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Where EAST meets the Northwest

DETENTION AT TUNA CANYON. "Only the Oaks Remain: The Story of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station," an exhibit that tells the true stories of people who were targeted as dangerous enemy aliens and imprisoned by the U.S. Department of Justice during World War II at the Tuna Canyon Detention Station in the Tujunga neighborhood of Los Angeles, is on view at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center through January 8. (Photos courtesy of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition)

From The Asian Reporter, V27, #21 (November 6, 2017), page 11.

"Only the Oaks Remain" on view at ONLC through January 8

"Only the Oaks Remain: The Story of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station" is currently on view at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in northwest Portland. The exhibit tells the true stories of those targeted as dangerous enemy aliens and imprisoned in the Tuna Canyon Detention Station, located in the Tujunga neighborhood of Los Angeles, by the U.S. Department of Justice during World War II. Rare artifacts such as photographs, letters, and diaries bring the experiences of prisoners — who included Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants as well as extradited Japanese Peruvians — to life.

During the decade before World War II, the U.S. government compiled lists of people they saw as potential risks to national security. When the war began, Presidential Proclamations 2525, 2526, and 2527 authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other agencies to arrest such individuals — mostly spiritual, educational, business, and community leaders from the Japanese, German, and Italian immigrant communities. The government also rounded up Japanese people and other individuals who had previously been forcibly removed from Latin America.

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Department of Justice took over a vacated Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the Tujunga neighborhood and converted it into a detention station by installing 12-foot-high barbed-wire fences, guard posts, and flood lights. The detention station became one of many initial confinement sites set up by the government.

Targeted individuals were quickly arrested in their homes, leaving behind confused and frightened families. Most detainees were later sent to Department of Justice or Army internment camps.

"Only the Oaks Remain" commemorates the history of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station and seeks to educate the public about the violation of civil rights that occurred. The exhibit features photographs, letters, diaries, interviews, declassified government documents, and other items that serve to illuminate a largely untold story that goes beyond the more widely-known story of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans.

By taking an unprecedented look at the war’s impact on a disparate group of detainees and examining striking similarities as well as differences among them, the display encourages present and future generations to learn from our nation’s mistakes.

"Only the Oaks Remain" is organized by the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness about the site’s history. It is working to develop a permanent Tuna Canyon Detention Station Memorial, which will include a plaque and educational posts installed along a walking path lined with mature oak trees.

The exhibit, held at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, located at 121 N.W. Second Avenue in Portland, is on view through January 8. To learn more, call (503) 224-1458, or visit <www.oregonnikkei.org> or <www.tunacanyon.org>.

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