," she added.