I have been trying to figure out how to summarize some of my findings about the way that Mormon identity affected Japanese Americans in Utah and Idaho during World War II for this post, but I have been having some trouble extracting the Mormon aspect of the story from the greater argument while still maintaining nuance and a grasp of the larger picture. Thus, I have decided to focus in on Mike Masaoka as both an emblematic and exceptional example of the way that Mormon identity interacted with Japanese American identity in Utah. Most of the narrative I am going to present represents my reading of his somewhat presumptuously titled, They Call Me Moses Masaoka and much comes from a chapter entitled “Moses in Mormonland.” Because the process of autobiographical writing inherently involves the construction and reconstruction of memory, I mostly use this narrative as an example of how a prominent Mormon Nikkei wanted to frame his and others’ experiences with Mormons. 
Masaoka’s story began with his family’s migration to Utah in 1916. Masaoka’s parents had left California for the opportunity to own land in a state without an alien land law, but the white land speculators who sold them the deed had tricked them into buying a part of the Great Salt Lake. Rather than facing the shame of returning to California, Masaoka’s father decided to settle in Salt Lake City and founded a fish and produce business which sold these products to persons of Japanese ancestry in the surrounding region.
In 1924, Masaoka’s life was thrown out of sync when his father was found dead along the side of a rural Utah highway-the possible victim of a tragic hit-and-run accident. To the rescue came Judge James Wolfe who, besides being the person to have discovered Masaoka’s father, would be a future justice of the Utah Supreme Court. Judge Wolfe would become the first of many prominent Mormon patrons that would sponsor Masaoka’s education at West high school and later at the University of Utah. Masaoka talks about participating in the local Mormon scout troop and dreaming of one day serving a mission for the church in his ancestral Japan. As a successful debater, who utilized the theme of prejudice against Japanese Americans as his primary issue of concern, he came into contact with future Senator Elbert Thomas, who had served a mission years before in Japan. Masaoka would later serve as a volunteer for Thomas’s successful senatorial campaign against the Mormon Apostle Reed Smoot. Masaoka ultimately hoped to attend law school at the U, and worked to accumulate the money to attend.
In the years proceeding the war, Masaoka took a job as the editor of the English section of the Utah Nippo-a Japanese language paper that was printed out of Salt Lake City. In this newspaper, Masaoka began to form his identity as a spokesperson for the Japanese American population by calling for Japanese Americans to assimilate and Americanize. And, although Masaoka was initially skeptical of the Japanese American Citizens League’s (JACL’s) California and Seattle origins, his ideology of Americanism meshed well with the organization’s “100% American” message and eventually caused him to form four chapters of the JACL in Utah and Idaho.
Masaoka doesn’t talk much about his Mormon faith; he probably joined the church to find entrance into the gated world of Mormon culture. Although he points to his Mormon beliefs as the reasons for his alcohol-free lifestyle, he did not marry another member and never speaks about the church’s theology or sacraments. Nevertheless, he constantly points out how his Mormon connections in Utah offered him an entrance into political discussions. In the years preceding the war, he was appointed as the general secretary of the JACL primarily because of those connections. After his appointment, he traveled to California in an effort to try and understand the Japanese condition in that state, but at times was puzzled by the foreignness he found there. The California Nikkei had confronted bigotry and violence at a level that Masaoka could not even understand. Yet the attack on Pearl Harbor threw him in a position to have to speak for all persons of Japanese ancestry in the United States.
During the war, the JACL moved its headquarters to Salt Lake City mostly on a recommendation from Masaoka, while he traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby on the organization’s behalf. During the war, Nikkei that lived outside the relocation zone of California, Oregon, Washington, and part of Arizona were allowed to stay in their homes but were subject to the same curfews and confiscations imposed on their coastal co-ethnics. Thus, intermountain Japanese Americans faced the racial prejudice directed against the villains of Pearl Harbor without the racial separation forced upon other Nikkei from the coast. Japanese Americans in Utah and Idaho often pragmatically acted in ways that they hoped would keep them from sharing the fate of those in the internment camps.
Thus, I argue in my thesis that Japanese Americans in Utah and Idaho, in conversation with larger discourses generated from the coast, created a rhetoric of survival made up of three separate assertions. First, they embraced the JACL’s program of Americanization. I have often wondered if these Japanese Americans were influenced by the Mormon Americanization efforts in the first part of the 20th century. Shake Ushio, a local JACL leader and member of the church, argued in the pages of the Utah Nippo:
Face these trying days we must, so let us face them resolutely, undismayed, with infinite patience. We’ve got to learn to take a lot and take it without bitterness on our part. We must adjust our lives so that we can get along without many of the things we are accustomed to. 
The JACL also asked the intermountain Nikkei to put their money where their mouth was-the four intermountain chapters of the JACL provided the majority of funds to the organization during the war as most other Japanese Americans were imprisoned in camps.
Another rhetorical coping mechanism utilized by intermountain Japanese Americans was the creation of social distance between themselves and those Japanese Americans in the camps. They tried to portray themselves as “local” Japanese.  This often meant that Japanese Americans in Utah and Idaho opposed voluntary migrations of persons of Japanese ancestry to the inland states because they didn’t want these “new” Japanese to destroy the delicate social balance they had established there. One sample of this rhetoric can be found in a speech given by Masaoka to persons in the camps that wanted to work in the sugar beet fields of the intermountain West. He stated:
Many of these people [workers] are not aware that the people of this area [intermountain West] are not accustomed to seeing so many Japanese who smoke, and drink and conduct themselves in the manner so characteristic shall we say, of certain Los Angeles elements which we all know. 
Masaoka, like the other Japanese Americans of Utah and Idaho demonstrated his knowledge of Mormon culture and boundaries.
Finally, Masaoka and the Utah Nisei were powerful supporters of the formation of the 442nd segregated army battalion. One of his most infamous statements about this endeavor argued that
Somewhere on the field of battle, in a baptism of blood, we and our comrades must prove to all who question that we are ready and willing to die for the one country we know and pledge allegiance to. 
Such a rhetorical religious image of redemption through a “baptism of blood” strives to make military service into a sacrament of assimilation. I have often wondered if his own baptismal decision to assimilate into mainstream Mormon society might have inspired this suggestion that sacramental combat might help all Nikkei to assimilate into American society. After all, he still sees himself as a “Moses” to his people.
I probably should add as a coda to this already very long post that Masaoka is an extremely controversial figure in the world of Asian American Studies-think Malinche in Mexico. I think Mormonism, in some ways, actually plays a large role in helping us to understand why Masaoka might have done things that, in hindsight, appear detrimental for the Nikkei as a whole. Also, his life provides a window for understanding the ways that Japanese Americans interacted with Mormonism in the intermountain West.
 Mike Masaoka with Bill Hosakawa, They Call Me Moses Masaoka (New York: William, Murrow, and Company, 1987) Although I have to trust Masaoka for many of the details of his childhood, his construction of Utah Japanese Americans during the war is corroborated in various other period sources as well as oral interviews and sociological studies.
 Shake Ushio, “A Message,” Utah Nippo, December 10, 1941, English Section
 I take this formulation from Gail M. Nomura, “Becoming ‘Local’ Japanese: Issei Adaptive Strategies on the Yakima Indian Reservation, 1906-1923,” in Nikkei in the Pacific Northwest: Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians in the Twentieth Century, eds. Louis Fiset and Gail Nomura (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005), 65.
 Mike Masaoka, “Minutes,” JACL Special Emergency Conference, November 17-24, 1942, Salt Lake City, Supplement #6, “Beet Survey, ” by G.F. Inagaki and Scotty H. Tsuchiya, box 13, James Sakamoto Papers, Special Collections, Manuscripts, and University Archives Division, University of Washington Libraries, 98, quoted in Robert C. Sims, “The ‘Free Zone’ Nikkei: Japanese Americans in Idaho and Eastern Oregon in World War II,” in Nikkei in the Pacific Northwest: Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians in the Twentieth Century, eds. Louis Fiset and Gail M. Nomura (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005), 247.
 Minutes of the Special Emergency National Conference, Japanese American Citizens League, 36, 17-24 November 1942, Salt Lake City, UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections, Collection 2010, Box 296, quoted in Eric Muller, Free to Die for Their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 42-43.