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Amache Roses bloom, reminder of Colorado's dark past with Japanese-American concentration camp

Amache Roses bloom, recalling Colorado's Japanese-American concentration camp
Amache Roses bloom, recalling Colorado's Japanese-American concentration camp 00:48

The Amache Rose has bloomed at the Denver Botanic Gardens, a reminder of Colorado's dark past with Camp Amache, the concentration camp in Granada, Colorado, that incarcerated Japanese Americans from 1942-1945. The rose cuttings were collected at Amache National Historic Site and this is the first time the plants have bloomed in the new location. 

The roses were planted 80 years ago by a prisoner at The Granada Relocation Center. The propagated plants were added to the Denver Botanic Gardens living collection as a botanical record of Colorado history. 

"It's a testament and metaphor for the resilience of nature and it is a sad reminder of this really dark part of Colorado history," said Erin Bird with the Denver Botanic Gardens.  

Last year, some of the cuttings were shared with descendants of Camp Amache prisoners. 

Amache Rose CBS

Camp Amache was one of 10 incarceration sites established by the War Relocation Authority during World War II to unjustly incarcerate Japanese Americans.   

The internment camp is gone now, but the roses are a window into how internees lived there. Those in the camp took the high desert landscape and turned it into something more recognizable to them, planting trees and gardens. It was one of the many ways they dealt with being incarcerated.

The roses survived 80 years without care or attention. Until horticulturalists at the Botanic Gardens began propagating the plants which have now bloomed for the first time. Visitors can see the rose plants on the northeast side of the Steppe Garden to the east of a wood bench. A small black plant label identifies the species.


To commemorate the Amache Rose plants blooming, the Denver Botanic Gardens has resumed screening the short film Amache Rose in the Sturm Family Auditorium through Monday, May 27. The screening is included with admission to the Denver Botanic Gardens.

In February, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland formally established the former Amache Internment Camp as a national park

The Town of Granada acquired and donated the land needed to establish the site as a national park. President Biden designated Camp Amache as a national historical site nearly two years ago. Before that, Amache was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on May 18, 1994, and designated a National Historic Landmark on Feb. 10, 2006.  

amache map
Amache was designated a National Historic Site in 2022. CBS

The department said that Amache's building foundations and road alignments are largely intact because they have been preserved by Amache survivors, their families, the Town of Granada, the Amache Preservation Society and other individuals and organizations. Right now there is a cemetery, a monument, concrete building foundations, and a road network. There are also several reconstructed and restored structures from the WWII era including a barrack, recreation hall, guard tower and water tank.   

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