3-D RECONSTRUCTION. A rebuilt watchtower is seen at Camp
Amache, the site of a former World War II-era Japanese-American
internment camp in Granada, Colorado. A University of Denver
team is using a drone to create a 3-D reconstruction of the camp
in the southern part of the state. The Amache effort is part of
a growing movement to identify and preserve historical sites
connected to people of color in the United States. (AP
Photo/Russell Contreras, File)
From The Asian Reporter, V29, #14 (July 15, 2019), page 7.
Drone used to aid 3-D remake of Japanese
By Russell Contreras
The Associated Press
A University of Denver team is using drone images to create a
3-D reconstruction of a World War II-era Japanese internment
camp in southern Colorado, joining a growing movement to restore
U.S. historical sites linked to people of color.
Researchers dispatched the drone from the Switzerland-based
company senseFly as part of a mapping project to help future
restoration work at Camp Amache in Granada, Colorado.
The senseFly eBee X drone flew over the one-square-mile site
and took more than 4,000 images as part of a project to document
where barracks, schools, and other buildings once stood, said
Adam Zylka, the senseFly pilot who flew the drone.
Currently, the site only contains concrete foundations,
artifacts, a handful of restored buildings, and a cemetery of
internees who died at the camp.
But Zylka said researchers can use the information gathered
by the drone to create virtual reality and augmented reality
apps so visitors can experience what life was like at the
incarceration camp with almost precisely reconstructed images.
"This is a game changer," Jim Casey, geographic information
system specialist with the University of Denver who has been
working to create digital maps of Amache. "You could be standing
at the site, looking at nothing [but] sagebrush and weeds. Then,
you can point your smartphone at the view and see what was once
Casey said people who cannot go to the isolated location
around 230 miles southeast of Denver will be able to visit the
site virtually after researchers process the new drone data.
From 1942 to 1945, more than 7,000 Japanese Americans and
Japanese immigrants were forcibly relocated to Camp Amache. They
were among the more than 110,000 Japanese Americans ordered to
camps in California, Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah,
Arkansas, New Mexico, and other sites.
Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin D.
Roosevelt, forced Japanese Americans, regardless of loyalty or
citizenship, to leave the west coast and other areas for the
camps surrounded by barbed wire and military police. Half of
those detainees were children.
At Amache, internees lived in an area next to poor
Mexican-American farm workers. They produced a newspaper, tried
farming, and formed football and baseball teams.
Casey said the recreation of the camp is important for the
U.S. to come to terms with this dark period in history.
"Children and grandchildren of internees also are trying to
learn about what their parents went through," he said. "That’s
because they rarely talked about it."
The Amache drone project is the latest example of
preservation advocates working to save and restore historical
sites connected to black-, Latino-, and Asian-American history.
A digital project headed up by Brown University professor
Monica Martinez seeks to locate sites connected to racial
violence along the Texas border with Mexico. Some of the sites
she and other researchers have identified have resulted in
historic markers documenting acts of violence against Mexican
Americans from 1900 to 1930.
Advocates also are working to restore the birthplace of
civil-rights leader Dolores Huerta in Dawson, New Mexico. The
old mining community in northern New Mexico is now a ghost town
and there is no marker commemorating Huerta’s connection to the
Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press’ race
and ethnicity team.