The following is a press release from the Los Angeles City Council; the Manzanar Committee called on the City Council to Declare the Tuna Canyon site as a Historic-Cultural Monument on June 8, 2013. See our statement, Manzanar Committee Calls On Los Angeles City Council To Designate Site of Tuna Canyon Detention Station As A Historic-Cultural Monument.
LOS ANGELES — On June 25, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously supported an amending motion, introduced by Councilmember Richard Alarcon and seconded by Councilmember Mitch Englander, to declare an approximately one acre size oak grove on the location of the former World War II Tuna Canyon Detention Facility as a Historic-Cultural Monument. This location was used as an internment camp for Japanese, German and Italian Americans during World War II.
“The Tuna Canyon Detention Station is an important piece of our history in the Northeast San Fernando Valley and a reminder of some of our darkest times as a community, nation and world,” said Councilmember Alarcon. “Declaring the Tuna Canyon Detention Station as a Historic-Cultural Monument allows us to protect this important piece of our history, and give us the opportunity to continue to learn from our past mistakes and preserve this lesson for generations to come. I thank the City Council for their support of my motion and the community for their strong activism to support this designation.”
The City Council approved several actions today, including the declaration of the oak grove as a Historic-Cultural Monument, adopting findings regarding this designation and the historical significance of the location and instructing the Department of Planning to convene the Historic Tuna Canyon Detention Station Working Group, to be chaired by the Councilmember of the Seventh District, and consisting of the property owner and representative, experts or historians from the Japanese American community and community stakeholders.
The Working Group is tasked with exploring appropriate ways to commemorate the historical and cultural significance of the site and strategies to secure resources for display/signage, with a request to present findings and recommendations to the City Council within 60 days.
Lloyd Hitt, Past President of the Little Landers Historical Society and a Sunland-Tujunga resident since 1946, said, “I absolutely support Councilmember Alarcon’s effort to protect the site of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station as a historic monument. The historic significance of this site cannot be overstated and preserving the area would be a positive statement that reflects both our community and the families of those whose fathers passed through the Tuna Canyon Detention Station.”
The historical significance of the Tuna Canyon location came to light with a recent release of records at the National Archives and Records Center at Laguna Niguel, which revealed for the first time that there were two detention located Los Angeles-area centers following the attack on Pearl Harbor. At the outset of World War II, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service took over the former Civilian Conservation Corps camp, which opened in 1933 at 6330 Tujunga Canyon Boulevard, and transformed it into the Tuna Canyon Detention Station–a barbed wire enclosure with lights and armed troops to receive individuals considered “enemy aliens” who had been taken into custody by the FBI on December 16, 1941.
Thereafter, the Tuna Canyon Detention Station operated as a gateway to internment for civilians of Japanese, Japanese Peruvian, Italian and German descent. From its opening until May 1942, 1,490 Japanese males passed through the camp and were transferred to other internment camps in Fort Missoula, Montana, Fort Lincoln, North Dakota and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The camp, which included seven barracks, an infirmary, mess hall, and office buildings, could hold up to 300 people at once and processed more than 2,500 individuals in total. Today’s vote to support the historic designation allows this history to be remembered and the Working Group to determine an appropriate display to commemorate this unfortunate piece of our history.
LEAD PHOTO: Overhead view of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station. Photo: M.H. Scott, Officer In Charge, Tuna Canyon Detention Station
Courtesy David Scott and the Little Landers Historical Society.
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