Report to the President:
Japanese-American Internment Sites Preservation
Background: The Gila River Relocation Center was located about 50 miles south of Phoenix and 9 miles west of Sacaton in Pinal County, Arizona. The site is on Gila River Indian Tribal land. The site is sacred to the Tribe and access to the site is restricted. The Relocation Center opened on July 10, 1942 and closed on November 10, 1945. The maximum population was 13,348. The center was divided into two camps, Butte and Canal. The two camps were about 3.5 miles apart and included 1,181 buildings. The evacuees came from California and Hawaii. Eleanor Roosevelt visited the Gila River Relocation Center on April 23, 1943. After the center closed, the War Relocation Authority sold most of the buildings.
Current Status/Interpretation: Few features remain at the Relocation Center site. At Canal Camp, no buildings remain, but roads remain passable and concrete slabs of many of the buildings remain. No buildings are left at the Butte camp. There are concrete slab foundations, manholes, cisterns, ditches and other landscape features.
An honor roll monument at the Butte Camp was built by the evacuees to honor those Japanese Americans from the Gila River Relocation Center who served in the military during World War II and included a reflecting pool and a ramada with concrete benches. The ramada, flagpole, and wooden facade of the monument that held the list of names are now gone.
A permit from the Gila River Indian Tribe must be obtained in order to visit the Relocation Center. Permits are $100, but the fee is normally waived for former evacuees and their immediate family members.
The Gila River Indian Reservation Cultural Center, located 4 miles north of the camps includes an exhibit and outdoor display about the Relocation Center prepared by the Arizona Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League.
Memorial markers have been placed at the two camps. One of the Tribe's conditions for their approval was that the Japanese American community never ask for National Historic Landmark Status or any other official designation.
Regional Context: The Gila River site is in the Phoenix-Tucson corridor, about 50 south of Phoenix and 60 miles north of Tucson. Interstate 10 runs through Gila River Indian Tribal land. The Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is located nearby. In addition, the Phoenix metropolitan area includes several state parks and borders the Tonto National Forest.
Interested Parties/Stakeholders and Opinions:
Gila River Indian Tribe
Gila River Indian Tribe
Work through BIA to determine tribal interest in preservation, protection, and recognition efforts. In addition, DOI will work with Federal, state, and local organizations to develop an off-site interpretation center, and restore memorial built by internees.