Legislation Now Heads to the Senate for Consideration
Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D) and John Hickenlooper (D) applauded House passage of legislation to establish the Amache National Historic Site, a former Japanese American incarceration facility outside of Granada, Colorado, as part of the National Park System. Colorado U.S. Representatives Joe Neguse (D), Ken Buck (R), Jason Crow (D), Ed Perlmutter (D), and Diana DeGette (D) co-sponsored this bill – which is companion legislation to a bill Bennet and Hickenlooper introduced in the Senate earlier this year – in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“It has never been a guarantee that America's highest ideals will always prevail, and our country’s shameful internment of Japanese Americans during World War II proves that,” said Bennet. “Establishing Amache as a part of the National Park System will preserve its story, so that future generations learn from this dark period in our history. As this legislation advances out of the House, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to pass this important bill."
“We’re one step closer to making Amache a National Historic Site,” said Hickenlooper. “Preserving Amache is about what we choose to remember and what we commit ourselves to prevent. The ball is now in the Senate’s court.”
“Today’s historic passage of the bipartisan Amache National Historic Site by the U.S. House of Representatives is an expression of faith in our future,” said Tracy Coppola, Colorado Program Manager of the National Parks Conservation Association. “We applaud the leadership of Congressman Neguse and Congressman Buck and the enduring voice of the Amache community. We look forward to Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper championing the companion bill among their colleagues next. As America’s storyteller, what the National Park Service chooses to preserve and the stories it chooses to tell reflects our values as a nation, and Amache challenges us all to act toward a better future where justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are America’s top priority. We urge Congress to keep the momentum going and look forward to swiftly getting this bill through the Senate and to President Biden’s desk.”
Last month, Bennet and Hickenlooper sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources asking Chairman Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to hold a hearing to consider this legislation.
Amache was one of ten Japanese American incarceration facilities across the country. During World War II, nearly 10,000 Japanese Americans passed through Amache and over 7,000 lived there between 1942 and 1945. According to the National Park Service (NPS), today “the cemetery, a reservoir, a water well and tank, the road network, concrete foundations, watch towers, the military police compound, and trees planted by the internees still remain.” Amache is currently a National Historic Landmark maintained by the Amache Preservation Society, established by John Hopper, a social studies teacher who is currently the principal of Granada High School, and powered by student volunteers from the high school.
In May 2017, Hopper guided Bennet during his visit to Amache. In May 2018, Bennet, Buck, and former U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), introduced the Amache Study Act, which directed the Department of the Interior to conduct a Special Resource Study (SRS) to assess Amache’s historical significance and determine the feasibility of adding the site to the National Park System. The act was signed into law in 2019 as part of the Dingell Conservation Act. While the study was already underway, the community asked Bennet, Hickenlooper, Neguse and Buck to introduce legislation because, ultimately, adding Amache to the NPS requires Congressional designation.