The Tule Lake Unit of the National Park Service’s WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument is seeking input from the public on how to present and interpret the story of the Tule Lake Segregation Center.
NPS staff members, including Tule Lake Superintendent Mike Reynolds and Project Manager Anna Tamura, have held community meetings in the town of Tulelake, located near the site of the camp; Klamath Falls, Portland and Hood River in Oregon; Auburn and Seattle in Washington; and Little Tokyo, Carson (CSU Dominguez Hills) and San Diego in Southern California.
The goal is to develop a long-term plan for the Tule Lake site, incorporating as many suggestions as possible. Many Japanese Americans who were interned at Tule Lake and other camps have offered their recommendations.
A virtual meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 5, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. To participate, click here.
Another virtual meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 3 to 5 p.m.
This month’s community meetings will focus on Northern California. The schedule is as follows:
• Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Sierra II Cener, 2791 24th St., Sacramento.
• Wednesday, Sept. 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley.
• Thursday, Sept. 19, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Nihonmachi Terrace, 1615 Sutter St., San Francisco (note change in location from previous announcement).
• Thursday, Sept. 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, 535 N. 5th St., San Jose.
The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, established on Dec. 5, 2008, serves as a reminder of the hardships endured on the home front during World War II, with monuments in California, Hawaii, and Alaska. The two sites of the Tule Lake Unit, the Tule Lake Segregation Center, located in Newell, and Camp Tulelake, located along Hill Road just west of Tulelake, represent the unique history of the small community living there during this period.
The Tule Lake Segregation Center, one of 10 camps established throughout the U.S. under the auspices of the War Relocation Authority, held 18,789 of the 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry who were displaced from their homes and forcibly moved. These people, mostly American citizens, lost nearly everything they had worked for.
It was transformed into a segregation center in 1943 when a loyalty questionnaire was used to separate the supposedly “loyal” from the “disloyal” amongst the Japanese Americans. Due to the harsh conditions of the center, along with misinformation and rumors, strife and controversy arose. This led to the construction of a stockade, with a jail, and the implementation of martial law.
Camp Tulelake began as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in 1935, housing young men between the ages of 17 and 28 who were employed as a measure to reduce the rampant unemployment and economic chaos that gripped the nation. These men rehabilitated and expanded the use of public lands.
In 1943 it was transformed to hold 100 men from the Tule Lake Segregation Center who refused to answer the loyalty questionnaire. Later that same year it was used to house a group of 243 Japanese Americans from other camps to break a farm strike at the segregation center.
In 1944 it was then converted into a prisoner of war camp. Remodeled by 150 Italian POWs, it held 800 German POWs who worked in the Tulelake Basin, helping local farmers harvest and tend their fields.