By SAMANTHA MASUNAGA
RAFU STAFF INTERN
In the 1940s, the Tule Lake War Relocation Authority camp jail was a cold concrete building with iron doors for internees who were arrested without a charge and held without a hearing.
Years later, the same building was completely open: iron doors and window bars removed by either the government or scrap-metal collectors, making the once formidable jail into a home for birds and rodents.
However, the jail and stockade at Tule Lake, in addition to 18 other historic locations at which Japanese Americans were detained during World War II, will receive grants from the National Park Service to aid in preservation and interpretation efforts.
Announced Friday, these 19 projects were chosen from a total of 32 proposals to receive funding from the JA Confinement Sites Program, said Kara Miyagishima, historian at the National Park Service.
The grants will go towards funding a variety of projects, ranging from the construction of an interpretive learning center at Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming to a traveling exhibit on the Honouliuli Internment Camp in Hawaii.
This is the first time that these grants have been awarded.
The projects were selected based on their adherence to guidelines created in part by input from the public, as well as former internees, Miyagishima said.
She added that a common theme among the guideline suggestions was the project’s ability to address critical need. This includes urgency based on the necessary preservation of a site, or the fact that oral history from internees needed to be documented.
A selection committee comprised of National Park Service federal employees chose the beneficiaries, awarding a total of $960,000 in grants.
The JA Confinement Site Program was established by Congress in 2006 to preserve the locations where JAs were held after the attack on Pearl Harbor. This law authorizes up to $38 million in grant funding, although Congress only appropriated $1 million for the current fiscal year, according to a press release.
However, projects benefiting from the program were required to raise some of their own funds and “in-kind” contributions. For every $2 of federal funding, the project needed to have $1 in non-federal funds, which could include monetary contributions or volunteer labor, materials, or resources, Miyagishima said.
One of the beneficiary organizations is the Tule Lake Committee, which received $40,000 to preserve the Tule Lake stockade and jail.
“I was elated,” said Hiroshi Shimizu, president of the Tule Lake Committee. “In terms of injustice, the jail was a very significant structure.”
He added that the committee is making plans as to how much restoration is needed, as well as the options for restoration.
Filmmaker Cory Shiozaki also received $49,400 in grant money from the program to fund his documentary, “From Barbed Wire to Barbed Hooks.” Created in part by Shiozaki’s own interest in fishing, as well as a famous Toyo Miyatake photo, the documentary focuses on the Manzanar fisherman who sneaked away from the camp under the cover of darkness to go fishing in the nearby streams and rivers.
“It’s a unique untold story,” Shiozaki said. “Internees utilized fishing as a way to feel free.”
Shiozaki added that his project was much more than a simple film. In addition to his documentary, Shiozaki is also a docent at the Manzanar National Historic Site who guides twice-yearly walking tours of the sites that fisherman used to frequent while also creating a traveling exhibit about the Manzanar fishermen.
Grant funding was not limited to the continental United States and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii was also the recipient of $43,187 for the establishment of a traveling outdoor exhibit describing the Honouliuli Internment Camp in Honolulu County.
Contrary to the west coast of the U.S., there was no mass exodus or exclusion of JAs in Hawaii, although Issei community leaders, in addition to Kibei and several Nisei were held at several detention centers, said Brian Niiya, director of program development at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.
Among the eight known centers is the Honouliuli camp in central Oahu, which has become the focus of preservation efforts. Although it is now largely inaccessible, Niiya said that, archeologically, there is an abundance of material still in the vicinity.
“We have a really great shot to get Honouliuli to be a visitor site,” he said. “There is a lot of potential and we want to follow in the footsteps of what was done at Manzanar.”
Beneficiary Projects that will Receive Grant Funding from the JA Confinement Site Grant Program:
Poston Community Alliance
Saving the Stories: Oral Histories and Digitization of Former Poston
Detainees and Staff
Colorado River Indian (Poston) Relocation Center $25,994
Japanese American Citizens League, Livingston-Merced Chapter
Merced, CA Merced Assembly Center Commemorative Memorial
Merced Assembly Center,
Merced County, CA
Japanese American Citizens League, Marysville
Arboga Assembly Center Project
Arboga (Marysville) Assembly Center, Yuba County, CA
From Barbed Wire to Barbed Hooks
Manzanar Relocation Center, Inyo County, CA
National Japanese American Historical Society, Inc.
Mapping and Building Sites of Japanese Americans during World War II
Multiple sites, counties and states
Tule Lake Committee
Preserving the Tule Lake Stockade and Jail
Tule Lake Relocation Center, Modoc County, CA
Hawaii Heritage Center
Administration Building and Fire House Existing Condition Analysis Report Honouliuli Internment Camp,Honolulu County, HI
Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii
Hawai’i Confinement Sites Project Traveling Exhibit
Multiple sites and counties in Hawaii
University of Hawai’i
Multidisciplinary Research and Education at
Honouliuli Internment Camp Honouliuli Internment Camp, Honolulu County, HI $26,148
University of Hawai’i Center for Oral History Honolulu
Captive on the U.S. Mainland: Oral Histories of Hawaii-Born Nisei
Multiple sites and counties in Hawaii
University of Idaho
Kooskia Internment Camp Archaeological Project
Kooskia Internment Camp, Idaho County, ID
Japanese American Service Committee
Winning the Peace: An Exhibit on the U.S.
Military Intelligence Service Multiple sites, counties and states
Japanese American Citizens League, Twin Cities Chapter
Minnesota Japanese American Oral History Project
Multiple sites, counties and states
Historical Museum at Fort Missoula
Restoration of Enemy Alien Hearing Courtroom in Post Headquarters at the Department of Justice Missoula Alien Detention Camp
Fort Missoula Internment Camp, Missoula County, MT
United Tribes Technical College
United Tribes/Fort Lincoln Planning Conference Fort Lincoln Internment Camp, Burleigh County, ND
Texas Historical Commission
An Untold Story from World War II: Japanese Confinement at Crystal City,
Crystal City Internment Camp, Zavala County, TX
Topaz Museum Interpretive Design Project
Central Utah (Topaz) Relocation Center, Millard County, UT
Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project
Stories Less Told: Video Oral Histories of Japanese American Incarceration
10 WRA Relocation Centers in multiple counties and states
Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation
Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center
Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Park County, WY