- Gila River War Relocation Center
Morse Codedit-dit-dit-dah), representing the "V-for-Victory" slogan] The Gila River War Relocation Center was an internment campbuilt by the War Relocation Authority(WRA) for internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. It was located about convert|50|mi|km|1 southeast of Phoenix, Arizona.
The relocation center was located on the
Gila River Indian Reservation, near an irrigated agricultural center. It comprised two separate camps, named 'Canal' and 'Butte'. Construction began on May 1, 1942, over the strong objections of the reservation's American Indian government. The official opening took place less than two months later, on July 20. Canal Camp closed on September 28, 1945Butte Camp was shut down on November 10, 1945.
Gila River received internees from
California(Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles). In addition, it took in 2,000 people from the Jerome War Relocation Centerin Arkansaswhen that facility closed in 1944. It became Arizona's fourth-largest city, with a peak population of 13,348.
Some of the intended internees died en route to Gila River or shortly after arrival in the harsh desert environment. One of these was the mother of Iva Toguri, the American woman of Japanese descent who was later condemned as "
Tokyo Rose" and convicted of treason due to perjured testimony.
Gila River was considered one of the least oppressive camps of its kind. It had only a single
watchtower, and its fences were among the very few that lacked barbed wire. The administrators of the camps seemed to care for the evacuees, and allowed them access to the amenities of Phoenix, and recreational activities such as sports and arts. Butte camp contained a 6,000-seat baseball field, designed by Kenichi Zenimura, a professional baseball player, and considered to be the best in the WRA system. Internees also built a theaterfor plays and films, built playgrounds, and planted trees. Gila River had a communal medical facility at Butte Hospital.Canal Camp had 404 buildings with 232 barracks and 24 separate schoolhouses. Butte Camp contained 821 buildings with 627 residential barracks. These barracks were made of woodand fireproof shingles that blocked out the desert heat. Each barrack was made to house four single families in separate apartments. Unfortunately, the camp exceeded its capacity: it was designed for 10,000 residents, but held over 13,000. Because of this some families resorted to living in the mess hallor recreation buildings and used blankets as makeshift walls. Water shortages also plagued the camp, and poisonous rattlesnakes and scorpions kept Butte Hospital extremely busy.
As the land for the camp sites is owned by the Gila River Indian Tribe and is considered sacred by them, public access to the sites is currently restricted. Although all the main structures are long gone, some artifacts such as the road grid, concrete slab foundations, manholes, cisterns, several rock alignments and dozens of small ponds remain today.
On December 21, 2006 President Bush signed H.R. 1492 into law guaranteeing $38,000,000 in federal money to restore the Gila River relocation center along with nine other former Japanese internment camps. cite news |url=http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/12/20061221-2.html |title=H.R. 1492
Notable Gila River internees
Harry K. Fukuhara(born 1920), inducted in the United States Military Intelligence Hall of Fame.
*Yuriko Kikuchi (born 1920), an American dancer and choreographer.
Pat Morita(1932–2005), an American actor known for playing the roles on the TV show Happy Daysand in the Karate Kidmovies.
George I. Nakamura, a lieutenant in the United States Army during World War II, and recipient of the Bronze Star.
Kazuo Otani(1918–1944), a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the Medal of Honor.
*Japanese American Internment
War Relocation Authority
World War II
Granada War Relocation Center
Heart Mountain War Relocation Center
Jerome War Relocation Center
**Manzanar National Historic Site
Minidoka Internment National Monument
Poston War Relocation Center
Rohwer War Relocation Center
Topaz War Relocation Center
Tule Lake War Relocation Center
* [http://parentseyes.arizona.edu/wracamps/ War Relocation Camps in Arizona 1942-1946]
* [http://history1900s.about.com/library/photos/blyfdr112.htm Photo of Eleanor Roosevelt visiting the camp]
* [http://www.javadc.org/gila_river_relocation_center.htm Gila River Relocation Center]
* [http://www.nps.gov/manz/ccgilariver.htm NPS's Gila River page]
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