Tule Lake War Relocation Center

Tule Lake Segregation Center
A view of the Tule Lake War Relocation Center
Location: Northeast side CA 139,
Newell, California
Governing body: Federal
NRHP Reference#: 06000210[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP: February 17, 2006
Designated NHL: February 17, 2006[2]

Tule Lake Segregation Center National Monument was an internment camp in the northern California town of Newell near Tule Lake. It was used in the Japanese American internment during World War II. It was the largest (in terms of population) and most controversial[2] of the camps, and did not close until after the war, in 1946. In December 2008 it was designated by President George W. Bush as one of nine sites—the only one in the contiguous 48 states—to be part of the new World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.



Among the Japanese Americans interned at Tule Lake were internees from other camps who refused to take a vow of undivided loyalty to the U.S. and were sent to this "Segregation Camp," or had given answers on the loyalty questionnaire that suggested they were untrustworthy or security risks. As a result, it had the highest level of security of any of the camps.[2] Many loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry were first interned there before this camp became known as the "NO NO" Camp. These Loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry were later sent off to more permanent "Concentration Camps" such as Heart Mountain, WY. and Topaz, UT.

At the beginning of the internment, Japanese Americans and resident aliens of Japanese descent were given a questionnaire to determine their loyalty to the United States. Question 27 on the questionnaire asked, "Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?" while question 28 asked, "Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization?"

A number of those who were sent to Tule Lake had found the loyalty oath's questions confusing, while others, certain that they were to be deported to Japan no matter how they had answered, feared that answering the questions in the affirmative would cause them to be seen as enemy aliens by the Japanese. Others chose to answer "no" to both questions in protest of their imprisonment.[3]

Internees transplanting celery at Tule Lake.

Some of the Tule Lake internees had participated in demonstrations against the internment policy at other camps. Many residents had renounced their U.S. citizenship, often due to deception or coercion.[4][5] Most of the Tule Lake renunciants later had their citizenship restored, largely through the vigorous efforts of civil rights attorney Wayne M. Collins.[6][7]

Unsanitary, squalid living conditions, inadequate medical care, poor food, and unsafe working conditions had prompted protests at several camps. In November 1943 a series of meetings and protests over poor living conditions at Tule Lake prompted the Army to impose martial law over the camp.[8]

Starting in 1974, Tule Lake was the site of several pilgrimages by activists calling for an official apology from the U.S. government. This Redress Movement culminated in the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The pilgrimages, serving educational purposes, continue to this day.

On December 21, 2006 U.S. President George W. Bush signed H.R. 1492 into law guaranteeing $38,000,000 in federal money to restore the Tule Lake relocation center along with nine other former Japanese internment camps.[9]

Notable internees

  • Violet Kazue de Cristoforo (1917–2007), a Japanese American poet. Also interned at Jerome.
  • Yamato Ichihashi (1878–1963), one of the first academics of Asian ancestry in the United States.
  • Harvey Itano (1920–2010), American biochemist best known for his work on the molecular basis of sickle cell anemia and other diseases.
  • Hiroshi Kashiwagi (born 1922), a poet, playwright and actor.
  • Tommy Kono (born 1930), a gold medalist weightlifter and world record holder.
  • Bob Matsui (1941–2005), a 13-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Tsutomu "Jimmy" Mirikitani (born 1920, Sacramento, California), artist and subject of "The Cats of Mirikitani," an award winning documentary film.
  • Pat Morita (1932–2005), an American actor best known for his role in the Karate Kid films. Also interned at Gila River.
  • Jimmy Murakami (born 1933), a Japanese American animator and director.
  • George Nakano (born 1935), a former California State Assemblyman
  • James K. Okubo (1920–1967), a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the Medal of Honor.
  • James Otsuka (1921–1984), a conscientious objector during World War II and a war tax resister.
  • Yuki Shimoda (1921–1981), an actor.
  • Robert Mitsuhiro Takasugi (1930–2009), first Japanese-American appointed to the federal bench.
  • George Takei (born 1937), an American actor best known for his role in Star Trek. Also interned at Rohwer.
  • George T. Tamura (1927–2010), an artist.
  • Takuji Yamashita (1874–1959), an early 20th century civil rights pioneer. Also interned at Minidoka.

See also


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. http://nrhp.focus.nps.gov/natreg/docs/All_Data.html. 
  2. ^ a b c NHL Summary
  3. ^ Hatamiya, Leslie (1993). Righting A Wrong: Japanese Americans and the Passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Stanford University Press. p. 20. 
  4. ^ Turnbull, Lornett (June 30, 2004). "WWII brought hard choice for some Japanese-Americans internees". The Seattle Times. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2001968747_jacitizen30m.html. 
  5. ^ "Japanese Americans, the Civil Rights Movement and Beyond". http://www.nddcreative.com/sfjhw/sfjhw_pdf/sfjhw_sign2.pdf. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  6. ^ Christgau, John (February, 1985). "Collins versus the World: The Fight to Restore Citizenship to Japanese American Renunciants of World War II". Pacific Historical Review (University of California Press) 54 (1): 1–31. JSTOR 3638863. 
  7. ^ Kennedy, Ellen Clare (October, 2006). "The Japanese-American Renunciants: Due Process and the Danger of Making Laws During Times of Fear". http://www.jpri.org/publications/workingpapers/wp110.html. 
  8. ^ http://www.tulelake.org/history.html
  9. ^ "H.R. 1492". georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2006/12/20061221-2.html. 

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 41°53′22″N 121°22′29″W / 41.88944°N 121.37472°W / 41.88944; -121.37472

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