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Women's History Month: Minidoka park ranger uplifts and preserves Japanese American history

Minidoka Visitor Center tour
Posted at 5:59 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 18:21:45-04

JEROME, Idaho — Inside the Minidoka National Historic Site Visitor Center, explorers will find a passionate and creative park ranger giving tours, sharing stories and educating the community about the site.

After joining the site in 2019 as an intern, Emily Teraoka now serves as a lead park ranger for the Minidoka National Historic Site in Jerome.

Becoming a park ranger wasn’t Teraoka’s original plan, but she soon realized it was a perfect fit.

“I really like the personal stories that make up America, and thinking about what it means to be an American but within all these different diverse communities,” Teraoka said.

Teraoka shares a unique connection to Minidoka, as a Japanese Mexican American, she has been able to reconnect with her family’s history.

Her grandparents were removed from their homes and forced to live in incarceration camps.

“No one ever really talked about their experiences. My grandparents passed away before I was born, but even their siblings who were still around I tried to ask them questions and they didn’t really talk about it much,” Teraoka said.

As a park ranger, Emily Teraoka researches, writes and finds ways to tell those untold stories to preserve this significant piece of history.

“Coming out here and being able to learn more, work with the site… and work with survivors, that was a really special connection,” she said.

As a woman and person of color, Teraoka said it’s nice to be able to normalize the expectations of diverse communities representing National Park Services.

Emily Teraoka strives to make the Minidoka Historic Site an inclusive place for all.