Vice President Proposes Internment Camp Preservation Initiative

Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release February 2, 2000


Also Releases Most Comprehensive Survey Ever of Japanese-American Internment Facilities

Washington, DC -- Vice President Al Gore today announced today that the most comprehensive report ever on the history and status of World War II internment camps will be released next week, and proposed $4.8 million for a new initiative to help preserve several of these sites throughout the West.

The National Park Service report, which will be available starting February 9th, describes the history and current condition of relocation centers and other facilities where approximately 120,000 Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II. The Administration's FY 2001 budget will seek funding to acquire some of these historic sites and to construct visitor facilities and exhibits.

"The relocation and internment of American citizens during World War II is a vital chapter in our history," said Vice President Gore. "Today we take an important step to honor and preserve the experiences of Japanese-Americans who paid a dear price and persevered during one of our nation's most trying hours."

The Park Service report, entitled "Confinement and Ethnicity: an Overview of World War II Japanese American Internment Camp Sites," is the most exhaustive survey ever of the 35 sites associated with the relocation and internment of the Japanese-Americans during the war. The sites, most in remote areas of the West, include War Relocation Centers, Citizen Isolation Centers, Assembly Centers, U.S. Department of Justice Centers and other facilities. Copies of the report will be available from the National Park Service's Western Archeological and Conservation Center (WACC) in Tucson, Arizona. To request a copy, contact the WACC via e-mail at or via fax at 520-670-6525, "Attention Superintendent."

The proposed FY 2001 funding would be used to construct a new visitor center at the Manzanar National Historic Site in California; to acquire and protect other former camp sites; to construct an interpretive exhibit near a former work camp in Arizona; and to begin a Park Serivce study of "World War II on the Home Front." Details follow:

Manzanar National Historic Site Visitor Center. In 1992, Congress passed bipartisan legislation to create the Manzanar National Historic Site, a former internment camp, as a unit of the National Park System. The Administration's FY 2001 budget will seek $4.2 million to construct a visitor center to house administrative offices and to provide information on the history of the site. The proposed funding builds on the work of numerous local and national groups, including Save America's Treasures, a public-partnership between the White House Millenium Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the National Park Foundation; The Manzanar Fund; the Manzanar Advisory Commission; and the Japanese American Citizens League.

Land Acquisition and Exchanges to Protect Former Sites. The Interior Department's FY 2001 budget also will seek $500,000 through the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect former internment sites through purchase or land exchange. These sites include internment camps in Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Arkansas. Currently, portions of the sites are in private ownership. The Bureau of Land Management would administer this multi-state program and work in partnership with local landowners, historic preservation groups and other stakeholders. Land would be acquired only from willing sellers.

U.S. Forest Service Interpretive Exhibit. As part of the multi-agency initiative, the U.S. Forest Service's FY 2001 budget will seek $112,000 to construct an interpretive exhibit on the Coronado National Forest in Arizona. The proposed exhibit would be named after Gordon Hirabayashi, a Japanese-American who was interned at a nearby work camp.

National Park Service Study of "World War II on the Home Front." The budget also would seek authorization and funding for the National Park Service to conduct a "Special Resources Study" of World War II sites in the United States that have historic significance. The Park Service proposes to study industrial sites, prisoner or war camps, and internment camp sites at Tule Lake in northern California and Granada in eastern Colorado. The study would include recommendations about how best to preserve and manage specific sites, including possible inclusion in the National Park System.

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