TULE LAKE BECAME A SEGREGATION CENTER

In mid-1943 in all ten relocation centers -- Manzanar and Tule Lake (California), Gila and Poston (Arizona), Minidoka (Idaho), Heart Mountain (Wyoming), Granada (Colorado), Topaz (Utah), Rohwer and Jerome (Arkansas) -- evacuees were administered loyalty questionnaires. Two critical questions became a test to divide one evacuee from another. Question No. 27 -"Are you willing to serve in the Armed Forces on combat duty where ever ordered?" and No. 28 - "Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend it from any or all attack from foreign or domestic forces and forswear any allegiance to the Japanese Emperor, or to any other power, foreign government, or organization?" Since Japanese immigrants were ineligible for U.S. citizenship, answering "yes" to No. 28 would make those born in Japan people without a country.

As proof of loyalty, all internees were expected to answer "yes" to both questions. Those who answered "no" to either question were judged to be disloyal to America and ordered to the newly designated Tule Lake segregation center.

A segregated family leaves friends at Heart Mountain for the Tule Lake Center.

Over 2,000 segregants were transferred out of Manzanar. Jerome, Gila and Poston also sent large contingents to the Tule Lake Segregation Center.

Tuleans classified as loyals were sent to other camps, mainly: Heart Mountain (Wyoming), Amache (Colorado) and Minidoka (Idaho). With two out of three residents now new, Tule Lake entered a new phase.

An uprising arose in November 1943 after the administration's poor handling of a farm truck accident and subsequent farm strike. This led to a very tense situation and the Army took control of the camp from November to February 1944. In congress, the Dies Sub-committee heard testimony concerning the November uprising. Cooler heads prevailed and the army subsequently relinquished control back to the War Relocation Authority.

With segregation came a more pronounced orientation towards Japan and Japanese culture. Japanese schools were formed in every ward. Each ward drew on the residents of their nine blocks to staff the Japanese school. Most students attended the Japanese school for half a day and for the other half, went to the American school. There were exceptional schools such as Daitowa Juku where students studied Japanese subjects all day.

Other aspects of camp life continued unchanged such as the monthly check-cashing line at the co-op. At the camps' one shoe shop customers also lined up. Haircuts cost 20 cents, 30 cents for a trim.

The community activities staff organized a varied program of culture, recreation sports and youth activities. While the block was a common basis for a team, such as the Block 34 softball team, some teams drew from their hometowns; the Wakaba Ball Players came form Florin and Sacramento areas while other teams were formed by players with a common ties to a former relocation center.

Art and music by groups such as the Tule Lake Symphony added to the life of the camp. A popular dance band was the Downbeats, led by Woody Ichihashi, who played popular tunes of the 1940s.

As population increased after segregation, Blocks 75 to 84 were added and Tule Lake now had eight wards. Originally residents in a block came from similar hometowns. After Tule Lake became a segregation center, the composition of many blocks changed dramatically, with residents coming from mixed geographic areas and with experiences in different assembly and relocation centers. Each block became a community, taking on an identity and life of its own.

Anti-American sentiment was common among the Tule Lake segregants. Among the most vocal and active in expressing pro-Japan sentiments were the Hokoku-Hoshidan. Their extremist position made them the target of the WRA, which began removing members to internment camps at Santa Fe and Bismark.

One hundred and seventy-one Hokoku members were shipped to Santa Fe, New Mexico on January 26, and on February 11, 650 were shipped to Bismark North Dakata. On March 4, 179 were shipped to Santa Fe and on June 24, another 400 were sent to Santa Fe.

Bitterness, confusion and the pressure from the pro-Japan organizations all influenced many Nisei in Tule Lake to take the dramatic step of renouncing their American citizenship. 5461 did so.

 

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This page was last modified on Tuesday, July 28, 1998