“Only the Oaks Remain: The Tuna Canyon Detention Station Traveling Exhibit” will be a museum-quality traveling exhibition which tells the largely untold story of the Japanese, German, Italian, and Japanese Peruvian detainees at the Tuna Canyon Detention Station in Tujunga, a community that is part of the City Los Angeles. With funds from the National Park Service’s Japanese American Confinement Sites grant program, we will design and construct an exhibit which can be set up, taken down, and stored in packing cases to be shipped to museums along the Pacific Coast and elsewhere. In doing so, we will finally tell the complete story of Tuna Canyon and those people who were among the very first to be confined at the outbreak of World War II.
We are fortunate to have over fifty photographs taken by Tuna Canyon Officer-in-Charge, Merrill Scott, who took them in the belief that they would provide a pictorial record of an important chapter in American history. These photos will show what Tuna Canyon looked like and reveal what life was like inside the camp. Documents, including reports, letters, and memos by government officials will also play an important part in telling the Tuna Canyon story. As part of the grant, we will send a researcher to the National Archives in Washington D.C. to search for relevant documents.
Newspapers will also play a vital roll in the exhibit because they show what the public was told. A search of the Los Angeles Times, Herald Examiner, and other newspapers will be made to locate articles on Tuna Canyon. A list of the names of the more than 2,000 detainees will be displayed on six large standing scrolls. Video interviews with the children of those confined at Tuna Canyon will be shown. A diorama and model of the camp will be constructed based on historic photographs and will show “Visitation Day” with some 20 detainees on the inside of the fence and 200 friends and family members on the outside.
Brief biographies of several Tuna Canyon detainees – a Terminal Island fisherman, a Buddhist priest, a martial arts instructor, a German immigrant and a Japanese Peruvian – will be exhibited to show the type of “enemy alien” the U.S. government felt was a threat. An exact duplicate of the plaque that will be installed at the Tuna Canyon site will be displayed. Through drawings, plans, and pictures we will also describe the memorial that we one day hope to build at Tuna Canyon. And finally, we will include a printed pamphlet that will help the visitor navigate the exhibit. Tying all this together will be a narrative displayed on interpretive panels which will tell the story of Tuna Canyon, a story which up until recently has been largely untold, but now will never be forgotten.
TCDS was also awarded the Aratani C.A.R.E. grant, which will be used to train university interns in leadership, verbal communication, and multimedia production to increase younger advocates for the