Contact: Floyd Mori, Executive Director
(202) 223-1240 or NatDir@jacl.org
The conflict of self interest versus national interest has been with us from the foundation of this great nation. While the values embodied in the market system of life that have governed our economy have been the catalyst for economic and material progress, we as a nation have had the wisdom to harness self interest when its goals have lead us to devalue our natural monuments and national parks. We face the endangerment of the Minidoka National Historic Site of the National Park System because the forces of economic development feel a need to construct a power line over the property.
The names of Mathers, Albright, and Ickes bare the scars of the battle of preserving nature versus the interests of profit seeking corporate America. These three pioneers have been depicted in the present Ken Burns’ television series, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” as saviors of nature. Their major confrontations occurred against the corporations which cried out that economic development should always be the trump card that sacrificed our nation’s natural beauties and historical lessons. These leaders fought greed but won the battle in behalf of the American people.
Today another battle is erupting in the southern region of the State of Idaho where the power company hopes to ignore the lessons and battles of the past with the sacrifice of a national park facility in the name of expediency and economic development. The Minidoka National Historic Site is the target of a power line which is planned to pass directly over the heart of the site. Those who want to preserve the park-like nature of this site, which is a remembrance of the unlawful imprisonment of American citizens who were placed there simply because of the country of their heritage, are but an insignificant economic force in the game of economic development. Yet the lesson for which the monument was intended has enormous value to the understanding of what it means to be a citizen of this great country. This was the reason President Clinton initially used his authority under the Antiquities Act to name this small space of land a National Monument.
The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the nation’s oldest and largest Asian American civil and human rights organization, urges all who are involved to take a breath and look to our national heritage of national monuments and national parks. Are we prepared to ignore the lessons of historical preservation or will we allow expediency and economic interests only to determine the path of the ugly power line that would prove a hazard to those who would visit this historical place? We urge all to place the national interests above any short-term objective of rapidly completing a power line.
We ask members of the JACL, and others who wish to preserve the valuable lesson that this site provides, to contact the offices of the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, and their representatives in Congress to let them know that the Minidoka National Historic Site should be left intact and the power line should be redirected.