The United States opened internment camps for people of Japanese descent in 1942 in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado and Arkansas. The camps closed in 1946.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942 in reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The order stated that Japanese citizens and those of Japanese ancestry living on the west coast of the United States would be relocated to internment camps further inland. Approximately 120,000 people were held in the internment camps. Many of the prisoners were not Japanese citizens, but Nissei, or American-born citizens of Japanese descent.
Ten camps were opened in total. They included Tule Lake and Manzanar in California, Minidoka in Idaho, Granada in Colorado and Heart Mountain in Wyoming. Arkansas was home to Rowher and Jerome. Other camps included Poston and Gila River in Arizona and Topaz in Utah.
The experience of the camps was devastating for its occupants. Housing consisted of tarpaper barracks, and meals were held in communal mess halls. The government encouraged the occupants to farm to sustain themselves, but the locations of the camps tended to be in very arid environments that did not support that plan.
In 1945, some occupants were allowed to return home, but the camps did not officially close until March 1946. In 1988, the United States government awarded $20,000 restitution payments to those who had been unduly held in the internment camps.