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Colorado’s Camp Amache will become a national historic site after getting congressional approval

Mike Sweeney
Special to The Colorado Sun
Replicas of a guard tower and barracks at the Amache War Relocation Center near Granada, Colorado, are shown in this Feb. 3, 2021 photo. The internment camp held more than 7,500 people of Japanese descent, including many American citizens, between 1942 and 1945.

This story was originally published in The Colorado Sun.

A bill making Colorado’s Granada War Relocation Center — also known as Camp Amache — a national historic site is awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature after it won final approval from Congress.

Biden is expected to sign the bill, which was presented to him last week, into law in the coming days.

The legislation will place the 1-square-mile parcel in southeast Colorado where people of Japanese descent were incarcerated during World War II under the management of the National Park Service.

Colorado’s Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse and Republican Rep. Ken Buck championed the bill in the House, while Colorado’s Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper advocated for the measure in the Senate.

“I was deeply moved last month as I visited with survivors and descendants at the Amache site,” Neguse said in a written statement Tuesday. “The incarceration of Japanese Americans is a dark stain on our nation’s story, and it is my hope that through the designation and preservation of this site we will teach future generations that fear and hate have no place in our country.”

Neguse’s spokeswoman says the congressman started pushing for Camp Amache to be designated a national historic site after reading a story about it in The Colorado Sun.

Amache, which opened in 1942 and closed in 1945, was the smallest of 10 incarceration camps that rose out of fear that Japanese immigrants, as well as their American-born relatives, posed a threat to the United States after the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor.

By coming under the Park Service umbrella, Amache becomes eligible for federal assistance that will augment the volunteer efforts and grant funding that have sustained it. That work, led by Granada High School’s Amache Preservation Society, has gradually improved the patch of windswept prairie just south of U.S. 50 near Granada where all that remained of the camp was remnants of building foundations.

It will likely take years for Amache to realize the full benefits of being under the National Park Service umbrella.

The National Park Service already manages other former Japanese-American incarceration sites, including the Manzanar, Minidoka and Honouliuli National Historic Sites, and Tule Lake National Monument.

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