On December 7th, 1941, Japan launched a devastating attack on the U. S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. As news of the attack spread across the United States, citizens of Japanese ancestry became the target of fear and hatred from other Americans. In response to the ensuing hysteria President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19th, 1942. This order authorized the relocation and detention of not only Japanese nationals living in the United States, but of U.S. citizens with Japanese ancestry.
Ten “relocation centers” were constructed to imprison Japanese Americans who were forcibly removed from their homes in “Military Area 1” which consisted of southern Arizona, the western half of Oregon and Washington, and all of California. The largest of these was the Tule Lake Concentration Camp in northern California, just below the Oregon border near Klamath Falls.
These camps were in fact prisons with barbed wire fences and armed guards. ”As prison camps outside the normal criminal justice system, designed to confine civilians for military and political purposes on the basis of race and ethnicity” they are more aptly called concentration camps, which they were by the president and government officials at the time (Densho 2020).
“Loyalty” questionnaires were administered to detained Japanese Americans so the government could decide who was loyal or the United States Those deemed “disloyal” were housed in separate “segregation camps” with fewer liberties and more limited options for employment. In protest, many detainees at Tule Lake refused to fill out the questionnaires and were considered “disloyal.” Out of the 18,000 imprisoned at Tule Lake, 12,000 men, women and children were deemed disloyal.
Once Tule Lake became a segregation camp security measures increased drastically. More barbed wire was added to the already present eight-foot double fence, watch towers went from six to twenty-eight, and 1,000 military police were brought in to maintain control. When inmates went on strike after five people were injured and one killed in a farm truck accident, the camp director simply brought in “loyal” inmates housed with German prisoners in a nearby POW camp as strikebreakers.
|Visitor Center located at the Tulelake Fairgrounds Museum, at 800 Main St., Tulelake, CA. From Hwy 139 you can stop at the California State highways monument which also sits directly in front of the jail. The open area between the jail and the Hwy was once the stockade area. Along country rd. 176, you can view a wayside about Tule Lake National Monument, and see the backside of the jail. Check the National Park Service website for more details: https://home.nps.gov/tule/planyourvisit/basicinfo.htm