May 30-June 2, 2010—Public Law 109-441 authorized the National Park Service to create a program to encourage and support the preservation and interpretation of historic confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. Pursuant to this program, a grant was awarded to the United Tribes Technical College (“UTTC”), now owners of the former Ft. Lincoln internment site, to facilitate a conference to plan for the establishment of an appropriate internment memorial representing all groups who were confined there. Representatives from the German American and Japanese American internment communities along with leaders from the UTTC met and initialized plans for a future memorial. The following poem captures the spirit of cooperation and camaraderie which developed during the conference.
The Gathering at Ft. Lincoln
They came from many corners of this land to a place on the Great Plains
Where the ancestors of the hosts of the gathering had roamed free and proud.
They came to a room constructed over a swimming pool of collective tears
Representing lost freedoms, lost integrity and shame.
They were of diverse lineage—mainly Native American, Japanese, German
But also Scotch Irish, English, African American and others.
Here they forged bonds of unity with story telling and conversations
And the examination of words such as justice, courage, integrity and resilience.
And from this forging and examining emerged friendships bridging the span of time
And the barriers of cultural differences;
Friendships cemented by shared experiences and empathy
And a ceremony led by a Lakota medicine man.
Ursula Vogt Potter, daughter of former Ft. Lincoln internee
June 4, 2010