Gem State Roundup

Minidoka director Kurt Ikeda wins Idaho Humanity Council’s highest honor

By: - August 2, 2022 4:13 am

Minidoka National Historic Site Director of Education and Interpretation Kurt Ikeda was awarded the 2021 Idaho Humanities Council’s highest honor. (Courtesy of the Idaho Humanities Council)

The Idaho Humanities Council awarded Kurt Ikeda the 2021 Outstanding Achievement in Humanities Award, the organization’s highest honor, awarded annually to recognize achievements that encourage a better understanding of the humanities. 

Ikeda serves as the Minidoka National Historic Site’s director of education and interpretation and previously worked as an education specialist for southern Idaho parks. In 2018, he was an intern with Northwest Youth Corps. Before he began working for the National Park Service, Ikeda worked at the Japanese American Museum of Oregon, OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates and as a high school English teacher.

“The presence of Minidoka and the public programming connected to it has a local and global impact,” said humanities council executive director David Pettyjohn in a press release. “Kurt’s work exemplifies a critical aspect of the humanities, which is that knowledge of the most painful reminders of our past can and should provide an avenue to truly understand the issues that can lead to the erosion of civil liberties and basic human rights.”

Ikeda is a second generation Japanese American and a descendant of World War II incarceration survivors. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Los Angeles and earned a master’s from Loyola Marymount University. 

Ikeda will be honored at a reception at the Minidoka National Historic Site near Jerome on Aug. 15. Other recipients of the Outstanding Achievement in Humanities Award include former Idaho Gov. Robert Smylie, Moscow writer Mary Clearman Blew, Nez Perce elder Horace Axtell and many others. To learn more about the award, go to the Idaho Humanities Council website.

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Anteia Elswick
Anteia Elswick

Anteia McCollum is an intern with the Idaho Capital Sun. She will graduate from a the University of Idaho with a journalism degree in December. She has served as a columnist, reporter, photographer, graphic designer and editor during her time at The Argonaut, the UI student newspaper. She also freelances with Project FARE, a nonprofit focused on telling Idaho's food stories. In 2017, she joined the Idaho Army National Guard as a combat engineer and will complete her contract in December 2023. She's an avid outdoor enthusiast with an interest in environmental reporting as a lifelong career. Her hobbies collide with her line of work, including reading, photography, design and some outside activities like backpacking and wandering around the local farmers market.