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California: Telling story of WWII-era Tule Lake detention center

April 05, 2013|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • Players walk onto the field before a game at Tule Lake Segregation Center for Japanese Americans in 1944.
Players walk onto the field before a game at Tule Lake Segregation Center…

Tule Lake Segregation Center in Tulelake, Calif., just south of the Oregon border, was the largest of the 10 relocation camps across the country where Japanese Americans were rounded up and held during World War II.

Now the story of the former camp will be told through traveling exhibits and a restored building at what has become a national historic landmark. The National Park Service awarded $1.4 million in grants Tuesday to fund projects in seven states to help tell the story of the 120,000 detainees scattered nationwide.

The money comes from a fund established by Congress in 2006 to make sure the story of injustice doesn't die with the generation that lived it.

"The confinement of Japanese Americans during World War II is a dark chapter in our nation’s history," National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in announcing the awards. "These grants ensure that their stories will never be forgotten."

Of the $1.4 million, $192,427 was awarded to fix the on-site jail at the Tule Lake center. The center, previously a Civilian Conservations Corps camp, became a maximum security site that housed detainees deemed to be "disloyal" by the War Relocation Authority. As a result, it had the most guard towers, military police, etc., than other centers, according to the National Park Service.

An additional $73,675 will develop an educational curriculum about the center for fourth- to 12th-graders. Grants also will underwrite an ongoing exhibit "Uprooted! Japanese Americans During World War II" to be developed by the California Museum in Sacramento and an exhibit of photos and oral histories titled "The Art of Survival: Tule Lake 1942-1946."

In 2008, the center and additional area became the Tule Lake Unit of the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which includes eight other sites in Hawaii and Alaska. The Tule Lake Unit has a visitor center at the Tulelake Fairgrounds open June through August only. Guided tours are offered of the camp and the center in summer.

The only other detention camp in California is Manzanar National Historic Site north of Lone Pine, Calif.

Info: Tule Lake Unit, (530) 260-0537
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