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My Division


Amache Archaeology Collection

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

Soda bottle

Clear glass, 2'' wide. Found in Block 11K.

soda bottle

Imagine unwinding at the end of the day with an ice-cold soda pop. Although most people take this commonplace indulgence for granted, this was not the case for the people in the Amache incarceration camp. A simple bottle of soda represented a connection to life outside the camp. Soda was available for purchase either in nearby Granada or the cooperative store located in the camp. This particular bottle was manufactured in Lamar, 18 miles west of Amache, and shows significant wear most likely from reuse. This wear and tear reveals that soda offered not only the hedonic value of being a tasty treat to those in the camps, but also utilitarian value as an extra container that could either be refilled or reused in day-to-day life. To the Amache internees, soda was a simple luxury to make life in the camp a little sweeter.

- Marie Ferdinand and TJ Norris, DU Student Curators

No. E-451
The Amache cooperative canteen gave the internees the opportunity to purchase items, such as soda, which many Americans took for granted in everyday life outside the camp.
Photograph by Tom Parker, War Relocation Authority. Courtesy of UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library.

Personal Reflection

I was born at the end of World War II. Since my parents and family lived in Colorado, my relatives were not incarcerated in any of the camps. This soda bottle from Amache reminds me of helping my father and uncles on the farm. At seven, I was too young to work alone and had no real responsibilities. I thought it was fun because I was able to drive the pick-up or tractor in the fields like the adults. During this time, I got to go with them to the town cafe and would get a soda drink and listen to the men talking. The soda drink was a treat for me on a hot, sweaty summer day and I enjoyed the time of feeling connected with my family. When I was eight or nine, the work I was responsible for shifted. I began working alone from morning to sundown with no breaks for sodas. I think this shift reflects a Japanese cultural value, that of taking responsibility and working hard. Just as I found enjoyment and family connections around the drinking of soda, I hope that the soda was a way of maintaining some semblance of family life in the harsh conditions of the camp.

- Alvin 'Seichi' Otsuka, Community Curator, Sansei (third generation Japanese American)

Internalized Oppression
By Alvin 'Seichi' Otsuka

Japanese living outside of the exclusion zone were spared overt imprisonment. However, the covert imprisonment has left psychological scars that have been difficult to understand and sort out. Japanese culture has instilled values that I believe play into the internalized oppression that creates the covert imprisonment. Japanese culture instills the values of respect for others, keeping quiet, and maintaining an invisible presence when interacting with others. I believe this was overly emphasized by my parents due to the incarceration threat during World War II, and carried on after the war. Post-World War II, the prejudices that led to the executive order that incarcerated 120,000 Japanese American Citizens and first-generation Japanese, continued the internalized oppression in the subsequent generation. I learned the lesson of internalized oppression so well, that it took years to understand the racism that existed around me and to me until the past 10-15 years of my life. Gaining this understanding of oppression has allowed me to calm the internal turmoil and reach a peace within myself.

soda bottle group4
Left: Marie Ferdinand, DU Student Curator. Center: Alvin 'Seichi' Otsuka. Right: TJ Norris.