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Fresno To Gila River - One Reporter’s Experience At The Former Gila River Internment Camp

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This 1944 photo shows the Gila River monument to Japanese Americans as it was originally built. It has since deteriorated, with the names gone, but the main structure remains.

This year is the 78th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066. That’s the order that sent Japanese Americans to internment camps in 1942. Many Japanese Americans in Fresno County were sent to the Gila River Indian Community in the Arizona desert, including local baseball legend Kenichi Zenimura. Reporter Laura Tsutsui traveled to the former site of the camp to report on Zenimura’s legacy. 


Listen to the interview above to hear more about the connection between Japanese Americans from the San Joaquin Valley and the camps.

Credit Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio
Valley Public Radio
At the Gila River monument, artist and peach farmer Nikiko Masumoto brought photos and stones from Fresno residents who couldn't make the trip, with the intention of returning them and sharing the experience back home.

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.