Photos: (Top) Minidoka Incarceration Camp was one of three prisons built on public lands by the Bureau of Reclamation. Inmates were expected to provide cheap labor for public projects such as constructing irrigation canals and for farm labor. More than half of the approximately 120,000 incarcerated were under 18 years old.  Thus, it was common for young children to be left unsupervised. This was also the case because parents were often working within the camps or waiting in long lines to shower, eat or use the bathroom. (Bottom) From a student essay at Minidoka:  “If it hadn’t been for this war, we wouldn’t be in this camp.”


Curriculum Topic: Minidoka Incarceration Camp

Lesson Plan Courtesy of: Kelly S. Bales, social studies teacher, Tates Creek High School, Lexington, KY.

Lesson Plan Synopsis: In this lesson, students will be introduced to life at 1 of the 10 internment/concentration camps, Minidoka, located in Idaho.  While Minidoka was similar to other incarceration camps for Japanese Americans (such as it was located in the western part of the country and housed Japanese Americans after December 1941), it continued to operate even after the war was over. Furthermore, Japanese American students at Minidoka experienced some normal-life experiences, such as attending school and going to church. 

Since there are many narratives about what life was like in the U.S. during the Second World War, students will be exposed to some of the Japanese American narratives at Minidoka. This lesson will allow students to summarize and gain a better perspective ofwhat some Japanese Americans experienced at this incarceration camp.

Download the August 2017 Lesson Plan here.