The Senate has approved the former World War II Japanese-American Amache internment camp in rural southeast Colorado to become a Federal Historic Site run by the National Park Service.
Senators on Monday unanimously approved the Amache National Historic Site Act, which is expected to return the ruins of the camp – on the eve of the 80th anniversary of the forced internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during the war – eligible for more federal preservation funds.
Colorado lawmakers led by Sen. Michael Bennet pushed the bill, co-sponsored by Sen. John Hickenlooper, through the Senate. Utah Sen. Mike Lee had been the only holdout, opposing the federal land acquisition without funding, until Monday night.
Legislation backed by Reps. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.) passed the House in July. The bill approved in the Senate now returns to the House for a final vote. Camp Amache survivors and their descendants could have their stories presented, interpreted and preserved at the site.
“The incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II at sites like Amache is a shameful part of our nation’s history,” Bennett said in a statement. “Our bill will preserve Amache’s history so that future generations can learn from this dark chapter in our history.”
Ruins of food halls, military police stations, a cemetery and barracks can be found on the site, which has been maintained in recent years by Grenada High School students and their history teacher John Hopper. The city of Granada owns the site, which covers less than 2 square miles, already listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
An order from President Franklin Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, drove an estimated 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes in the western United States. The US government imprisoned them in 10 camps in California, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Arkansas and Colorado. More than 7,000 were detained between 1942 and 1945 in Grenada at Amache, which is named after the daughter of a Cheyenne chief.