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Digging into our sordid history

UI professor brought the Kooskia internment camp back into the public eye

by Kaylee Brewster - February 20, 2022

Source article can be found at

The Kooskia Internment Camp is a hidden historical site along U.S. Highway 12, and those who are hoping to share its stories have Priscilla Wegars to thank.

Wegars is a historian and curator of the University of Idaho’s Asian American Comparative Collection and a professor at UI. She was attending a lecture on Japanese internment and incarceration camps when a woman asked the lecturer about the site at Kooskia, remembering a train full of Japanese internees coming into town. The lecturer didn’t know of any camp at Kooskia. Wegars began to research the site, digging into the national archives, newspaper articles and interviews with people at the site and their descendants. In 2010, she turned her findings into a book, “Imprisoned in Paradise: Japanese Internee Road Workers at the World War II Kooskia Internment Camp.”

“It’s original research nobody has ever done before,” Wegars said, including finding the location of the Kooskia Internment Camp near milepost 104.

Before the site was an internment camp, it