H.R. 6434

Japanese American World War II History Network Act

STATEMENT OF HERBERT C. FROST, REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR INTERIOR REGIONS 3, 4 & 5, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS, AND FEDERAL LANDS, CONCERNING H.R. 6434, A BILL TO AMEND TITLE 54 UNITED STATES CODE, TO ESTABLISH WITHIN THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, THE JAPANESE AMERICAN WORLD WAR II HISTORY NETWORK, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

February 3, 2022

Chairman Neguse, Ranking Member Fulcher, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 6434, a bill to amend Title 54 United States Code, to establish within the National Park Service, the Japanese American World War II History Network, and for other purposes.

The Department supports H.R. 6434 with recommended amendments. 

H.R. 6434 would establish within the National Park Service, the Japanese American World War II History Network.  The bill would direct the Secretary of the Interior to review studies and disseminate educational materials relating to Japanese American history and experiences during the war, provide technical assistance to network members, and create an official uniform symbol for the network.  The bill describes which entities would be included in the network and authorizes the Secretary to enter into cooperative agreements and memoranda of understanding with Federal, state, and local governments; Tribes; and private entities to achieve the purposes of the network. 

Since 1992, when Manzanar National Historic Site was established, the National Park Service has been managing sites where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during WWII.  Minidoka National Historic Site, Manzanar National Historic Site, Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, Tule Lake National Monument, Honouliuli National Historic Site, Wing Luke Museum Affiliated Area, and the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During WWII in Washington DC are all currently under management or co-management by the National Park Service.  Each of these sites helps tell a more complete story of the impacts and injustice of the incarceration experience.

In 2009, Congress established the Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) Grant Program within the National Park Service “to encourage, support, recognize, and work in partnership with citizens, Federal agencies, State, local, and tribal governments, other public entities, educational institutions, and private nonprofit organizations for the purpose of identifying, researching, evaluating, interpreting, protecting, restoring, repairing, and acquiring historic confinement sites in order that present and future generations may learn and gain inspiration from these sites and that these sites will demonstrate the Nation’s commitment to equal justice under the law”.

Since its creation, the JACS Grant Program has awarded 269 grants for projects to private nonprofit organizations; educational institutions; state, local, and tribal governments; and other public entities for the preservation and interpretation of confinement sites where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II.  The projects, across 25 states and the District of Columbia, include oral histories, preservation of camp artifacts and buildings, documentaries and educational curricula, and exhibits and memorials that preserve what remains of the confinement sites and honor the people who were incarcerated there by sharing their experiences.  

The National Park Service manages existing networks that are similar to the one being proposed by H.R. 6434.  These include the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, the Reconstruction Era National Historical Network, and the African American Civil Rights Network.  These networks are successful collaborations with local, state, and Federal entities, individuals, and organizations, who work to preserve, promote, and honor important stories in our nation’s history

We welcome the opportunity to work with the bill sponsor and the Committee on amendments that would include stakeholder engagement and collaboration for the legislation’s implementation and address coordinating the new Japanese American World War II History Network with the existing units of the national park system associated with the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program.

Chairman Neguse, this concludes my testimony.  I would be glad to answer any questions that you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.

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