WASHINGTON - Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton announced today that the Tule Lake Segregation Center in California and the Rev. George B. Hitchcock House in Iowa have been designated as National Historic Landmarks.
Tule Lake, located in Modoc County, Calif., was the largest and longest-lived of the ten camps built by the War Relocation Authority (WRA) to house the nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans relocated from the West Coast during World War II, pursuant to Executive Order 9066. In 1943, the facility was converted to a maximum security segregation center for evacuees deemed by the WRA to be "disloyal." The Tule Lake designation comes one week after Secretary Norton designated another, similar facility, the Granada Relocation Center in Colorado.
President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. Japanese Americans and others commemorate this day annually with a Day of Remembrance on or about February 19.
The Hitchcock House, located in Cass County, Iowa, is the home of the militant anti-slavery leader of the Congregational Church mission in western Iowa. Rev. Hitchcock used his home to assist in the safe passage of fugitive slaves through southwestern Iowa on their way east and north to freedom during the mid-19th century. The Hitchcock House is part of the National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. It illustrates the geographic reach of the Underground Railroad and its expansion westward.
During the month of February we also celebrate the achievements of African Americans in every field from science and medicine to arts, politics and religion.
"On the weekend of the Day of Remembrance, I am pleased to designate Tule Lake as a National Historic Landmark so that all might learn of the significance of the site," Norton said. "Likewise, African American History Month is the perfect time to mark in history and to honor a part of the Underground Railroad, the Hitchcock House."
The National Historic Landmark designation is the highest such recognition accorded by our nation to historic properties. These special places embody the actual sites where significant historical events occurred, or where prominent Americans worked or lived, and represent the ideas that shaped our nation.
"National Historic Landmarks demonstrate for current and future generations America's diverse heritage, both cultural and architectural," Norton said. "They show us, as a nation, where we have been and help guide us to where we want to go."
The National Historic Landmark designation is an official recognition by the federal government of a historic property's national significance. Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this distinction. The National Park Service nominates new landmarks, with assurances of consent by private owners, and provides technical assistance to existing landmarks. National Historic Landmarks also are eligible for competitive grants and tax incentives. For more information visit: www.cr.nps.gov/nhl.