National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis on Thursday announced 21 grants totaling more than $2.9 million to help preserve and interpret the World War II confinement sites of Japanese Americans. Two of those projects are located in Southeast Arkansas at the Japanese-American Relocation Center in Rowher in Desha County.
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock was awarded a $220,000 grant to continue its preservation efforts at the historic Rohwer Relocation Center cemetery.
Twenty-four displaced concrete headstones and markers will be reset, repaired, and cleaned of biological staining. The original concrete pathways between headstones will be restored, as will the original drainage patterns and channels in the cemetery.
The Central Arkansas Library System was awarded a $26,000 grant to restore and conserve thirty textile pieces created by Japanese American students at Rohwer under the instruction of their high school art teacher, Mable “Jamie” Jamison Vogel.
The textiles are part of a larger collection of artwork that was donated to the Butler Center in 2010 and preserved under a 2011 Japanese American Confinement Sites grant.
More than 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, were imprisoned by the U.S. government following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
“As America’s storyteller, the National Park Service is committed to sharing this tragic episode of our nation’s past and what it teaches us about the fragility of our constitutional rights,” Jarvis said. “These grants fund projects to help us gain a better understanding of the past, engage new audiences, and build new partnerships in the preservation of these historic sites and lessons they hold.”