Some of the World War II Japanese American incarceration sites

WASHINGTON — The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) recognizes and commemorates the Day of Remembrance by urging support for current and future Japanese American incarceration sites protected by the National Park Service (NPS).

Preserving these sacred spaces of healing and education helps tell a more complete U.S. history and ensures that past mistakes are not repeated.    

Feb. 19 marks the day, 80 years ago, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 and put into law one of the most shameful federal anti-Japanese efforts of our time. The order called for the unconstitutional removal of Japanese Americans, most of them U.S. citizens, from their homes and into incarceration sites. Held without trial or hearing, over 120,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned on U.S. soil during World War II. 

This day is now known as the Day of Remembrance.   

While some incarceration sites are now protected as national park sites within the National Park System, the designation does not end the development threats. At Minidoka National Historic Site in Idaho, where 13,000 Japanese Americans were held, the Biden Administration is considering the Lava Ridge Wind Project. If approved, Minidoka — now a place of learning and healing — would be overshadowed by 400 wind turbines taller than the Washington Monument and the Seattle Space Needle.   

“Minidoka National Historic Site is sacred ground to Japanese Americans. It’s a place where people come to mourn, process what happened to them, and begin to heal,” explained Robyn Achilles, executive director of Friends of Minidoka. “It’s vital that we continue to honor and protect Minidoka so we can acknowledge and learn from our past mistakes. Sadly, the Lava Ridge wind proposal by LS Power devalues the importance of this American story. Renewable energy and racial justice can coexist, if renewable energy projects are responsibly implemented to protect our country’s cultural and historical treasures.”    

While Minidoka is among the Japanese American incarceration sites under NPS protection, there are more places to preserve and stories to tell. The Amache incarceration site, located in Granada, Colo., where over 7,500 Japanese Americans were imprisoned, is not under the NPS. While the Amache National Historic Site Act passed the House, it is still awaiting full Senate approval.    

“The Amache Preservation Society has always wanted to do what was best for the Japanese American families that had to endure Amache,” said John Hopper of the Amache Preservation Society and Granada School District. “It is for this reason that we feel that it needs to become a part of the National Park System. For the sake of our country and the future of our children, the Amache National Historic Site Act now needs to become law.” 

“The Day of Remembrance instills in us the necessity of expanding national parks that represent all communities and their experiences. Preserving Japanese American incarceration sites is at the heart of who we are as conservationists and advocates for all communities’ stories,” said Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of NPCA. “We must protect these narratives so that we never forget and, more importantly, never repeat the shameful mistakes of our country’s past.”  

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