Press Release Mar 28, 2023

Amache Preservation Society Receives Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award

Through their perseverance to protect Amache as a national park site, the Amache Preservation Society has helped create a place where generations of learning, reflection, and healing can continue.

WASHINGTON – In a special ceremony today, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) awarded the Amache Preservation Society (APS) with the 2022 Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award.

The APS has played a pivotal role at Amache in Colorado, also known as the Granada Relocation Center, which served as an incarceration site for Japanese Americans during World War II. Thanks to the dedication of the APS, along with Amache survivors, descendants, and other advocates in partnership with NPCA, President Biden signed the Amache National Historic Site Act into law in March of 2022. As a new addition to the National Park System, the site will keep this significant piece of history alive while honoring the people who were unjustly imprisoned.

“It is a privilege to work alongside the extraordinary leaders and volunteers at the Amache Preservation Society and honor their work today with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association. “APS Founder John Hopper and the organization’s incredible students have worked tirelessly for decades to keep the stories of Amache alive. Through their perseverance to protect Amache as a national park site, APS has helped create a place where generations of learning, reflection, and healing can continue.”

During the first few months of World War II, in one of the ugliest chapters in American history, the U.S. government ordered more than 120,000 individuals of Japanese descent, to leave their homes. From 1942 to 1945, they were held as prisoners in 10 isolated military-style incarceration centers. At Amache, more than 7,500 individuals were imprisoned, most of whom were American citizens.

APS Founder John Hopper grew up near the incarceration center and his mother worked with a former Amache prisoner. In 1993, after starting a teaching position at the local Granada High School, he expressed concern that the site was being neglected and moved to form the Amache Preservation Society, made up of students as part of the Granada High School curriculum. Among many other projects, the APS established an Amache museum which today contains thousands of achieves and artifacts sent from survivors and descendants. The tireless work of APS to maintain the site ensures that this essential piece of history will not be forgotten. As the National Park Service prepares to officially manage the site, the APS will remain a partner critical to the new park’s success.

“We wish to thank everyone involved with selecting the APS for this prestigious award. The APS has been in existence for 30 years and we have been diligently working for all the families that were confined at Amache,” said John Hopper, Amache Preservation Society. “We have also worked closely with many Japanese American groups, and we look forward to continuing this work with the Amache community and the National Parks Conservation Association well into the foreseeable future.“

“It’s an honor to recognize our friends and partners at APS, who have inspired a nation with their dedication to preserving the history and stories found within the grounds and buildings of Amache,” said Tracy Coppola, Senior Colorado Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “The dedication of these on-the-ground champions and their deep connection to Amache survivors and descendants is what has made this possible. With so many passionate advocates and community support, the preservation of Amache has been a labor of heart and spirit.”

Accepting this award on behalf of the Amache Preservation Society is Mitch Homma. Mitch has been critical to the preservation of Amache story and had three generations of family incarcerated at Amache. Mitch is the President of the Board of Directors of the Amache Alliance and is a major advocate of the APS and several Amache preservation projects.

“The Amache Preservation Society students led by Mr. John Hopper are a model and inspiration for this country’s progress in telling a more representative story,” said Mitch Homma, Amache descendant and Amache Alliance President. “They have taught and changed a town, region, and nation about an almost forgotten historical and cultural site. My family and I are honored that this heroic work will be forever preserved and protected in the National Park System and see much promise for the future ahead.”

Established in 1986, NPCA’s annual Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award honors individuals who go to great lengths to advocate and fight for the protection of our national parks. Named after Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a life-long advocate for Everglades National Park, the award recognizes the outstanding efforts of an individual or group that result in the protection of a national park or proposed site in the National Park System.

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About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 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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