Tule Lake Internment Camp

Carl Mydans, [Young man playing guitar in the stockade, Tule Lake Internment Camp, Newell, California], 1944

Caption published in Life, March 20, 1944 issue:

What it feels like to be a prisoner is shown in expression of this young Japanese “pressure boy,” in stockade. He was singing Home on the Range when Mydans entered the stockade barracks. Reports Mydans: “He sang it like an American. there was no Japanese accent. He looked at me the same way I guess I looked at a Japanese official when he came to check on me at Camp Santo Tomas in Manila. At the back of my mind was the thought, ‘Come on, get over and get out. Leave me alone.’ This boy felt the same way. He was just waiting, killing time.”

Unidentified Photographer, [Unidentified Woman outside Tule Lake Internment Camp, Newell, California], 1942

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1942, over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry (many of whom were United States citizens) living on the West Coast were forced into ten detention centers across the United States. Tule Lake, in Newell, California, was the largest and most guarded camp; detainees were considered disloyal to the United States because they answered no to the following questions: Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered? Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization? Tule Lake was the only camp placed ruled by martial law after detainees protested the unsanitary conditions of the camp. One of the first camps to open, it was the last to close on March 28, 1946, after thousands of detainees renounced their American citizenship.

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About erinbarnett

Assistant Curator, Collections at the International Center of Photography, New York
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One Response to Tule Lake Internment Camp

  1. Pingback: Carl Mydans at Tule Lake « Prison Photography

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