Bill Would Incorporate Amache, a Former Japanese American Incarceration Facility in Granada, Into the National Park System
Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper introduced 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.
“The incarceration of Japanese Americans is a shameful part of America’s history and Amache is a prominent site in that dark past,” said Bennet. “Adding Amache to the National Park System will preserve its story, so future generations learn from our mistakes. The new designation will serve as an inspiration to continue to pursue justice for all who call our state and country home.”
"The internment of Japanese Americans is a dark stain on our nation's past,” said Hickenlooper, a member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee which has jurisdiction over the bill. “The Amache National Historic Site will honor those who suffered and help ensure history doesn’t repeat itself."
“The Amache Preservation Society has always wanted to do its best for the Japanese American families who endured wrongful incarceration here. We appreciated when Senator Bennet visited in 2017 to tour the landmark with us and see the museum we run as local volunteers. Amache becoming a National Park System site would help alleviate the significant demands placed on us as we’ve spent countless hours maintaining this important legacy, which includes the Amache Museum and Research Center,” said the Amache Preservation Society.
“Three generations of my family from California were detained at the Granada Relocation Center known as Amache, but this is more than a West Coast Story. This is an opportunity -- long overdue and relevant today -- to share a time in history that has been largely forgotten and educate a wider audience. The time is right for Amache to become part of the NPS family. I thank the Members of Congress who’ve responded to our Call to Action to pass this legislation,” said Mitch Homma, Amache Descendant, Amache Historical Society II & American Baptist Historical Society Vice President.
“We are grateful Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper have introduced this companion bill and we strongly support the passage of this legislation in Congress. Amache deserves to be recognized as a National Historic Site. We hope this guarantees that its history, importance, and symbolism will be shared for generations to come. Though we often conveniently ignore this fact, much work is needed to reach our shared aspiration of justice and equity for all. This is a great opportunity to take a giant leap toward honoring those who suffered, comforting those who still struggle, and educating future generations about the harsh and lasting impacts of wrongful action,” said Robin Lawrentz, President, Japan America Society of Southern Colorado (JASSC).
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, 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, former U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and U.S. Representative Ken Buck (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 approval.
This legislation is supported by the following organizations and government enteties: National Veterans Network, Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), Colorado Municipal League, Colorado School of Public Health, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, Colorado Council of Churches, Japanese American National Museum, Japanese American Confinement Sites Consortium (JACSC) Japanese American Services Committee, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Region, Fred T. Korematsu Institute, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Amache Preservation Society, The Nikkeijin Kai of Colorado, Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans. University of Denver Amache Project, History Colorado, Colorado Community College System, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, Sand Creek Massacre Foundation, Sakura Foundation, Outdoor Asian Colorado Chapter, Canyons & Plains of Southeast Colorado, Colorado Preservation, Inc., Japan-America Society of Southern Colorado, Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development, Inc., Southeast Colorado Business Retention Expansion & Attraction, The Wilderness Society, National Japanese American Historical Society, Japanese American Resource Center of Colorado, Amache Alliance, Simpson United Methodist Church, Densho, Amache Historical Society II, Defiende Nuestra Tierra, Change Matrix, Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network, Japanese Arts Network, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, High Country Conservation Advocates, Rocky Mountain Wild, Canyons & Plains of Southeast Colorado No Ke Aloha, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, Asian Avenue Magazine, Nathan Yip Foundation, Friends of Minidoka, Asian Chamber of Commerce, Action 22, Colorado Next 100 Coalition, Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Colorado, C ORE: Community Organizing for Radical Empathy, Lamar Community College, Trinidad State Community College, Bent County Historical Society, Otero Junior College, Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, Town of Granada, Baca County Commissioners, Crowley County Commissioners, Otero County Board of Commissioners, City of La Junta, Kiowa County Board of Commissioners, Prowers County Board of Commissioners, and Mayor's Office: City & County of Denver.