Amache: The New National Park That Honors Japanese American History

Amache National Historic Site, located in southeastern Colorado, has become the newest national park in the United States. The site preserves the history and legacy of more than 10,000 Japanese Americans who were incarcerated there during World War II.

Amache: A Place of Injustice and Resilience

Amache, also known as the Granada Relocation Center, was one of 10 incarceration sites established by the War Relocation Authority in 1942, following the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The order authorized the removal of over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast of the United States, regardless of their citizenship status, and confined them in remote and harsh locations across the country.

Amache housed 7,310 incarcerees at its peak, two-thirds of whom were United States citizens. The incarcerees faced many challenges and hardships, such as poor living conditions, limited resources, harsh weather, and discrimination. Despite these difficulties, they also demonstrated resilience and creativity, by organizing schools, clubs, sports, arts, and other activities to maintain a sense of community and dignity.

Amache: A National Historic Site and Park

Amache was closed in 1945, after the end of World War II, and most of the buildings and structures were dismantled or sold. However, some remnants of the camp, such as the cemetery, the monument, the concrete foundations, the road network, and a few reconstructed and restored buildings, were preserved by Amache survivors and their descendants, the Town of Granada, the Amache Preservation Society, and other individuals and organizations.

National Park That Honors Japanese American History

In 1994, Amache was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2006, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. In March 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Amache National Historic Site Act, which authorized the establishment of Amache as part of the National Park System, pending the acquisition and donation of the land by the Town of Granada. On February 15, 2024, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland formally established Amache National Historic Site, following the completion of the land transfer.

Amache: A Place of Education and Remembrance

Amache is now the seventh national park that preserves and interprets the history of Japanese American incarceration during World War II, joining Manzanar, Minidoka, Tule Lake, Heart Mountain, Topaz, and Honouliuli. These sites aim to educate the public about this dark and unjust chapter of American history, and to honor the courage and sacrifice of those who endured it.

Amache’s establishment comes as the nation prepares for the Day of Remembrance of Japanese American Incarceration During World War II, recognized each year on February 19. This date marks the anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066 in 1942. The Day of Remembrance is an opportunity to reflect on the lessons and legacy of this experience, and to reaffirm the values of democracy, justice, and equality for all.

“As a nation, we must face the wrongs of our past in order to build a more just and equitable future. The Interior Department has the tremendous honor of stewarding America’s public lands and natural and cultural resources to tell a complete and honest story of our nation’s history,” said Secretary Haaland, who visited the Amache site in February 2022. “Today’s establishment of the Amache National Historic Site will help preserve and honor this important and painful chapter in our nation’s story for future generations.”

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