Between 1942 and 1945, the United States government detained over 10,000 Japanese Americans at Amache, a concentration camp in eastern Colorado.
Now, the National Park Service (NPS) is developing plans to restore Amache into a national park to honor those who died and ensure that the stories survivors carry are never forgotten, reports WBUR.
Amache, located in Granada, Colorado, dates back to when President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent an order that forcibly incarcerated thousands of Japanese Americans out of fear that they might support Japan during WWII, according to the NPS.
While Amache closed in October 15, 1945, the site is almost completely deconstructed, reports NPS. All of the buildings were either removed or demolished and most of Granada’s agricultural lands reverted into private farms and ranches.
Detained as a young child, Gary Ono is one of few survivors alive who wants to preserve Amache and shed light on its history, he told KUNC.
“I think it is important to know what we did go through, and appreciate maybe what our elders went through,” Ono said in a report by KUNC.
After survivors like Ono and their descendants spent decades rallying for recognition, President Joe Biden signed the Amache National Historic Site Act in March 2022. That means Amache is not only a part of the Park Service, but it could also receive federal assistance. WBUR reports Amache is looking to receive over $500,000 from the United States for the sites’ operations and staff.
Even with this victory, the fight isn’t over yet. The town of Granada owns Amache, but plans to donate it to the NPS, according to KUNC. Surveying the land and transferring might not be complete for years, which puts a hold on the recent budget plans. Without the land, the park service cannot use federal funding to begin restoring Amache.
A team of key stakeholders and survivors has already begun to meet to discuss common goals. This usually takes about a year to complete, but stakeholders like Kara Miyagishima, the interim superintendent of Amache with the National Park Service, plans to ensure survivors are integral to this restoration.
“We’ll be working really closely with the key stakeholders associated with the Amache and also the Japanese American community to help us define and identify: ‘What are the most important stories we want to preserve at Amache?’,” Miyagishima told WBUR.
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