KUSA – The Department of Anthropology from the University of Denver has been conducting a field research project on the site of Camp Amache since 2008.
Amache was an internment camp near the town of Granada in southeastern Colorado, between the towns of Lamar to the west and Holly to the east off of Highway 50.
Shortly after the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066, on February 19, 1942, authorizing the removal of all those of Japanese descents from the west coast to Relocation Centers.
By June of 1943, more than 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry or citizenship were relocated to remote internment camps built by the U.S. military.
One of the remote internment camps opened in August of 1942 near the town of Granada. During the peak of the war, Amache housed 7,138 people (although the total number who passed through the camp during its existence was 10,000)
For the last five years, the University of Denver has been excavating the site in hopes of finding out how the people of Amache were able to transform, what was described as basically, scraped bare earth and turn it into something livable.
“Over the years we have discovered an incredible variety and complex gardens,” said Dr. Bonnie Clark.
All done so that Amache didn’t feel like a prison, but more like home.
In Dr. Clark’s background research she discovered that the people who were incarcerated at Amache were farmers, gardeners or in the produce business.
“They really had the expertise to make this land beautiful in a way you and I would not be able to do in what is a destabilized sand dune,” Clark said.
One of the most important finds at Amache was a strand of roses growing wild for over 70 years. Despite little water and very harsh conditions they have managed to thrive.
With the help of a Horticulturalist, Dr. Clark is excited about the possibility of having the wild strand of roses propagated or basically cloned.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that those little guys are going to root up and propagate some Amache roses,” Clark said.
With the help from many individuals, which include, high school students from Granada, graduate students from DU, descendants and survivors of the camp, many more discoveries will be unearthed in the future.