by Peter Twitchell
There were many injustices done to innocent people throughout our history of humanity. I had exposure to injustice to Japanese – Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My future mom was married to Toni Sumi in 1938 here in Bethel. Together they raised a family of Yupiaq and orphan family.
They worked the 160 acre “Sumi Fur Farm Homestead,” across the river from Bethel. Toni was a business man who worked for a living. Mom Sarah and Toni started a mink farm successfully, planted 3 huge vegetable gardens to feed their mink raw fish ground up with fresh vegetables. They cleared the land of trees and stumps, buying a horse that came from the Matanuska Valley to get this done.
Toni Sumi was Japanese, he had a camera, that documented all the work that they accomplished. He had skows and barges made to freight goods and dredging equipment up to the NYAK (New York Alaska) landing, and fuel and oil.
When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, folks of Japanese ancestry were gathered up by the US Government and interned here and the lower 48 states. Toni was taken to the all man internment camp at Lordsburg, New Mexico. 2 men died in that camp of thousands and Toni was one of the two. He never came back home to Alaska.
Mom lost everything they had worked for. The Army Corp. of Engineers came to Bethel and bull-dozed the Sumi Fur Farm homestead and constructed the Army-Airforce Base across from Bethel and the CAA came and constructed their compound as well. A lot of injustices done to innocent people, who in reality didn’t have anything to do with the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the Declaration of War against America!
Now, I fear another great injustice is being committed in my lifetime, and that is the deportation of immigrants by the Trump Administration. I’m an American Flag waver, and I press the palm of my hand when I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America before every basketball game at the Bethel Warrior Dome.
I’m certain that among immigrants are innocent people who have done nothing wrong to our country but worked it, just like the late Toni Sumi. I hope and pray that President Trump will apologize for the great injustice America did to naturalized immigrants in 1941, and make America “Great Again.”