The Colorado River is located approximately three miles from Poston, which was established on the Colorado River Indian Reservation, against the wishes of the Tribal Council. The Tribal Council was overruled by the Office of Indian Affairs and the army. Today, the Colorado River
Indian Tribes is comprised of four tribes, the Mohave, Chemehuevi,
Hopi, and Navajo.
Poston included three separate camps and had a peak
population of 17,814, the majority U.S. citizens from Southern California. It was
Arizona's third largest city at the time and the second largest confinement center of the war. A single fence surrounded the entire camp, with a separate area outside the fence for army guards' barracks.
The barracks that served as living quarters had no cooling systems, the dark tar paper walls only absorbing more
heat. As people arrived in the desert in May 1942, the temperatures were well above
100 degrees. There were fatalities due to heat stroke and lack of health facilities.
After traveling for a day or more by bus to Poston, each adult was required to answer questions
about their occupation, proceed to
fingerprinting, then off to another barrack to stand in line for a
housing assignment, and after that a physical
examination. Only after all this, were families loaded into trucks and
driven to their barrack.
space allotted to each family in a barrack was a 20 by 25-foot barren
room, with four family
apartments in each barrack divided by hanging cloth
each person, there was one Army cot, one blanket, and one piece of
cloth for a mattress, which they had to fill with hay.
The Poston Elementary School complex included 13 adobe school buildings
constructed in 1943 and designed by Yoshisaku Hirose, a Japanese-born
architect. The school contained a wood shop, an auditorium, a craft and supply
building, a school office, a library, eight classroom buildings, and a
network of concrete sidewalks with canopies.
The majority of the 1,900 camp structures were removed after Poston closed in November 1945 and the land was returned to
the Colorado River Indian Tribes. Today, most of the land around the relocation center is irrigated farm
fields. The Poston Memorial Monument
was built in 1992, on tribal land with tribal support.
Restoration of specific camp features by the Poston Restoration Project is ongoing, with a stated mission to restore the Camp 1
school auditorium, classrooms and barracks as living museums to exhibit
the personal stories and archival items for visitors and researchers.
A pilgrimage of families incarcerated at Poston was held in April 2018, with an official welcome by the Colorado River Indian Tribes.