Tule Lake Internment Camp – From first-hand accounts

Tule Lake Internment Camp – From first-hand accounts

I have not yet visited the Tule Lake Segregation Camp (AKA Tule Lake War Relocation Center), but as of Monday, thanks to a text message from Kathleen Watt (Time of Remembrance Co-Director) and a Tweet from Larry Ferlazzo, a trip to this remote area of Northern California is now on my 2016 to-do list. Kathleen and Larry both shared a link to Charles Lam’s NBC News article: Senate Bill Would Name Tule Lake, Largest Japanese Internment Camp, Historic Site.

Tule Lake War Relocation Center.jpg
Tule Lake War Relocation Center” by Library of Congress –  Licensed under Public Domain

Tule Lake was one of ten internment camps quickly constructed by the U.S. Government for the purpose of removing all people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast during World War II. It is best known as “home” to the “no no boys,” a term “for those who answered ‘no’ to questions 27 and 28, the so-called ‘loyalty questions’ on the Application for Leave Clearance form” (Densho Encyclopedia).

Of the 32 interviews posted to the Time of Remembrance World War II Archives, 12 include first-hand accounts of life in Tule Lake. For some of our interviewees, Tule Lake was a starting point in their internment years; for others, it was where they were confined until the close of WWII.

To learn more about Tule Lake from a child’s perspective, I recommend starting with Christine Umeda’s interview. Christine’s parents signed the loyalty oath and were then released from Tule Lake and relocated to Topaz. For a more detailed account of a child’s life in Tule Lake, listen to Toshiye Kawamura’s interview, whose father was a “no no boy.”

“No no boy” Jim Tanimoto’s interview is a compelling account of the consequences of taking a stand as an 18-year-old and refusing to sign the loyalty oath. Jim’s 36-minute interview makes a strong case for Barbara Boxer’s Senate Bill and will provide teachers and students with the content background to fully understand and appreciate this newsworthy current event.

Jim’s interview also stands as a testimony to Tule Lake Committee Officer Barbara Takei’s statement to NBC News“The people used this loyalty questionnaire as a form of protest. The people who gave the ‘wrong’ answer ended up segregated at Tule Lake. That protest is really the Japanese-American civil rights story. It’s a story that hasn’t really been told.”

When I do make the 300+ mile journey from Sacramento to Tule Lake (hopefully this summer), I’ll be back with an updated post!

 

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