July 1, 2010

We came across an article worth sharing: “Reconnecting to Father’s ‘Mistake’ as Fort Missoula Commandant,” in the Missoulian newspaper tells how the daughter of the immigration officer in charge of the Fort Missoula internment camp returns to examine his office and papers.

Christine Collaer Kite, now a history teacher, was a kindergartner when her father, Nick Collaer, assumed command of the confinement site for over 1,000 Japanese “enemy aliens” arrested after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fort Missoula, in western Montana, also held Italian sailors captured in U.S. waters. Nick Collaer was a busy man, as he also managed the Fort Lincoln internment camp in North Dakota.

While Christine Kite’s father defended the internment of Japanese immigrants throughout his life, in his old age he admitted it was “a mistake.” Kite examines her father’s papers with University of Montana journalism professor Carol Van Valkenburg, author of An Alien Place: Fort Missoula, Montana, Detention Camp, 1941-1944.