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[TIMELINE] Poston Internees Shared History w/American Indians

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  • madchinaman
    Celebrating a shared history Indians laud WWII Japanese American internees who developed their land By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 20, 2008
      Celebrating a shared history
      Indians laud WWII Japanese American internees who developed their land
      By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
      http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-
      poston19feb19,0,6452865,full.story
      Pics:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Japanese_Internment_Poston_Relocati
      on_Center_Painting_by_Tom_Tanaka.JPG


      -

      For Japanese-Americans, Feb. 19 marks the Day of Remembrance. That's
      the day in 1942 when President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive
      Order 9066 and put into motion the government's forced removal and
      imprisonment of more than 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry — 60
      percent of whom were American citizens.
      *
      Listed below are the soldiers who died that were recruited from Poston
      *
      Sosi, the historian, agreed. "Out of this tragedy, we benefited to a
      great extent. … Their suffering alleviated poverty and other things
      here on this reservation."

      But was the suffering worth it for America? By the end of the war,
      only 10 people had been convicted of spying for Japan. And all of
      them were white.
      *
      At its peak, Poston housed 17,000 people, mostly uprooted from the
      West Coast. The Japanese detainees held at the three Poston camps
      were used as laborers to build adobe schools, do experimental
      farming, and to construct an irrigation system.
      *
      Few wartime problems have remained as puzzling to the average U.S.
      citizen as that of the West Coast's uprooted Japanese. This week, in
      a new book, The Governing of Men, Lieut. Commander Alexander H.
      Leighton, a Navy Medical Corps psychiatrist, suggested a key to
      better understanding. After 15 months at Arizona's vast Poston
      Relocation Center as a social analyst, Commander Leighton concluded
      that many an American simply fails to remember that U.S. Japanese are
      human beings.
      *
      Commander Leighton, objective throughout, reaches no conclusions on
      this U.S. experiment in governing another race behind stockades. But
      his attitude is aptly expressed in the quotation from which he got
      his title: +Oh, it were better to be a poor fisherman than to meddle
      with the governing of men.

      +A remark made by Danton just before he was guillotined in Paris'
      Terror (1794).
      *

      -


      POSTON, ARIZ. -- On an uninviting swatch of arid desert, marked by
      sagebrush and mesquite trees just east of the California border, the
      winds of war blew together the fates of two beleaguered peoples.

      In a now familiar tale, 120,000 Japanese Americans were removed from
      the West Coast and relocated to internment camps after Japan's 1941
      attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent U.S. entry into World War
      II. But in a little known piece of that history, the U.S. government
      sent nearly 20,000 of them to three camps on a Colorado River Indian
      Tribe reservation at Poston with an explicit plan to use Japanese
      Americans -- most of them Californians skilled in farming -- to help
      develop tribal lands for later Indian use.

      Under the plan, the Japanese Americans helped clear lands and build
      irrigation systems, started farms and built schools from handmade
      adobe bricks. Their work in developing a reservation that previously
      had no electricity, running water or modern homes -- many families
      lived in mud huts -- laid the foundation for the tribe to jump-start
      its standard of living and thrive financially, said Michael Tsosie,
      director of the tribal museum.

      Now, 66 years ago today after then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt
      issued Executive Order 9066 authorizing the relocation, the two
      peoples are deepening their shared bonds.

      Last week, Native Americans and two dozen former Japanese American
      internees gathered in Poston to memorialize their experiences and
      view a new documentary about it, "Passing Poston," by New York
      filmmakers Joe Fox and James Nubile. They also discussed plans to
      restore some of the barracks, seek national historical landmark
      status for the site and build a museum about their shared history.

      "The basis of our present-day wealth is the result of the activities
      during the war years by the Japanese," Tsosie said. "Maybe if they
      knew that all of their suffering and hard work did make a remarkable
      difference in the lives of so many tribal people, it might bring them
      some peace."

      The lasting effect of their fateful desert encounter remained largely
      hidden for decades by elders in both communities who declined to talk
      much about it, both sides say. In 2000, however, Berkeley artist and
      researcher Ruth Okimoto, 71, began researching Poston in a personal
      quest to understand the experience that had torn her life apart.

      Okimoto, a Tokyo native brought to San Diego as an infant by her
      Christian missionary parents in 1937, was only 6 when she arrived at
      Poston in 1942. Her memories of the time are sketchy: a German
      neighbor making her family split pea soup before soldiers with rifles
      and bayonets took them away. Shame at having to share latrines and
      showers with so many strangers. Hunting for petrified wood and
      scorpions in the vast, forbidding landscape.

      Other, older former internees who journeyed to Poston last week
      shared their memories. Kiyo Sato, a Sacramento retired school nurse
      who was 19 at the time, remembered fainting from the blistering
      desert heat, which climbed as high as 125 degrees.

      San Pedro resident Mary Hayashi, also 19 at the time, remembered
      arriving at the dust-filled barracks bereft of any furniture but an
      oil stove. She collapsed to the floor in tears.

      Okimoto was chased and spit on, rocks heaved at her by schoolmates
      when she returned to her San Diego elementary school in 1945. As she
      became an artist in the 1970s, dark and troubling images began to
      surface in her work -- a two-faced portrait of herself, the American
      flag covering her child's eyes and adult mouth. That began her
      journey of self-discovery that, in 2000, led back to Poston.

      "I needed to go deep into my subconscious to see who I am," Okimoto
      said.

      For their part, the tribal people had no say over the mass
      encroachment on their land, museum director Tsosie said. Only when
      government trucks began rolling in to build the barracks did leaders
      begin to ask questions.

      "The other Indians didn't like them coming in," recalled Gertrude B.
      Van Fleet, 83, who used to visit the camps with her father, the
      Mohave tribe's first Presbyterian preacher who ministered to the
      internees. "They were worried because people were always coming in to
      take land from the Indians. Some spoke out real hard. Some wanted to
      chase them out."

      But the Indians were told: "It's part of the war effort. Don't ask
      questions. Do your patriotic duty and accept it," Tsosie said.

      The Japanese American population, peaking at 19,000 scattered over
      three camps, dwarfed the 1,200 Mohave and Chemehuevi Indians living
      on the reservation at the time. But the encounters were limited, both
      sides say. An armed guard was posted at a canal that divided the
      populated upper reservation with the lower reservation where the
      internment camps were placed. And the Indians were told not to mingle
      with them.

      Still, Tsosie said his own family remembered renting them horses and
      trading fish they caught from the nearby canals and Colorado River
      for camp provisions of sugar and flour. There were basketball games
      between Japanese Americans in Poston and American Indians from a
      nearby high school in Parker.

      Dennis Patch, who heads the tribal education department, said many
      Indians felt empathy for the Japanese Americans. The tribes
      themselves had been herded up and forced onto the Colorado River
      Indian Tribe reservation when it was established in 1865 to open land
      for white settlers, he said.

      "They saw people captured and put some place they didn't want to be,
      and they understood that," Patch said.

      At least some tribal students were aware that the Japanese Americans
      had begun to transform the barren reservation. In one school essay, a
      student wrote that the bountiful fruits and vegetables they grew --
      cantaloupe, lettuce, spinach and the like -- "were as good as can be
      grown anyplace. They have shown that this valley has great
      possibilities as a vegetable growing center," according to documents
      unearthed by Okimoto.

      What the Berkeley researcher would discover was that the U.S.
      government had deliberately selected Japanese Americans with farming
      experience from California Central Valley towns like Sacramento,
      Bakersfield and elsewhere, to help develop the reservation's
      agricultural potential, Okimoto said. Researching documents in the
      National Archives, along with Colorado River Indian tribal archives
      and other sources, Okimoto discovered the then-named Office of Indian
      Affairs partnered with the War Relocation Authority to develop an
      internee labor plan..

      Commissioner John Collier of the Indian Affairs office had long
      sought federal funds to bring irrigation and other projects to the
      reservation to make it self-sufficient so the government could bring
      in other tribes. World War II finally gave him an opening to offer
      the land up as an internment camp in exchange for permanent
      infrastructure improvements.

      Among other documents, Okimoto discovered an April 1942 letter from
      William Zimmerman, the Indian office's assistant commissioner, to the
      House of Representatives that outlined the plan. Zimmerman proposed
      using the Japanese to transform 10,000 acres -- clearing it and
      constructing canals, drainage ditches and flood levees -- and then
      cultivate it "as rapidly as possible."

      The projects were never fully completed, but the reservation ended up
      with new roads, electricity, irrigation systems, housing and the like.

      Many tribal members were able to receive parts of the old barracks as
      their first modern homes, including Van Fleet. Before the Japanese
      came, she recalled, she lived in a mud hut and used kerosene lamps
      for lighting. Other wartime buildings were maintained and used for
      such purposes as tribal schools, youth centers and alcohol-
      rehabilitation programs. The buildings, now shuttered, were visited
      last week by several of the former internees and form the heart of
      the application for national historical landmark status.

      Overall, the improvements gave the Colorado River Indians a "step
      ahead" on postwar progress compared to other tribes, Patch said.

      They began leasing land for commercial agriculture and started their
      own farming enterprises as well. The tribal budget has grown from an
      annual $7,000 in 1952 to $28 million today.

      "Much of this would not have happened without the Japanese laying the
      groundwork," Tsosie said.

      Last week, on a wind-swept patch of desert, where Japanese Americans
      erected a stone memorial monument in 1992, Tsosie delivered his
      thanks to several former internees. Tribal youth performed
      traditional Indian songs and dances. A Japanese Buddhist priest
      burned incense and said prayers.

      For Okimoto, the tribal progress has allowed her to find meaning in
      her personal saga of suffering.

      "Here were two minority groups struggling," she said. "If what we did
      helped them, then I guess it was worth the suffering the Japanese
      endured during the war."


      ==================


      Official name: Colorado River Relocation Center
      http://www.janm.org/projects/clasc/poston.htm


      Location: Yuma County, Arizona, 17 miles south of Parker

      Land: On the Colorado Indian Reservation

      Size: 71,000 acres; Poston was the largest of the camps

      Climate: Desert; perhaps the hottest of all camps

      Origin of camp population: Mostly from Los Angeles (2,750), Tulare
      (1,952), San Diego (1,883), Orange (1,636), Fresno (1,590), Imperial
      (1,512), Monterey (1,506), and Santa Cruz (1,222) Counties
      Via "assembly centers": Most either came to Poston directly (11,738)
      or came from Salinas (3,459) or Santa Anita (1,573) "ASSEMBLY
      CENTERS"; Poston also received 469 transfers from Justice Department
      administered INTERNMENT CAMPS, the highest figure of any WRA camp

      Rural/Urban: Mostly rural

      Peak population: 17,814, the most populous besides TULE
      LAKE "SEGREGATION CENTER"

      Date of peak: September 2, 1942

      Opening date: May 8, 1942

      Closing date:
      Unit I: November 28, 1945
      Unit II: September 29, 1945
      Unit III: September 29, 1945

      Project director(s): Wade Head and Duncan Mills Community analysts:
      Alexander Leighton, Edward H. Spicer, Elizabeth Colson and David H.
      French; Conrad Arensberg and Laura Thompson were consultants

      JERS fieldworkers: Richard S. Nishimoto and Tamie Tsuchiyama
      Newspaper: Poston Chronicle (May 13, 1942-October 23, 1945)

      Percent who answered question 28 of the loyalty questionnaire
      positively: 93.7

      Number and percentage of eligible male citizens inducted directly
      into armed forces: 611 (4.8 percent)

      Industry: A camouflage net factory operated from fall 1942 to May 1943

      Miscellaneous characteristics:
      The most notable incident at Poston was the POSTON STRIKE, described
      in detail in the following entry. There was another strike involving
      56 adobe workers in August 1942 that was quickly settled.

      Poston was named after Charles Poston, the "Father of Arizona."

      One of the most intensively studied of all the camps, Poston housed a
      social science laboratory under the leadership of Alexander Leighton
      while under the OIA in addition to having WRA community analysts and
      JAPANESE AMERICAN EVACUATION AND RESETTLEMENT STUDY fieldworkers.


      =====================


      An Internment Camp Within an Internment Camp
      Remembering Japanese-American Forced Labor on an American Indian
      Reservation
      By Frank Mastropolo
      http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=4310157&page=1


      For Japanese-Americans, Feb. 19 marks the Day of Remembrance. That's
      the day in 1942 when President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive
      Order 9066 and put into motion the government's forced removal and
      imprisonment of more than 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry — 60
      percent of whom were American citizens.

      Military officials considered anyone of Japanese descent, whether a
      U.S. citizen or not, to be a potential spy and a security risk.

      With little notice, Japanese were gathered up and ordered to leave
      their homes, businesses and friends to be incarcerated without trial.
      They could only take what they could carry and were moved to 10
      internment camps spread across some of the nation's most inhospitable
      terrains.


      In "Passing Poston: An American Story," a documentary premiering this
      month, filmmakers Joe Fox and James Nubile disclose a surprising and
      little-known secret about the Poston internment camp in the Arizona
      desert. Poston was built on the Colorado River Indian Reservation for
      a specific reason: Japanese detainees were brought to the desolate
      location to provide free, forced labor for the American government.

      Ruth Okimoto, who spent her childhood years locked up in Poston, was
      haunted decades later by the experience. Cameras tracked her journey
      as she traveled back to Poston and research its beginnings.

      "There was a different purpose for Poston besides just being an
      internment camp. I think the first discovery that absolutely startled
      me was finding out that the Office of Indian Affairs [now the Bureau
      of Indian Affairs] was in charge of running the Poston camp, along
      with the War Relocation Authority, who ran the nine other internment
      camps."

      The Japanese were ordered to build the infrastructure — schools,
      dams, canals and farms — so the U.S. government could consolidate
      scattered American Indian tribes from smaller reservations in one
      place after the war.

      Okimoto learned that the U.S. government had been trying
      unsuccessfully for decades to bring water from the Colorado River to
      the reservation. Historian Michael Sosi, of the Colorado River Indian
      Tribes, said it was a government official named John Collier who
      figured out an ingenious way to accomplish the task.

      "John Collier, who was a commissioner of Indian Affairs under
      Franklin Roosevelt, was very interested in developing this area,"
      Sosi said, "but the problem for the reservation was there were not
      enough people to justify federal expenditures for the irrigation
      project."

      So Collier, who needed the improvements to coerce other tribes to
      move to this desolate desert reservation, realized the Japanese would
      provide the key.

      "Japanese internment was the justification needed for the expenditure
      of federal funds," said Sosi. Once the Japanese were in place, their
      labor in the torrid heat of the desert made the reservation livable
      enough to attract the Indians — and fulfill Collier's plans.

      In this time of racial discrimination and hatred for the Japanese,
      the plan was a way to displace one group of unwelcome people and use
      their hard work to build the infrastructure so another displaced
      group of people — American Indians — could be isolated there after
      the war. The irony of this was not lost on Okimoto.

      "What better opportunity than to have free, confined laborers in
      Poston?" asked Okimoto. "And that's what Commissioner Collier figured
      would be the best way to fulfill a project that he had been working
      on for years."

      "The government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs used us for their
      ends, for their plans and we were pawns in the hands of the two
      governmental agencies," Okimoto said.

      At its peak, Poston housed 17,000 people, mostly uprooted from the
      West Coast. The Japanese detainees held at the three Poston camps
      were used as laborers to build adobe schools, do experimental farming
      and to construct an irrigation system.

      In the film, internees describe the backbreaking work they performed
      to accomplish the task. When the Japanese were released in 1945, the
      government carried out its plan to settle the camps with American
      Indian tribes from the Southwest.

      Colonists, as the government referred to them, from the Hopi and
      Navajo tribes, as well as other tribes living along the Colorado
      River, moved into the barracks built for the Japanese detainees.

      The colonists were recruited by the Office of Indian Affairs and
      lured by promises of fertile farmland and plentiful water. The new
      arrivals found a working canal system to irrigate farmland, school
      buildings and many other necessities for their relocation. For some
      from the less developed areas of other reservations, it was a step up
      to have running water and the opportunity to farm. But it remained
      the product of forced labor by American citizens during World War II.

      Dennis Patch, a council member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes,
      grew up in a house that used to be part of the Japanese barracks.
      Because American Indian reservations were designed as places where
      native people had to ask permission before they could leave, Patch
      called Poston "an internment camp within an internment camp."

      "We can identify with mass relocation against our will," he said. "To
      see another ethnic group brought and lodged there against their will
      was to me really striking and bewildering."

      Patch heard about the Japanese detainees from his parents,
      grandparents and tribal elders. "They didn't like to see the people
      suffer that way … because these were men, women and children. They
      didn't understand it, but they knew it wasn't right. … They had no
      idea what to do about it; they had no power to do anything about it."

      "They built the schools here, they built the roads here, they
      developed the acreage into fields here, they brought the power down
      the center of the reservation, Patch said. "So up until that time, we
      as native people were without running water, restroom facilities,
      without electricity. From their suffering we gained a lot."

      Sosi, the historian, agreed. "Out of this tragedy, we benefited to a
      great extent. … Their suffering alleviated poverty and other things
      here on this reservation."

      But was the suffering worth it for America? By the end of the war,
      only 10 people had been convicted of spying for Japan.

      And all of them were white.


      ===========


      Poston War Relocation Center
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poston_War_Relocation_Center


      The Poston War Relocation Center, located in Yuma County (now in La
      Paz County) of Arizona, was the largest of the ten American
      concentration camps operated by the War Relocation Authority during
      World War II.

      The Center was composed of three separate camps arranged in a chain
      from north to south at a distance of three miles from each other.
      Internees named the camps Roasten, Toastin, and Dustin, based on
      their desert locations. The Colorado River was approximately 3 miles
      (4.8 km) to the west, outside of the camp perimeter.

      Poston was built on the Colorado River Indian Reservation, over the
      objections of the Tribal Council, who refused to be a part of doing
      to others what had been done to their tribe. However, officials of
      the Bureau of Indian Affairs overrode the Council, seeing the
      opportunity to bring in improvements and develop agricultural land on
      the War Department budget and with thousands of "volunteers," which
      would remain after the war and aid the Reservation's permanent
      population.

      The combined peak population of the Poston camps was over 17,000,
      mostly from Southern California. At the time Poston was the third
      largest "city" in Arizona. It was built by Del Webb who would later
      become famous building Sun City, Arizona, and other retirement
      communities.

      A single fence surrounded all three camps, though Poston II and III
      did not have gatehouses. The thousands of internees and staff passed
      through the barbed-wire perimeter at Poston I, which was where the
      main administration center was located.

      Poston was a subject of a sociological research by Alexander H.
      Leighton, published in his 1945 book, The Governing of Men. As Time
      Magazine wrote, "After fifteen months at Arizona's vast Poston
      Relocation Center as a social analyst, Commander Leighton concluded
      that many an American simply fails to remember that U.S. Japanese are
      human beings."[1]

      Life at Poston
      Perhaps the frustration felt in the concentration camps was best
      expressed by this anonymous poem, which was written by an internee at
      Poston:

      That Damned Fence (anonymous)[2]

      They've sunk the posts deep into the ground
      They've strung out wires all the way around.
      With machine gun nests just over there
      And sentries and soldiers everywhere.

      We're trapped like rats in a wired cage,
      To fret and fume with impotent rage;
      Yonder whispers the lure of the night,
      But that DAMNED FENCE assails our sight.

      We seek the softness of the midnight air,
      But that DAMNED FENCE in the floodlight glare
      Awakens unrest in our nocturnal quest,
      And mockingly laughs with vicious jest.

      With nowhere to go and nothing to do,
      We feel terrible, lonesome, and blue:
      That DAMNED FENCE is driving us crazy,
      Destroying our youth and making us lazy.

      Imprisoned in here for a long, long time,
      We know we're punished--though we've committed no crime,
      Our thoughts are gloomy and enthusiasm damp,
      To be locked up in a concentration camp.

      Loyalty we know, and patriotism we feel,
      To sacrifice our utmost was our ideal,
      To fight for our country, and die, perhaps;
      But we're here because we happen to be Japs.

      We all love life, and our country best,
      Our misfortune to be here in the west,
      To keep us penned behind that DAMNED FENCE,
      Is someone's notion of NATIONAL DEFENSE!


      Unlike the nine other concentration camps, the agricultural and
      animal husbandry areas of Poston were within the perimeter fence.
      Schools and a number of other buildings were constructed by the
      internees. A shortage of available lumber led them to build using
      adobe. Many of the inhabitants participated and created their own
      recreational activities, such as the Boy Scouts, sports teams, and
      various jobs. Poston also contained poor sanitary conditions.


      Poston Today
      A number of buildings built for the concentration camps are still in
      use today. Others, while still existing, are seriously deteriorated
      and in desperate need of maintenance. The majority were removed after
      the camp closed, and many are still in use as utility buildings in
      surrounding areas. The residential areas have been largely converted
      to agricultural use.


      ===========================


      Japs Are Human
      http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,797540,00.html


      Few wartime problems have remained as puzzling to the average U.S.
      citizen as that of the West Coast's uprooted Japanese. This week, in
      a new book, The Governing of Men, Lieut. Commander Alexander H.
      Leighton, a Navy Medical Corps psychiatrist, suggested a key to
      better understanding. After 15 months at Arizona's vast Poston
      Relocation Center as a social analyst, Commander Leighton concluded
      that many an American simply fails to remember that U.S. Japanese are
      human beings.

      The Governing of Men (Princeton University Press; $3.75) is a full
      report on Poston, which—because of censorship —was the subject of
      many a wild rumor in the early days of the war. To Commander
      Leighton's detached eye, the war was only a minor cause of Poston's
      troubles. Many of those troubles sprang from the universal resentment
      men feel at being confined against their will, and from the universal
      conflict which results when different types of people are thrown
      closely together. For the 18,000 Japs at Poston were of all types.
      There were Christians and Buddhists, bankers and fishermen, farmers
      and shopkeepers. By birth and background they fell into three basic
      groups:

      ¶The oldest, the Japanese-born Issei, were reserved, puritanical
      people, who clung to an old country belief in hard work, personal
      integrity and obedience to tradition. They felt a sense of loyalty to
      Japan and had grave misgivings about the flipness, the new and
      careless attitudes of U.S.-born Nisei. Pearl Harbor had filled them
      with indecision. Many wanted Japan to win the war, but they did not
      want the U.S.—the country in which their children would go on living—
      to lose. ¶The Nisei had grown away from the Japanese beliefs that
      they had been taught as children, felt superior to their parents and
      a little ashamed of the Issei's bowing manners and broken English.
      They were full of protest at the idea of evacuation, afraid they were
      being stripped of their rights as citizens. Their faith in U.S.
      fairness was shaken. But they were still unconvinced by their
      parents' talk of the greatness of Japan.

      ¶The Kibei, young Japanese born in the U.S. but educated in the old
      country, found themselves in conflict with both Issei and Nisei. Most
      older Japanese considered them dissolute, domineering upstarts.
      Nisei, fresh from U.S. schools, considered them foreign-minded
      people.

      To all the evacuees Poston (a conglomeration of cheerless wooden
      barracks on the unshaded desert) seemed like a concentration camp.
      The sun was cruel; dust was everywhere. The hospital had little
      medicine, food was often badly cooked; there was overcrowding, lack
      of privacy, discomfort. The camp's overworked administrative staff
      had been thrown together as hastily as the buildings.

      A New Life. Despite all this, the displaced thousands gradually
      settled into a new pattern of existence. Clubs, baseball teams sprang
      up. There were parties at which old-fashioned dancing competed with
      U.S. jitterbugging—under their flowing robes the Japanese girls wore
      U.S. saddle shoes (see cut). Thousands of residents worked hard at
      tilling the soil, manufacturing adobe bricks, making camouflage
      netting—at wages of $12 to $19 a month. But a great part of Poston's
      people went on feeling insecure, bewildered, resentful. Many an older
      Japanese was convinced that Nisei and Kibei were "dogs" (informers).
      Gangs of men began roaming the camp at night beating suspected "dogs"
      with clubs and canes.

      Torn by dissension, the Japs finally struck against their American
      warders. When the strike was settled after eight days, the air was
      cleared. But Poston was never a placid place again. By this week,
      nearly 13,000 of Poston's inhabitants, still uncertain and
      bewildered, had gone back to their old homes on the Coast.

      Commander Leighton, objective throughout, reaches no conclusions on
      this U.S. experiment in governing another race behind stockades. But
      his attitude is aptly expressed in the quotation from which he got
      his title*: Oh, it were better to be a poor fisherman than to meddle
      with the governing of men.

      * A remark made by Danton just before he was guillotined in Paris'
      Terror (1794).


      ====================


      That Damned Fence: Relocation Camp Life
      Through the Eyes of Japanese Alien and Japanese-American Poets
      By Christine Woll
      For FYS 234 The U. S. Relocation Camps in World War II


      On February 19, 1942, Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued the infamous
      Executive Order 9066, which resulted in the internment of 110,000
      Japanese Aliens and Japanese Americans in concentration camps because
      of the so-called "military threat," they posed. In 1945, poet Lawson
      Fusao Inada wrote the following poem, titled "Concentration
      Constellation," which refers to the various relocation camps that
      were used to contain these people:
      In this earthly configuration,
      We have, not points of light,
      but prominent barbs of dark…

      Begin between the Golden State's
      highest and lowest elevations
      and name that location

      Manzanar. Rattlesnake a line
      southward to the zone
      of Arizona, to the home
      if natives on the reservation,
      and call those Gila, Poston.

      Then just take your time
      winding your way across…
      just make yourself at home
      in the swamps of Arkansas.
      for this is Rohwer and Jerome.

      But now, you weary of the way.
      It's a big country, you say.
      It's a big history, hardly
      halfway through - with Amache
      looming in the Colorado desert,
      Heart Mountain high in wide
      Wyoming, Minidoka on the moon
      of Idaho, then down to Utah's
      jewel of Topaz before finding
      yourself at northern California's
      frozen shore of Tule Lake…

      Now regard what sort of shape
      this constellation takes.
      It sits there like a jagged scar,
      massive, on the massive landscape.
      It lies there like the rusted wire
      of a twisted and remembered fence.

      As Inada points out with his analogy to a constellation, the United
      States government had constructed many camps and scattered them all
      over the country. In other words, the internment of Japanese-
      Americans was not merely a blip in American history; it was instead a
      catastrophic and appalling forced removal of 110,000 people from
      their homes. In order to prevent history from repeating itself, it is
      important that study is done on the subject. As Inada illustrates,
      government documents and written accounts are not the only way to
      study the issues surrounding the internment; poetry, being a
      traditional and cherished practice brought over from Japan and
      continued in the United States, serves to give a unique and
      informative perspective into the lives of the Japanese internees. Not
      only does the poetry written by Japanese aliens and American citizens
      of Japanese descent describe the living conditions in the relocation
      camps they were imprisoned in, but it also demonstrates the array of
      emotions these people felt, including the hope of one day being free,
      the anger at being imprisoned, and, most prominently, the sadness
      from being away from home and loved ones.

      Why was writing poetry so popular in the internment camps? Jori and
      Kay Nakano relate that short poems "were ideal forms for the
      internees' expression of their pent-up emotion," because of the
      scarcity of writing paper. The Nakanos also point out that short
      poems were a Japanese tradition of expression, and thus a form that
      the people of Japanese descent were comfortable with. Their poetry
      offered a means of escape and relief, a way to vent and reflect in
      the harsh environment they were trapped in. While commenting on his
      own experiences, Inada asserts that "if it weren't for the poem, the
      thoughts and feelings would have stayed submerged, unexpressed,
      gradually fading and dispersing in my consciousness," and that that
      was "the way, the gift, of this ancient and universal way known as
      poetry."

      Most of the poems written by those in the camps were very short, as
      was the Japanese tradition. The two most popular forms were tanka and
      haiku. Haiku, the shortest form of poetry in the world, normally with
      a 5-7-5 syllable pattern, is mostly used to describe nature. Tanka
      poetry has a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable pattern, speaks of nature and human
      emotions, and, as the Nakanos write, "allows the reader to perceive
      the unsaid and the intimated." However, poets were not restricted to
      these forms; Makoto Ueda notes that in the early 20th century, some
      radical poets started a free-style movement, advocating a "freer"
      form of haiku and tanka. Also, as seen in the Inada poem presented
      earlier, not all poetry was written in the short tanka and haiku
      forms.

      According to Violet Kazue de Cristoforo, "the pre-war haiku [by
      people in American of Japanese ancestry] expresses peacefulness and
      tranquility, as well as hope for their future in America." For
      example, "The Flower was yellow," by Reiko Gyomo reads "The flower is
      yellow / I see it clearly now / dawn on autumn field,"
      and "Chrysanthemum also in bloom" by Kazue Matsuda
      reads "Chrysanthemum also in bloom / continuing fair weather / wish
      to chat with people." Although not indicative of all poems written in
      the United States by Japanese aliens or Japanese American poetry, it
      offers good representation of many of them. Both center around the
      cheerful subject of flowers, and both poems feature a calm, serene
      tone. Also, poets have written after this time period to illustrate
      the feelings of the Japanese and Japanese Americans before they were
      incarcerated. In the first of a series of poems about a fictitious
      Japanese family in the United States, Geraldine C. Little writes
      about the teenage Cathy in early December of 1942, prior to the
      attack on Pearl Harbor: "Cathy muses to the mirror / What shall I
      wear / to the Christmas hop? / … Red tingles Rob, / Rob tingles me. /
      I will wear red…" In this poem Little portrays the relatively care-
      free attitude of the Japanese Americans through Cathy's worries over
      clothes and boys. In several days, she will have much more momentous
      things to worry about. Although many families did suffer from racial
      prejudice and legal restrictions, these poets make it clear that
      these problems paled in comparison to the experiences they were about
      to face.

      The poetry begins to illustrate the emotions of the Japanese aliens
      and Japanese Americans with the announcement of Executive Order 9066,
      which ordered the removal of all specified people, which came to mean
      all those of Japanese descent, from the West Coast. In a section of
      his poem titled "Legends from Camp: Prologue," Inada describes the
      shock of the removal:
      The situation, obviously, was rather confusing.
      It obviously confused simple people
      who had simply assumed they were friends, neighbors,
      colleagues, partners, patients, customers, students,
      teachers, of, not so much "aliens" or "non-aliens,"
      but likewise simple, unassuming people
      who paid taxes as fellow citizens and populated
      pews and desks and fields and places
      of ordinary American society and commerce.

      This poem has a dry tone, subtly hinting at an anger and disbelief at
      the unjust incarceration of "unassuming people" and "fellow
      citizens." However, some of the poetry also illustrates how, even
      though they might have been angry, the Japanese aliens and Japanese
      Americans acted very compliantly, having faith in their country that
      the situation would get better. One of the characters in Little's
      narrative poem muses "I do not understand / at all, but if we must /
      go somewhere to serve / our country / then we must. Orders / are to
      be obeyed." Research on the subject reveals, surprisingly, little
      resistance to the orders, with few instances of public protest and
      violence, and Little's poem shows the attitude that produced this
      atmosphere. Finally, the poems about the evacuation shows the sadness
      that these people dealt with as they left their homes and were forced
      to sell almost all their belongings, or what Little called "a
      lifetime of accumulation." Yotenchi Agari reflects the feelings of
      all the other Japanese aliens and Japanese Americans when he writes "…
      about to leave this house / where my child was born." Agari's poem
      illustrates how the thought of leaving the place where so many of
      their memories had been made pained the prisoners.

      Exteriorly, the poetry written in the camps can be taken to describe
      simply the conditions in which the internees lived. Many of these
      poems dealt with the landscape; from the deserts of Arizona to the
      swamplands of Arkansas to the mountains of Wyoming. In an untitled
      poem, James Shinkai describes the climate at Manzanar in the deserts
      of California:

      …Dust clouds, like brown smoke, rose and swirl and blow
      from hidden lairs in icy crags, towering high,
      like hungry pack of wolves, the gale sweeps low,
      fangs sharp and bared, shrieking to the sky;
      the guardian peaks emerge, serene and high.

      Summer, with long, parched nights and days;
      and heaven's bowl a shimmering blue of heat;
      the thirsty hills are choked. The sun's hot blaze
      before encroaching autumn, once more retreats.
      King Winter reigns upon his icy seat.

      The weather and seasons were a constant force that the internees had
      to deal with, especially because the camps were located in unwanted
      and unpleasant territories with extreme temperature variations. Not
      only was the weather usually harsh, but the landscape was typically
      ugly as well. In a tanka poem, the poet Yukari describes Topaz as
      a "land / where neither grass / nor trees / nor wild flowers grow."
      Japanese aliens and Japanese American poets, used to composing Haikus
      about the beauty of nature, usually only found dust and barbed wire.

      Matters of extreme temperatures, poor climate, and bad weather were
      worsened by the fact that the shelters often lacked heat, at least at
      first, and were flimsily made. Many of the poems describe or hint at
      the overall horrendous living conditions. Little describes the rooms
      they had to live in as "barracks / barely tacked together!" and that
      the paper lining the walls "lacks the line / the color / of even a
      nourishing / turnip!" He goes on to describe the furnishings: "Steel
      army cots / two mud-colored blankets / … Mattress covers / we are
      free / to stuff with straw." Little's poetry here informs us of the
      fact that the living conditions were both unwelcoming and
      uncomfortable.

      Outside of the rooms, camp life did not improve. Poets staying in the
      camps often complained about the guards, the bathrooms, and the
      eating facilities. The poets usually portrayed the guards as cold and
      unfeeling. The lack of privacy and stench distinguished the
      bathrooms. The food was characterized as gross and monotonous; in a
      section of Little's narrative poem, a character describes one
      meal: "Rice / soppy with fruit syrup / Ugh! / I watch Mom accept / an
      ice-cream scoop dollop, eyes down." With this passage, Little
      conjures imagery of the food ("rice / soppy with fruit syrup") and
      expresses the inmates feelings about the food in just a few words
      ("Ugh!" and "eyes down.") In the poem "Kimiko Ozawa," poet Lee Ann
      Roripaugh complains that "My feet, my mind, become numb / from
      standing in line all day - / lines to eat, shower, shit / in the
      dirty outdoor benjos," demonstrating her frustration at the over
      crowdedness and dirty conditions. These examples illustrate how much
      can be learned about the Japanese and Japanese Americans' experiences
      in the relocation camps just through simple and short poetry.

      However, as stated earlier, the poems written by the internees do
      more than show the conditions that they had to deal with. More
      powerful are the emotional confessions and testimonials found in the
      poems. Exposed to experiences too horrific for readers to imagine,
      these internees felt that the ancient form of poetry served as the
      ideal way to express the extreme emotions they were experiencing.

      Many of the poems written during this time period reflected hope, the
      emotion that helped the Japanese aliens and Japanese Americans
      through these troubled times. At first hope manifested itself in the
      Japanese and Japanese American's compliancy to the orders of the
      government and their hesitation to complain. These people had faith
      in America; it was, after all, the "land of the free." Many decided
      that they had to do their "patriotic duty" and comply, and they were
      optimistic about their fate and hoped they would be able to return
      home soon. "Legends from Camp: The Legend of the Great Escape,"
      written by Inada, demonstrates how "loyal" he and the other internees
      really were:
      The people were passive:
      even when a train pauses
      in the Great Plains, even
      when soldiers were eating,
      they didn't escape.

      This "passiveness" was not necessarily a product of fear; it was one
      of obligation and hope.

      This hope also manifested itself early on in the form of the inmates
      trying to make the best of their situation. Different people used
      different methods to try to feel more "at home." For example, in the
      haiku titled "At the Volcano Internment Camp," poet Muin Ozaki
      writes "I feel a familiar voice / and feel comforted, for now." The
      fact that people of his own kind are here as well eases Ozaki and
      gives him a reason to stay optimistic. Other internees used their
      imagination; one character in Little's narrative poem claims that she
      will "try to think / of peach blossoms / not unripe persimmons /
      which saw and twist / the mouth," and another declares that she
      will "build the beautiful… / in this desert place / to make it
      bloom." Parents told their children "Shikata ga nai," which means "it
      cannot be helped" in order to try to have them accept their
      conditions and move on. The Japanese aliens and Japanese Americans
      were not simply bitter about their situation, and if they were they
      often held it in. Instead, they had faith that their situation would
      improve because they had faith in their country, and they vowed to
      make the best of the situation they were in.

      Although this hope began to fade as time went on, it is still evident
      in some poetry written towards the end of the internment. A poem by
      Michiko Mizumoto titled "Manzanar" reflects the Japanese aliens and
      Japanese Americans courage and hope throughout these trying years:

      Scoff if you must, but the dawn is approaching,
      when these, who have learned and suffered in silent courage;
      better, wiser, for the unforgettable interlude of detention,
      shall trod on free sod again,
      side by side peacefully with those who sneered at the
      dust Storms.
      Sweat days.
      Yellow people,
      exiles.

      These people who had "suffered in silent courage," expected their
      eventual return to society, and they would try to not be angry or
      resentful, but instead live "side by side peacefully," with the rest
      of the country. Time, a component that caused many to lose hope,
      actually served to alleviate others. In another section of Shinkai's
      untitled poem, he writes "A year is gone. A quickening in the air; / …
      Another Spring - perhaps new hope, new life again." Shinkai refers to
      spring, the universal symbol for renewal and new life, to represent
      his hope that they will soon return home. A haiku by Neiji Ozawa
      reads "From this window of despair / May Sky / There is always
      tomorrow." Like Shinkai, he uses the symbol of spring to show that,
      even in the face of discouragement, the Japanese and Japanese
      Americans in the internment camps held on to hope.

      However, it cannot be said that all the internees were hopeful and
      compliant. Although perhaps many of them did not show their anger and
      bitterness through actions such as violence and resistance, several
      poets express their frustration and feelings of betrayal. Most of
      this anger came from the realization of the irony that they had come
      to the "land of the free," only to be detained. In the sarcastic
      haiku "Indeed - festivals of," Kyotaro Komuro writes "Indeed -
      festivals of / obon and Independence Day / are here for us too."
      Komuro obviously recognizes and is embittered by the irony behind
      celebrating Independence Day in a concentration camp. The fact that
      others like them lived freely further aggravated their anger; a
      character created by Little angrily notes that "That German family /
      down the hill, / no one spits at them / or taunts them traitors / or
      treats them differently." Many poets wondered why they, many citizens
      of the United States, and not the Italians and Germans, had been
      detained, and expressed this resentment in their poems. A common
      theme among these poems is that even animals weren't trapped up like
      them; a haiku by Hakuro Wako states that "even the croaking of
      frogs / comes from outside the barbed wire fence…" and Sojin Takei
      writes that "There is no fence / high up in the sky / that evening
      crows / fly up and disappear / into an endless horizon." Japanese
      American poets pondered why, as human beings with human rights, they
      were more detained than most animals?

      This resentment and anger in many of the poems stemmed not only from
      just the violation of civil liberties, but from just the mental
      effects of being trapped and imprisoned. Another haiku by Gomyo
      expresses what the imprisonment does to him; he writes "Feeling of
      oppression / withering weeds / are dense." A famous anonymous poem
      that circulated around the Poston Relocation Camp expresses the
      popular rage that boiled under the internees' cool exterior:

      They've sunk the posts deep into the ground
      They've strung out wires all the way around.
      With machine gun nests just over there,
      And sentries and soldiers everywhere.
      We're trapped like rats in a wired cage,
      To fret and fume with impotent rage;
      Yonder whispers the lure of the night,
      But that DAMNED FENCE assails our sight.
      We seek the softness of the midnight air,
      But that DAMNED FENCE in the floodlight glare
      Awakens unrest in our nocturnal quest,
      And mockingly laughs with vicious jest.
      With nowhere to go and nothing to do,
      We feed terrible, lonesome, and blue:
      That DAMNED FENCE is driving us crazy,
      Destroying our youth and making us lazy.
      Imprisoned in here for a long, long time,
      We know we're punished--though we've committed no crime,
      Our thoughts are gloomy and enthusiasm damp,
      To be locked up in a concentration camp.
      Loyalty we know, and patriotism we feel,
      To sacrifice our utmost was our ideal,
      To fight for our country, and die, perhaps;
      But we're here because we happen to be Japs.
      We all love life, and our country best,
      Our misfortune to be here in the west,
      To keep us penned behind that DAMNED FENCE,
      Is someone's notion of NATIONAL DEFENCE!

      This poem perfectly epitomizes the inmates' feelings of anger and
      frustration. To them, the fence surrounding the camps symbolized
      their oppression by the United States government and left them
      feeling trapped and defied.
      In a section of his narrative poem, Little writes "Daffodils stab the
      heart / wildly joyous - / moon-yellow dream!" As noted earlier,
      flowers and spring imagery often symbolized hope in poetry from the
      internment camps. However, as Little demonstrates here, they could
      also produce heartache and sadness from the inmates, as the beauty of
      a daffodil would remind them of better times. Grief, sorrow, and
      unhappiness, the overwhelming emotions displayed in the poetry, must
      have been the most prominent feelings among the Japanese aliens and
      Japanese Americans trapped in the relocation camps.

      In a haiku Gomyo writes "Vision of loneliness / I endure / in the
      green of spring." Part of the sadness felt by the internees stemmed
      from the loneliness that Goymo describes. The relocation process
      often resulted in separation of families, especially at the beginning
      when men were detained as being "dangerous" and towards the end of
      the internment when many Issei were moved to Tule Lake for
      being "disloyal." In a tanka, Takei expresses his grief: "My wife and
      children / Live in a far away land / How lonely are the nights /
      Behind those barbed wire fences." Thousands of inmates lived the
      experience of missing loved ones, possibly one of the worst sorrows a
      person can endure. Besides missing loved ones, sometimes internees
      just missed someone to talk to, a familiar face. For example, poet
      Sei Sagara, interned at Tule Lake Segregation Center, composed a
      haiku that read "Arranging playing cards on bed / room too large /
      for one occupant." Finally, this loneliness was often the result of
      Japanese American men that were recruited to fight in the war.
      Mothers, sisters, girlfriends and wives lamented over their loved
      ones overseas. Poet Shizuku Uyemaru dedicated the following poem to
      her brother: "No letters / thoughts wandering / to distant Pacific
      war zone," and Little echoes the popular sentiment with a verse from
      the viewpoint of a girl waiting for her boyfriend:

      Sam, I try to see your face
      in clouds, the features
      no longer clear.

      Will I leave it here
      with all the rest
      I leave?

      I twist your ring
      that's never left
      my finger. The world
      turns, turns

      but does not swing
      you back.

      In a haiku, Yotenchi Agari writes "Graves, another, and still
      another / on the ground…" The sadness expressed in this poetry often
      stemmed from death of a loved one. Because of conditions in the camp,
      many died due to illness and disease; there were also the usual
      deaths from old age; and of course, Japanese American soldiers were
      killed the war. In just a few short words, Ozawa expresses his
      anguish while watching a friend die, writing "Ailing - / alongside
      dying man / we both look at marigold." When Little describes the
      feelings in the camp when news of a new soldier's death arrives, he
      writes that it "stabs" the heart "too often," and that all they can
      do is picture "a boy's burnished bones / …cold / in another land…" In
      a tanka poem, Keiho Soga laments over a tragedy that reflects the
      despair and hopelessness many prisoners must have felt. Soga
      describes how "a fellow prisoner / takes his life with poison," and
      that "streaks of black blood / stain the camp road." The fact that
      suicide existed offers an example of the despair; however, Soga's
      imagery of the "streaks of black blood" further emphasize the grim
      and miserable life these prisoners faced.

      However, most of the despair, the aguish, and the heartbreak
      expressed by these poets come from one emotion: their longing for
      home. Whether from California, Washington, or Oregon, the Japanese
      aliens and Japanese Americans missed their lands, their
      neighborhoods, and their homes. Ozawa reminds us that camp was
      nothing like home; after all, there were "No ripples…on desert lake,"
      like the great Pacific Ocean that they missed. An anonymous poet
      describes how "memories" and "deep longing" for home can "make eyes
      full." In "Legends of Camp: The Legend of Home," Inada reflects the
      nostalgia the prisoners felt for their old lives:


      Home, too, was out there.
      it had names like
      Marysville, Placerville,
      Watsonville, and Lodi - …

      And they were all full of trees,
      and grass, with fruit
      for the picking, dogs
      to chase, cats to catch

      on the streets and roads
      where Joey and Judy lived.

      Imagine that!
      The blue tricycle
      left in the weeds somewhere!

      And when you came to a fence,
      you went around it!

      And one of those homes not only had a tunnel
      but an overpass
      that, when you went over,

      revealed everything
      going on forever up to
      a gleaming bridge
      leading into neon lights
      and ice cream leaning
      double-decker

      Imagine that!

      This powerful, heart-wrenching piece by Inada allows the readers to
      reflect on what it would be like to not be able to see the things
      that he or she saw everyday. In the haiku "Separated year ago today,"
      Kikuha Okamoto merely states that "Chinese quince / must be blooming
      in my garden," but with this simple musing she expresses a longing
      not easily put into words.

      By 1943 the U.S. government had released large portions of Japanese
      aliens and Japanese Americans and by the end of 1945, of all the
      relocation camps, only Tule Lake Detention Center still had
      prisoners. Surprisingly, the prisoners had mixed feelings about
      returning home. Some were jubilant about seeing their homeland again;
      Takei wrote "Koko Head nears / And now Diamond Head! / How bright the
      sea is / Shining in the morning sunlight!" expressing his joy in
      seeing California again. However, the thought of going back home
      scared many; one of Little's characters ponders "How will they treat
      us / in that forest / of free." The fact that the poets showed
      concern about going home further emphasizes the emotional tragedy
      these people experienced; the experience had left them scarred as
      they feared the country that they had once considered the "land of
      the free."

      Endless research has been done on the U.S. Relocation Camps during
      World War II, but curiosity demands more than an investigation of the
      facts concerning the internment. Although personal reflections,
      interviews, and diaries all give important insights into the feelings
      and emotions of the prisoners, poetry offers something important as
      well. Not always able to express everything in prose and sentences,
      poetry gave many an opportunity to accurately communicate their
      thoughts on paper, and though it was not their intention, these poems
      add another dimension to studies on the subject. Written by men and
      women, Issei and Nisei alike, the collections of poetry from the
      internment camp tend to be unbiased and universal to the most of the
      internees. Furthermore, it must be noted that besides being proof of
      the hope, the anger, and the despair felt by the prisoners, the
      poetry written by the Japanese aliens and Japanese Americans during
      their internment must also be taken simply as examples of beautiful
      works of art to be read and appreciated as they are.


      Endnotes
      Lawson Fusao Inada. "Concentration Constellation." Legends from Camp.
      Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1993, pp27.
      Jori and Kay Nakano. Foreword. Poets Behind Barbed Wire. By
      Taisanboku Mori et al. Honolulu: Bamboo Ridge Press, 1983, ppvii.
      Nakano, ppvii.
      Inada, pp1.
      Nakano, ppviii.
      Makoto Ueda. Foreword. May Sky: There is always Tomorrow. By Violet
      Kazue de Cristoforo. Los Angeles: Sun Moon Press, 1997, pp9.
      Violet Kazue de Cristoforo. May Sky: There is always Tomorrow. Los
      Angeles: Sun Moon Press, 1997, pp29.
      Reiko Gyomo. "The Flower is Yellow," de Cristoforo, 33.
      Kazue Matsuda. "Chrysanthemum also in bloom." de Cristoforo, 35.
      Geraldine C. Little. Hakugai: Poems from a Concentration Camp.
      Austin: Curbstone Publishing Company, 1983, pp12.
      Inada. "Legends from Camp: Prologue.," pp8.
      Little, pp24.
      Little, pp23.
      Yotenchi Agari. "Rhododendron Blooms." de Cristoforo, pp109.
      James Shinkai, "Untitled Poem." Whispered Silences: Japanese
      Americans and World War II. By Gary Y. Okihiro. Seattle: University
      of Washington Press, 1996, pp123-124.
      Yukari. "Someone named it Topaz." By Yoskiko Uchida. Desert Exile:
      The Uprooting of a Japanese American Family. Seattle: University of
      Washington Press, 1982, pp121.
      Little, pp45.
      Little, pp45.
      Little, pp50.
      Lee Ann Roripaugh. "Kimiko Ozawa." Heart Mountain. New York: Hudson
      Books, 1999, pp27.
      Inada. "Legends from Camp: The Legend of the Great Escape," pp12-13.
      Muin Ozaki. "At the Volcano Internment Camp." Muri et al., pp16.
      Little, pp72.
      Little, pp61.
      Roripaugh, pp27.
      Michiko Mizumoto. "Manzanar." Okihiro, pp223.
      Shinkai, pp124.
      Neiji Ozawa. "From the window of despair." de Cristoforo, pp30.
      Kyotoro Komoru. "Indeed - festivals of." de Cristoforo, pp107.
      Little, pp17.
      Hakuro Wako, "Even the croaking of frogs." de Cristoforo, pp273.
      Sojin Takei. "Lordsburg Internment Camp" Muri et al., pp41.
      Gomyo. "Feeling of Oppression," pp197.
      "That Damned Fence." Okihiro, pp202.
      Little, 106.
      Gomyo. "Vision of Loneliness," pp193.
      Takei. "My wife and children," pp44.
      Sei Sagara. "Arranging playing cards on bed." de Cristoforo, pp259.
      Shizuku Uyemaru. "To Brother Dick, US Soldier." de Cristoforo, pp231.
      Little, pp117.
      Agari. "Graves, another, and still another," pp113.
      Ozawa. "Ailing," pp223.
      Little, pp106.
      Keiho Soga. "A fellow prisoner." Muri et al., pp57.
      Ozawa. "War forced us from California," pp217.
      "Beyond those steel-blue western hills." Okihiro, pp196.
      Inada. "Legends from Camp: The Legend of Home," pp22.
      Kikuha Okamoto. "Separated year ago today." De Cristoforo, pp145.
      Takei. "Koko Head nears," pp73.
      Little, pp113.



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      Family. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1982.


      =================


      POSTON, ARIZONA

      Named after Charles Poston, the "Father of Arizona" and the state's
      first Superintendent for Indian Affairs, the Poston internment camp
      was located about twelve miles south of Parker on the Colorado River
      Indian Tribes Reservation. It opened on May 8, 1942 and closed on
      November 28, 1945, and was the largest camp in the country. By
      September 1942 the camp reached a peak population of 17,814 and was
      the third largest city in the state during much of that time. The
      internees came from Southern California, Kern County, Fresno,
      Monterey Bay, Sacramento County, and Southern Arizona. Interestingly,
      an arbitrary line that that divided Phoenix into two sections
      determined who would be evacuated: those living west of the line were
      sent to the camps and those living east of the line could remain in
      their homes.

      The 71,000-acre site, situated in the lower Sonoran desert, was the
      hottest of all the camps. Summers in this region swelter at 115
      degrees along with humidity caused by the nearby Colorado River; the
      winter days are cool and nights cold.

      Poston actually comprised three separate camps – Poston I, II, and
      III – which were about three miles apart along what is now Mohave
      Road. The Colorado River Indian Reservation Tribal Council originally
      opposed the use of their land for a relocation camp because they did
      not want to inflict the same type of injustice that they had
      suffered. But the tribe was overruled by the Army and the Bureau of
      Indian Affairs (BIA). The War Relocation Authority (WRA) turned over
      administration of the center to the BIA, but the WRA regained control
      in late 1943 when tensions developed between the two agencies. The
      BIA wanted to establish long-term farming ventures with the Japanese
      Americans, but the WRA's plan was to encourage residents to leave for
      resettlement at the end of the war.

      Called Roasten, Toasten, and Dustin by the internees, the camps were
      built by contractor Del Webb using 5,000 workers on a double work
      shift. Poston I was completed in less than three weeks and Poston II
      and III within 120 days. Guard towers were not needed at Poston
      because its location was so isolated and remote.

      Poston I, the largest of the three camps, was the farthest north. It
      included administration offices, staff housing areas, warehouses, 36
      evacuee residential blocks, a hospital and a military police compound
      that served the entire camp. Each block contained fourteen barracks,
      a mess hall, a recreation building, a men's latrine, a women's
      latrine, laundry facilities, and a fuel oil shed. Recreation halls
      were used for various purposes, including churches, service
      organizations, and beauty and barber shops.

      Several miles south, Poston II had its own administration area, staff
      housing, garage area, warehouses, and residential blocks. The
      administration area had ten buildings, including a cold storage
      building, a medical clinic, a fire station, five office buildings, a
      storage building, and a post office. A north-south canal ran through
      the camp, which fed a large swimming pool in its center. There was
      also a carpentry shop, two houses, eight apartments, and two evacuee-
      built sheds.

      Poston III also had an administration area and a garage area as well
      as 18 evacuee residential blocks. The residential blocks were
      arranged in three groups of six; one block was used as the elementary
      school and another for community services. The high school was
      located in a large open space just below the administrative area. It
      had an office, library, auditorium and eight classroom buildings, all
      made of adobe. The camp had a recreation area with two swimming pools
      and a stage, a motor pool and a dry goods store.

      Families were assigned space in the wood and tarpaper barracks
      according to the number of people in their household, usually four
      families to a building. Housing was primitive and especially hard on
      the elderly and the ill. Many internees had to carry several buckets
      of water to their living quarters each day. The lack of privacy was
      particularly difficult for Japanese women, who were required to
      sleep, eat, bathe and use the toilet in the company of others.
      Although the rooms were bare and bleak, the residents did what they
      could to make themselves comfortable. They bought toiletries and
      clothes from the "Community Enterprises" store or ordered material
      from the Sears-Roebuck catalog to make curtains. The men collected
      lumber from wherever they could to make furniture and filled
      mattresses with hay. A honeymoon cottage was set aside for newlyweds;
      662 babies were born and 221 adults passed away in the camp.

      Unlike most other camps, Poston's agricultural fields were contained
      within the fenced security area. Internees grew vegetables and fruit
      for camp and commercial consumption, and they also raised chickens
      and hogs, which greatly improved the quality of meals. The government
      only allotted about 40 cents per meal, and the food was inedible to
      most people and made from whatever was cheapest and easiest to get.
      Internees reportedly went on strike after they were served liver for
      several weeks. By the end of the second year of operation, the
      internees produced 85 percent of the vegetables they consumed. Over
      1,400 acres of vegetables and 800 acres of field crops were under
      cultivation.

      Internees could also work both inside and outside the camp. Inside,
      they did a variety of jobs and were paid from $12 to $19 a month.
      They could work as farm laborers outside the camp and college
      students were allowed to leave to finish their education. At Poston
      I, a factory that produced camouflage nets and ship models used as
      training aids for the Navy was operated from fall 1942 to May 1943.

      The quality of education for children was lacking due to the shortage
      of materials and qualified teachers. The only qualification for a
      camp teacher was completion of a college degree. In addition to
      required subjects, children also participated in singing, dancing,
      story telling, drawing, and crafts.

      As time passed, evacuees turned to artistic endeavors and even
      created gardens in the desert landscape. There were a variety of
      leisure activities at the camps, including movies, talent shows, and
      organized sports. In their spare time, children would play jacks and
      hopscotch, go skating, and swim in the nearby ravine. Scout troops
      were organized, as well as dances, concerts and other cultural events.

      Only the Nisei were allowed to hold elected office as a member of the
      Community Council, the camp's governing body. The council members,
      most of whom were younger internees, quickly alienated the
      administration as well as the Issei (first-generation Japanese
      Americans), who were uncomfortable with the Council's views and
      inexperience. To bring the older generation into the decision-making
      process, the Issei Advisory Board was formed in August 1942. But
      competition and tensions mounted between the Council and the Advisory
      Board.

      Living conditions in the camp worsened. In the fall of 1942, food
      shortages mounted and such necessities as heating stoves had not yet
      been installed. It was extremely cold, and internees huddled around
      makeshi<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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