CyArk was awarded a grant by the National Park Service’s Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program to create 3D digital recreations of sites associated with the US government’s World War II incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans who lived along the West Coast. Tule Lake is one of three sites of Japanese American incarceration that CyArk documented in 2011. The few structures that remain at the sites serve as reminders of democracy’s fragility in times of conflict. To further illuminate this history, CyArk used laser scanning to document the site’s buildings and topographical features, processing the data in combination with historical records to create a 3D digital reconstruction of what the site was like during World War II. CyArk’s digital reconstruction of Tule Lake provides a unique opportunity for people to connect with this difficult history and ensure that it is never forgotten.
Introducing Tule Lake
Tule Lake is one of ten World War II camps where the US government confined Japanese Americans, the majority of whom were US citizens. Of the ten camps, Tule Lake’s legacy remains particularly controversial. In 1943, the US government turned the Tule Lake camp into a “Segregation Center” where they incarcerated Japanese Americans who they deemed “disloyal” based on an ill-conceived questionnaire. People incarcerated at the Tule Lake Segregation Center ended up there for a variety of complex reasons, many having nothing to do with their loyalty to the United States. Commenting on the questionnaire answers that landed people in the “Segregation Center,” a government official stated, “We can recognize that the answers wrung from them under the strains and perplexities with which they were faced is no more an indication of disloyalty than medieval trials by torture were an evidence of witchcraft.”
Virtual reconstruction of Tule Lake created by CyArk.
In Their Own Words
Continue to listen to the stories of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated at Tule Lake during World War II. For more information, please visit the Densho Digital Archive and Tule Lake Unit website.
Kazuko Uno Bill describing the hospital facilities at Tule LakeCyArk
Betty Morita Shibayama describing the Junior and Senior School facilities at Tule LakeCyArk
Open Heritage 3D by CyArkCyArk
Data from this project is now freely available through Open Heritage 3D.
Download the data from this project.
About Open Heritage 3D
The mission of the Open Heritage 3D project is to:
● Provide open access to 3D cultural heritage datasets for education, research and other
● Minimize the technical, financial and legal barriers for publishers of 3D heritage data.
● Promote discovery and re-use of datasets through standardized metadata and data formats.
● Foster community collaboration and knowledge sharing in the 3D cultural heritage community.
● Share best practices and methodologies for the capture, processing and storage of 3D cultural heritage data
Find out more about CyArk's work by signing up for our newsletter. You can also support our continued efforts on projects like this by donating.
This project was made possible with grant support from the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program and the following partners:
U.S. National Park Service