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Finding Solace in the Soil

Book sale at Yanai Classroom (2:30-3pm, 4:30-5pm), Lecture (3-4:30pm), Book signing (4:30-5pm).

Join a lecture from distinguished scholar, Dr. Bonnie Clark, based on her latest book, Finding Solace in the Soil: The Archaeology of Garden and Gardeners at Colorado’s Japanese American Incarceration Camp. Using trailblazing research, Clark explored how gardens bridge people through time and space by centering on the horticultural efforts of wrongly incarcerated Japanese Americans at Amache, a World War II concentration camp in Southeastern Colorado. 

Clark’s lecture will unearth a microcosm through the intertwined relationship of gardens, community, and culture. Beyond a reflection of the past, this lecture will share how Amache’s historical significance is still relevant today.

Copies of Finding Solace in the Soil will be available for purchase in the Yanai Classroom prior to the event’s start, and a book signing will immediately follow Clark’s lecture.

This program is held during Asian American Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage (AANHPI) Month, which is a time to reflect upon and celebrate the remarkable role of the AANHPI community in our nation’s history. Founded in 1963 to heal the wounds of World War II, Portland Japanese Garden is proud to represent this community and exist as a place that can continue to Inspire Harmony and Peace.


Dr. Bonnie Clark is committed to using tangible history – objects, sites, and landscapes—to broaden understanding of our diverse past.  She began her career as a professional archaeologist and now serves as a Professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of Denver (DU), as well as the Curator for Archaeology of the DU Museum of Anthropology. She is the author or editor of numerous publications

including Finding Solace in the Soil: An Archaeology of Gardens and Gardeners at Amache and On the Edge of Purgatory: An Archaeology of Place in Hispanic Colorado.  Dr. Clark leads the DU Amache Project, a community collaboration committed to researching, preserving, and interpreting the physical history of Amache, Colorado’s WWII-era Japanese American internment camp. That work has been highlighted in numerous venues including Archaeology and American Archaeology magazines. In 2011, Dr. Clark’s work was recognized by her peers with the University of Denver’s Teacher/Scholar of the Year award.  


From the University Press of Colorado:

Finding Solace in the Soil tells the largely unknown story of the gardens of Amache, the War Relocation Authority incarceration camp in Colorado. Combining physical evidence with oral histories and archival data and enriched by the personal photographs and memories of former Amache incarcerees, the book describes how gardeners cultivated community in confinement.

Before incarceration, many at Amache had been farmers, gardeners, or nursery workers. Between 1942 and 1945, they applied their horticultural expertise to the difficult high plains landscape of southeastern Colorado. At Amache they worked to form microclimates, reduce blowing sand, grow better food, and achieve stability and preserve community at a time of dehumanizing dispossession. In this book archaeologist Bonnie J. Clark examines botanical data like seeds, garden-related artifacts, and other material evidence found at Amache, as well as oral histories from survivors and archival data including personal letters and government records, to recount how the prisoners of Amache transformed the harsh military setting of the camp into something resembling a town. She discusses the varieties of gardens found at the site, their place within Japanese and Japanese American horticultural traditions, and innovations brought about by the creative use of limited camp resources.

Dr. Clark’s TEDx Mile High talk provides a concise overview of her research on Amache’s gardens: The surprising archaeology of Japanese American internment gardens | Bonnie J. Clark | TEDxMileHigh – YouTube

Finding Solace in the Soil: An Archaeology of Garden and Gardeners at Amache by Dr. Bonnie J. Clark will be sold at the Garden Gift Shop from May 1st through the 29th.