Camp Amache, a former Japanese internment camp in Colorado, could become national historic site

Camp Amache, where thousands of Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants were held against their will during World War II, would become a national historic site under bipartisan legislation introduced Wednesday by two Coloradans.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ken Buck and Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse co-authored the bill. Buck represents the rural southeast Colorado area where the Amache incarceration site is, and Neguse chairs the U.S. House subcommittee that oversees national parks and public lands.

The internment camp west of Granada, at that time known as the Granada War Relocation Center, was constructed in 1942. It housed more than 7,000 people of Japanese descent — most of whom were American citizens — in the 1940s due to a presidential executive order and was one of 10 internment camps. The site has been a national historic landmark since 2006.

“The Amache Preservation Society has always wanted to do what was best for the Japanese American families that had to endure Amache,” John Hopper of the Amache Preservation Society said in a news release. “It is for this reason that we feel that it needs to become a part of the national park system.”

A barracks at the site has been reconstructed, and a water tower and guard tower were restored.

“The nation is better today because of the lessons we have learned from our past,” Buck said. “Preserving Amache serves as one of those hard lessons for the people of eastern Colorado and the rest of our nation.”

Buck’s news release also quoted former U.S. Rep. Mike Honda of California, whose family was sent to Amache when he was a year old.

“I hope that Congress will pass the Amache legislation to build on Congress’s bipartisan leadership to acknowledge that what happened to Japanese Americans was wrong and to help us live as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” Honda said.

Neguse says the bill will be considered on April 21 by a subcommittee he chairs. He said the legislation “will provide education for future generations on this dark time in our nation’s history, as well as healing and honor to those that lived it.”

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