Segregants' departure from camp(1945年) Tule Lake incarceration camp, California. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration
Tule Lake Segregation Center

The Tule Lake incarceration camp in northern California was created as one of the ten camps run by the War Relocation Authority. In 1943 it was transformed into a segregation center for those the U.S. government considered disloyal, based on answers to a flawed loyalty questionnaire. In September 1943, Nikkei at Tule Lake who the government considered more loyal began departing to other camps and people from other incarceration camps who were considered disloyal were transferred in.  Over 6,000 inmates already at Tule Lake chose to stay rather than move again. Permission to resettle outside of camp was denied to everyone. Almost 1,000 guards were brought in, a double fence was erected, and army tanks surrounded the camp. Forced searches lasted for a year. Peak population reached nearly 19,000, and the overcrowding contributed to the mounting tensions. In October 1943, martial law was declared after an altercation between residents and administrators, which the outside press inflated into a violent riot. Men suspected of being anti-administration were imprisoned in a stockade without legal proceedings. In spring 1944, the camp administrators banned all gatherings, which meant no school, work, sports, or recreation. At Tule Lake, over 5,000 Nisei renounced their U.S. citizenship under pressure from a pro-Japanese group or from their parents who wished to repatriate. The segregation center closed in March 1946.

 

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Segregants' departure from camp(1945)
Tule Lake incarceration camp, California
Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration

Excerpt from Densho Archive


That was a part of the problem, the farm strike. All the crops were planted out there, but nobody to harvest, and then the hog farm got shut down. The food was getting bad, worse to worse. It was so bad, at one time they delivered one crate of cauliflower per mess hall. That's 300 people, you feed one crate. And they cut the flower part, and they save the leaf. Now what could you do with a leaf?  Ingenious, they chopped it up, made tsukemono out of it.  Now, we screamed for food. They bring a little bit here, a little bit there, but they have to do something to feed the people. The administration didn't feed us properly, so people got angry, and then the Hoshidan [pro-Japanese] people got more power. Say, "See, these guys don't fight, these guys don't fight the administration, that's why they just treat us the way they do." So that's where they got a lot of strength, because the administration is getting weaker, and army was getting us lousy food, and they had good ammunition to fight to get more people in the group. They used that very well, so that's how they were able to pick up so many people in so short of time. Then the administration picked up 200, 300 Hoshidan here, 400, 500 people. Hauled them all out so the camp will settle down. Yeah, they were in the stockade and then they were shipped to [internment camps at] Bismarck,[North Dakota], then Crystal City,[Texas],  New Mexico. They just split the whole group up all over the country there. So that way they got away with the problems.

Jimi Yamaichi

draft resister of conscience at Tule Lake segregation center