News Releases

Interior Endorses National Park Designation for Bainbridge Memorial

May 05 2006

Northwest lawmakers will back legislation to include site in park system

WASHINGTON - This week, the Interior Department released a long-awaited report, supporting the inclusion of a memorial at the former Eagledale Ferry Dock that honors the first Japanese Americans interned during World War II in the national park system, as part of the Minidoka Internment National Monument in Idaho. Located on Bainbridge Island in Washington state, the dock was the site from which the first internees in the nation were forcibly removed from their homes and communities under President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066.

The study was commissioned and funded over three years ago in legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee in the House and U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell in the upper chamber. Results were released just one month after Inslee wrote a letter urging Interior Secretary Gale Norton to expedite the report, considering the advanced age of surviving internees.

"This March marked the 64th anniversary of the internment of 227 Bainbridge residents, who were the first of almost 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast who were forcibly removed, exiled and interned," said Inslee, a resident of the island. "Now that Interior has signed off on park designation, I hope Congress will move quickly to recognize this historically significant site before another anniversary passes by."

"The endorsement by the Interior Department of national park status for the Eagledale Ferry Dock reminds us all that we must preserve and protect this historical site for future generations," Murray continued. "We can't undo the injustice suffered by Japanese Americans during World War II, but we can give them the recognition they deserve and a reminder to all that this should never happen again."

"While this historic landmark represents a sad chapter in our nation's history, we must preserve it as a reminder to current and future generations," added Cantwell. "The Eagledale Ferry Dock site is a powerful memorial to the sacrifices and the strength of the Japanese American community. It's our responsibility to make sure the meaning of this important landmark is not forgotten."

In coming days, Inslee, Murray and Cantwell are expected to back legislation that would codify into law results of the Interior Department study.

Construction of the memorial on Bainbridge Island began in early April. Funding for the project has come from private donors, as well as the state of Washington.

Read the letter Inslee sent to Norton this March