October 02, 2010

Concentration camp on CRIT reservation

Growing grace in a forlorn land

By Dan KriegerThe Nishijima family experienced a reversal of environmental fortunes in 1942. They were forced to move from the gentle climate of Pismo Beach to the fogs of the Central Valley. Then they had to leave Delano and travel in a guarded train with the window shades pulled down to a forlorn site in the Arizona desert.

The Poston War Relocation Camp was built on the Colorado River Indian Reservation. The Tribal Council objected to the camp’s presence.

It wanted no part in the incarceration of Japanese Americans in the same way its own people had once been rounded up.

But the Bureau of Indian Affairs regarded the camp as a means to encourage and fund Indian farming operations.

The bureau also thought that the Nisei farmers (first-generation Japanese) could serve as mentors to the Chemehuevi, Mohavi, Hopi and Navajo peoples who had been relocated to the inhospitable lands beginning in 1865.

The War Relocation Authority was not permitted to spend funds to help the Native Americans, but some of the Nisei volunteered to teach modern farming methods to the tribe.
Comment:  I hadn't heard about this before. Talk about a story dripping with irony! Reservations were figuratively equivalent to concentration camps, but now we learn one reservation was literally a concentration camp.

I like the phony mentoring excuse, too. "The Nisei will teach the Indians how to really farm, although the Indians have been farming for hundreds of years. But we won't give them any money to teach with, because that would mean we really want them to succeed.

"No, this is more of a hope: that the Nisei we've locked up like stray dogs will volunteer out of the goodness of their hearts. One brown-skinned set of anti-American agitators helping another...isn't that a beautiful dream?"

For more on the subject, see The Sandy Lake Tragedy, Bosque Redondo = Model for Auschwitz, and Aleuts Interned During WW II.

P.S. Is Geno the cowardly commenter still claiming that Americans respect and care about minorities? Here's the evidence you somehow missed, dummy. Read it and learn.


Anonymous said...

Wait, you didn't know this? Amazing. (That's not intended as a flame; I just thought everyone who lived in the Southwest and knew about Indian issues knew it.)

Rob said...

It's possible I read about it and forgot it. But that's basically the same as not knowing it.