Annual Amache Pilgrimage – May 20, 2017
Pilgrimages to former WWII concentration camps for those of Japanese descent were started in the late 1960s. It took nearly a quarter century for former prisoners and their descendants to question why they had been imprisoned and begin searching for answers.
In 1976, the Asian American Community Action Research Program (CARP) comprised of former prisoners, community members and students began the first formal Pilgrimage to Amache. CARP modeled its efforts after the groundbreaking organizing of the Manzanar Committee which in 1969 conducted the first acknowledged Pilgrimage to that US concentration camp near Death Valley in California. The Denver Central Optimists Club (now the Amache Club) took over the Pilgrimage organizing in 1983 and erected a second cemetery monument to US military casualties from Amache. The first stone monument was left by prisoners as they departed Amache in late 1945. In conjunction with Granada High School teacher John Hopper and his students, the cemetery site has been transformed with trees and grass watered by a drip-irrigation system, creating an oasis in the arid countryside.
The annual Amache Pilgrimage takes place on the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend. Two bus pick-up points are available. The first pick-up will board at 6:00AM at Simpson United Methodist Church, 6001 Wolff Street, Arvada 80003; the second pick-up will be 6:30AM at downtown Denver’s Tri-State Buddhist Temple, 1947 Lawrence Street, Denver 80202. Attendees are encouraged to board at Simpson where parking is more plentiful. The roundtrip fee is $30.00. Snacks are provided and continuous educational programs run on overhead bus screens on the restroom equipped vehicle. There is time to share conversation with other passengers, some of whom were forcibly removed to Amache or to one of the nine other major US concentration camps. After a short rest stop in Limon, the bus will arrive at the Amache cemetery at approximately 11:30AM for a brief memorial service and oshoko (offering of incense) to commemorate those who died while imprisoned there or while serving in the US military. Attendees will then meet at Granada Undivided School, where lunch and a short program will be provided, and the bus will re-board by 2:00 for the return trip to Denver; passengers will be dropped off in reverse order of the morning, and can expect to arrive back at Simpson by 6:30-7:00PM.
Attendees who are arriving by private car may choose to stay overnight Saturday in Lamar, and spend Sunday touring either the Amache Museum or the Amache site. Although guided tours cannot be guaranteed, every effort will be made to accommodate requests if we know of them in advance. Another option is visiting the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, located 35 miles northwest of Amache, where visitors can learn about the woman for whom the Amache Relocation Center was named and her Cheyenne sub-Chief father, Ochinee, who was killed at Sand Creek in 1864.