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Tule Lake National Monument
View of the Tule Lake War Relocation Center
Tule Lake National Monument is located in California
Tule Lake National Monument
Tule Lake National Monument is located in the United States
Tule Lake National Monument
LocationNortheast side CA 139,
Newell, California
Coordinates41°53′22″N 121°22′29″W / 41.88944°N 121.37472°W / 41.88944; -121.37472
WebsiteTule Lake National Monument
NRHP reference No.06000210[1]
CHISL No.850-2[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPFebruary 17, 2006
Designated NHLFebruary 17, 2006[3]

The Tule Lake National Monument[4] in Modoc and Siskiyou counties in California, consists primarily of the site of the Tule Lake War Relocation Center, one of ten concentration camps constructed in 1942 by the United States government to incarcerate Japanese Americans forcibly removed from their homes on the West Coast. They totaled nearly 120,000 people, more than two-thirds of whom were United States citizens. Among the inmates, the notation "鶴嶺湖 (Tsurureiko)" was sometimes applied.[citation needed]

After a period of use, this facility was renamed the Tule Lake Segregation Center in 1943, and used as a maximum security, segregation camp to separate and hold those prisoners considered disloyal or disruptive to the operations of other camps. Inmates from other camps were sent here to segregate them from the general population. Draft resisters and others who protested the injustices of the camps, including by their answers on the loyalty questionnaire, were sent here. At its peak, Tule Lake Segregation Center (with 18,700 inmates) was the largest of the ten camps and the most controversial.[3] 29,840 people were held there over the four years it was open.[5]

After the war, it became a holding area for Japanese Americans slated for deportation or expatriation to Japan, including some who had renounced US citizenship under duress. Many joined a class action suit because of civil rights abuses; many gained the chance to stay in the United States through court hearings, but did not regain their citizenship due to opposition by the Department of Justice. The camp was not closed until March 20, 1946, months after the end of the war. Twenty years later, members of the class action suit gained restoration of US citizenship through court rulings.

California later designated this Tule Lake camp site as a California Historical Landmark[2] and in 2006, it was named a National Historic Landmark.[3] In December 2008, the Tule Lake Unit was designated by President George W. Bush as one of nine sites—the only one in the contiguous 48 states—to be part of the new World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, marking areas of major events during the war.[4] In addition to remains of the concentration camp, this unit includes Tulelake camp, also used during the war; as well as the rock formation known as the Peninsula/Castle Rock. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, signed March 12, 2019, split up the three units of the monument, creating a new Tule Lake National Monument.[6]


Main article: Internment of Japanese Americans

Tule Lake War Relocation Center - Master Layout

Executive Order 9066, issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in early 1942 as a response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, authorized establishing an Exclusion Zone on the West Coast, from which local military authorities could remove certain populations under wartime exigency. Military commanders ordered the forced removal and incarceration of the nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast of the United States, two-thirds of whom were United States citizens. A late 20th-century study revealed that internal government studies of the time recommended against such mass exclusion and incarceration, and the study concluded this decision was based on racism, wartime hysteria and failed political leadership.

The War Relocation Authority (WRA) built ten concentration camps, referred to euphemistically as "relocation centers", in remote rural areas in the interior of the country. Tule Lake Relocation Center opened on May 27, 1942, and initially held approximately 11,800 Japanese Americans, who were primarily from Sacramento, King and Hood River counties in California, Washington and Oregon, respectively.[7]

The Tulean Dispatch is a newsletter that was established in June 1942 and ended in October 1943, when Tule Lake became a segregation center. It was the shortest-running newspaper of the ten concentration camps.[8]

In late 1943, the WRA issued a questionnaire intended to assess the loyalty of imprisoned Japanese Americans. The "loyalty questionnaire", as it came to be known, was originally a form circulated among draft-age men whom the military hoped to conscript into service—after assessing their loyalty and "Americanness". It soon was made mandatory for all adults in the ten camps.[9] Two questions stirred up confusion and unrest among camp inmates. Question 27 asked, "Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?" The final question 28 asked, "Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and faithfully defend the United States from any or 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?"

The first question met resistance from young men who, while not opposed to military service outright, felt insulted that the government, having stripped them of their rights as citizens, would ask them to risk their lives in combat. Many responded with qualified statements such as, "I'll serve in the Army when my family is freed", or refused to answer the questions altogether.

Many interns had problems with the second question. Many were insulted that the question implied they ever had allegiance to a country they had either left behind decades before or, for most US citizens, never visited. Others, especially the non-citizen Issei, feared they would be deported to Japan no matter how they answered, and worried that an affirmative answer would cause them to be seen as enemy aliens by the Japanese. Issei, and many Nisei and Kibei who held dual citizenship, worried they would lose their Japanese citizenship, leaving them stateless if they were expatriated from the United States, which they feared was inevitable, given what had already occurred. In addition to these concerns, some inmates answered "no" to both questions in protest of their imprisonment and loss of civil rights.[10] Often Issei and Kibei, who spoke little or no English, simply did not understand the poorly phrased questions or their implications, and did not answer.

Tule Lake Segregation Center

Japanese Americans who protested or resisted the unjust World War II detention were segregated and imprisoned at Tule Lake. More than 24,000 men, women and children were confined here.[citation needed]

In 1943 the center was renamed the Tule Lake Segregation Center.[11] The War Relocation Authority proposed to use it to separate inmates suspected of being disloyal or those who protested conditions and were disruptive in their camps. It was fortified as a maximum security facility and it quickly became the most repressive of the government's 10 concentration camps.[3] Interns who had responded with unqualified "yes" answers to the loyalty questionnaire were given the choice to transfer from Tule Lake to another WRA camp. Approximately 6,500 "loyal" Tule Lake inmates were transferred to six camps in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Arkansas.

The more than 12,000 imprisoned Japanese Americans classified as "disloyal" because of their responses to the poorly worded loyalty questions were gradually transferred to Tule Lake during the remainder of 1943.[7][12] Unsanitary, squalid living conditions, inadequate medical care, poor food, and unsafe or underpaid working conditions prompted prisoner protests at Tule Lake and several other camps. On November 14, after a series of meetings and demonstrations by prisoners over the poor living conditions at the overpopulated camp, the army imposed martial law in Tule Lake.[7][12] The Army had additional barracks constructed early in 1944 to accommodate a second influx of segregated inmates, pushing the already swollen population to 18,700.[12] The camp quickly became violent and unsafe. Martial law in Tule Lake ended on January 15, 1944, but many prisoners were bitter after months of living with a curfew, unannounced barracks searches, and restrictions that put a stop to recreational activities and most employment in the camp.[7]

In the spring of 1944, Ernest Besig of the Northern California branch of the ACLU became aware of a hastily constructed stockade at Tule Lake, in which internees were routinely being brutalized and held for months without due process. Besig was forbidden by the national ACLU to intervene on behalf of the stockade prisoners or even to visit the Tule Lake camp without prior written approval from the ACLU's Roger Baldwin.[13] Unable to help directly, Besig turned to civil rights attorney Wayne M. Collins for assistance. Collins, using the threat of habeas corpus suits, managed to have the stockade closed down. A year later, after learning that the stockade had been reestablished, he returned to the camp and had it closed down for good.[13][14]

On July 1, the Renunciation Act of 1944, drafted by Attorney General Francis Biddle, was passed into law; U.S. citizens could, during time of war, renounce their citizenship without first leaving the country—and once they did, the government could treat them as enemy aliens, and detain or deport them with impunity. Angry at the abuses of their U.S. citizenship and convinced there was nothing left for them in the country of their birth, or coerced either by WRA authorities and pro-Japan groups in camp, a total of 5,589 Nisei and Kibei internees[12] chose to renounce their citizenship.[15][16] Ninety-eight percent of those who renounced their citizenship were inmates at Tule Lake, where conditions had been so harsh.[17]

Internees transplanting celery at Tule Lake War Relocation Center

In 1945 after the war's end, the other nine WRA camps were closed as Japanese Americans gradually returned to their hometowns or settled elsewhere. Tule Lake was operated to hold those who had renounced their citizenship and Issei who had requested repatriation to Japan. Most no longer wished to leave the United States (and many had never truly wanted to leave in the first place). Those who wanted to stay in the United States and regain their citizenship (if they had it), were confined in Tule Lake until hearings at which their cases would be heard and fates determined. After the last cases were decided, the camp closed in March 1946. Although these Japanese Americans were released from camp and allowed to stay in the U.S., Nisei and Kibei who had renounced their citizenship were not able to have it restored. Wayne M. Collins filed a class action suit on their behalf and the presiding judge voided the renunciations, finding they had been given under duress, but the ruling was overturned by the Department of Justice.[12]

After a 23-year legal battle, Collins finally succeeded in gaining restoration in the late 1960s of the citizenship of those covered by the class action suit.[18][19] Collins also helped 3,000 of the 4,327 Japanese Americans originally slated for deportation remain in the United States as their choice.[17]

Victory for Tule Lake draft resisters

Mr. Masaaki Kuwabara (1913–1993)

Some of the Japanese-American draft resisters wanted to use their cases to challenge their incarceration and loss of rights as US citizens. United States v. Masaaki Kuwabara,[20] was the only World War II-era Japanese-American draft resistance case to be dismissed out of court based on a due process violation of the U.S. Constitution. It was a forerunner of the Korematsu and Endo cases argued before the US Supreme Court, later in December 1944.

Judge Louis E. Goodman went out of his way to help fellow native Californian and lead defendant Masaaki Kuwabara by hand-picking his defense attorney, Blaine McGowan, who entered a Motion to Quash Proceedings based on the government's abrogation of his client's due process rights, guaranteed to every American citizen by the U.S. Constitution. Without explicitly describing Kuwabara as a victim of federal anti-Japanese racism, Judge Goodman viewed the man's experience in this light. He ruled against the United States, which incarcerated the defendant in a U.S. concentration camp; categorized him as a Class 4-C Enemy Alien; and then drafted him into military service. Kuwabara refused to obey the draft until his rights as an American citizen were restored to him.

Events since the late 20th century

Japanese-American activists revisited the civil rights issues of the forced relocation and incarceration of their people from the West Coast. In Hawaii, where 150,000 Japanese Americans comprised one-third of the population, only a small number were interned during the war. Japanese-American groups began to organize to educate the public, build support for their case, and lobby the government for redress. Finally the Japanese American Citizens League joined this movement, although it had initially opposed it.


Starting in 1974, Tule Lake was the site of several pilgrimages by activists calling for an official apology from the U.S. government for the injustices to Japanese Americans, both citizens and non-citizens. The pilgrimages (every even year, around the 4th of July), serving educational purposes, continue to this day. This Redress Movement gradually gained widespread support and Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. It included an official governmental apology for the injustices and payment of compensation to camp survivors. A similar law was passed in 1992 to provide for compensation to additional Japanese Americans.

Groups making the annual pilgrimage have organized them around specific themes, and used them as a basis for education, as in the following:

Recent themes

Federal grant program

On December 21, 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush signed H.R. 1492 into law, creating the Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program. This authorized the appropriation of $38,000,000 in federal grant money to preserve and interpret the system of Japanese-American incarceration sites, including the temporary WCCA sites, the ten WRA concentration camps and the Department of Justice internment camps.[21]

Monument management

Map of the Tule Lake National Monument

The Monument is jointly managed by the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) with a total area of 1,391 acres (5.63 km2).[22][23][24]

The national monument consists of three separate units: the Tule Lake Segregation Center near Newell, nearby Camp Tulelake, and a rock formation known as the Peninsula/Castle Rock near Newell. The Tule Lake Segregation Center is solely managed by the NPS. Camp Tulelake is jointly managed by the NPS and USFWS; the USFWS manages/owns the land, and the NPS maintains the buildings and provides interpretive programs. The Peninsula/Castle Rock is solely managed by the USFWS. Locally, USFWS responsibilities are handled by the administration of Lava Beds National Monument and the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Notable inmates

Recent UC Berkeley valedictorian Harvey Itano at Sacramento Assembly Center in May 1942, prior to his incarceration at Tule Lake


Further information: Japanese American internment § Terminology debate

Since the end of World War II, there has been debate over the terminology used to refer to Tule Lake, and the other camps in which Japanese Americans were imprisoned by the United States Government during the war.[27][28][29] Tule Lake has been referred to as a "relocation camp," "relocation center," "internment camp", "concentration camp", and "segregation center," and the controversy over which term is the most accurate and appropriate continues into the early 21st century.[30][31] Activists and scholars believe the government terms: relocation and internment, are euphemisms for forced deportation and concentration camps.

In 1998, use of the term "concentration camps" gained greater credibility prior to the opening of an exhibit at Ellis Island about the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans. Initially, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the National Park Service, which manages Ellis Island, objected to the use of the term in the exhibit.[32] But, during a subsequent meeting held at the offices of the AJC in New York City, leaders representing Japanese Americans and Jewish Americans reached an understanding about the use of the term.[33] After the meeting, the Japanese American National Museum and the AJC issued a joint statement (which was included in the exhibit) that read in part:

A concentration camp is a place where people are imprisoned not because of any crimes they have committed, but simply because of who they are. Although many groups have been singled out for such persecution throughout history, the term 'concentration camp' was first used at the turn of the century in the Spanish–American and Boer Wars. During World War II, America's concentration camps were clearly distinguishable from Nazi Germany's. Nazi camps were places of torture, barbarous medical experiments and summary executions; some were extermination centers with gas chambers. Six million Jews were slaughtered in the Holocaust. Many others, including Gypsies, Poles, homosexuals and political dissidents were also victims of the Nazi concentration camps. In recent years, concentration camps have existed in the former Soviet Union, Cambodia and Bosnia. Despite differences, all had one thing in common: the people in power removed a minority group from the general population and the rest of society let it happen.[34][35]

The New York Times published an unsigned editorial supporting the use of the term "concentration camp" in the exhibit.[36] An article quoted Jonathan Mark, a columnist for The Jewish Week, who wrote, "Can no one else speak of slavery, gas, trains, camps? It's Jewish malpractice to monopolize pain and minimize victims."[37] AJC Executive Director David A. Harris stated during the controversy, "We have not claimed Jewish exclusivity for the term 'concentration camps.'"[38]

On July 7, 2012, at their annual convention, the National Council of the Japanese American Citizens League unanimously ratified the Power of Words Handbook, calling for the use of

truthful and accurate terms, and retiring the misleading euphemisms created by the government to cover up the denial of Constitutional and human rights, the force, oppressive conditions, and racism against 120,000 innocent people of Japanese ancestry locked up in America's World War II concentration camps."[39]

See also


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. ^ a b "California Historical Landmarks: Modoc County". Office of Historical Preservation, California State Parks. Archived from the original on October 14, 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "National Historic Landmarks Program: Tule Lake Segregation Center". National Park Service. February 17, 2006. Archived from the original on October 8, 2012. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Tule Lake Unit". National Park Service. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
  5. ^ "Tule Lake (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  6. ^ "Text - S.47 - John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act". United States Congress. March 12, 2019. Archived from the original on March 18, 2019. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Barbara Takei. "Tule Lake," Archived 2013-05-11 at the Wayback Machine Densho Encyclopedia (accessed 18 Mar 2014).
  8. ^ "Tulean Dispatch (newspaper)". Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  9. ^ Cherstin M. Lyon. "Loyalty questionnaire," Archived 2018-02-09 at the Wayback Machine Densho Encyclopedia (accessed 18 Mar 2014).
  10. ^ Hatamiya, Leslie (1993). Righting A Wrong: Japanese Americans and the Passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Stanford University Press. p. 20.
  11. ^ Memorandum of Agreement Between the War Department and the War Relocation Authority (webpage image of dept/authority document),, August 5, 1943, archived from the original on May 3, 2020, retrieved May 26, 2014((citation)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  12. ^ a b c d e Tule Lake Committee Archived 2006-04-14 at the Wayback Machine, "History" (accessed 17 Mar 2014).
  13. ^ a b Yamato, Sharon (October 21, 2014). "Carrying the Torch: Wayne Collins Jr. on His Father's Defense of the Renunciants". Discover Nikkei.
  14. ^ Wollenberg, Charles (2018). Rebel Lawyer: Wayne Collins and the Defense of Japanese American Rights. Heyday. pp. 49-51. ISBN 9781597144360.
  15. ^ Turnbull, Lornett (June 30, 2004). "WWII brought hard choice for some Japanese-Americans internees". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. Retrieved April 12, 2009.
  16. ^ "Japanese Americans, the Civil Rights Movement and Beyond" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  17. ^ a b Chersin M. Lyon. "Segregation," Archived 2014-03-13 at the Wayback Machine Densho Encyclopedia (accessed 18 Mar 2014).
  18. ^ Christgau, John (February 1985). "Collins versus the World: The Fight to Restore Citizenship to Japanese American Renunciants of World War II". Pacific Historical Review. 54 (1). University of California Press: 1–31. doi:10.2307/3638863. JSTOR 3638863.
  19. ^ Kennedy, Ellen Clare (October 2006). "The Japanese-American Renunciants: Due Process and the Danger of Making Laws During Times of Fear". Archived from the original on August 15, 2009. Retrieved April 11, 2009.
  20. ^ 56 F. Supp. 716 (N.D. Cal 1944)
  21. ^ "H.R. 1492". Archived from the original on September 26, 2017. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  22. ^ Proclamation 8327 of December 5, 2008, Establishment of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument Archived 2019-05-05 at the Wayback Machine, 73 FR 75293 (2008-12-10).
  23. ^ "Management - Tule Lake National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)". National Park Service. Archived from the original on May 17, 2019. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  24. ^ "Statistical Data Tables for Fish & Wildlife Service Lands (as of 9/30/2017)" (PDF). U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. September 30, 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 17, 2018. Retrieved February 3, 2018. Table 10. National Monuments
  25. ^ United States v. Masaaki Kuwabara, 56 Federal Supplement 716 (Northern District, California), July 22, 1944.
  26. ^ United States v. Masaaki Kuwabara, 56 F. Supp. 716 (N.D. Cal 1944)
  27. ^ "The Manzanar Controversy". Public Broadcasting System. Archived from the original on November 8, 2012. Retrieved July 18, 2007.
  28. ^ Daniels, Roger (May 2002). "Incarceration of the Japanese Americans: A Sixty-Year Perspective". The History Teacher. 35 (3): 4–6. doi:10.2307/3054440. JSTOR 3054440. Archived from the original on December 29, 2002. Retrieved July 18, 2007.
  29. ^ Ito, Robert (September 15, 1998). "Concentration Camp Or Summer Camp?". Mother Jones. Archived from the original on January 4, 2011. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  30. ^ "CLPEF Resolution Regarding Terminology". Civil Liberties Public Education Fund. 1996. Archived from the original on July 3, 2007. Retrieved July 20, 2007.
  31. ^ "Densho: Terminology & Glossary: A Note On Terminology". Densho. 1997. Archived from the original on June 24, 2007. Retrieved July 15, 2007.
  32. ^ Sengupta, Somini (March 8, 1998). "What Is a Concentration Camp? Ellis Island Exhibit Prompts a Debate". New York Times. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  33. ^ McCarthy, Sheryl (July–August 1999). "Suffering Isn't One Group's Exclusive Privilege". HumanQuest.
  34. ^ "American Jewish Committee, Japanese American National Museum Issue Joint Statement About Ellis Island Exhibit Set To Open April 3" (Press release). Japanese American National Museum and American Jewish Committee. March 13, 1998. Archived from the original on June 17, 2010. Retrieved December 30, 2007.
  35. ^ Sengupta, Somini (March 10, 1998). "Accord On Term "Concentration Camp"". New York Times. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
  36. ^ "Words for Suffering". New York Times. March 10, 1998. Retrieved December 31, 2007.
  37. ^ Haberman, Clyde (March 13, 1998). "NYC; Defending Jews' Lexicon Of Anguish". New York Times. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  38. ^ Harris, David A (March 13, 1998). "Exhibition on Camps". New York Times. Archived from the original on February 9, 2011. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  39. ^ Noguchi, Andy (July 15, 2012). "JACL Ratifies Power Of Words Handbook: What Are The Next Steps?". Japanese American Citizens League via the Manzanar Committee. Archived from the original on May 17, 2013. Retrieved July 22, 2012.

Further reading



Nisei draft resisters


Tule Lake


U.S. concentration camps