CSUDH to Host NPS Planning Workshop for Preservation of Tule Lake

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Tule Lake Unit Superintendent Mike Reynolds and his staff held a meeting with community leaders at the Japanese American National Museum in August 2012. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

CARSON — The University Library at CSU Dominguez Hills will host one of several public workshops organized by the National Park Service this summer to plan a vision for the Tule Lake Unit of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which preserves the Tule Lake Segregation Center site where more than 29,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated.

The meeting at CSUDH will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, July 25, on the fifth floor of the library’s South Wing. It will be open to the public.

The Tule Lake Segregation Center was one of 10 camps where 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II without being charged of any crime. President George W. Bush designated the area as a national monument in 2008, the purpose being to preserve, study, and interpret the history and setting of the incarcerations.

Currently there is no comprehensive plan for Tule Lake Unit, and the NPS is seeking to engage the public in determining its future management plans, including how to interpret what occurred at Tule Lake and how to ensure that visitors have meaningful experiences at Tule Lake that are tied to its history.

The Tule Lake Segregation Center hosted one of the largest populations in California north of Sacramento. Two-thirds of those incarcerated there were U.S. citizens. According to Don Hata, CSUDH emeritus professor of history and co-author of “Japanese Americans and World War II: Mass Removal, Imprisonment, and Redress” (with Dr. Nadine Ishitani Hata), Tule Lake was the main camp where individuals who spoke out or were accused of speaking out against their unjust imprisonment were sent. Conditions were among the harshest.

“[I]nsufficient food and housing, midnight raids by bayonet-armed Army troops and sustained solitary isolation, torture and death were employed to intimidate the prisoners. Visitors describe conditions at Tule Lake as ‘akin to an asylum.’ The pervasive sense of hopelessness and despair led many to renounce their citizenship,” said Hata, a native of Los Angeles who was imprisoned with his family at a camp in Gila River, Ariz., when he was three years old.

“No comprehensive history of Tule Lake, using both English and Japanese language resources, has yet be published by scholars. A laudable effort by the National Park Service to solicit community and stakeholder comments, to finally confront and infuse their myriad memories and perspectives, is now under way.”

The NPS has scheduled 15 workshops at various locations throughout California, Oregon and Washington to address the preservation of the Tule Lake Unit’s historic features and landscapes, its internal and adjacent boundaries, and how its areas could be developed for greater public access. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/tule/parkmgmt/index.htm.

CSUDH is located at 1000 E. Victoria St. in Carson. Parking in campus lots is $4, payable at kiosks in each lot. The University Library is in the center of campus. Closest parking is in Lot 6. For directions and a campus map, visit www.csudh.edu/visitus/. For more information about the workshop at the university, call (310) 243-2086.

Other meetings in Southern California are as follows:

• Wednesday, July 24, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St., Suite 505, Los Angeles.

• Friday, July 26, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Thornton Theatre, San Diego History Center, 1649 El Prado, San Diego.

• Saturday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the JACCC.

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