Memories of Heart Mountain

as experienced by former prisoner Sam Mihara

A personal account of the Japanese American imprisonment and its civil rights abuses during WWII

Memories of Heart Mountain

as experienced by former prisoner Sam Mihara

A personal account of the Japanese American imprisonment and its civil rights abuses during WWII


To hear Sam Mihara speak in your area, please contact Sam

Summary: In 1942, Sam Mihara was 9 years old living in San Francisco. The government decided to remove all people of Japanese ancestry and place them into desolate prison camps. He was one of 120,000 Japanese Americans who was forced by armed military soldiers to move. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed “Executive Order 9066” on February 19, 1942, which authorized the military to remove Japanese Americans from their homes and move them to prison camps.

Today, Sam is now a national lecturer on the topic of Mass Imprisonment. He speaks at schools, colleges, libraries, government offices and conferences. In the last 10 years, he has given talks to over 65,000 students, teachers and the general public.

News and Information

Visits to today’s prisons for immigrant families – Sam Mihara has recently visited several of today’s detention facilities for undocumented immigrant families – some for single adults and some for mothers with children.

In some cases, he went inside and interviewed several detainees. In others, interviews were held with attorneys who work with the immigrants. The results are not well known by the public and the findings can be discussed in presentations.

New Edition of Book Now Available – Sam Mihara was 9 years old when the U.S. government imprisoned him and his family in desolate Northern Wyoming. Three years in government custody would change his life forever. Filled with grief, loss, and hope, his story is for readers who want to learn more about America’s forgotten mistakes and discover how to prevent future tragedies like Japanese internment during World War II.

In the newly published 3rd edition of the book, Blindsided, The Life and Times of Sam Mihara, Sam reveals more details. The additions include life before entering the prison camps, life in the first camp called “Pomona”. Also, an event at Pomona is described where his mother was almost shot. Details of daily life in the Wyoming prison camp are revealed. While in prison, Sam tells of how he was inspired to become an engineer. And he describes how he discovered important photos of the imprisonment by photographer Dorothea Lange.

New Format Presentations – Using Skype and Zoom technologies, a virtual format for presentations is offered. With current screen sharing and internet capabilities, a presentation can be made to individuals, groups, and classrooms and still maintain the personal style of communicating directly with the audience. By not requiring travel, the lower cost makes direct presentations more affordable for all who have internet and desktop capabilities. Please ask for details.

Future Engagements – New engagements are beginning to fill for the rest of this year. If you or your group would like to reserve a spot, please contact Sam Mihara as soon as possible and indicate your group description, location, and preferred dates.

Sam Mihara Receives Prestigious Paul A. Gagnon Prize – The National Council for History Education (NCHE) delivered to Sam Mihara its 2018 Paul A. Gagnon Prize at a national conference of history teachers in San Antonio, Texas, where he also gave the keynote speech. The annual award is given to an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to history education. Sam received the award for his ongoing work lecturing about his imprisonment as a child at Heart Mountain camp during World War II. This was the first award to a Japanese American.

“I feel truly honored and humbled to receive the prestigious Paul A. Gagnon award,” Sam says. “The importance of history education cannot be overstated. Through education about the Japanese American imprisonment, we can help to ensure that such civil rights violations never happen again. The students of today have the opportunity to learn historical precedents that serve as guidelines for better solutions in the future.”

If you are interested in hearing Sam’s presentation, please contact him here using the form on this page.



Oct 5 / 6 – Missoula MT – Ft. Missoula Museum, School, Univ. of Montana

Oct 7 – Scarsdale NY – Scarsdale Schools and Library

Oct 25 – Las Vegas NV – Las Vegas Library / Windmill Branch

Nov 9 – Johnson County, Kansas – Library

Nov 12 – Goodyear / Phoenix AZ – Seniors Group


Feb 25 – Cincinnati / Campbell County KY – Libraries and Schools

Mar 4 – Seattle WA / Leaf School

Mar 9 – Greenwich CT – Greenwich Academy

Mar 17 / 19 – St. Louis MO – National History Teachers’ Conference

Apr (TBD) – Los Angeles CA – UCLA


Spring (TBD) – Japan Universities Speaking Tour

Jun 19 / 25 – Heart Mountain WY – NEH Workshop 1

Jul 24 / 29 – Heart Mountain WY – NEH Workshop 2

Jul 29 / 30 – Annual Pilgrimage

Jul (TBD) – Bilbao, Spain – World History Association Conference

NOTE: Most travel involve change of planes in Denver, which provides access to locations in the Mountain States

Recent Feedback

Recent feedback about Sam’s presentation has been overwhelmingly positive. Hundreds of attorneys from Davis Wright Tremaine LLP Law Firm attended a 2021 speech and 99% of them thought the program was excellent or very good. Here is what two attendees had to say:

“Mihara is an eloquent speaker with a gift for connecting with the audience with personal and relatable stories. His visual aids are excellent and add to the sentiment and history.”

“It was a very thought-provoking and heartfelt presentation. I could have listened to his stories all day.”

Visit the Reactions page to read more feedback.