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New Lifetime Achievement Medal Named After Heart Mountain Vice Chair Douglas W. Nelson

The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation is recognizing the contributions made by its longtime Vice Chair Douglas Nelson by presenting him with a lifetime achievement award.

Heart Mountain

A picture of Heart Mountain taken from the HMWF which housed thousands used to be a concentration camp during World War II that housed Japanese-Americans until 1945. (Photo courtesy of HMWF).

The Douglas W. Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award acknowledges Nelson’s more than 50 years of commitment to telling the story of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II and Heart Mountain in particular.

When Nelson first discovered Heart Mountain as a graduate student in history at the University of Wyoming in 1968, virtually nothing remained at the site of the camp where 14,000 people were held during World War II. His determination to tell the camp’s history led to his master’s thesis and the 1975 book entitled Heart Mountain: The History of an American Concentration Camp.

The Foundation published an updated edition of that book early this year, which is now in its second printing.

“I’ve worked with Nelson for the last 18 years to tell the story of the Japanese American experience, and I can think of no better ally and friend and no one more worthy to receive this recognition,” said Shirley Ann Higuchi, chair of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation.

Three former Heart Mountain incarcerees, Harumi “Bacon” Sakatani, Jeanette Misaka and Raymond Uno, received inaugural medals honoring Nelson in a ceremony July 29 during the pilgrimage. They were instrumental in the Foundation’s creation and the building of its interpretive center that opened in 2011.

Two Heart Mountain board members, Kathleen Saito Yuille and Claudia Wade, were honored July 29 for their work in making the Foundation’s annual pilgrimages so successful.

The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation preserves the site where some 14,000 Japanese Americans were unjustly incarcerated in Wyoming from 1942 through 1945. Their stories are told within the foundation’s museum, Heart Mountain Interpretive Center, located between Cody and Powell. For more information, call the center at (307) 754-8000 or email

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