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My Division


Amache Archaeology Collection

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


Enameled metal, 8.5'' wide. Found in Block 9G.


Archaeologists excavated this pitcher in an undeveloped block towards the middle of the camp. Made of pressed metal, the pitcher has an enamel coating making it water resistant. Such cheap wares were typical of those supplied by the War Relocation Authority for use in mess halls. Due to the distance between this pitcher's location and any mess hall, it is likely that it was removed from a mess hall for personal use.

Individual barracks at Amache were not plumbed, so access to water was limited to the laundry room and one outside spigot. This made staying hydrated and fetching water a time-consuming task for most. The pitcher served as a portable water station, lightening the load for the individual or family that used it.

- Cole Hoholik and Will Friedman, DU Student Curators


Historic photo of Amache mess hall. Similar pitcher on table in foreground.
Photograph by Jack Muro.

Courtesy of the Japanese American National Museum.

Personal Reflection

This enamelware pitcher in itself is not special—one of many, unremarkable and cheap. They were among the wares supplied by the War Relocation Authority (WRA), who oversaw the internment of Japanese Americans. It belies their disregard and lack of readiness to adequately provide for the unjustly incarcerated, whom they claimed to be protecting. Similar pitchers appear in photographs taken at Amache by internee Jack Muro. Muro was imprisoned at Amache, and despite cameras being contraband, managed to take and develop a significant portfolio of photographs. He took it upon himself to dig out and build a darkroom, and I am grateful for his efforts which have allowed me and others to more fully understand this history. Many of the photos that emerged from the various concentration camps were commissioned by the WRA and used for propaganda.

They remain an inaccurate portrayal of what daily life actually looked like, while those taken by Muro and other internees provide real insight on the perspective of Japanese Americans at the time. Most of my family was interned at Tule Lake in California, while my Issei great grandfather was held separately at a POW camp in Lordsburg, New Mexico. Before being incarcerated during WWII, he had been an avid photographer (and vegetable farmer by trade) in Kent, Washington; but I lack a visual understanding during their years of internment. As an artist, I seek to disseminate this lost history, and photographs such as Jack's are indispensable to that process. They remain evident of radical perseverance in spite of overt racism and oppression. Much like this commonplace pitcher, they help to complete an incredibly important history now forgotten.

- Sarah Mae Fukami, Community Curator, Yonsei (fourth generation Japanese American), Hapa (partial Asian decent), family incarcerated at Tule Lake and Lordsburg, NM

Left: Cole Hoholic, DU Student Curator. Center: Sarah Mae Fukami, DU Community Curator. Right: Will Friedman, DU Student Curator.