Tule Lake was the largest and longest-lived of the ten camps built by the civilian War Relocation Authority (WRA) to house Japanese Americans relocated from the west coast of the United States under the terms of Executive Order 9066. In 1943, Tule Lake was converted to a maximum security segregation center for evacuees from all the relocation centers whom the WRA had identified as “disloyal.” Consequently, it had the most guard towers, the largest number of military police, eight tanks, and its own jail and stockade. In spite of the high security, the center continued to be plagued by conflict; in November 1943, Tule Lake was taken over by the army and continued under martial laws until January 1944. Protests from the Japanese government and from the California Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union eventually led to the release of all prisoners held in the stockade. More historic buildings survive at Tule Lake than at any of the other relocation centers. The extant stockade jail, large sections of the original barbed wire fence, and many of the buildings constructed to house the military police survive to testify to the high security that defined the segregation center. Penciled graffiti inscribed by imprisoned evacuees survives in the jail. An almost unaltered recreation building and a complex of industrial buildings also survive; there are few examples of either building type remaining at any of the other relocation centers. This relocation center was designated a National Historic Landmark in February, 2006 for its national importance in the historic context of Japanese Americans in World War II.
Images for top banner from NPS Historic Photograph Collection (Rainbow over Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, by Thomas C. Gray, [HPC-001345]) and the Palau Historic Preservation Office.