Statement for the Record
U.S. Department of the Interior
House Committee on Natural Resources
Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation
Concerning H.R. 4751, a bill to make technical corrections to Public Law 110-229 to reflect the renaming of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Memorial to Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, and for other purposes.
July 9, 2014
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H. R. 4751, to make technical corrections to Public Law 110-229 to reflect the renaming of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Memorial to Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.
The Department supports enactment of H. R. 4751.
H.R. 4751 would update the law enacted in 2008 (Section 313 of Public Law 110-229) that included the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Memorial within the boundary of Minidoka National Historic Site. This eight-acre memorial was built on land owned jointly by the City of Bainbridge Island and the Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District and is administered by the National Park Service in partnership with municipal and non-profit entities. The City Council and the Park and Recreation District recently renamed the memorial, adding the word “Exclusion” to its title. Passage of H.R. 4751 would ensure that there is consistency between the official name of the memorial and the memorial that the National Park Service is authorized to administer under Public Law 110-229. There will be only nominal cost associated with this legislation.
We believe it was appropriate for the local authorities to add the word “Exclusion” to the memorial's name. Less than four months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Americans living on Bainbridge Island, due to the island's close proximity to U.S. Navy facilities in Puget Sound, were the first 276 people of over 100,000 to be "excluded" under Executive Order 9066. The signs that were posted on Bainbridge Island that alerted the Japanese Americans that they had six days' notice to prepare for departure for an unknown length of time clearly stated that Bainbridge Island was "Civilian Exclusion Area No. 1." Ultimately, exclusion orders would forcibly remove Japanese Americans from their homes in Alaska, the western halves of Oregon and Washington, the entire state of California, and the southern portion of Arizona. Nearly two-thirds of those incarcerated were American citizens.
The National Park Service presently manages three other sites that interpret Japanese American incarceration: Manzanar National Historic Site in California, Minidoka National Historic Site in Idaho (not including the Bainbridge Island memorial, in Washington), and the Tule Lake unit of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in California. These sites were once the physical location of the Japanese American incarceration camps. The Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial tells a related, but different, story. Bainbridge Island was not an incarceration camp; it was the very first place where Japanese Americans were taken from their homes, excluded from the mainstream population, and sent to incarceration camps. The Bainbridge Island memorial commemorates this history. It is not just a memorial to the Japanese Americans who lived on Bainbridge Island, as the original name implies; it is a memorial to all Japanese Americans who were “excluded” from the general population during the war, and unjustly denied their liberty and property.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes the Department's testimony on H.R. 4751.