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land of fire
I. THE LAND OF FIRE: JAPANESE CULTURE
Tule Lake Internment Camp Site
A. Summary of Japanese internment camps/introduction
i. Executive Order 9066:
February 19, 1942; President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued “Executive Order 9066,” ordering Japanese Americans to internment camps. Torn from their homes and under poor living conditions, 120,000 American born citizens of Japanese decent were ordered to isolation because of their ethnicity. “The Order, which eliminated the constitutional protections of due process and violated the Bill of Rights, was issued February 19, 1942 following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.”
ii. War Relocation Authority (WRA) Camps:
used to carry out the government’s system of exclusion and detention of persons of Japanese descent.
iii. Wartime Relocation Act:
ordered any persons of Japanese decent to relocate to an internment camp, where they would be held until the war (WWII) resided. “Two-thirds of the 120,000 persons of Japanese descent incarcerated in American concentration camps were American citizens, an act that culminated decades of anti-Japanese violence, discrimination and propaganda.”
B. The Tule Lake Internment Camp:
Tule Lake was the largest and most controversial of the ten War Relocation Authority WRA camps used to carry out the government’s system of exclusion and detention of persons of Japanese descent, mandated by Executive Order 9066.
Tule Lake opened May 26, 1942, detaining persons of Japanese descent removed from western Washington, Oregon and Northern California. With a peak population of 18,700, Tule Lake was the largest of the camps - the only one turned into a high-security segregation center, ruled under martial law and occupied by the Army. Due to turmoil and strife, Tule Lake was the last to close, on March 28, 1946.
ii. Tule Lake Segregation Center:
initialized to detain Japanese-Americans who were deemed potential enemies of America because of their response to an infamous, loyalty questionnaire intended to distinguish loyal American citizens from enemy alien supporters of Japan:
a. Question 27:
“Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?”
b. Question 28:
“Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization?”
i. The “No-Nos” gave negative responses to Questions 27 and 28 or refused to answer them. Refusal to answer or “No” answers were viewed as proof of disloyalty, and resulted in removal to Tule Lake, which became the Segregation Center because it had the highest proportion of persons who answered “No” to 27 and 28.
C. Tule Lake Internment: Cultural Effects upon Japanese Americans
i. Tule Lake Conditions:
Unsanitary, squalid living conditions, inadequate medical care, poor food, and unsafe working conditions had prompted protests at several camps. In November 1943 a series of meetings and protests over poor living conditions at Tule Lake prompted the Army to impose martial law over the camp.
Cultural Effects on the Interned
: During the time of internment, many Japanese Americans tried to retain their cultural heritage through storytelling and art. Unfortunately, Questions 27 and 28 forced Japanese American’s to rid their allegiance to the Emperor of Japan. Often, Japanese American’s within the camps refrained to mention any of Japan’s history in fear of being sent to Tule Lake Segregation Center.
iii. The Redress Movement:
Starting in 1974, Tule Lake was the site of several pilgrimages by activists calling for an official apology from the U.S. government. This Redress Movement culminated in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The pilgrimages, serving educational purposes, continue to this day.
iv. Public Law 405:
Public Law 405 was passed by Congress and signed by President Roosevelt on July 1, 1944. This law, directed at Japanese Americans in Tule Lake, permitted an American citizen to renounce their citizenship in wartime.
Of the 5,589 Japanese Americans who renounced their U.S. citizenship, 5,461 were detained at Tule Lake, where 70% of all adult American citizens there renounced. At Tule Lake, 73% of families had at least one member who gave up their citizenship. Of that group, 1,327 of them, including young children, were expatriated to Japan.
B. Tule Lake Internment: the Internment Camp’s Cultural Effects upon Tule Lake
i. Restoration and Preservation:
On December 21, 2006 U.S. President George W. Bush signed H.R. 1492 into law guaranteeing $38,000,000 in federal money to restore the Tule Lake relocation center along with nine other former Japanese internment camps.
The Tule Lake Segregation Center:
built to tell “a cautionary tale to Californians and all Americans of how fragile our rights truly are and the need for continuing vigilance to protect our civil liberties and civil rights. Tule Lake’s significance and unique and tragic role in American history is reflected in its National Historic Landmark status (2006) and its National Monument status (2008).”
The National Park Service and The Tule Lake Committee presented a dedication ceremony for the Tule Lake Unit at the grounds of the Segregation Center NHL: conducted by The Tule Lake Committee over the Fourth of July weekend in 2009, over 400 people attended the pilgrimage.
ii. Jail preservation:
In 2009, the Tule Lake Committee was awarded a matching grant from the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program to complete a Historic Structures Report on the stockade jail structure.
iii. Save America’s Treasures:
The Tule Lake Committee was awarded a prestigious Save America’s Treasures matching grant to rehabilitate a historic Carpenter’s Shop used during the operation of the Segregation Center.
E. Reparations for Japanese Americans and Japanese American Culture Today
i. 1988 Reparations:
Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed legislation which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government. The legislation stated that government actions were based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership". Over $1.6 billion in reparations were later disbursed by the U.S. Government to Japanese Americans who had either suffered internment or were heirs of those who had suffered internment.
ii. Oral Histories:
The Tule Lake Committee is partnering with Densho and the National Japanese Historical Society to complete full-life oral histories of persons who were incarcerated in Tule Lake and renounced their U.S. citizenship.
iii. 2010 Pilgrimage to Tule Lake:
Tule Lake Committee is in the middle of organizing its 18th pilgrimage to the site of the Tule Lake Segregation Center. The pilgrimage will be held this July 2 through 5, 2010 in Tule Lake and Klamath Falls. It is a four day event, that includes a round-trip bus journey to the site, a day of organized tours to the Tule Lake site, a morning of intergenerational discussion groups, afternoon of workshops and discussions groups, a memorial service to honor the memory of those incarcerated at Tule Lake, and an evening cultural performance to which the Tulelake and Klamath Falls regional community are invited. This year is the third year that the Tule Lake Committee is waiving the all-inclusive pilgrimage fee of $395 for former inmates of Tule Lake who are 80 and older, to encourage those who were older teens and young adults, especially “no-nos” and renunciants, to attend the pilgrimage.
Tule Lake Internment Pictures
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