DENVER — Once an incarceration facility for many Japanese Americans, the Amache land in southeast Colorado is now a National Historic Site in the eyes of the U.S. Senate and one step closer to becoming part of the National Park Service.
The Senate on Monday voted unanimously to pass the Amache National Historic Site Act, backed by Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet (D) and John Hickenlooper (D), as well as Colorado Congressmen Joe Neguse (D) and Ken Buck (R). Previously, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) had objected to the designation, saying he opposed putting more land under federal jurisdiction.
The Amache internment site, also known as the Granada War Relocation Center, opened in Granada in 1942 and closed in 1945. The government sent more than 7,000 people of Japanese ancestry to live there during World War II, the majority of whom were American citizens. It was one of 10 similar interment sites across the country.
The Amache Preservation Society restores and maintains the property. The town of Granada, in Prowers County, currently owns the land, which covers less than one square mile. Bennet and Lee agreed that Granada would give the land to the National Park Service as a donation.
Moving the land into the National Park system will allow for more funding.
"The incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II at sites like Amache is a shameful part of our country’s history. Our bill will preserve Amache’s story to ensure future generations can learn from this dark chapter in our history. I’m grateful to Senator Hickenlooper, Representatives Buck and Neguse, the survivors and descendants of Amache, and numerous advocates and community leaders for their partnership on this legislation, and I look forward to seeing it become law," Bennet said in a press release.
The House approved the idea last year and will now revisit the bill's amended language before it goes to President Joe Biden.
The entire Colorado Congressional delegation has offered their support of the legislation.