Cover Page

Letter to President

Executive Summary


Recommendations &
Proposed Actions

Site Specific Information
& Recommendations



Tule Lake



Heart Mountain


Gila River




Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Report to the President:
Japanese-American Internment Sites Preservation

War Relocation Centers
Recommendations and Proposed Actions

In order for the various Departments and agencies that manage sites associated with the internment period to plan and take appropriate actions to better identify, commemorate, and/or preserve significant remaining sites under their jurisdiction, we recommend the formation of an interdepartmental coordinating council, that would include the appropriate agencies within the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Justice and Defense. We recommend that you consider the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to serve as the appropriate entity to convene and/or provide overall guidance to this interdepartmental council.

The full array of authorities and actions available to the President, Cabinet Secretaries and agencies should be considered as appropriate to achieve more complete identification, recognition, and preservation of as many as possible of the sites associated with the WWII internment of Japanese American citizens.

At present, only one of the Relocation Centers, Manzanar, is fully preserved, as a unit of the national park system. Only one, also Manzanar, is commemorated as a National Historic Landmark (although the Rowher Cemetery is a NHL, the Center itself is not).

Of the ten Relocation Centers, only six are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The additional recognition of significance that Register listing and NHL designation would bring to the sites would be an important element in their long-term preservation. The Department is committed to working with the respective State Historic Preservation Officers, and interested individuals and organizations, in securing appropriate nominations of these sites.

For sites on federal lands, the President has authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to proclaim national monuments. For any site, the Congress can enact legislation to provide additional recognition and/or preservation direction. At a minimum, the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended, provides considerable incentives for historic site preservation, and disincentives for historic site destruction, both for sites already listed, and for those determined eligible for listing, on the National Register of Historic Places.

Each of the Relocation Centers has distinctive resources that illustrate different aspects of the Internment story. Some have structures still standing, while others have no more than a few concrete slabs and the memories of those interned there to mark their existence. Some have significant resources committed toward preservation and interpretation, while others have virtually nothing to document the grave injustice done to the Japanese-Americans imprisoned at these sites.

Recognizing the distinctiveness of each of the sites, the Department will work closely with national, State and local organizations to provide additional protection to these historically significant resources. The Department will focus on increasing the level of Interpretation, Historic Recognition, and Consultation for the sites. In addition, DOI will continue to coordinate with any ongoing or proposed legislative efforts for specific sites.

In addition to the site specific recommendations included in Appendix A, the Department will:


Develop a web site to help increase the American public's awareness of the Relocation Centers. The web site will be a strong interpretive tool, especially for those who might not have the opportunity to visit the sites in person. The web site will be designed with a home page that will provide an introduction and links to other pages discussing the historic context of the Centers. Historic photos will be used to illustrate these pages. These pages will discuss a variety of topics, including:

  • Executive Order No. 9066;
  • Historic perspective on the prelude to the relocation of the Japanese-American people;
  • Construction of the Centers;
  • Living conditions and way of life in the Centers;
  • Closing of the Centers after the war; and
  • Aftermath for the Japanese-American detainees.
  • Links to a map showing the location of the Centers and individual pages for each property, as well as links to other organizations' existing web sites. The pages for each Center will contain information about the property and will use historic and current photos as illustrations.
  • Bibliography providing resources for users to obtain additional information about the sites.

Develop an interpretive concept plan for all ten Relocation Centers. The plan will:

  • Identify the interpretive story elements that are common to all ten Relocation Centers --the discrimination against Asian Americans in 19th and 20th centuries, the overarching civil rights issues, national security during wartime, impacts on Japanese-American culture, etc. The plan would develop a strategy for developing consistent and cost effective interpretive/educational products that would be used to interpret those story elements at all ten Centers. The plan will be developed in consultation with interested parties, including appropriate State Historic Preservation Officers and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
  • Identify the interpretive story elements that are specific to the individual Relocation Centers and develop strategies for developing interpretive/educational products that fit each Relocation Center's individual situation and resources.
  • Inventory existing human, data, and cultural resources to support the interpretation of the Japanese-American internment story, identify resource gaps, and outline a strategy to support research and other efforts to enlarge the resource base.
  • Identify current advocacy and interest groups involved with the Japanese-American internment story and related resources. Working with those groups, outline roles, responsibilities, and potential partnership opportunities for interpreting the story.

Historic Recognition

Update existing information for those Centers that are currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places, pursue nominations to the National Register for those not currently listed, and pursue designation as National Historic Landmarks for those Relocation Centers that meet existing eligibility criteria, in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer, and/or Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and/or the Indian tribe for each Relocation Center. NHL designation will increase the public's awareness about the War Relocation Centers, help assure that future federally funded or permitted actions protect important resource values, and enhance the potential for preservation grants from private as well as public sources. Information about many of these grants is included in Appendix C.


Continue to consult with State, Tribal, and Congressional representatives for the Relocation Centers, as well as national and local organizations with an interest in these sites.

Field representatives from each of the Bureaus have consulted with State and local organizations to develop the recommendations for this report. In addition, a December 2000 teleconference arranged by the White House, provided DOI the opportunity to discuss the report and ask for additional information from over a dozen organizations and individuals committed to preserving the sites. These groups have provided a great deal of information that DOI has incorporated into this report. (Appendix D)

Appendix C contains a comprehensive list of individuals and organizations involved in Relocation Center preservation efforts. Appendix A provides more detailed information about specific consultative efforts for each of the Internment Centers.

The Department will continue to consult with the Congress on efforts to preserve and protect the Relocation Centers. The Asian Pacific American congressional Caucus has shown strong interest in this effort as have Members of Congress whose districts and States include these sites.

The National Park Service (NPS) is proceeding with a Special Resource Study of sites that represent the story of World War II on the homefront. This study was authorized by Public Law 106-362, the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Homefront National Historic Park Establishment Act of 2000. In a letter to Congress accompanying its Fiscal Year 2001 Budget Request, the NPS identified Tule Lake and Granada as examples of the sites that would be studied under the World War II Homefront theme. The special resource study will apply criteria and follow procedures outlined in Public Law 105-391, the 1998 National Parks Omnibus Management Act. In evaluating eligibility for inclusion in the National Park System, the study team will consider whether the resources are 1) nationally significant, 2) suitable for addition to the National Park System, 3) feasible for administration by the NPS, and 4) other appropriate alternatives to NPS management. In the case of Tule Lake and Granada, the special resource study process would most likely focus on potential for partnerships between the NPS and other interested parties including Federal, State, and local entities. These studies are expected to start early in 2001 and be completed within two years.


The National Historic Preservation Act:

  • Section 110 directs Federal agencies to ensure the preservation of historic properties within their jurisdiction. DOI will ensure that efforts to identify, protect, preserve, and interpret War Relocation Center sites under its control or ownership will be set forth in Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with the appropriate State or Tribal Historic Preservation Office. These agreements will be developed in consultation with local and State governments, local and national groups and historical affinity to the sites, and other interested parties. The MOAs will incorporate the strategies identified in the interpretive concept plan.
  • Section 106 requires that Federal agencies take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties, and afford the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation reasonable opportunity to comment. The responsible Federal agency first determines whether it has an undertaking that could affect historic properties (defined as properties that are included in the National Register of Historic Places or that meet the criteria for the National Register). If so, it must identify the appropriate State Historic Preservation Officer/Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO/THPO) to consult with during the process. It should also plan to involve the public, and identify other potential consulting parties. If it determines that it has no undertaking, or that its undertaking has no potential to affect historic properties, the agency has no further Section 106 obligations. The historic preservation review process mandated by Section 106 is outlined in regulations issued by the Council.

Congressional Action on Specific Sites:

Manzanar and Heart Mountain have had specific Congressional action, and there is Congressional interest in other sites:

  • The Manzanar National Historic Site was established by P.L. 102-248 in 1992. The legislation states that the Historic Site is intended to "provide for the protection and interpretation of historical, cultural, and natural resources associated with the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II…." Manzanar is intended to preserve and interpret a representative War Relocation Center as an aspect of the nation's Pacific Campaign of World War II.
  • The Heart Mountain, Wyoming Foundation has received a $500,000 grant in the VA-HUD appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2001 which will be used to construct a Learning Center. Wyoming's Congressional Delegation appears to be supportive of preservation efforts and Senators Craig Thomas and Mike Enzi may author and sponsor legislation to preserve and protect the Heart Mountain Relocation Center.

Continued >>>

Last Modified: Fri, Jan 19 2001 07:08:48 am PDT

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