Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Professor excavates internment camp, former internees return to help

Bonnie Clark, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Denver, will lead a field school June 21–July 19 at Amache, the World War II U.S. Japanese-American internment camp in Granada, Colo. The camp is located in southeast Colorado, about 230 miles from Denver.

The field school will host two events that are free and open to the public:

Amache Tour Day – July 10, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
All are welcome to take a tour of the site, help dig a test pit and try to identify objects in the field lab. This active event is open to people of all ages, and special projects will be set up for children.

Amache Open House – July 17, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The excavation team will present the results of their field season to the public. Come hear about what they found and tour the museum and dig site.

During the four-week field school, professors, students and two former internees will conduct surface surveys, excavate selected gardens and help the Amache Preservation Society, which operates a small museum. DU Professor Larry Conyers will be at Amache July 1–3 to help students learn how to map the gardens using ground-penetrating radar.

Amache was one of 10 War Relocation Authority camps where Japanese and Japanese-Americans were forced to live for more than three years following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Amache housed more than 7,000 people, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens. Amache, named a national historic landmark in 2006, was in operation from August of 1942 and officially closed Oct. 15, 1945.

Carlene Tanigoshi Tinker was 2 years old when she entered Amache with her family from Los Angeles. Anita Miyamoto Miller was 1 when her family was forced into the Assembly Center in Merced, Calif. Both women will come to Amache July 7–17 to participate in the excavation.

“I hope to learn more about my roots,” Tinker says. “The efforts to restore this camp as well as others are important to make future generations aware of hysteria and what can result from racism and discrimination.”

Since she was so young, Tinker has few memories of being at Amache. She hopes the trip also will help her reconstruct what camp life was like for her and her many relatives.

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