Tuna Canyon Detention Center Purification Ceremony


A Shinto purification ceremony was held Monday, Dec 16th, at an oak grove that marks the site of the Tuna Canyon Detention Center.

On Dec 16, 1941, the Immigration and Naturalization Service took over the former Civilian Conservation Corps camp and used it to hold Japanese, German and Italian immigrants who had been arrested after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Japanese Peruvians who had been rounded up and brought to the U.S. were also interned at Tuna Canyon, which remained in operation until October 1942. The prisoners were sent to other Justice Department camps or the War Relocation Authority camps. Over 2, 500 men were held there in groups of 300 at a time.

The camp buildings were razed more than 50 years ago to make way for the Verdugo Hills Golf Course. The Los Angeles City Council has designated the area around the grove as a historic-cultural monument as the trees date back to World War II. The property owner, Snowball West Investments, says it wants to preserve the site’s history, but is opposed to the landmark designation because it would impose restrictions on development.

The purification rite was conducted by Re. Dr. Yoshi Alfred Tsuyuki of Konko Church, whose father was among those interned at Tuna Canyon.

“Today upon the 72nd anniversary of this former detention station, may its historical significance be transmitted to the children of this generation and their children’s children to learn about how the United States of America goes about right injustices placed upon their own citizens,: said Tsuyuki. It should be our purpose to see that this and other sites, set apart from time to time, remain undifiled in fact as well as ideal.”

There was a representative from the German community; Hans Eberhard and Mariana Gatto represented the Italian community.
At a reception held after the ceremony at the SFVJACC in Pacoima, attendees sang “Silent Night” in English, Japanese, German, Italian and Spanish to show solidarity.

SnowballWest has filed a suit against the city to have the historic-cultural landmark designation rescinded.