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Tuna Canyon Exhibit at Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Visitors at Tuna Canyon Detention Station in Tujunga.

SANTA BARBARA — “Only the Oaks Remain: The Story of Tuna Canyon Detention Station” will be on view from Feb. 1 to May 27 at the Santa Barbara History Museum, 136 E. De la Guerra in Santa Barbara.

It will be shown concurrently with “Displaced: The Detention and Internment of Santa Barbarans During WWII.”

“Only the Oaks Remain” 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. Photographs, letters, and diaries bring the experiences of prisoners — who included Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants and Japanese Peruvians — to life.

During the decade before the war, the U.S. government compiled lists of people seen as potential risks to national security. When the war began, Presidential Proclamations 2525, 2526, and 2527 authorized the 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 and other individuals who had previously been forcibly removed from Latin America.

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the Department of Justice took over a vacated Civilian Conservation Corps camp and converted it into a detention station by installing 12-foot-high barbed-wire fences, guard posts, and floodlights. The Tuna Canyon 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 DOJ or Army internment camps.

An opening event will be held Thursday, Feb. 1, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., featuring drumming by Togen Daiko and a classical Japanese dance performance by Nancy Teramura Hayata.

Upcoming programs in conjunction with the exhibits:

• “The Road to Tuna Canyon” on Thursday, Feb. 22, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Dr. Sigrid Toye, daughter of a Tuna Canyon detainee, will provide a brief overview of U.S. detention during the world wars of the 20th century, and the existing law upon which they are based. The talk will include personal reflections on the label “alien enemies,” Tuna Canyon and other detention facilities. The Tuna Canyon experience, as both fact and metaphor, will be viewed in relationship to the world climate of today.

Toye holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. She loves all things creative: the visual arts, drama, filmmaking, writing and her two grown children, both working artists. She currently writes for Voice Magazine.

$15 for members; $20 for guests. Wine reception to follow. Reservations required.

• “The Untold Story of Incarceration and Hysteria in Los Angeles’ Backyard” on Wednesday, March 28, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Using historical images and oral histories, this talk shares the largely unknown story of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station. Quietly closed towards the end of the war, its history is now fully coming to light as descendants, civil rights activists, educators, and others are fighting to memorialize the camp’s former grounds.

Guest speaker Dr. John-Paul deGuzman is a historian of 20th-century America and focuses on race, migration, and urban development. He was part of an early group of supporters who successfully advocated for one acre of land in the Sunland-Tujunga area, where the Tuna Canyon camp once sat, to be added to the L.A. City Register of Historic-Cultural Monuments. He has taught at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Long Beach. He is currently a member of the faculty of the Department of History at Windward School in Mar Vista.

Free for members, $5 for guests. Reservations required.

Museum hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m.; closed Monday and holidays. For more information, call (805) 966-1601 or visit

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