Guards' office at the Tuna Canyon Detention Station. (Photo courtesy of David Merrill)
Guards’ office at the Tuna Canyon Detention Station. (Photo courtesy of David Merrill)

On June 25, 2013, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously supported a motion to declare the former site of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station in Tujunga as Historic Cultural Monument 1039.

To mark the first anniversary of this designation, the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition will hold a potluck lunch on Wednesday, June 25, at 11 a.m. at the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, 12953 Branford St. in Pacoima. Guest speaker Kanji Sahara will talk about the 1913 Alien Land Law.

Beginning in 2006, Dr. Lloyd Hitt and Paul Tsuneishi began a quest to learn about the Tuna Canyon Detention Station. Initially they received few responses. Undaunted, they persevered, and they have inspired local activists and Asian American scholars, who have begun to make Tuna Canyon Detention Station’s history widely known.

Beginning in the days following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Department of Justice imprisoned Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants, Japanese from Peru, and others suspected of being “dangerous enemy aliens.”

It is painful for the grandchildren of Nobue Nishii to think of her plight during that turbulent time as she spoke no English and was stranded on Terminal Island with two little children when her husband, a Buddhist priest, was arrested by the FBI. Despite the hardship she endured, she became an American citizen at age 90. When the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 was passed, it restored her belief in America.

The TCDS Coalition, which includes Nishii’s grandsons, extends an invitation to all to celebrate June 25 as the day the City of Los Angeles acknowledged TCDS, its history and its lessons.

RSVP to or call Nancy Oda at (818) 935-2603.

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