Remembering Tule Lake
REMEMBERING TULE LAKE - JULY 4, 2022. To Tule Lake's friends and supporters, the Tule Lake Committee sends best wishes on this 4th of July, hoping you have a healthy, restorative summer.
Contrary to calendar announcements reporting a virtual Tule Lake pilgrimage, we want to clarify that a date has not yet been set for the 2022 virtual pilgrimage. Many would have expected a virtual pilgrimage this week, given that we have scheduled Tule Lake pilgrimages over 4th of July weekends for more than three decades. We are working on new material and plan to announce a date for our virtual pilgrimage soon, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, for those who were unable to join last year's virtual pilgrimage, you can view segments of Tule Lake's 2021 virtual pilgrimage here: Tule Lake 2021
In the interim, we urge Tule Lake survivors and descendants, especially those who are among the 15,000 Japanese Americans segregated to Tule Lake, to help us learn more about a missing piece of American history. Tule Lake's stories were nearly erased from the Japanese American narrative by the pervasive stigma and shame associated with protest and dissent, actions that the government labeled as "disloyal" and "troublemaking." Given the silence around Tule Lake's segregation history, if you haven't done so already, begin working on a family narrative to help preserve the memories, stories and reflections about Tule Lake. These stories are rare and valuable and integral to preserving the unique history of Tule Lake.
STOP THE FENCE
We are still waiting for the FAA to complete environmental studies for a massive fence on the concentration camp site, part of a $3.5 million dollar plan to "improve" a tiny rural airfield used by one crop-dusting business. Once the FAA releases these reports, Tule Lake's survivors and descendants must help government officials understand that Tule Lake is a sacred site where 27,000 Japanese Americans were unjustly imprisoned, and where 331 men, women and children perished, due to illness, maltreatment and despair.
Grotesquely, even in death, Japanese Americans were violated by white homesteaders who bulldozed the concentration camp's cemetery and used cemetery remains to fill the grid of ditches surrounding the barracks areas, paving the concentration camp site over to serve as an airfield. The proposed fence on the airfield will violate the integrity of the historic site and send a painful, offensive message of indifference to the humanity of Japanese Americans. Instead of damaging the site's setting, feeling and association by building a massive fence, the Tule Lake Committee calls on the FAA to initiate relocation of the Tulelake airfield, as it is obvious an airfield can be moved, but it is impossible to move a historic site.
Once these environmental studies are issued, a public comment period will be announced. Tule Lake's survivors and descendants must be ready to tell the FAA why they want airfield expansion plans stopped, and that moving the airfield to protect this unique civil rights site is the only reasonable alternative. We must respond with a clear and strong message: "Protect Tule Lake, don't destroy it.” Watch for updates on the public comment period and please stay vigilant.
LITIGATION TO PROTECT THE HISTORIC SITE
The Tule Lake Committee continues to litigate the City of Tulelake's 2018 decision to relieve itself of ownership responsibility of the 359-acre Tulelake airfield that occupies most of the concentration camp's barracks area where Japanese Americans lived and died. Our team of pro bono civil rights attorneys, Mark Merin, Yoshinori Himel, and Tule Lake descendant Paul Masuhara, have, for the past four years, prevented destruction of the fabric of this social justice site.
Currently, litigation in Federal Court is delayed while the airfield's buyer, Oklahoma's Modoc Nation -- whose attorney is representing both the airfield's buyer and seller, the City of Tulelake -- is engaged in an ugly dispute over Tribal leadership. The Tule Lake Committee's Appeal in the U.S. Ninth Circuit (Tule Lake Committee v. FAA, et al.) focuses on ownership of the Tulelake airfield that was given to the City of Tulelake in 1951 by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Our lawsuit in Modoc County Superior Court (Tule Lake Committee v. Bill Follis, et al.) is stayed pending the Appeal.
Show your support for our work to protect the Tule Lake concentration camp by making a donation. Your donations help cover the expense of legal and environmental consultants performing specialized work to protect Tule Lake. Funds are also needed to cover costs of technical support to produce a virtual pilgrimage. Please be generous. Help ensure Tule Lake's unique place in civil rights history is not erased. Donate online at: Tule Lake Donations or send a check payable to: Tule Lake Fund, P.O. Box 170141, San Francisco, CA 94117. Please include your home and email address on the check.
With deep appreciation for your continuing interest and support.
Tule Lake Committee Board of Directors
Hiroshi Shimizu, Chair
Barbara Takei, Chief Financial Officer
Ken Nomiyama, Secretary
The Tule Lake Committee opposes Modoc County’s efforts to build a fence on the historic Tule Lake concentration camp site. The proposed 8-foot high, three-mile long, barbed-wired topped fence sends a message of racism and exclusion at a place that is sacred to Japanese Americans.
Deepest thanks to the 5,000 people who wrote to Modoc County urging them to honor the memory of Tule Lake and to find an alternative to building a fence that would desecrate the site. With your support, we continue the struggle to resist and persist in the fight to preserve Tule Lake for future generations.
The role of the Tule Lake Committee (TLC) is to: (i) to educate the general public of the government's forced and unconstitutional imprisonment of over 120,000 men, women and children of Japanese ancestry into ten concentration camps; (ii) to recognize the unique role of the Tule Lake camp, ......
Tule Lake tells a cautionary tale to Californians and all Americans of the need for continuing vigilance to protect our civil liberties and civil rights. Tule Lake’s national significance as a segregation center and its unique and tragic role in American history is reflected in its National Historic Landmark status (2006) ......