Senators Feinstein and Boxer Introduce Measure to Require the Interior Department to Study the Feasibility of Designating Tule Lake World War II Internment Camp as a National Historic Site
May 24 2007
Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-Calif.) today introduced a measure to require the Department of the Interior to study the feasibility of designating Tule Lake Segregation Center – a World War II-era Japanese American internment camp, located in Northern California – as a National Historic Site.
“The Tule Lake Segregation Center is a poignant reminder of the bleak experience of the Japanese Americans who were uprooted from their homes and removed to this site during World War II,” Senator Feinstein said. “Including the Tule Lake Center in our National Park system would help ensure that the site is preserved for future generations to learn first-hand from the lesson of this terrible injustice. Passing this legislation would be a fitting tribute to honor the memories of the Tule Lake internees, especially since this year marks the grim anniversary of the internment of Japanese Americans 65 years ago. And it would help ensure that this dark chapter in our nation’s history is never again repeated.”
Senator Boxer said, “As an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II, the Tule Lake Segregation Center is a landmark with a sad history. By preserving it in our National Park System, it will forever serve as a reminder of what happens when we disregard our values and forget what it means to be American. I am so proud to be joining Senator Feinstein in this effort to make sure that the lessons of history are never forgotten.”
Last February, as a result of the efforts of Senator Feinstein, Interior Secretary Gale Norton designated the Tule Lake Segregation Center site as a National Historic Landmark. The site was designated as a landmark on February 19, 2006.
Specifically, this bill would authorize the National Park Service to study the feasibility and suitability of managing the federal lands at Tule Lake as a 42-acre National Historic Site, to be managed as part of the Lava Beds National Monument. Through this legislation, the National Park Service will develop various management alternatives for the site and give the public an opportunity to comment on the alternatives, through a public process. And it would require the Park Service to submit a report of conclusions and recommendations to Congress one year after receiving funding to carry out the study.
This legislation has been endorsed by the Modoc County Board of Supervisors. And a companion bill is being introduced today in the House by Representatives John Doolittle (R-Calif.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.).
During World War II, the federal government ordered the evacuation and internment of over 120,000 Japanese-Americans at ten internment camps and other sites across the country. Tule Lake, in Northern California, was the largest and one of the most infamous of the internment camps.
Prisoners there held frequent demonstrations and strikes, demanding their rights under the U.S. Constitution. As a result, it was made a "segregation camp," and internees from other camps who had refused to take the loyalty oath or had caused disturbances were sent to Tule Lake. At its peak, Tule Lake held 18,789 internees. Tule Lake was also one of the last camps to be closed, staying open until March 20, 1946.
Of all of the former camp sites, Tule Lake has retained some of the most significant historic features dating back to the internment. The federally-owned lands include numerous camp buildings in their original locations, most notably the camp stockade, which was a “jail within a jail.”