The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula will receive funding this year to rehabilitate and reconstruct two original barrack buildings to enhance public understanding of the DOJ Fort Missoula Internment Camp. Courtesy/HMFM
NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Asian American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities have a rich heritage thousands of years old and have both shaped the history of the United States and had their lives dramatically influenced by moments in its history.
Through historic preservation efforts like the $3,155,000 in Japanese American Confinement Site Grants awarded today, the National Park Service (NPS) is working to ensure these places and stories are accessible and present in today’s society.
“The impacts and contributions of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities are embedded in our public lands,” NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge said. “When our shared history is reflected in our national historical and cultural story, there is a better chance to break the patterns of racism. The National Park Service’s historic preservation grant programs help us bring lesser-known stories to the forefront, both within national parks and communities across the nation.”
The NPS pays tribute to the Asian American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities every day of the year but especially during May. Rangers interpret the complex and beautiful stories of our shared heritage like the artist George Masa’s important role in preserving Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the sacred sites of Hawaiian ancestors at Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, and the personal accounts of Japanese Americans incarcerated at Manzanar. Podcasts, videos, park information, lesson plans and more are available on NPS.gov.
This year’s Japanese American Confinement Sites grants will fund 22 preservation, restoration and education projects that will help tell the story of the more than 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens, imprisoned by the U.S. government following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Examples of projects this year’s grants will fund include:
- Japanese American Service Committee Public History Internship Program: Chicago-based Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) will host a summer internship program to train participants in archival research using the JASC Legacy Center records and in creating multimedia narrative-building tools. Interns will develop short documentary videos and podcasts to engage new audiences in learning about the histories of Japanese American incarceration, resettlement and redress, with a focus on those who resettled in the Chicago area.
- Oral Histories from Alaska: The Japanese American Citizens League, Alaska Chapter, will collect oral histories from descendants, friends and acquaintances of Japanese Americans who lived in Alaska when Pearl Harbor was attacked during World War II. The organization will research local, state and federal repositories to learn more about Alaskans who were incarcerated during World War II. The results will be archived for public access, utilized in educational curriculum, and interpreted at the Fort Richardson internment camp site.
- Community Virtual Pilgrimage: Seattle-based Northwest Film Forum will partner with Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages and others to produce a four-week online virtual pilgrimage with educational videos and interactive live-streamed panels. Tadaima: A Community Virtual Pilgrimage II will include various speakers, elder panels and discussions of intergenerational trauma, identity and artistic expression related to the Japanese American World War II incarceration.
Japanese American Confinement Sites grants may be awarded to projects associated with the 10 War Relocation Authority centers established in 1942 and more than 40 additional confinement sites. The program’s mission is to teach future generations about the injustices of the World War II confinement of Japanese Americans and to inspire a commitment to equal justice under the law. The National Park Service awards grants to successful project proposals based on a competitive process, and applicants much match the grant award with $1 in non-federal funds or “in-kind” contributions for every $2 they receive in federal money.
A full list of the 22 new projects selected to receive funds in fiscal year 2021 are identified in the table linked here: https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/aanhpi_2021.htm. For more details about these projects, visit www.nps.gov/JACS/.