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My Division

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Amache Archaeology Collection

Connecting the Pieces: Dialogues on the Amache Archaeology Collection Online Exhibit  

Dog figurine

Porcelain, 2" long. Found in Block 9L.

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Archaeologists found this porcelain bulldog on the edges of camp among a trash pile. Sold as part of a set, the figure was meant to be enjoyed for its aesthetic values. The JAPAN export stamp on the back tells us that it was imported before the U.S. cut trade relations with Japan during the war.

Found with its legs broken and paint worn off, the small dog went through much wear after its move to camp, suggesting it was used for more than just display. Bulldogs are not native to Japan but they are very popular there. Today, French bulldogs are among the top ten favorite dog breeds in Japan.

- Cassandra Cortright, DU Student Curator

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1930s catalog illustration of dog family set made in Japan. The figurine on the left is similar to the one recovered from Amache.

Courtesy of Wholesale Premium Merchandise & Novelties catalogue.

Personal Reflection

"The dog is mine!" That's what I said to Dr. Clark when asked to choose among the various objects for this exhibit. I chose this one because, very simply, I love dogs. I believe it was someone's memento of a beloved pet she (or he) had to leave behind—a small object of great significance that did not take up valuable space needed for essential items. More than that, we'll probably never know.

I live in an area where wildfires are a threat. Preparing for evacuation includes gathering the "3 Ps": papers, pictures, and pets. Papers, no problem. Pictures, we're covered. Pets, of course; my husband and I would not think of leaving without the two dogs and two cats who share our home and our lives. We'd just load it (and them) all up in our SUVs and drive off to safety, to return when we received the "all clear."

That's not the way it was for those forced to leave their homes in 1942. They took only what they could carry, not knowing when (or if) they would return. There are accounts and pictures of dogs with their families at Amache; but there are many more stories about families at Amache and other camps who had to leave their beloved pets behind, with heart-breaking consequences—Laddie who "died only a few weeks after we left Berkeley," Jimmie who starved himself to death after his family gave him to a friend, or Frisky who reunited with his family after three years.

How did this precious object end up dumped at Amache? How did it become so damaged? Thrown in grief after hearing the real pet had died? Accidentally stepped on during the rush to leave camp? We'll probably never know.

- Mary Ann Amemiya, Community Curator

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The Shitara family were among the lucky few who were reunited with their pets at Amache. A family snapshot captures Carlene Tanigoshi with her grandfather's dog, Queen.

Courtesy of Carlene Tanigoshi Tinker. 

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Left: Mary Ann Amemiya, Community Curator. Right: Cassandra Cortright, DU Student Curator.