"A Question of Loyalty"
Tule Lake was one of ten Japanese American Internment camps - and one of two that were in California (the other is Manzanar). Among the Japanese Americans interned at Tule Lake were internees from other camps who refused to take a vow of undivided loyalty to the U.S. and were sent to this "Segregation Camp," or had given answers on the loyalty questionnaire that suggested they were untrustworthy or security risks. As a result, it had the highest level of security of any of the camps.
At the beginning of the internment, Japanese Americans and resident aliens of Japanese descent were given a questionnaire to determine their loyalty to the United States.
Question 27 on the questionnaire asked, "Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?" while question 28 asked, "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?"
A number of those who were sent to Tule Lake had found the loyalty oath's questions confusing, while others, certain that they were to be deported to Japan no matter how they had answered, feared that answering the questions in the affirmative would cause them to be seen as enemy aliens by the Japanese. Others chose to answer "no" to both questions in protest of their imprisonment.
Some of the Tule Lake internees had participated in demonstrations against the internment policy at other camps. Many residents had renounced their U.S. citizenship, often due to deception or coercion. Most of the Tule Lake renunciants later had their citizenship restored, largely through the vigorous efforts of civil rights attorney Wayne M. Collins.
My piece, "A Question of Loyalty" addresses the fact that whether you answered "Yes" to either of these questions still meant the same outcome. You stayed in camp. If you were a "No-No" boy, then you went to Tule Lake.
photo credit: Dean Powell Photography
45" w x 8" h x 6" d
The Poston War Relocation Center, located in Yuma County (now in La Paz County) of Arizona, was the largest of the ten American concentration camps operated by the War Relocation Authority during World War II.
Poston was built on the Colorado River Indian Reservation, over the objections of the Tribal Council, who refused to be a part of doing to others what had been done to their tribe. However, officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs overrode the Council, seeing the opportunity to bring in improvements and develop agricultural land on the War Department budget and with thousands of "volunteers," which would remain after the war and aid the Reservation's permanent population.
Poston was a subject of a sociological research by Alexander H. Leighton, published in his 1945 book, The Governing of Men. As Time Magazine wrote, "After fifteen months at Arizona's vast Poston Relocation Center as a social analyst, Commander Leighton concluded that many an American simply fails to remember that U.S. Japanese are human beings."
An invitation by the "Historical Woods of America" to create a piece using woods from historical landmarks was a perfect opportunity to portray the irony of using salvaged wood from a fallen elm tree from Monticello: the estate of Thomas Jefferson, the principle author of the United States Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States. The fragmented design of this work, combined with the ironic context in its material source adds a strangely sublime reference to the emotional and physical landscape of this historical event. The doors are set haphazardly at angles, causing some doors to "collide" into each other. The notion of harmony and tranquility normally associated with smooth-sliding doors on parallel tracks are disrupted and disjointed.
Furusato is the name of an old Japanese song that my grandmother used to sing: the title translates roughly to "home". The images in this work is of my maternal family: before the war on the left, in San Pedro, CA, and in Rocky Ford, CO after the war, which is where the family had to evacuate. The two images show a drastic shift in their economic state and their lifestyle.
"Hinamatsuri" (Girls' Day)
My mother, before the family was evacuated, gave away many of the family's heirloom Japanese dolls that were used to celebrate Girls' Day. Most families had to relinquish possessions like these as they could only take what they could carry to the camps. Some burned their things, such as pianos, furniture and other items rather than have them taken away by people looking for a good deal.