Amache National Historic Site, where thousands of Japanese-Americans were relocated to during WWII, is the newest addition to the National Park Service.
It is one of ten such “relocation centers” in the West, where families were moved to after being forcibly removed from their homes and businesses.
During its operation from 1942-1945, more than 10,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of them American citizens, passed through Amache, in Granada, a remote corner of southeastern Colorado. At its peak population in 1943, Amache housed 7,310 people – the tenth largest city in Colorado at the time.
Overall, more than 120,000 people were incarcerated in such camps, including such now-famous Japanese-Americans as George Takei, best known as Sulu in the original Star Trek, who wrote a book about his childhood experience.
Today, the Amache site consists of a historic cemetery, a monument, concrete building foundations, and several reconstructed and rehabilitated structures from the camp-era. Amache was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on May 18, 1994 and designated a National Historic Landmark on February 10, 2006.
The new designation is the Amache National Historic Site, the same as the Manazanar National Historic Site in California.
Though the original buildings associated with the incarceration site were removed or demolished after Amache closed in 1945, Amache represents one of the most intact examples of a World War II incarceration site. The original building foundations and the historic road network are still visible on the landscape today.
This designation of Amache as a national park is the first in the National Park System made by President Biden, and it joins several other Japanese-American internment camps as national parks or national monuments.
The designation of the Amache National Historic Site is an important step in telling a more complete story of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II.
Personal note –
- Many of my family escaped Nazi Germany, and many others were exterminated in concentration camps including Auschwitz. My recent visit to Manzanar had me reduced to tears.
Former incarcerees, their descendants and the Amache Preservation Society were instrumental in obtaining the initial National Historic Landmark designation and advocating for the site to become part of the National Park System. The legislation, originally introduced by members of the Colorado delegation, garnered strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate.
Amache – once called the Granada Relocation Center – is open to the public and currently managed by the Amache Preservation Society and owned by the Town of Granada.
Currently, Granada High School students from the Amache Preservation Society provide tours of the site and nearby museum. The National Park Service will continue to work closely with the many stakeholders dedicated to the preservation of Amache to continue those services, and to care for the history and memories of those who were once incarcerated at this site.
Official Statements about the Amache National Historic Site
“As a nation, we must face the wrongs of our past in order to build a more just and equitable future,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “I applaud President Biden and the bipartisan action in Congress that has ensured this important and painful chapter in our nation’s story is preserved and honored for the generations to come.
After visiting Amache and meeting with survivors and descendants, I was moved by their resilience and the way in which Colorado communities came together during and after the injustice to support Japanese Americans. May we all be inspired to do the same today for all our fellow citizens.”
“It is our solemn responsibility as caretakers of America’s national treasures to tell the whole story of our nation’s heritage for the benefit of present and future generations,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams.
“The National Park Service will continue working closely with key stakeholders dedicated to the preservation of Amache, and those directly impacted by the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, to preserve and interpret this significant historic site to the public.”
Secretary Haaland visited the Amache site in February with Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Joe Neguse to honor the 80th Day of Remembrance, marking when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which gave the U.S. Army the authority to remove civilians from the military zones during WWII. While there, Secretary Haaland met with survivors about their experience as incarcerees and learned how that time has shaped them and their families. Images from the visit are available on Flickr.
To establish the park, the National Park Service will work with the Town of Granada to acquire the lands intended in the law, a process is likely to take more than a year.
For more information visit nps.gov/AMCH.