Vintage film on Japanese internment during World War II

May 20, 2009

[Google Video version is not showing or playing for reasons I don’t know; fortunately the National Archives (NARA) has uploaded a version to YouTube]

“A Challenge to Democracy,” by the War Relocation Board.  This film defends the relocation of 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.

Japanese-descended American citizens harvesting crops they grew during internment during World War II. Screen capture from "Challege to Democracy."

Japanese-descended American citizens harvesting crops they grew during internment during World War II. Screen capture from “Challege to Democracy.”

“These people are not under suspicion,” the narrator says.  “They are not prisoners, they are not internees.  They are merely dislocated people, the unwounded casualties of war.”

According to the Internet Archive, the film is a 1944 production.  That site has the film available for download in several formats.  The film is collected in the Prelinger Archives.  On my computer, some of the Internet Archive versions offer  better quality than the Google Video version above.

I originally found the film at a school site in Washington, Mr. Talmadge’s Wikispace site, apparently for his classes in the history of the State of Washington.  That site has a very useful series of links to good sites on the internet for information about the Japanese internment.  There are several other topics noted there, too, including the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Whitman Massacre in Oregon, and the Nez Perce Retreat.  I’d love to see Mr. Talmadge’s plan for the year.

What do your students do to display their work on the internet?


Trail of Tears film debut at UT-Dallas, Tuesday March 10

March 8, 2009

Extra credit or field experience for your history students: Viewing of a coming PBS program on the Trail of Tears, and a panel discussion featuring R. David Edmunds, one of the advisors to the PBS American Experience crew that made the film.

The story of Saturday, May 26, 1838, a day which began an event the Cherokees would call Nu-No-Du-Na-Tlo-Hi-Lu, “The Trail Where They Cried,” will be told from a new perspective at the premiere of “Trail of Tears” at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 10, in the Davidson Auditorium at the School of Management.

We Shall Remain logo
Production background information is available on the PBS We Shall Remain site.

The third film in the five-part We Shall Remain series produced by PBS’ American Experience, “Trail of Tears” takes a new look at the United States government’s forced removal of thousands of Cherokees from their homes in the Southeastern United States, driving them toward Indian Territory in Eastern Oklahoma.

Admission is free; seating is first come, first served. The film premiere will be followed by a panel discussion with We Shall Remain executive producer Sharon Grimberg; Native American filmmaker Chris Eyre; and series adviser Dr. R. David Edmunds, the UT Dallas Anne and Chester Watson Professor in American History.

Especially for AP history students, this panel should provide a lot of grist for the thinking mills on questions about civil rights, genocidal actions, duties of citizens, and migration, immigration and settlement of the U.S.

North Texas high school teachers and students have great luck living in an area that includes the University of North Texas, Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the University of Dallas.   This film premiere is one more piece of that luck.

University of Texas at Dallas history professor, Dr. R. David Edmunds will take part in a panel discussion following the premiere of Trail of Tears.

University of Texas at Dallas history professor, Dr. R. David Edmunds will take part in a panel discussion following the premiere of Trail of Tears.

It’s a compelling story that is often mistold.  According to UTD’s press office:

For years, the Cherokee had resisted removal from their land in every way they knew. Convinced that white America rejected Native Americans because they were “savages,” Cherokee leaders established a republic with a Euro-American style legislature and legal system.

Many Cherokees became Christians and adopted Westernized education for their children. Their visionary principal chief, John Ross, would even take the Cherokees’ case to the Supreme Court, where he won a crucial recognition of tribal sovereignty that still resonates.

Though in the end the Cherokees’ embrace of “civilization” and their landmark legal victory proved no match for white land hunger and military power, the Cherokee people were able to build a new life in Oklahoma, far from the land that had sustained them for generations.

Edmunds, who is of Cherokee descent, is proud to be a part of the We Shall Remain crew because the series breaks with typical portrayals of Native Americans.

“The thing that sets the We Shall Remain series apart is its ability to get away from two of the biggest stereotypes of Native Americans: the Indian as a warrior and the Indian as a victim,” said Edmunds. “The portrayal of warfare between Native Americans and whites is abandoned for a view of the very civilized, very adaptive ways of the Cherokees, as they try to assimilate to imported culture in order to remain on their lands.

“Additionally, when you see ‘Trail of Tears,’ you’ll see Native Americans as actors in their own destiny. You’ll see them make decisions, which sometimes work and sometimes don’t, but it’s all part of the American experience.”


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