Imprisoned in Paradise: Japanese Internee Road Workers at the
World War II Kooskia Internment Camp
By Priscilla Wegars.
This describes the unique and virtually forgotten World War II detention and road building facility located in north central Idaho. Between mid-1943 and mid-1945 the Kooskia (KOOS-key) camp held an all-male contingent of some 265 Japanese Americans. Most came from 21 states and 2 territories, others were from Mexico; some were even kidnapped from Panama and Peru. Some had been interned elsewhere in the U.S. They volunteered for transfer to the Kooskia Internment Camp and received wages for helping to construct the Lewis-Clark Highway, now Highway 12.
The internees found this area of the Idaho wilderness to be a welcome change from the barbed wire of the Santa Fe Detention Center and other places where they were previously incarcerated. For example, Yoshito Kadotani, a landscape gardener from Santa Cruz, California, called it "… a paradise in mountains!," saying, "It reminds me so much of Yosemite National Park." Knowledge of their rights under the 1929 Geneva Convention empowered the Kooskia internees to successfully challenge administrative mistreatment, thereby regaining much of the self-respect they had lost by being unjustly interned. Paper: 323 pp.