Tule Lake National Monument, USA

Site of Japanese American WWII confinement and resilience in Northern California



View of the remains of the latrine in Tule Lake by Josh Partee for CyArkCyArk

Expedition Overview

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.

View of a coal bin at Tule Lake by Josh Partee for CyArkCyArk

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.

Photograph of the entrance gate to Tule Lake by Josh Partee for CyArkCyArk

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
non-commercial uses.

● 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

Credits: Story

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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

CU Denver


Josh Partee

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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