Appellate Court denies Tule Lake Committee case

Tule Lake Stockade and Jail (above) CalTrans photo by Don Tateishi

The state of California’s Court of Appeal, the Third Appellate District, denied the Tule Lake Committee case June 4 in Tule Lake Committee v. Bill Follis et al., Barbara Takei, a Tule Lake Committee board member, said June 4.

Since 2018, the Tule Lake Committee has been locked in legal battles seeking to preserve the former World War II concentration camp site. Most recently, the Tule Lake Committee and the Modoc tribe of Oklahoma both made their arguments May 21 at the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building in Sacramento, Calif. “to challenge the transfer of the Tulelake airfield from the city of Tulelake to the sovereign Oklahoma Modoc Nation.”

Bill Follis is the late chief of the Oklahoma-based tribe.

According to Takei, some two dozen Japanese Americans also attended the hearing.

The commercial airport currently located on the site of the former concentration camp sought to install eight-foot-high fencing around its perimeter in 2012. The city of Tulelake, Calif. decided to sell the airport’s land, which occupies two-thirds of the former concentration camp’s barracks’ area over 359 acres, to the Modoc Nation in Oklahoma in 2018 for approximately $50 an acre with them promising to expand aviation on the property.

Over the years, the Tule Lake Committee has been engaged with two lawsuits to prevent the fence from being built.

More than 50,000 people have opposed the fencing plans since 2012 where some 27,000 Japanese Americans were once incarcerated and 331 men, women and children died, according to the Tule Lake Committee.

“There are times when it is necessary to speak up, to fight back when a wrongful act has happened, which is why … the Tule Lake Committee filed two lawsuits, TLC v. FAA in federal court and TLC v. Follis et al., in state court. While it is painful to lose, it would have been tragic if our community remained silent and failed to assert the importance of the historic Tule Lake concentration camp site,” she said.
Takei told the Nichi Bei News the denial was based on the Oklahoma-based tribe’s sovereign immunity from lawsuits.

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