Buck, Neguse float bill to make former Japanese internment camp near Granada a national park

Sara Wilson
LA Junta Tribune
The guard tower still stands at the site of Camp Amache, where U.S. citizens of Japanese descent were housed during World War II.

A former Japanese American internment camp in the southeastern corner of Colorado where more than 7,000 people were incarcerated during World War II could soon become a national park. 

Legislation introduced Wednesday by Reps. Ken Buck, R-Colo., and Joe Neguse, D-Colo., would designate Amache, also known as the Granada Relocation Center, as a national historic site. It is one of 10 military-style prisons where people of Japanese descent were incarcerated during the first months of World War II. 

“The nation is better today because of the lessons we have learned from our past. Preserving Amache serves as one of those hard lessons for the people of Eastern Colorado and the rest of our nation,” Buck, who represents the district where Amache is located, said in a statement.

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The bill follows up on the Amache Study Act, also introduced by Buck and passed in 2019 as part of a conservation package, that directed the Department of the Interior to study the site’s historical significance to determine its suitability as a national park. 

In October 2020, Otero County Commissioners signed a letter to the National Park Service in support of designating it a national park.  

On the site still remains the cemetery, reservoir, a water well and tank, the road network, concrete foundations, watch towers, the military police compound and trees planted by the internees, according to the National Park Service.  

Currently managed by the Amache Preservation Society, the site was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1994 and designated a national historical landmark in 2006. If it becomes a historic site, the National Park Service would take over management.  

Neguse is the chair of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. He said that the internment of Japanese Americans is one of the “darkest scars” in American history, especially significant in Colorado. 

The designation of a national park could “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,” he said. 

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Former Rep. Mike Honda was interred at Amache with his family beginning in 1942.  

“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.  

Chieftain reporter Sara Wilson can be reached via email at SWilson@gannett.com or on Twitter @WilsonSaraJane.