Rohwer Cemetery Work Receives Award

Johanna Miller LewisRestoration work at the Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center Cemetery was recognized on January 9, 2015 at the annual Arkansas Preservation Awards sponsored by the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas. The event recognizes important work being done throughout Arkansas to preserve and protect places of historical or cultural importance.

The cemetery, the last physical remnant of the World War II camp, received Honorable Mention for Excellence in Preservation Through Restoration. The two most iconic monuments at the cemetery, the Monument to the Rohwer Dead and the Monument to the 100th Battalion, were restored through a National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites grant to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Dr. Johanna Miller Lewis, project director at UALR, accepted the award on behalf of the project team, including WER Architects/Planners and Kinco Constructors.

Read details about this and other awards recognizing Arkansans’ work to preserve distinctive historic places in this Event Program.

The Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas is the only statewide non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Arkansas’s architectural and cultural heritage. For more information about the Alliance, or photos of the projects contact Vanessa at 501-372-4757,, or visit

Excursion: Fertile Ground

The Delta (Photograph: Sara Edwards Neal)

The Delta
(Photograph: Sara Edwards Neal)

In the article, “Excursion: Fertile Ground,” AY Magazine explores points of interest in the Arkansas Delta, ranging from local businesses to historical sites. AY includes the Rowher Relocation Center Memorial Cemetery on its list of historical sites to visit, describing it as, “…a poignant reminder of one of this nation’s greatest trespasses against its own people….” To view the article, please click here.

George Takei on NPR’s “Fresh Air”

CC8B936A-2EDC-46DC-A722-9C00349987D7George Takei recently appeared on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air,” to discuss his new documentary, To Be Takei. To listen to the interview, please click here.

George Takei on The Daily Show

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 10.59.07 AMGeorge Takei recently appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to discuss the documentary, To Be Takei. To Be Takei, an Official Selection of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, tells the story of George Takei’s life, from his family’s internment at the Rohwer Japanese internment camp to his time working on Star Trek, and much more. George’s interview with Jon Stewart focuses on his experience at Rohwer. To view the interview, please click here.

Why I Love a Country that Once Betrayed Me

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 2.37.41 PMWhen he was a child, George Takei and his family were forced into an internment camp for Japanese-Americans, as a “security” measure during World War II. 70 years later, Takei looks back at how the camp shaped his surprising, personal definition of patriotism and democracy. This talk, “Why I Love a Country that Once Betrayed Me,” was presented to a local audience at TEDxKyoto, an independent event.

A Conversation with Sharon Wong and Tim Taira

Left to right: Mrs. Tim Taira, Mr. Tim Taira, Mrs. Sharon Wong, Mr. Wong

Left to right: Mrs. Tim Taira, Mr. Tim Taira, Mrs. Sharon Wong, Mr. Wong

On April 15, 2014, Tiffany Keb and Alyson Gill interviewed Sharon Wong, a former Jerome internee born in the Jerome hospital, and Mr. Tim Taira, a former Jerome and Rohwer internee whose father was a physician in the Rohwer hospital. We will be posting those interview on the website over the coming days. It was an honor to speak with them, and we look forward to continuing those conversations.

Solo Exhibition by Nancy Chikaraishi (Drury University)

10153923_739656492732316_1249161382_nNancy Chikaraishi, associate professor of Architecture at Drury University (Springfield, MO) will feature her artwork at the museum for three months beginning April 16th and ending July 16th. Her parents were internees at Rohwer. Her solo exposition features artwork of the Japanese American struggle in the Camps.

An interview with the artist is posted here.

Professional Development for Teachers Scheduled for June 30, 2014

The World War II Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee will conduct a Professional Development Workshop on Monday, June 30, 2014. The event will start at 9:00 a.m. In cooperation with McGehee Schools, participants will travel to the Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center site for a more indepth understanding of the camp. For information, contact Susan Gallion,

Museum wins Cultural Heritage Award

1800191_709518529079446_389166911_nThe Museum was awarded the Cultural Heritage Award by Arkansas Delta Byways — an association of 15 Eastern Arkansas Counties. Congratulations! More than 2,100 visitors have registered as museum guests since last April. Jeff Owyoung & Mayor Jack May accepted the award. A group of about a dozen people from McGehee were there!

Lewis to receive Oakley Award

The Association for Gravestone Studies will present the Oakley Certificate of Merit Award to University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor of history Dr. Johanna Miller Lewis, along with three other Arkansans on Thursday.

Dr. Johanna Lewis, UALR

Lewis and the others will be honored at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Reception Room of the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History at 503 E. Ninth St. in Little Rock.

The award is for work that fosters appreciation of the cultural significance of gravestones and burying grounds through study and preservation. The event is free and open to the public.

Lewis, who also serves as associate dean of the UALR Graduate School, began a project to stabilize and restore Rohwer cemetery markers at the former Japanese Internment Camp in Desha County upon receipt of a 2011 National Park Service grant.

She started working on the cemetery with architect John Greer in 2003 with another Park Service grant for $35,000.

UA-Fayetteville History Professor Kimball Erdman will also be recognized. Erdman worked with Lewis at the Rohwer Relocation Center Cemetery.

Erdman’s landscape architecture class prepared a Historic American Landscape Survey, including measured drawings, photography, and a written history of Rohwer.

Carla Hines Coleman and Tamela Tenpenny-Lewis, co-founders of Preservation of African American Cemeteries Inc., are the other two recipients. They worked with schools and other groups to identify, document, and conserve African-American cemeteries in the state.

Lewis and Erdman collaborated with Arkansas State University Heritage Sites program to use maps and research in their interpretation for site visitors and with the UALR’s Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies to prepare a laser 3-D scan of the site.

“This has very much been a team effort at UALR with Andrijana Vukovich and Dave Millay in Facilities Management and John Greer leading the way,” Lewis noted.

AGS is a non-profit organization based in Greenfield, Mass, with members from many countries who share interests in art, history, art history, genealogy, archaeology, anthropology, conservation, and material culture.

For the original news article, click here.



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