March 18, 2022

Congressman Neguse’s Bill to Designate the Amache National Historic Site Signed Into Law by President Biden, Less Than a Year After Introduction

Congressman Neguse recently visited the Amache site alongside Secretary Deb Haaland, view photos here.

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Joe Neguse’s bipartisan legislation to designate the Amache National Historic Site was signed into law by President Biden. Congressman Neguse first introduced the Amache National Historic Site Act in April 2021 with the support of Congressman Ken Buck. He envisioned the idea for the bill after reading about the site in a local newspaper and speaking with advocates about the work of Granada High School students to keep the site maintained. As Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, he was able to usher the legislation through his committee and through the House in record time. In February, Congressman Neguse visited the Amache site alongside Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Senator Michael Bennet and several descendants and local advocates.

This is the 11th law enacted by Congressman Neguse in the 117th Congress. Neguse was named the 2nd most effective lawmaker, after enacting 9 bills in the 116th Congress – a number he has now surpassed. 

“I am thrilled that President Biden has signed the Amache National Historic Site Act,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “When we work together, when we listen and lead locally, we can accomplish a lot. This bill proves it. With the support of countless community advocates, and the powerful stories of survivors and descendants, we’ve been able to authorize the site’s designation in record time.”

“I have waited many, many years to see the day where we can be certain that Amache, as a place of reflection, remembrance, honor, and healing, is protected for our current and future generations,” said Bob Fuchigami, Amache survivor. “President Biden’s signature on the Amache National Historic Site Act today brings me hope that we are finally closer to this certainty. My parents did not live to see this day. The time is not only right; it is long overdue.”

“As a young boy at Amache, I never thought I’d see an America that cared about my story,” said Ken Kitajima, Amache survivor. “I am now a 91-year-old veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. Thank you, President Biden, Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper, and Congressmen Neguse and Buck, for your leadership and for the great decisions made regarding Amache as a National Park Historic Site. Now signed by the President, long lasting U.S history is made.”

“Many young men at Amache served in the U.S. Army, though their country incarcerated them for their Japanese ancestry. I was ten and incarcerated along with my mother and siblings at Amache, where I was also a boy scout,” said Min Tonai, Amache survivor. “In 1943, our camp troop went to the Granada Railroad Station at four in the morning to see the young enlisted men off. Our scout commissioner told us to play as loud as we could. Years later, I served as a medic in the U.S. Army Korean War. In the 1980s, I worked to preserve Amache, organizing reunions and working on various preservation efforts. Thank you to President Biden for signing the Amache National Historic Act so that these efforts are not forgotten.”

“Congressmen Neguse and Buck and Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper demonstrated what cooperation looks like on the Hill. With the bill now signed by President Biden, this is finally the expression and realization of the people's will,” said Mike Honda, former Member of Congress and Amache survivor.

“As a former Amachean and as a volunteer for the Amache Field School, I have learned the importance of having Amache as a National Park unit, as it would illustrate the hardships and the perseverance of the incarcerated people,” said Carlene Tanigoshi Tinker, Amache survivor. “It would also point to the injustice of their being placed there, simply because of their ethnicity, not because of what they had done. Most importantly, it would signify the reasons that further groups, such as Muslims, should not be treated as were the Japanese Americans—there have been hints of this in current times.”

See additional quotes here. 

The Granada Relocation Center, known as Amache, was used during the Second World War as an incarceration center for more than 120,000 people, primarily of Japanese descent. Over two-thirds of the people relocated to this military-style prison were American citizens, many others were first-generation Japanese elders. The Amache National Historic Site Act will preserve Amache’s story for the benefit of future generations, establishing the site as a unit of the National Park System. The site is currently a National Historic Landmark maintained by the Amache Preservation Society, which was established by local social studies teacher John Hopper—currently the principal of Granada High School—and powered by student volunteers from the high school. 

Amache was one of ten Japanese American incarceration facilities across the country. During World War II, nearly 10,000 Japanese Americans passed through Amache and over 7,000 lived there between 1942 and 1945. According to the National Park Service (NPS), today “the cemetery, a reservoir, a water well and tank, the road network, concrete foundations, watch towers, the military police compound, and trees planted by the internees still remain.”

Read the bill text HERE

Background:

As Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, Congressman Joe Neguse has delivered on countless Colorado priorities, ushering legislation through his Subcommittee to support communities recovering from wildfires, support the outdoor recreation economy, conserve public lands and protect wildfire. Since becoming Chair, Congressman Neguse has passed his signature public lands bill – the CORE Act – through the House. Recently he moved legislation through the House Natural Resources Committee to complete the continental divide trail, protect wildlife in the San Juan River Basin, streamline the outdoor guide permitting process and increase wildfire recovery funds for local communities

In November 2021, Congressman Joe Neguse’s proposal to formally authorize the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This initiative has treated 300,000 acres of hazardous fuels, restored 29,000 acres in priority watersheds, and enhanced 200,000 acres of wildlife habitat.