Members of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Board of Directors and special guest during a celebration of the second anniversary of Tuna Canyon’s designation as a historic cultural monument at the SFVJACC in May. From left: Mark Stirdivant, Nancy Kyoko Oda (president), former Los Angeles City Councilmember Richard Alarcon, who nominated the site; Nancy Takayama (treasurer), Dr. Kanji Sahara (first vice president) and Dr. W. Lloyd Hitt (chairman). (Photo by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

The Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition announced on June 18 that it has been selected as the recipient of a $102,190 grant from the National Park Service’s Japanese American Confinement Sites program.

The purpose of the grant program is to teach present and future generations about the injustice of the World War II confinement history and inspire a commitment to equal justice under the law. Successful proposals are chosen through a competitive process that requires applicants to match the grant with $1 of non-federal funds or “in-kind” contribution for every $2 they receive in federal money.

The grant will be used for a museum quality traveling exhibit called “Only the Oaks Remain,” inspired by the mature grove where seven barracks once stood at Tuna Canyon, which processed more than 2,500 Japanese, German and Italian immigrants, as well as Japanese Peruvians forcibly brought to the U.S., from Dec. 16, 1941, days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Most of the men who were arrested were fishermen, Buddhist and Shinto priests, martial arts instructors, and leaders of community organizations, such as Japanese language schools.

Minoru Tonai

This diverse population of internees, deprived of their possessions, torn from their communities, and denied individual freedoms, were among the very first to be apprehended after the outbreak of World War II. It is only now that the complete history and unacknowledged testaments of Tuna Canyon are being documented by a coalition representing the internees and their descendants

The award will be used to provide a wide audience the facts that led up to signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Feb. 19, 1942, which authorized the unjust incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans in American concentration camps, including women and children, after the outbreak of the war with Japan.

“We are fortunate that David Scott, grandson of Merrill H. Scott, called one day to say that he had photos that he wanted to show us,” said Lloyd Hitt of the Little Landers Historical Society and now chairman of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition. “There are more than 52 pictures taken by the officer in charge that shows how the site changed from a Civilian Conservation Corps camp into a detention station with 12-foot-high fences with armed guards within a week.”

“The vision to raise awareness about this little-known detention station that is just a few miles outside of City Hall will become a reality,” said Nancy Oda, president of the coalition and former president of the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, sponsor of the proposal.

“We are proud to receive this generous grant and thankful that the National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites grant committee values the work of a small group of thoughtful citizens,” says Dr. Kanji Sahara, project director.

The mission of the SFVJACC is to preserve Japanese and Japanese American history through education, events, and activities for the community. It is located near Tujunga and participated in Tuna Canyon’s struggle to become a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument.

Event in Little Tokyo

The Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition invites the community to the first Tuna Canyon Benefit Luncheon fundraiser in Little Tokyo. Nishi Hongwanji Los Angeles Betsuin, 815 E. First St., will open its doors to welcome TCDS guests from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29. Parking is available on site.

The luncheon will highlight the story of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station. As the NPS grant requires matching funds, the coalition must raise over $50,000 to be able to accept this award. Major sponsorships and attendance at the luncheon will help raise the necessary funds to preserve the stories of Tuna Canyon and other wartime detention stations.

Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent of the law, excluding the meal value. TCDS Coalition is an educational nonprofit charity, Tax ID # 47-995062.

The luncheon will honor Hitt, a TCDS Coalition founding member, and Minoru Tonai, president of the Terminal Islanders and the Amache Historical Society. Hitt is a former director of the Little Landers Historical Society, a research scholar and a historian. Tonai served on the Japanese American Studies Chair Committee and the UCLA Foundation Board of Trustees.

Dan Kuramoto, June Kuramoto, and Kimo Cornwell of Hiroshima will provide their soothing East-meets-West sounds, whose depth, heart, and soul will remind you of the oaks that remain. Lunch will be catered by Cherrystones. Tables are filling up, so make your reservations early.

Individual tickets are $60 regular, $50 for seniors. Sponsorship categories for tables of 10 and an ad in the luncheon booklet are Bronze ($1,500), Silver ($2,500), Gold ($5,000) and Platinum ($10,000). Non-sponsors can also place ads, which range from $50 to $500.

For more information on the event, contact Nancy Oda at (818) 935-2603 or

The TCDS Coalition is dedicated to education and to raising public awarenes about the detention that was a violation of civil liberties and to the continuing struggle of all peoples. It plays a key role in the development of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Memorial at 6433 La Tuna Canyon in Tujunga. For more information, visit


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