Return To Butte Camp: A Japanese-American World War II Relocation Center: Report


A few months following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, people of Japanese origin on the West Coast of the United States were routed through a series of security measures that led to removal from their homes and resettlement in relocation centers. In 1942, a civilian agency, the War Relocation Authority (WRA), was established to administer their lives in these centers.

Butte Camp and Canal Camp were the two relocation sites built by the United States at the Gila River Relocation Center (Center) in the undeveloped desert landscape of the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) south of Phoenix, Arizona. The Center was constructed in 1942 to house over 13,000 Japanese-Americans from the West Coast and was one of 10 built by the United States during World War II. After its closure, the United States sold off or removed nearly all project improvements, including buildings and the underground water pipes. While the buildings were destroyed, remnants are still present at both Butte and Canal camps, including the cement foundations or footings for most buildings.

The Sacaton Farms Irrigation System on the GRIC has resulted in the development of agricultural land up to the edge of Butte Camp. In 1987 and 1989, Archaeological Consulting Services, Ltd. (ACS) undertook limited archaeological and historical investigations in areas adjacent to the Gila River Relocation Center that were to be impacted by farm development (Sawyer-Lang 1989; Sullivan et al. 1987). On January 20,1993, the Bureau of Reclamation requested a supplemental study of the Center that included the collection of additional historical material together with oral history information. The historical-period artifacts collected during the previous studies were reevaluated in the context of the more complete research data.

This report contains information on the archival resources investigated and the oral history interviews conducted. It also describes the background information required to understand the context of the Japanese-American evacuation from the West Coast and southern Arizona. The report also describes life in Butte Camp for the Japanese-Americans, the economy of the relocation center, and an O'odham perspective on the relocation center. The report contains an analysis of the historical material previously collected at Butte Camp by ACS (Sawyer-Lang 1989;Sullivan et al. 1987).

Cite this Record

Return To Butte Camp: A Japanese-American World War II Relocation Center: Report. Orit Tamir, Scott C. Russell, Karolyn Jackman Jensen, Shereen Lerner. Tempe, Arizona: Archaeological Consulting Services, Ltd. 1993 ( tDAR id: 393848) ; doi:10.6067/XCV81Z45J9

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.898; min lat: 33.049 ; max long: -111.819; max lat: 33.092 ;

Record Identifiers

Bureau of Reclamation Delivery Order No.(s): 3-PD-32-01820-010

ACS Project No.(s): 93-308

Bureau of Reclamation Contract No.(s): 1425-2-CS-32-01820

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
ACS_Report_no_82V1.pdf 16.31mb Jun 5, 2015 10:46:59 AM Confidential
ACS_Report_no_82V2.pdf 21.66mb Jun 5, 2015 10:47:00 AM Confidential

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Contact(s): Bureau of Reclamation, Phoenix Area Office