Arkansas State University announces the completion of the Rohwer Japanese-American Relocation Center Interpretive Project. ASU’s Arkansas Heritage Sites program, under the direction of Dr. Ruth Hawkins, received more than $190,000 from the National Park Service to interpret and preserve the story of Japanese-American internment during World War II in the Arkansas Delta.
Located in Desha County in southeast Arkansas, the Rohwer Relocation Center housed more than 8,000 Japanese-American citizens as a result of President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 requiring their internment in the months following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Rohwer was one of two relocation centers in Arkansas during the war and is the easternmost internment camp site of the 10 in the United States.
ASU and partners designed, fabricated, and installed directional signage, an interpretive kiosk and panels, audio vignettes, and an informational brochure, all of which are accessible to visitors to the former Rohwer Relocation Center site.
Arkansas State University collaborated with the nearby cities of Dumas and McGehee, Arkansas State Parks, the National Park Service, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and descendants of Japanese American internees to produce an accurate and emotional experience for visitors to the site.
A walking tour guides visitors along the southern boundary of the former camp, past the existing Japanese-American cemetery, terminating with a view of the remaining camp smokestack across fields of cotton. Actor George Takei, who was interned at the Rohwer Relocation Center with his family in 1942, narrates an accompanying audio tour along the route.
Arkansas Heritage Sites program will continue working with the cities of Dumas and McGehee to direct visitors to the Rohwer site. The Rohwer Relocation Center interpretive experience is a key attraction along the developing Delta Heritage Trail State Park, and will play a significant role in plans to create tourism opportunities in southeast Arkansas.