The Manzanar Committee issued the following statement on Dec. 22.
President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Rep. Debra Haaland (D-N.M.) to serve as the next secretary of the interior. The Japanese American community, especially all of us who are actively working to keep the story of “camp” and the forced removal alive, should clearly support this historic nomination.
For the first time in history, a Native American would serve as secretary of the interior, overseeing public lands, Native American affairs, and the National Park Service. For the Manzanar Committee, we know that the Manzanar National Historic Site and other Japanese American confinement sites — many being part of the National Park Service — would receive crucial attention and support for their continued and sustained efforts to record our story and its lessons for sustaining our democracy.
The value of leaders like Rep. Haaland, a person whose lived experience and community’s history bears the scars of some of our nation’s worst practices, cannot be understated. Her nomination is nothing short of an inspired choice.
The constitutional crisis sparked by Executive Order 9066 and the subsequent incarceration of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry hold invaluable lessons for our democracy. As our nation endures the seemingly daily challenges to our constitutional democracy, the telling of our community’s story is more important than ever. It serves as a constant reminder that democracy is a fragile concept that must be celebrated and defended at all times.
We, as the stakeholders of all the confinement sites, the survivors, and descendants of those who lived behind barbed wire from Manzanar, Minidoka, Tule Lake, Bainbridge Island, and all the other sites, must raise our voices in support of Rep. Haaland’s nomination.