RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE is nearing the finish line! This groundbreaking documentary, which tells the long-suppressed story of Japanese Americans who protested their incarceration, is being produced for public television and educational distribution. Now more than ever, in an election year where pro-"internment" rhetoric has once again become publicly acceptable, these marginalized experiences need to be brought into the light.
We need YOUR help to make this possible. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to help us with the costs of:
- Archival media, including never-before-seen photographs & rare home video color footage taken within Tule Lake
- Outreach & public engagement, including the creation of educational support materials
RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE is a crucial update to previous documentaries on the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans. Even before the completion of the film, we have received numerous requests to show the film and held a sold out preview screening at San Jose's J-Town Film Fest. We are currently submitting the project to film festivals and are planning to publicly premiere the film in February 2017, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 that authorized the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese Americans.
We hope you'll consider making a much-needed, tax-deductible gift to support RESISTANCE AT TULE LAKE. All contributors will receive a Special Thanks credit on the film. Funders at the $100 level or higher will receive an early edition DVD of the documentary.
In 1942, after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, Japanese Americans were ordered to leave the West Coast of the U.S. for confinement in concentration camps, which the government referred to by the euphemism "relocation centers." These ten camps were administered by a civilian organization called the War Relocation Authority. More than 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in these camps -- two-thirds of them were U.S. citizens, the others were first-generation immigrants forever barred from U.S. citizenship under racist exclusion laws.
In February 1943, incarcerated Japanese Americans were forced to fill out an Application for Leave Clearance, which soon became known as the "loyalty questionnaire." It included two questions which would have devastating consequences:
"Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered?"
"Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America 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?
More than 12,000 incarcerees were branded by the government as "disloyal" for not answering these questions with a simple "yes." But there were many reasons for these different responses, which had nothing to do with any threat to the U.S. For many, answering "no-no" was a form of protest against a government that had betrayed its own citizens with racist incarceration. But "no-no" was also a matter of survival for families with immigrant parents who would have been left stateless by forswearing allegiance with Japan.
Of the ten WRA camps, Tule Lake had the highest number of "disloyal" responses. The camp administration blamed resistance to registration on "pro-Japan agitators." On July 15, in response to a Senate resolution, the WRA designated Tule Lake as a segregation center where the "disloyal" incarcerees from the other nine WRA camps would be resettled, with the "loyal" to move elsewhere. Ultimately, only the first stage of segregation was fully carried out. By early 1944, with the influx of 12,000 "disloyals" transferred from other camps, Tule Lake Segregation had become an overcrowded, maximum-security prison.
The Japanese American community has wrestled for more than seven decades with misnomers and euphemisms used to refer to their World War Two experience of incarceration. In 2012 the JACL adopted the Power of Words handbook.
Aliens Ineligible for Citizenship—The government term for Issei (immigrants from Japan), because they could not naturalize due to racist laws from our past.
- Naturalization Act of 1790 states “any alien, being a free white person who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for a term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof”.
- Amendment of 1873 adds “persons of African nativity or descent” to the law, which still excludes other races, i.e. Asians.
- Supreme Court decision of 1922 upholds the act of 1790.
Non-alien—The government term for American-born citizens of Japanese descent, i.e. the Nisei. Citizens have inalienable constitutional rights; apparently, “non-aliens” do not.
2. Terms of Confinement: What’s in a Name?
The government, mainly through the US Army and the WRA, employed many euphemistic terms meant to imply a voluntary movement of people away from danger (e.g. evacuation) to a place of safety (e.g. assembly center, relocation center). These euphemisms should be replaced by historically accurate, fact-based terms.
a) Problematic and Euphemistic Terms:
Evacuation—The government euphemism for the forced removal of Japanese Americans from their homes, farms, businesses during WWII. Most JAs were locked in mass temporary detention facilities before being shipped under armed guard to more permanent concentration camps. “Evacuation” implies a mass movement of people away from danger to a place of safety. This was clearly not the case; use of the term masks the forced, involuntary nature of the move and the lack of any just cause for it.
Assembly Center—The government euphemism for a temporary detention center for Japanese Americans. Most were at racetracks or fairgrounds where horse stalls and exhibition halls were quickly converted to living quarters; most had inadequate cooking and sanitation facilities as well. “Assembly Center” implies a safe haven where people gather for shelter, but the reality was one of forced removal under armed guard to a site of mass imprisonment.
Relocation Center—The government euphemism for an incarceration camp, i.e. one of the ten large WRA concentration camps hastily erected in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. “Relocation Center” implies a benevolent government program to assist JAs in finding new housing. It fits in with government attempts to portray the wholesale removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast to sites of mass incarceration as the creation of “pioneer communities” or safe havens “for their own protection” rather than the reality of large prison camps.
Confinement Site—A non-specific term (first used by the National Park Service) to encompass all facilities of any kind where Japanese Americans were held during WWII. These facilities were administered by the War Relocation Authority, the Department of Justice, the US Army, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and local police, among others. Over 70 such sites have been identified as of July 2013.
b) Preferred Terms and Specific Situations:
Detention Center—A temporary (generally weeks to months) holding area for Japanese Americans during WWII. The WRA “assembly centers” would fall in this category, as would many of the Immigration stations and US Army camps that were used to temporarily house Nikkei (people of Japanese descent) before they were sent to more permanent facilities, such as DOJ internment camps or WRA concentration camps.
Concentration Camp—One of the ten large WRA camps, euphemistically called “relocation centers” by the government, set up to imprison Americans of Japanese descent without trial or due process. Neither the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, nor the Geneva Conventions applied to those imprisoned in these camps. Most Nikkei were imprisoned here for one to four years and were confined solely by reason of race.
Incarceration Camp—WRA camp for holding Japanese Americans. An alternate term for concentration camp—see entry above.
Internment Camp—Department of Justice (DOJ) camps for “enemy aliens”, i.e. citizens of a foreign country with which the US was at war (i.e. Japanese, German, and Italian citizens). Inmates at these facilities were covered under the Geneva Conventions for prisoners of war. Issei would qualify as enemy aliens, but Nisei would not. Initially, those taken off to DOJ internment camps were almost all Issei, but later, “troublemakers” among both Issei and Nisei would sometimes be sent off to DOJ internment camps. Though this term is commonly used to refer to the large incarceration camps run by the WRA, such use is technically incorrect and feeds into the perception of JAs as “forever foreign” since only foreign nationals can be legally interned.
Segregation Center—The concentration camp at Tule Lake, CA, was selected as the site to segregate (i.e. isolate) Japanese Americans who answered the so-called “loyalty questionnaire” with unsatisfactory answers (i.e. those the WRA labeled as “disloyal”). Later, it was also used to segregate others the WRA identified as “troublemakers” or whose stated preference was to expatriate or repatriate to Japan.
Within ten days,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 6, 2014
Michelle Chen, email@example.com
New Documentary on World War II Japanese Internment
receives major grant from National Park Service
The untold story of Resistance at Tule Lake
New York, NY – Resistance at Tule Lake, a new feature-length documentary from Third World Newsreel (Camera News Inc.) and directed by Japanese American filmmaker Konrad Aderer, was recently awarded
grant funding from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service (NPS) through the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) grant program. This year, JACS grants totaling $2.9 million were awarded to twenty-one projects whose goals are to preserve and interpret the confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War Two.
Over 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in ten camps from 1942-1945, in the largest mass imprisonment of citizens in U.S. history. Currently in production, Resistance at Tule Lake tells the long-suppressed story of the 12,000 incarcerated Japanese Americans who defied the government by refusing to swear unconditional loyalty to the U.S. Though this was an act of protest and family survival, they were branded as “disloyals” by the government and packed into the newly designated Tule Lake Segregation Center. This highly militarized camp became a virtual pressure cooker where the simmering conflicts between the Caucasian administration and the incarcerees exploded into violence. Faced with the uncertainty of the war and the rampant anti-Japanese climate that awaited them outside of camp, more than 5,000 renounced their “worthless” U.S. citizenship.
Even as general awareness of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans has grown, the story of Tule Lake Segregation Center has remained largely unknown. Departing from a dominant narrative of Japanese Americans who peacefully submitted to confinement, this hidden chapter of history unravels racially codified standards of “loyalty” and brings to light important questions about nationality and citizenship. Through intimate interviews, this documentary will convey the emotions, values and family bonds that compelled incarcerees to resist, to protest their incarceration, and to salvage a livable future for themselves and their families.
Barbara Takei, a key member of the Tule Lake Committee, and co-author of an upcoming book about Tule Lake with noted historian Roger Daniels, said, “Seventy years have gone by since the government punished the thousands of Japanese Americans who resisted the injustice of their wartime incarceration. Tragically, these individuals carried the stigma of disloyalty through their entire lifetimes. I am anxious for this important film to finally tell their story and validate their courageous actions.”
Resistance at Tule Lake will be produced as a theatrical feature and for hour-long public television broadcast, to be publicly screened for community events as well as established venues for documentary films. An additional short classroom version of the film, with supplemental materials, will serve as an invaluable resource for engagement with vital historical and current civil liberties issues in schools. The documentary will be made available for educational, institutional and home use as a DVD and other formats including internet viewing.
Konrad Aderer, a Japanese American whose grandparents were incarcerated during World War Two, previously directed the award-winning feature documentary Enemy Alien, which intertwined his family’s World War Two legacy with the dramatic story of the fight to free a Palestinian detainee arrested in a sweep of Muslim immigrants following 9/11.
Founded in 1967, Third World Newsreel (www.twn.org) is one of the oldest alternative media arts organizations in the United States. A nonprofit educational organization, it is committed to the creation and appreciation of independent and social issue media. Working in production, distribution and training, it distributes the award winning Harvest of Empire, and was a fiscal sponsor of Sundance Festival films American Dream, and Through A Lens Darkly.
Resistance at Tule Lake is a project of Third World Newsreel and has the full approval and cooperation of the Tule Lake Committee and the support of the Densho collection. For more information, visit http://www.lifeorliberty.org/tule-lake-documentary or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information about the National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, contact Kara Miyagishima, Program Manager, at 303-969-2885 or email@example.com.