Report to the President:
Japanese-American Internment Sites Preservation
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:
Develop an interpretive concept plan for all ten Relocation Centers. The plan will:
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:
Congressional Action on Specific Sites:
Manzanar and Heart Mountain have had specific Congressional action, and there is Congressional interest in other sites: