July 30, 2021

Neguse Legislation to Designate Amache Incarceration Site in Colorado as National Historic Site Passes Out of the House

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Joe Neguse’s bipartisan legislation to designate the Amache incarceration site in Southeast Colorado as a National Historic Site passed out of the House with broad bipartisan support 416-2. Congressman Neguse introduced the legislation with Congressman Ken Buck in early April, ushering it swiftly through the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, which he Chairs and to the House floor in just three months. 

During the first months of World War II, the United States initiated the single largest forced imprisonment in its history when President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order forcing more than 120,000 people, primarily of Japanese descent, to relocate to 10 remote, military-style prisons. The Granada Relocation Center in the southeast corner of Colorado, known as Amache, was one of these 10 incarceration centers. Two-thirds of the people at Amache were American citizens. Most had never been to Japan. Many others were first-generation Japanese elders who had immigrated from Japan and were denied U.S. citizenship for decades. Most were given a week or less to dispose of everything they owned, with no idea where they were going or what would happen. 

“The landscapes, cultural places, and stories we choose to protect reflect our values as a nation. And the story of Amache is an important one, ” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “Designation of Amache as a National Historic Site will help us to honor and preserve the stories of many survivors who lived through this dark moment in our nation’s history, and provide education and healing for future generations. We introduced this bill just three months ago, and given the broad and expansive support for the effort, we’re thrilled to pass it through the House so quickly. We implore the Senate to take this measure up swiftly so we can complete this designation and honor all Amache survivors and descendants.”

“Our nation is better today because of the lessons we have learned from our past,” said Congressman Ken Buck. “The Amache National Historic Site Act is important because it recognizes the horrible injustices committed against Japanese Americans and preserves the site for people throughout Colorado and the United States. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the House for voting to pass this legislation today and I hope my colleagues in the Senate will prioritize swift passage.”

“The Amache site as a National Park unit highlights the injustices of the internment of Japanese Americans, one of our nation’s darkest chapters. Colorado is home to world-class national parks and adding the Amache site honors those values and our history,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “I hope the congressional leadership and all members of the House and Senate will join Coloradans and myself in supporting this valuable and honorable initiative.”

Bob Fuchigami, Amache survivor: “Today’s passage of the Amache National Historic Site Act in the U.S. House of Representatives brings me hope and I thank Congressman Neguse for his leadership. I now urge the Senate to pass this bill. The time is not only right; it is long overdue.”

Tracy Coppola, Colorado Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association: “Today’s historic passage of the bipartisan Amache National Historic Site by the U.S. House of Representatives is an expression of faith in our future. We applaud the leadership of Congressman Neguse and Congressman Buck and the enduring voice of the Amache community. We look forward to Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper championing the companion bill among their colleagues next. As America's storyteller, what the National Park Service chooses to preserve and the stories it chooses to tell reflects our values as a nation, and Amache challenges us all to act toward a better future where justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are America’s top priority. We urge Congress to keep the momentum going and look forward to swiftly getting this bill through the Senate and to President Biden’s desk.” 

View additional quotes of support here. 

The legislation is sponsored by Senator Michael Bennet and Senator John Hickenlooper in the Senate. 

The Amache Preservation Society, along with the support of other organizations, currently maintains the physical site of Amache. They have renovated the cemetery, established an Amache Museum and research center, restored key Amache landmarks, including the water tower, a guard tower, and barrack. Learn more about the site’s timeline here. 

Read the bill text here.