Camp Amache, a World War II Japanese incarceration camp in Colorado, is now a National Historic Site, managed by the National Park System. Previously, the camp was a National Historic Landmark and qualified to receive preservation funds, but its new designation allows it to qualify for additional federal funding, according to ABC 10.
The bill Biden signed, advocating for a change in designation for the camp, is a bipartisan bill spearheaded by Colorado Reps. Joe Neguse (D) and Ken Buck (R), according to The Hill. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, acknowledge the change in designation as instrumental in highlighting the injustice of the forced internment of Japanese-Americans.
“The Amache site as a National Park unit highlights the injustices of the internment of Japanese Americans, one of our nation’s darkest chapters,” Polis said in a statement. “Colorado is home to world-class national parks and adding the Amache site honors those values and our history.”
Camp Amache serves as an important site of community-building for the town of Granada, Colorado. John Hopper, a dean of students for the Granada School District, established the Amache Preservation Society in 1993. The organization, of which many students are members, works to physically preserve the camp as well as raise awareness of the camps through presentations and giving tours, according to CS Monitor.
The organization is also instrumental in building relations with the Japanese American community, working with survivors and descendants of the camp.
“I can’t think of any group that does more for Amache,” Calvin Taro Hada, Amache descendant and president of the Nikkeijin Kai of Colorado, said.
The preservation of the camp, according to Derek Okubo, whose father was incarcerated at Amache, is that it represents a part of American history swept under the carpet.
Camp Amache is one of the 10 incarceration camps used where Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated during World War II. In an executive order signed by President Roosevelt, 120,000 Japanese individuals (many of who were American citizens) were confined in these camps due to questions of their loyalty, according to The Smithsonian.
Over 7,000 people were imprisoned in Camp Amache from 1942 to 1945. 120 internees died during their time at Amache. 31 of the nearly 1000 Japanese Americans interned at Amache died serving the United States.
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