Research: Gila River Relocation Camp
Location: 45 miles southeast
of Phoenix, in Pinal County, Arizona, near Sacaton. The Superstition Mountains
loom in the distance.
Land: Leased from the Pima
Size: 17,000 acres; the center
was divided into two camps: Canal (209.5 acres) and Butte (789.25 acres).
Peak population: 13,348
Date of peak: December 30,
Opening Date: July 20, 1942
Canal Camp: September 28, 1945.
Butte Camp: November 10, 1945.
Climate: Desert: summer temperatures
reached 125 degrees. The average daily high temperatures for July, August,
and September 1942 were 109.6, 104.0, and 99.7 degrees, respectively. Though
not as bad as some other camps, duststorms were also a problem here.
Of the 10,814 Americans held prisoner here...
4,952 prisoners were from Los Angeles, CA
1,972 were from Fresno, CA
1,797 were from Santa Barbara, CA
815 were from San Joaquin, CA
695 were from Contra Costa and Ventura Counties, CA
Via "assembly centers":
Most came via Turlock (3,566), Tulare (4,951), and Santa Anita (1,294) "Assembly
Centers"; nearly 3,000 came directly to Gila and another 2,000 came
from Jerome upon its closing.
The population was a roughly equal split between rural
and urban peoples.
Project director(s): Lewis
J. Jorn, Eastburn Smith, Robert B. Cozzens, L.H. Bennett, and Douglas M.Todd.
Community Analysts: James H.
Barnett and G.Gordon Brown.
Newpaper(s): Gila News Courier
(September 12, 1942 - September 5, 1945), Gila Bulletin (September
8 - 25, 1945).
% who answered question 28 of the loyalty questionnaire
Number and percentage of eligible citizen males inducted
directly into ARMED FORCES: 487 (5.0%).
Industry:A camouflage net
factory operated from Fall 1942, to May 1943; a model warship factory produced
800 models for the navy.
History: Gila River was on
Pima Indian Reservation land. The WRA director Milton Eisenhower refused
to relinquish administrative control of the camp to the Office of Indian
Affairs, probably because of the potential for profitable agricultural enterprise
here. Much of the administration staff at Gila came from OIA personnel.
Gila had the most extensive agricultural program of all
the camps. At its peak, Gila farmed approximately 7,000 acres, 3,000 in
vegetable crops, some of which were shipped to other camps. Gila had 2,000
head of cattle, 2,500 hogs, 25,000 chickens, and 110 dairy cows. Fields
of stocks and marigolds were also grown here for center consumption.
Gila saw four project directors in its first eight months.
The fourth, LH Bennett, remained director from December 12, 1942 to July
The camp was marred by inadequate housing, as people poured
into a center which was not yet complete. As a result, Americans were housed
in every conceivable space, in nearly constant 100 degree temperatures,
until construction could be completed. Schools opened in October 1942 despite
the almost total lack of supplies and furniture.
On November 30, 1942, Takeo Tada was beaten by a group
of men. He had been employed by both the Turlock "Assembly Center"
and Gila administrations and was targeted as an "inu" (dog) by
those angry over a delay in clothing allocations and at the administration
in general. Hearings resulted in a 30 day jail sentance for the admitted
perpetrator, amid a tense atmosphere where much of the camp population supported
Inadequate sanitation and sewage facilities coupled with
the wind, dust, and heat, led to outbreaks of diarrhea, tuberculosis, "Valley
Fever", and other less serious disorders.
When Eleanor Roosevelt was to visit one of the camps in
the Spring of 1943, Gila was the one chosen, undoubtably because it had
the best appearance.
Source: Japanese American History:
An A to Z Reference, 1868 to the Present, by
Brian Niiya. New York: Facts on File, 1993. This information is provided
with the permission from the Japanese American National Museum and Brian