NPS awards $2.9 million in grants to preserve confinement sites


WASHINGTON — The National Park Service (NPS) has awarded 23 grants totaling $2.9 million to help preserve and interpret historic locations where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II.

In the program’s second year, the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grants will help fund projects in a dozen states, including the restoration of a historic railroad depot in Arkansas that will house an exhibit about that state’s two confinement sites, and an educational outreach program to engage youth in preserving confinement sites through art, conversation and community service.

“The Japanese American internment experience is an important chapter in American history,” said NPS Director Jon Jarvis. “The National Park Service is honored to be part of this shared effort to preserve these sites, which are a tragic reminder of a shameful episode in our past, and a compelling lesson on the fragility of our constitutional rights.”

The grants range from $17,295 to re-establish the historic Honor Roll at the Minidoka National Historic Site in Idaho (which commemorates Japanese American servicemen from that camp) to $832,879 to build the interior of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center in Wyoming.

Also receiving grants are a project to develop plans to rebuild a guard tower at the former Granada concentration camp (Amache) in southeastern Colorado, the relocation and rehabilitation of a historic barrack from the Colorado River concentration camp (Poston) in Arizona, and several oral history projects.

The minimum grant request is $5,000.

Although the matching funds support preservation and interpretation work in 12 states, some of the projects are national in scope. These include a plan to create a reference and resource Website that will hold research materials and curricula on the history of the camps.

Congress established the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program in 2006 to preserve and interpret the places where Japanese Americans were sequestered after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The law authorizes up to $38 million in grants for the life of the program to identify, research, evaluate, interpret, protect, restore, repair and acquire historic confinement sites. The program aims to teach and inspire present and future generations about the injustice of the World War II confinement and demonstrate the nation’s commitment since then to equal justice under the law.

Congress appropriated $3 million for grants in the current fiscal year. They were awarded in a competitive process, matching $2 in federal money for every $1 in non-federal funds and “in-kind” contributions raised by groups working to preserve the sites and their histories. Congress appropriated $1 million for fiscal year 2009, the first year of the grants.

Locations eligible for the grants include the 10 War Relocation Authority camps that were set up in 1942 in seven states: Gila River and Poston in Arizona; Granada in Colorado; Heart Mountain in Wyoming; Jerome and Rohwer in Arkansas; Manzanar and Tule Lake in California; Minidoka in Idaho; and Topaz in Utah. Also eligible are more than 40 other locations in 16 states, including civilian- and military-run assembly, relocation and isolation centers.

For more info, call Gerry Gaumer at (202) 208-6843 or Kara Miyagishima at (303) 969-2885, or visit

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