Wakasa Committee asks for professional excavation where monument was unearthed

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The Wakasa Memorial Committee has asked the Topaz Museum Board to carry out a professionally-led community archaeology excavation of the site where the Wakasa monument was unearthed by the museum last year using a forklift.

Artifacts were left behind and the hole where the monument was dug out was covered with backfill, according to a National Park Service report.

A glass jar bottom along with 40 cement and stone artifacts were found on the surface by the NPS. Without conducting a more thorough excavation with proper documentation led by qualified archaeologists, it is difficult to interpret what was at that site, but it is certain that it contained more than just the monument itself.

The Committee requested to the Board in an April 28 letter that the excavation be scheduled before or around Sept. 11, the 80th anniversary of the opening of Topaz in 1942.

A Community Archaeology project is led by professionals but invites local people and community members to take part in field work by screening the soil, recording data and other tasks.

Such projects are valuable in drawing out community stories, personal accounts and grassroots knowledge that enhance the site’s historical legacy.

The NPS has pioneered “community archaeology” programs at other historic sites and has agreed to manage such a project.

The Wakasa Committee also asked the Topaz Museum Board to issue regular public reports with photographs on the condition of the memorial site and stone. No public updates have been made since the NPS issued their report in February.

In July, 2021, the Museum Board unearthed the stone using the services of a contractor who was collecting trash from another part of the camp.

For more information visit: Wakasamemorial.org.

The views expressed in the preceding commentary are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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