Press Release Apr 14, 2021

Parks group welcomes bipartisan bill to make Amache a National Historic Site

The Amache National Historic Site Act will permanently protect the former incarceration camp and ensure the survivors’ stories are told and remembered

Denver, CO – A former Japanese American incarceration camp in Colorado may be one of our next national park sites, following legislation introduced today by U.S. Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO) and Representative Ken Buck (R-CO). The National Parks Conservation Association commends this progress, which would designate Amache National Historic Site.

“As America’s storyteller, the National Park Service is entrusted with preserving and sharing the places like Amache, that reflect our past, present and ideally future values as a nation,” said Tracy Coppola, Colorado program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “The story of what happened at Amache deserves to be told in its fullest form. The Amache National Historic Site Act will preserve and protect this story, while challenging us all to reflect, heal, and act toward a better future where justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are our nation’s top priorities.

“Considering the current scourge of anti-Asian American Pacific Islander hate crimes, our country needs places like this more than ever to ensure that these lessons of the past are learned and remembered. We commend Congressman Neguse and Congressman Buck for introducing this bill.”

During World War II, approximately 120,000 people were forcibly relocated and imprisoned behind barbed wire in remote military-style “camps” for three years. More than 7,500 Japanese Americans were incarcerated at the Amache internment camp, also known as the Granada Relocation Center. Most prisoners were American citizens, imprisoned simply because of their Japanese ancestry.

The Amache National Historic Site Act (HR2497) is also supported by broad array of stakeholders, including Amache survivors and descendants, Asian American organizations, civil rights groups, veterans groups, local and state elected officials, academics and conservationists.

“I urge Congress to pass the Amache National Historic Site Act. The time is not only right. It is long overdue,” said Bob Fuchigami, Amache survivor.

“I hope that Congress will pass the Amache legislation to build on Congress’s bipartisan leadership to acknowledge that what happened to Japanese Americans was wrong and to help us live as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” said Mike Honda, former Member of Congress and Amache survivor.

“My father, Fred Korematsu, was an American civil rights hero who bravely resisted the Japanese American incarceration during World War II and dedicated his life to protecting the civil liberties of all people,” said Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director, The Fred T. Korematsu Institute. “His story resonates today as a critical example of the lifelong impacts of losing one’s fundamental rights and freedoms. Now, more than ever, the lessons of history need to be learned. I urge Congress to pass the Amache National Historic Site Act.”

“Preserving and protecting the Amache site is a key opportunity toward enhancing the goal to interpret and investigate our past by telling a more complete story of Colorado and our nation” said Derek Okubo, an Amache descendant. “In doing so, we will ensure that this stain on our nation’s history is never repeated. I call on Congress to pass the Amache National Historic Site Act.”

“My great-grandparents were from samurai families, college educated, and started churches for the American Baptist in Japan and the U.S. Grandfather was a dentist with movie stars as patients. My family was educated, devoted to their Christian church leaders, and full of professionals serving their community” said Mitch Homma, an Amache descendant. “But none of that mattered—three generations of my family were detained behind barbed wire at Amache because they had Japanese faces and names. Amache is a story we cannot forget—with the Amache National Historic Site Act we have a chance to preserve, honor, and protect it—because it is very much a story that is alive today.”

“The Amache Preservation Society has always wanted to do what was best for the Japanese American families that had to endure Amache” said John Hopper, representing the Amache Preservation Society and the Granada School District. “It is for this reason that we feel that it needs to become a part of the National Park System. For the sake of our country and the future of our children, I urge Congress to pass the Amache National Historic Site Act.”

Additional quotes can be found here.

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About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

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