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About 75 percent of the Japanese immigrants in the Yakima Valley followed the teachings of Buddha. As in Japan, the local Buddhist church was the social center as well as the religious focal point of community life.

Just before boarding two trains to Portland in early June, they collectively sent a letter, signed “Valley Evacuees,” to the editor of the Wapato Independent.

“We, Japanese evacuees of this valley, are extending our hands in farewell to all our faithful friends, who have done their part in making our departure from all our life’s work less miserable,” it read.