Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Wartime site offers students a chance to uncover and make history

The Department of Anthropology is offering a summer field school at Amache, the former WWII Japanese-American internment camp in Eastern Colorado.

During the four-week field school from June 16 – July 11, professors and students will conduct surface surveys, excavate the historical site and help the Amache Preservation Society with their museum.

“By being part of this unprecedented event, students will not just be uncovering history, they will also be making it,” says Bonnie Clark, assistant professor of anthropology.

Amache was one of 10 War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps where Japanese and Japanese-Americans were forced to live for more than three years following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Although it was one of the smaller camps, Amache housed more than 7,000 people, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens.

“Students need to be motivated and have good teamwork skills,” says Clark, who will be leading the field school. “They need to be prepared to work outdoors and they also need to have some sensitivity to the fact that they will be unearthing the evidence of a living history of conflict.”

During the field camp, Japanese-Americans, including former inmates, will tour Amache as part of the Los Angeles-based Japanese American National Museum national conference to be held in Denver July 2 – 6.

“This summer it is estimated that over 1,000 people, many of them former internees and their families, will visit the site as part of a national conference on internment,” Clark says. “Students will have a chance to interact with these visitors, interpreting the tangible history we have discovered at the site.”

Course registration opens April 14. Students do not need to be anthropology majors or have any previous field experience. Visit the Amache site for applications for the class and more information.

The archaeological field school is the beginning of a long-term project for the preservation, research and interpretation of the tangible history of Amache. Named a National Historic Landmark in 2006, Amache was in operation from August 1942 until Oct. 15, 1945.

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