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Tule Lake Concentration Camp Pilgrimage

 
 
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 05:33 pm
Hi y'all, I'm off to Tule Lake tomorrow for a four day pilgrimage to visit the Northern California concentration camp my family and I were held in during WWII.

I'm taking my camera with me, and will even provide a short travelogue if anybody is interested.

Most of you are probably not aware that those of us who lived on the west coast were put into concentration (US government called them "relocation centers") camps all over the western states during the war. My wife and her family moved to Colorado, and lived with a German farmer in Greeley for the duration of the war, but she's joining us for this event.

Tule Lake was one of ten camps established to "intern" about 110,000 Japanese-Americans; over 80% were naturalized citizens by birth.

Many of the first and second generation Japanese who spent time in the camps have died, but there are many third and fourth (even fifth) generation children born after the war - even of mixed blood - who will be attending this event.

I hope to bring back some interesting stories to post here on a2k.
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Type: Question • Score: 12 • Views: 8,213 • Replies: 64
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 05:35 pm
Wish I could be there to witness, CI.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 06:35 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I'm very aware, a lot of people in the Sawtelle area of west Los Angeles were affected by all this, and my boss was born in a Wyoming concentration camp. But, I didn't know specifically about Tule Lake.

Link to Satellite View - these is fairly east of highway 5

Looking forward to hearing more when you return home.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 06:45 pm
@ossobuco,
osso, The actual camp site was north-west of Newell (on the west side of the highway). Why they ended up calling it Tule Lake is a mystery to me.
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 07:07 pm
Lives were disrupted, property and businesses lost, not to mention the indignity of being singled out for such treatment. During the war there was an effort to watch for any subversive activities by Americans of specific backgrounds. The Japanese-Americans got the worst treatment. Why?


cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 07:15 pm
@Foofie,
There were a great deal of discrimination against Asians before the war, and the ugliness just flowed out when Japan attacked Pearl. It gave the government an excuse to chase us out of our homes and businesses which were sold pennies on the dollar, or some Caucasian friends took care of the property until our return. Some families ended up burning their possessions rather than selling them for pennies.

We didn't have that much possessions in the first place, but we were able to take to the camps only what we could carry, and our mother with three young children (with no father or husband) was an extra ordeal for our mother.


ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 07:15 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Oh, thanks, CI, I should have researched the camp before putting that satellite view up.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 07:27 pm
@ossobuco,
Oh, well. I can find it by google maps, but can't seem to directly link that.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 07:28 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:
I'm taking my camera with me, and will even provide a short travelogue if anybody is interested.

Put me down as interested.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 07:32 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:

There were a great deal of discrimination against Asians before the war, and the ugliness just flowed out when Japan attacked Pearl. It gave the government an excuse to chase us out of our homes and businesses which were sold pennies on the dollar, or some Caucasian friends took care of the property until our return. Some families ended up burning their possessions rather than selling them for pennies.

We didn't have that much possessions in the first place, but we were able to take to the camps only what we could carry, and our mother with three young children (with no father or husband) was an extra ordeal for our mother.





Hmmm. I thought more people were killed during the 9/11 attacks than during the Pearl Harbor attacks. I specifically remember President Bush telling the American public that Americans of Moslem background should not be the targets of any discriminatory behavior. This appears, in my opinion, to be a high point in Bush's Presidency; mature and ethical thinking in a time that might be considered worse than Pearl Harbor.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 08:06 pm
@Foofie,
The number given for 9-11 is around 3,000; many were British. At Pearl, the numbers can range from a little over 1,000 to about 2,500 (includes civilians). Japan's casualty is between 55 and 65.
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 08:10 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Quote:
I'm taking my camera with me, and will even provide a short travelogue if anybody is interested.


You bet somebody is interested. Smile
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 08:41 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Im going to be holding you to the photo journal of your pilgramage. May you find some comfort and personal resolution in the journey.
Im going to have a world of questions for you on your return.
Drive safe.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Jul, 2009 09:09 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman, Thank you. However, all transportation, accommodations and food will be provided for the fee we paid for this pilgrimage. We're just not sure about tomorrow morning's breakfast, because they want us at the pickup point by 6:15AM in San Jose. Our friend from Millbrae is going to drive here to take us with them to San Jose. Beginning with our included lunch tomorrow, we're home "free."

Now that several of you have shown interest, I'm getting a bit nervous about keeping good notes. I'll give it my best college try.

Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jul, 2009 08:03 pm
@cicerone imposter,
What I would be interested in understanding, if I was there, is to kn0w the feelings of many there of Japanese descent. Do the Japanese-Americans tend to feel they have closure on this episode in American history, and their ethnic history in America? Or, like many Jews, might feel they have to sleep with one eye open?

0 Replies
 
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jul, 2009 08:20 pm
lyrics to "Kiri's Piano", a song by Canadian folksinger James Keelaghan

Of all of Kiri Ito's joys, the thing she loved the best
Was to play her prized piano when the sun had gone to rest
I used to hear the notes drift down along the silent water
As Kiri played the notes and scales for her dear sons and daughters
Now me I played piano though not as good as Kiri
She went in for that long haired stuff but my she played it pretty
The old piano had a tone would set my heart to aching
It always sounded sweetest though when it was Kiri playing
In December when the seventh fleet was turned to smoke and ashes
The order came to confiscate their fishing boats and caches
And Kiri's husband forced to go and work in labour camps
And Kiri left alone to fend and hold the fort as best she can
But the music did not drift as often from up the cove at Kiri's house
And when it did it sounded haunted played with worry played with doubt
For Kiri knew that soon she too would be compelled to leave
And the old upright would stay behind and Kiri she would grieve
I loaded Kiri on the bus with stoic internees
The crime that they were guilty of was that they were not like me
And if I was ashamed I didn't know it at the time
They were flotsam on the wave of war they were no friends of mine
I went up to Kiri's house to tag all their belongings
And set them out for auctioneers who'd claim them in the morning
One piece that I thought I'd keep and hold back for myself
Was that haunting ivory upright that Kiri played so well
But Kiri had not left it there for me to take as plunder
She'd rolled it down onto the dock and on into the harbor
That old upright in strangers' hands was a thought she couldn't bear
So she consigned it to the sea to settle the affair
So many years have come and gone since Kiri's relocation
I look back now upon that time with shame and resignation
For Kiri knew what I did not that if we must be free
Then sometimes we must sacrifice to gain our dignity
Yes Kiri knew what I did not that if we must be free
Then sometimes we must sacrifice to gain our dignity

Yes, please, ci, count me in among those who want pictures and the full story.


0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Thu 2 Jul, 2009 08:26 pm
@cicerone imposter,
and while we're here - HAPPY BIRTHDAY C.I. !!!
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jul, 2009 08:30 pm
My family landed in the Los Angeles area in "Sawtelle" in either the late teens or early twenties. I remember the small church, St. Sebastian's, my mother's family mocked, according to my mother, as they walked to mass, .... and I most remember serving some kind of parish (breakfast?) where I got to pass out the pie, and did so before the meal. I think I also won some draw a ticket contest. .. anyway, that was some time around 1947, or, 52. coinciding with the bikini bomb tests in actuality. I don't say that in any kind of hallucination, but that was what was going on with my father and my family.

We lived with my aunt for a few years, when I was in my early teens. She despised Japs, with us a few blocks from Sawtelle. I remember her voice.

I also remember a giant animal walking down the street.
Now I know it was a great dane in front of our house.

Some of this is why I was non gratis and am who I am.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Jul, 2009 08:49 pm
Foofie, I'll try to answer your question when I post my travelogue. .

Monterey Jack, Thanks for your post and your interest. I hope it meets your expectations.

I just arrived home at 7:45PM after having dinner at a local restaurant with our friends from Millbrae. The drive home was much shorter than our drive to Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) where we stayed for three nites. The programs were excellent, and we were given a special treat on this particular pilgrimage which I'll share when I write something down.

Please be patient.

ehBeth, Thanks for remembering my birthday.

cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Jul, 2009 02:12 am
@cicerone imposter,
Okay, here goes.

On our drive from San Jose to Klamath Falls, Oregon, we passed Mount Shasta.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v97/imposter222/P2050159.jpg

JULY 2009 TULE LAKE PILGRIMAGE

Introduction:
This was the 17th Pilgrimage to Tule Lake, but this was the first one for me and my wife, and this one had the largest number of attendees with 410. They usually limit their attendance to 300 people, but the Tule Lake Committee (TLC) received so many applications this year that they accommodated all who applied.

The Tule Lake Committee is made up of six board members and 22 volunteers who plan all the events, our accommodations, food, and transporation. It goes without saying that they not only work very hard, but they do a yeoman's job of coordinating everything while we are there. I thought the programs were excellent, but the one complaint most of us had was the fact that we were able to pick only one workshop to attend out of several interesting ones offered. There were eight workshops, but I'll name only the first four: 1) Preserving the Tule Lake Segregation Center, 2) Eliminating Racism through Peer Counseling, 3) Concentration Camps vs Relocation Centers, Internees vs Prisoners, and 4) Spiritual Healing and the Tule Lake Pilgrimage. They also had volunteers to help the elderly and at different venues such as the souvenir shop where my wife and I volunteered for two shifts. We had attendees come from Japan, Hong Kong, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, Arizona, Massachusettes, New York, Washington State, Oregon, and of coarse the majority were from California with quite a few from Los Angeles. About 15% of the attendees had non-Japanese surnames, and we saw many Eurasian children.

Tule Lake was established as one of the ten camps throughout the western states with one in Arkansas, most in isolated areas. The government called them “relocation” or “internment” camps, but by any dictionary definition, they were “concentration” camps. The government moved 120,000 people from the west coast into these camps, and many were shifted from one camp to another during the war years. The camp is actually located north of Newell, a small country town. TLSC housed 18,500 inmates, one of the biggest of the camps. I believe there was a small camp located in Arkansas that housed 4,000 inmates which was closed early to save on cost.

All persons over the age of 17 were asked loyalty questions, and the people became known as the “yes, yes” or “no, no” people.

The two loyalty questions were:
#27. Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?
#28. Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any and all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power or organization?


Background:
The Japanese-Americans put into these concentration camps were put into prison without any rights of legal representation or charge of any crime. 7 out of 10 were naturalized citizens of the country by birth, and were forced out of their homes and businesses and imprisoned at 10 squalid concentration camps with barbed wires and army armed guards. 12,000 angry persons of Japanese ancestry refused to answer the two infamous questions about their loyalty when all of their Constitutional and Bill of Rights were taken away; they left those two questions blank, answered “no” or qualified their answer by saying they would first need to regain their Constitutional rights by being released from the camp. These were the persons who were segregated into Tule Lake as enemy aliens.
Our mother who really didn't read or understand much English, even though she was born in Portland, Oregon, and educated in Japan, answered “no.” Those segregated into Tule Lake had the choice of “returning” or going to Japan after the war; some for the very first time. Luckily for our family, my brother who is only one year older than I talked our mother out of it, and we stayed in California. Our mother was ready to return to Japan where she was educated, but Japan didn't have enough food or shelter to service their own citizens during or after the war. Adding to that crisis with more mouths to feed would have created even greater hardships for everybody.

Knock on wood, as the saying goes.

For most of us in the surrounding states, we spent two days in travel time, and two days in actual pilgrimage activities.

July 2, Thursday: This was a very long travel day that began when our friends picked us up at 5:45AM to drive to the United Methodist Church in San Jose for our pickup point. The bus departed about a half hour late, and we had a couple of rest stops plus our lunch stop in Redding at the United Methodist Church " for two hours. Between Redding and Klamath Falls, one of the busses had a break-down, so we had to stop to see how we could have some of their passengers share our bus. It was decided by the monitors to drive us to the nearest air conditioned coffee shop, drop us off, then the bus return to pick up the rest to bring them to the coffee shop where they could wait in air conditioned comfort until their bus was repaired or a replacement sent. We ended up at the Klub Klondike, the oldest bar and restaurant in Lakehead. In it's early years, about 60 years ago, the second floor had a whore house. At least that's what the plate in the front of the building claimed. We arrived at the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) in Klamath Falls, Oregon, about 12 hours after our departure from San Jose. We were provided time for dinner at the cafeteria after getting our keys to our room at the Residence Hall. They gave us an hour orientation including the introduction of the Tule Lake Committee members.

We learned later that those who had to wait for another bus arrived at OIT after 10:00PM. We slept very well that night.

Will continue tomorrow with more pictures and our activities on July 3.
 

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