Japanese relocation notice

In 1942, while innocent San Diego citizens and legal residents of Japanese ancestry were being held under guard at Santa Anita’s stinking horse stables, in Orange County. Del Webb (who later built Arizona’s “Sun City”) was busy constructing, “Camp Poston,” the largest in area of the ten WWII, U.S. Japanese concentration facilities. This construction was taking place in then-Yuma County (now, “La Paz”), in the State of Arizona – on a freakin’ American Indian Reservation!!! The horrified Indian Council, incredulous at the double-jeopardy insensitivity of “The Great White Father,” would have nothing to do with the infernal plan. Naturally, they were overruled by the military and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Thus, those now-marginalized, once-possessors of all the lands, were required to remain mute, as their residual residence was profaned by yet another, race-based, inhumane assault upon mankind!!!

As the result of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, signed on April 1, 1942, more than 127,000 U.S. citizens and other legal residents of Japanese ancestry were forced from their homes on the West Coast and placed under guard in barbed wire-ringed concentration camps throughout the interior of the U.S. Apart from U.S. citizens and residents, the camps included people of Japanese ancestry sent from countries in South America.

Colorado River Relocation Center Camp Poston

The Poston Relocation Camp in Arizona was peopled by more than 17,000 residents, mainly from Southern California. It was built on the Colorado River Indian Reservation. The camp consisted of three sections, aligned north to south, about 3 miles apart. It was located in remote desert, about 3 miles east of the Colorado River. All 3 sections were surrounded by barbed wire. Because of the remoteness of the camps, no guard towers were used at this facility.

Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese Empire on December 7, 1941. In the months that followed, the fever-pitch against Japanese on the West Coast became so shrill that FDR was cornered into acting. Curiously, no similar action was taken in Hawaii. In the spring of 1942, posters went up in San Diego, California instructing Japanese residents where and when to report for deportation. They were given 7 days to get their affairs in order and be at the train station. Their property, real or otherwise, that could not be disposed of within that time limit had to be left behind. Since the camps would not be ready until the fall, they were hustled off to the race track to live like animals!

Food served at camp Poston

Once at the Poston Camp, they were confined to tarpaper-lined buildings, which afforded a dearth of privacy. The communal latrines and mess halls were no better. The meals were standard military fare. Folks could be employed at $5 a day. The climate was desert-hot and desert-cold. The Poston prisoners named their 3 facilities, “Roastin’ Toastin’ and Dustin,” depending on location. Incredibly, some accepted the U.S. invitation to go overseas to fight for “liberty and justice! Otherwise, Poston was home for the rest of them, until war’s end in 1945

The camp was named for Charles Debrille Poston, a government engineer who established the reservation in 1865, and planned an irrigation system for the area. What irony: As one people of color is (kinda) freed, another is confined to a space where, later another would be further confined therein!

Poston family

Add another tear to the Iron Eyes Cody, long-ago TV image – a so-called ‘American Indian’, bemoaning the trashing of his native land.

(Although an audio copy is not available for the visually impaired, there exists a sociological study of the Poston Camp: “The Governing of Men,” by Alexander H. Leighton, 1945.)

***** ***** *****

America, thy sins are great.
Thou hidest them to deceive Fate.
Somewhere, there’s a bump.
Could it be this, “Trump”
Depends on Fate’s donation plate.

Curtis W. Long

Curtis W. Long

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