Mitchell Higa is a retired environmental planner and Sansei. During World War II, the United States government incarcerated his family in prison camps at Manzanar, Tule Lake, Crystal City, and Gila River. Higa was born in Santa Monica, California, in 1959. He grew up in Sawtelle Japantown in Los Angeles, attended Sonoma State University, worked for the California Department of Transportation, and later moved to Humboldt County in 1993. Higa is also active in the Japanese American community, attending and planning pilgrimages to incarceration sites, engaging in public archaeology at NPS Manzanar, and giving talks about his family history. In this interview, Higa discusses growing up in Sawtelle Japantown, including connections to the Japanese American community; race and identity; his peace activism and other political work; education and work history; observation of historical events like the redress movement; the impact of World War II incarceration on his family, including forced removal, the loyalty questionnaire and Tule Lake Segregation Center, and his paternal grandfather's time in Department of Justice Camps; incarceration in popular culture; memorialization of incarceration, including attending pilgrimages to Manzanar and Tule Lake, planning a pilgrimage to Crystal City, reading his father's memoir as well as his oral history with the National Park Service, helping with the excavation of his father's basement under the barracks at Manzanar; connections to the Japanese American community as an adult; building an interracial family by marrying a white woman and adopting a daughter from Korea; process of healing for himself, his family, and the Japanese American community; personal legacy and hopes for the future.




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