For Every Generation: Recovering and Sharing Family Histories

Saturday, August 13 at 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Japanese American National Museum, Tateuchi Democracy Forum 100 N Central Ave

Exhibitions like Sutra and Bible are made possible by the dedicated efforts of family and community members who have preserved and researched their family’s histories and the objects, images, and documents that tell these stories. Join us as we learn from Dr. Gail Okawa, Mitch Homma, Elizabeth Nishiura, and Laura Dominguez-Yon about their families and the efforts they’ve made to record and share their stories and preserve the unique and rare objects that are featured in Sutra and Bible

Nancy Ukai, Project Director of 50 Objects, will moderate our conversation. 


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Speaker Bios

Laura Dominguez-Yon
​​A California native, Laura's first home was Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs where her parents went directly after leaving Poston concentration camp in Arizona. They were able to live and work there for 10 years, which easily accommodated the growing family. Seventy years later, Laura is a Uniformed Volunteer for California State Parks who now owns the former resort. Here, she is able to draw on her 30 years of experience as an educator developing programs and researching events and people associated with the place.  

When not working on Gilroy Hot Springs topics, Laura is delving into genealogical records for moth her own family records and now her husband's early California Chinese American heritage.

Mitch Homma (Amache Alliance - President & American Baptist Historical Society Board of Managers)
Mitch Homma is a sansei (3rd generation) who grew up and still resides in Southern California.  In addition to working as an aerospace engineer, his interests include Japanese history and Christianity in Japan.  He grew up attending Gardena Valley Baptist Church and Seattle Japanese Baptist Church where his great grandparents and grandparents served.  Mitch is serving on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit Amache Alliance supporting the preservation of the Amache National Historic Site.  He also volunteer Board of Managers with the American Baptist Historical Society.

His family’s Baptist History goes back four generations to the churches his great-grandfather, Rev. Masahiko Wada, started in Japan around 1910. The family’s photo and document collection covers their missionary work in Japan and Manchuria, Korea, and Siberia before coming to the United States as Baptist missionary.  The American Baptist brought the family to the USA in 1928 during the Alien Exclusion Act to start Baptist churches in Southern California.

His family members loved photography which aided in the preservation and documentation of family’s history.  Grandfather Homma was a dentist and USC sports photographer.He would bring his cameras to Amache as dental equipment. Uncle Yorozu Homma’s Chair from Heart Mountain is one of the JANM Eaton Collection artifacts.   The Amache Memorial designed by great grandfather, Rev. Wada, is a part of the current Sutra and Bible exhibit at JANM.

Elizabeth Nishiura
Elizabeth Nishiura (she/her) is a self-employed editor, specializing in STEM and social sciences publishing. She has a BA from Yale University, where she majored in political science, and an MA in government from Cornell University. A great-granddaughter of Shinzaburo Nishiura, Elizabeth contributed an essay to the Sutra and Bible catalog on the Aso Obutsudan, which Shinzaburo built at Heart Mountain with his brother, Gentaro Nishiura. Elizabeth lives in Chicago, where she enjoys taking photos of birds, squirrels, coyotes, and other urban wildlife.

Dr. Gail Okawa
Dr. Gail Y. Okawa is professor emerita of English, Youngstown State University-Ohio. Interested in the relationships among language/literacy, culture, and race in historical, political, and educational contexts, she has published articles in national journals and collections and has presented papers and lectures nationally and internationally. As a scholar-in-residence at the Smithsonian Institution in 2002, she began researching the politics of literacy, identity, and culture among Japanese immigrants from Hawai`i, including her maternal grandfather, imprisoned in US Justice/War Department internment camps, culminating in Remembering Our Grandfathers’ Exile: US Imprisonment of Hawai`i’s Japanese in World War II(University of Hawai`i Press, 2020).

Nancy Ukai
Nancy Ukai is project director of the website, 50 Objects ( a National Park Service JACS grant project that explores the stories embedded in 50 WWII camp artifacts. She helped lead a social media protest against the Rago auction of the Eaton collection of camp artifacts in 2015 and is researching their provenance as an advisor to the Japanese American National Museum. Her interest in the roots of issei culture deepened during 14 years of living in Japan. She is a former co-president of the Berkeley JACL, a current board member of the Nichi Bei Foundation and formerly served on the board of the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund. She received a master’s degree in media anthropology from the University of London, 2008, and has published in academic journals, books and news media. 

To visit the Sutra and Bible Exhibit in person, please visit  

Dial-In Information

Event Type

Lecture / Talk / Workshop, Event Highlights


Students, Alumni, Faculty/Staff, Neighbors


Other Location

Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture
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