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Sedona Winds in the Village of Oak Creek was host to a special speaker from Arizona State University, when Karen J. Leong, Ph.D., brought her presentation, “Japanese Internment in Arizona” on behalf of the Arizona Humanities Council and the Sedona Public Library in the Village of Oak Creek.

In February 1942, just two months after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt as commander-in-chief, issued Executive Order 9066, which had the effect of relocating all persons of Japanese ancestry, both citizens and aliens, inland, outside of the Pacific military zone. The objectives of the order were to prevent espionage and to protect persons of Japanese descent from harm at the hands of Americans who had strong anti-Japanese attitudesLeong is the director of the Asian Pacific American Studies Program at ASU, and is an associate professor of Women and Gender Studies, Asian Pacific American Studies and an affiliate faculty of History. Leong said that she has studied Japanese internment for more than 20 years, and is currently collecting oral histories from Japanese-Americans who lived through the period of internment. Leong’s seminar focused on the experiences of Japanese immigrants and their children in Arizona leading up to and during World War II, as well as the historical timeline for the implementation of Executive Order 9066, which called for the temporary relocation of first- and second-generation Japanese Americans.

The presentation began by providing historical context about immigration from Asian countries — particularly China and Japan — and the subsequent bans or agreements that were created to stop more Chinese and Japanese immigrants from entering the United States. In 1882, the United States government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act; later, then-President Theodore Roosevelt entered the country into the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907 with Japan — an informal agreement in which Japan would no longer allow emigration to the U.S. Leong said that these two events were important to note because they displayed anti-Asian sentiment already existing prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1941.

For the full story, see the Friday, Sept. 27, edition of the Sedona Red Rock News.

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