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Diverse populations have experienced different forms of harrying and deferral of civil rights throughout the course of American history. Each one of these communities has a story to tell and one from which to learn. Tule Lake Segregation Center is one of the most protuberant camps in the history of civilization. As a matter of fact, people believe it to be the biggest of the camps. It is in the Tule lake segregation center that more than 20,000 individuals of Japanese origin got confined without evidence of a lawful trial.
Today, people regard Tule lake segregation, alongside other neighboring camps like the California’s Tule lake camp, as a national monument, which commemorates the price paid for freedom (Nakamura).
People held here lost all their civic rights as well as their material property despite them being legitimate citizens of the U.S. Most of those people had to work in the military against their will (about 30,000 individuals) (Todd, Natasha, & Karen 12). It is for this reason that we find it worth understanding the camp, as well as the nature and the nature of life in the camp. Moreover, this paper also tries to look at the life after confinement in the camps.
Life in the camp
Camp was like a typical American town with almost all facilities required. The camp had six subdivided blocks. Each block within the camp had a recreation facility which comprised of stores, canteens, parlor barber shops, beauty and judo halls among others (Gruenewald 2). There were churches, schools, beauty salons, police departments and sporting leagues. These departments depended on each other and had individual roles but equal responsibilities to perform.
The selection of people was random (in terms of professional qualification) each one of these individuals brought along their personal skills to the camp mostly to be used for personal development in the camp. There was some level of self governance within the camp whereby different authorities and individuals assumed self responsibility against the other individuals (Todd, Natasha, & Karen 19). Moreover, the United States military was in control of the entire camp.
During the time between 1942 and 1946, the Japanese Americans had the military facilities as their places of residence. Considering the facilities lacked basic amenities, owing to their hasty build and any other form of comfort anyone could imagine. For these reasons, the houses were extremely cold during winter and exceedingly hot during the summer. Most of these houses did not meet the minimum standards for any military housing facilities.
In as much as the living conditions were below average, the internees still afforded a little luxury. They engaged in sporting activities against one another in their own organized teams. Among others, basketball and baseball were the most popular of all sporting activities.
The teams organized themselves so that they would purchase uniforms to play in their own established leagues. The games helped the internees tremendously as they allowed them to go astray. Having spent a lot of time in such activities, it would be less likely for them to think of any ill-motivated plans.
Most of these people relocated from their homes, which were much more comfortable than their new accommodations. Consequently, these people especially those in Tule Lake camp frequently involved themselves in demonstrations and strikes while pushing for their civil rights. It was later that Tule lake camp became converted to a maximum security facility and consequently referred to as a ‘trouble spot’.
Mental life of the internees
Life in the camp was not just for the people within the camp. To start with, all the detainees lost their civic rights and most of them lost their American citizenship against their will. Moreover, all their efforts to challenge the decision failed as the court turned down all their petitions.
In simple terms, all the people not only in Tule Lake camp, were confined in the camps against their will and also for no justifiable reason. Most of them suffered emotionally, financially and even psychologically. The agony became even worse when the court turned down their petition against the government.
Lake Tule always considered to be a trouble spot. In the beginning, the internees participated in numerous strikes and boycotts. This is more than enough justification that the people, in fact, did not fancy the conditions in the camp. They, therefore, participated in the strike activities. In 1943 for instance, members of the camp participated in a demonstration against the overcrowded living condition.
The timely demonstration at a time which found Dillon Myer taking a tour in the camp brought about a lot of controversy (Inada 31). Nevertheless, the demonstration ended peacefully although there were rumors of a possible massacre. Most of the people who caused problems got deported to Hawaii against their will. All this could be interpreted as injustice against the right to freedom. Nobody contents when his/her rights become infringed and more so when being detained ‘illegally’.
During their stay in the camp, I would say that the people were happy but not content. Having discovered that there was not much of an option, they decided to make out the most from the situation. They involved themselves in various activities to pass time such as sporting and scouting. By getting involved in such activities, they became able to reduce their agony.
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At first, all these people suffered psychologically and physically as a result of deprivation of their civil rights, but with time, they got used to living with it (Turner 22). A significant number of them also renounced their American citizenship due to the level of injustice that they endured. It is also worth noting that most of those men and women who served in the military did not serve out of personal pleasure but out of slavery. To them, this seemed to be the only way out of an extremely difficult situation.
Post internment life
After the detainees set free the Japanese, most of them returned to their original homes. Most of these people rejoiced at the prospect of returning home. However, during the time of detention, a lot had changed in the outside world. Moreover, the Second World War changed the surroundings a lot. Some of the local citizens welcomed them back in as much as others felt that that was not the place for them. For this reasons, they could not go to certain places.
The main problem was the money. Most of the people had to sell their belongings. Their savings, on the other hand, were not enough to last through the detention time (Fusao 25). It was challenging for them to get new jobs or even secure loans. Their professional skills became obsolete and considered being old fashioned, having spent so much time in the facilities. In addition, no one was readily willing to employ them due to racial discrimination.
The tragic incident had left many dead and thousands injured physically and emotionally. For most of them, psychological recovery was difficult especially because of them lacked any form of moral support from neither the government nor the local community. As opposed to this, the local community mistreated them and also viewed them as less human.
It was challenging for them to live with such conditions. Nevertheless, most of them rejoiced that they had attained freedom. Most of these people could have done anything else except living in the camp again.
People tried to recover what was rightfully for their own. Land and houses were some of the most precious commodities that the people tried to recover. Some of them felt that moving to their old home would bring them nostalgic memories and, therefore, prefer moving into new houses.
Later on in 1948, congress decided to compensate the Japanese some of the property. Many writers have described this as a form of saying “sorry”. They also started a civil liberties act to recognize the end of injustice. The Japanese now lived a normal life. To this day, some of the internees’ family members are still pushing for compensation from the government that their families incurred during the Tule lake Internment camp.
Gruenewald, Mary M. Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps: Young Reader’s Edition. NewSage Press, LLC. n.d. Print.
Nakamura, Beth. “Tule Lake internment camp’s story gets new life as national monument | OregonLive.com.” Oregon Local News, Breaking News, Sports & Weather – OregonLive.com. 30 Jun 2013. Web. <https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/2013/06/tule_lake_internment_camps_sto.html>.
Fusao, Lawson F. Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience. Berkeley, California: Heyday Books, 2000. Print.
Todd, Stewart, Natasha Egan and Karen J. Leong. Placing Memory: A Photographic Exploration of Japanese American Internment. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008. Print.
Turner, Stanton B.. “Journal of the Shaw Historical Library.”Japanese-American internment at Tule Lake, 1942 to 1946.(1987): 15-50. Print