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The Great High Prairie - Prowers County, Lamar, Colorado

Camp Amache: A Japanese-American Relocation Center

Former Japanese Internment Camp, Camp Amache, was hidden away for years, in part because no one wanted to remember this chapter of history. But thanks to local efforts, the camp’s history has come to light, its artifacts are being preserved, and the land on which it stood has become open to the public and filled with interpretive signage detailing life at the camp and honoring those who lived there.

The camp was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 18, 1994, and designated a National Historic Landmark on February 10, 2006.

History

In 1942, after the war with Japan had started, the United States condemned land southwest of Granada to build a Japanese Internment Camp, later known as Camp Amache.

Evacuees began arriving at Camp Amache on August 29, 1942, and by September 15, less than a month later, the total population reached 7,567. While Camp Amache was the smallest of the internment camps, it was the 10th largest city in Colorado at the time.

Contrary to a normal community elsewhere in the country, this new, temporary city, surrounded by barbed wire fences, had many restrictions. However, in order to live as decently and normally as possible under the circumstances, there were also community activities to keep the city in peace and harmony.

For education, there was a complete facility that included a preschool, elementary school, and high school. There were also athletic programs, talent shows, movies, artists and music groups, and more.

To maintain the health of Camp Amache residents, a hospital was erected and staffed with physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, and optometrists.

On its nearly 10,000 acres of land, the camp had vegetable gardens, hogs, cattle, and chickens to fulfill the needs of the residents.

Self-government was also encouraged at Camp Amache, and through this, it experienced great cooperation between the residents and administration leaders, resulting in Amache being the most peaceful of the country’s 10 relocation centers.

On January 2, 1945, a mass exclusion order was lifted by the government, making it possible for all, except for a few excludes, to return to the West Coast freely.

Visit

Today, visitors may drive through Camp Amache on dirt roads and read covered kiosks detailing life at the camp, including images and maps.

A handicapped accessible cement walkway winds through what is left of one block. Although deteriorated through the years, barracks sold when the camp closed are being purchased and relocated to the site.

A Granada high school teacher began restoring the camp with students as part of a research project. They have since unearthed countless artifacts and brought the story of Amache back to life, much of which can be viewed at the Amache Museum in downtown Granada.

These high school students also maintain the camp’s cemetery. During the war, some of the men living at the camp joined the war efforts and fought with the 442nd and 100th battalion. By the end of the war, they were the most decorated battle unit. A large monument to fallen soldiers can be found in the cemetery along with the grave markers of children and a pagoda-style building.

Additional information and artifacts are available at the Amache Museum in Granada.

Recent Press About Camp Amache

Amache National Historical Site Act Moves Forward In Senate
CBS Denver | October 6, 2021

Opinion: I survived a Japanese American internment camp. We cannot forget that history.
Washington Post | October 5, 2021

Opinion: As a 91-year-old survivor of Amache, a National Historic Site would give me hope
Denver Post | August 12, 2021

Amache national historic site bill passes U.S. House, heads to Senate
Colorado Springs Gazette | July 29, 2021

Amache internment camp preservation bill overwhelmingly passes the U.S. House
The Lamar Ledger | July 29, 2021

Bill To Make Amache Incarceration Site In Colorado A Historic Site Passes Committee Vote
CBS Denver | July 15, 2021

Exploring the gardens of Amache: Places of community, created through skill and resourcefulness
International Examiner | July 6, 2021

Stories from Amache
The Denver Post | June 5, 2021

American internment: Survivor shares memories of Camp Amache as fight begins to preserve site
The Denver Channel | May 30, 2021

Podcast: The fight to preserve Japanese American concentration camps
The Los Angeles Times | May 27, 2021

Visit Camp Amache; listen to the lonely wind
Colorado Politics | May 27, 2021

Japanese Americans Carry Trauma From WWII Internment Camp
The Denver Post | May 23, 2021

Legislation Would Make Amache a National Historic Site
The Rafu Shimpo | May 22, 2021

Gov. Jared Polis Expresses Support For Efforts To Name Camp Amache A National Park
CBS Denver | May 22, 2021

The Amache internment camp, as told by Japanese American survivors and descendants
The Denver Post | May 20, 2021

Polis calls for national park designation for Camp Amache site
Colorado Springs Gazette | May 19, 2021

Polis sends letter endorsing addition of former Japanese internment camp into NPS system
The Center Square | May 18, 2021

Solace From Seed: An Archaeologist Examines the Gardens of Amache
The University of Denver | May 13, 2021

4 Congressmen Join Colorado Teacher And Students To Make Camp Amache, A Japanese Internment Camp, A National Historic Site
CBS Denver | May 12, 2021

Colorado senators introduce another bill to make Amache part of National Park Service
The Pueblo Chieftain | April 26, 2021

Colorado Congressmen Introduce Bill To Add Amache Historic Site To National Park System
CBS Denver | April 23, 2021

U.S. senators from Colorado join effort to preserve ‘Camp Amache’
The Denver Channel | April 22, 2021

Advocates For Historic Designation Of Colorado Japanese Internment Camp Say It Would ‘Help Tell A More Complete Story of America’
CPR News | April 21, 2021

New Buck-Neguse Bill Would Make Amache Colorado’s Next National Historic Site
KSUT | April 17, 2021

Former Japanese internment camp in Colorado could become national historic site
Burlington Press | April 15, 2021

In wake of anti-Asian violence, Amache pushed as National Historic Site
The Journal | April 15, 2021

Amache Incarceration Site In Colorado Could Become New National Park
CBS Denver | April 15, 2021

Bill to make Amache camp a national park
Fox 31 Denver | April 15, 2021

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