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A Collective Memory (Ka Hokuwelowelo)

Anwei Skinsnes Law

Publication Year: 2012

Between 1866 and 1969, an estimated 8,000 individuals—at least 90 percent of whom were Native Hawaiians—were sent to Molokai’s remote Kalaupapa peninsula because they were believed to have leprosy. Unwilling to accept the loss of their families, homes, and citizenship, these individuals ensured they would be accorded their rightful place in history. They left a powerful testimony of their lives in the form of letters, petitions, music, memoirs, and oral history interviews. Kalaupapa combines more than 200 hours of interviews with archival documents, including over 300 letters and petitions written by the earliest residents translated from Hawaiian.

It has long been assumed that those sent to Kalaupapa were unconcerned with the world they were forced to leave behind. The present work shows that residents remained actively interested and involved in life beyond Kalaupapa. They petitioned the Hawaii Legislative Assembly in 1874, seeking justice. They fervently supported Queen Liliuokalani and the Hawaiian Kingdom prior to annexation and contributed to the relief effort in Europe following World War I. In 1997 Kalaupapa residents advocated at the United Nations together with people affected by leprosy from around the world.

This book presents at long last the story of Kalaupapa as told by its people.

295 illus.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vi-viii

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pp. ix-x

The question of who we are or what we are comes from our life at Kalaupapa. All of us deserve the opportunity that we have earned over the years to tell our story. The idea is that the stories I tell to people, they mean a lot to me. My story is the story that connects my life. It goes back to the day I was admitted as a patient. I was six and a half...

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pp. xi-xxi

On November 11, 1902, Haumea Kaaumoana posed for the standard photo at Kalihi Hospital, designed to show the physical effects of leprosy on an individual. Rather than cross her arms in front of her chest in the usual manner required to show the condition of her hands, Haumea held her guitar.1 Through this simple action, she refused...

Part I. What Shall Be Done? (1866–1883)

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Chapter 1. Perhaps They Are Just Left There: The First Twelve People Arrive at Kalawao

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pp. 3-14

On January 6, 1866, J. N. Loe boarded the small sailing schooner Warwick, bound for the north shore of the island of Molokai. With him were eight men, three women, and a small boy whom they hid in their midst.1 Loe, Kahauliko, Liilii, Puha, Kini, Lono, Waipio, Kainana, Kaaumoana, Nahuina,2 Lakapu, and Kepihe were the first of an estimated eight...

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Chapter 2. The Thoughts of the Hawaiian Family Have Been Aroused: Two Cultural Responses to Leprosy

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pp. 15-26

In the 1860s, when leprosy began to spread rapidly in Hawaii, other diseases had already devastated the Native Hawaiian population.1 A series of epidemics during the last four months of 1848, including measles, whooping cough, and influenza, resulted in as many as ten thousand deaths, especially among infants.2 The first Board of Health was established...

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Chapter 3. Not of the Hawaiian Culture: The Onset of Starvation and Political Activism

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pp. 27-40

By the beginning of June 1866, eighty-seven people had been sent to Kalawao, and it was becoming clear that there would be no return from this place. J. N. Loe died on July 20, 1866, the first of the original group of twelve people to die at Kalawao. He was preceded in death by nine men and one woman. The first was a man named Kaanaana, who apparently...

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Chapter 4. Siloam’s Healing Pool: Early Leadership at Kalawao

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pp. 41-52

The question of leadership at Kalawao was always one of the most difficult. There were the government-appointed administrators and there were the leaders of the people themselves. Sometimes they were the same person, but usually they were not. In the early years of Kalawao’s existence, the names Louis Lepart and Donald and Caroline Walsh represented...

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Chapter 5. Misfortune and Great Sorrow Has Beset Me: William Humphreys Uwelealea

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pp. 53-62

William Humphreys Uwelealea was one of the first people of Hawaiian-Caucasian ancestry to be suspected of having leprosy. Initially sent to Kalihi Hospitalin 1866, he was not permanently admitted until two years later. At that time he sent the above letter outlining his concerns for his family to Dr. Hutchison through David Kalakaua...

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Chapter 6. With Heaviness of Mind: Jonathan Hawaii Napela

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pp. 63-72

Close to five hundred families were separated in 1873 as a result of the government’s heightened efforts to enforce the isolation of people with leprosy.1 William Charles Lunalilo ascended the throne in January 1873, following the death of King Kamehameha V and a new Board of Health was appointed. In March, Rudolph Meyer indicated that...

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Chapter 7. His Dying Words Were “A Little Poi”: Peter Young Kaeo

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pp. 73-86

Peter Kaeo arrived at Kalaupapa on June 30, 1873, just two weeks after William Ragsdale. At least 122 letters were sent between Peter Kaeo, who signed his letters Kekuaokalani, and his cousin, Queen Emma. Published in the book News from Molokai,1 these letters provide a detailed commentary on life at Kalaupapa during his three years there. Although...

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Chapter 8. You Could Not Wish for Better People: The Arrival of Father Damien

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pp. 87-100

Father Damien de Veuster arrived at Kalaupapa on May 10, 1873, less than two weeks after Jonathan Napela. Ordained at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in Honolulu in 1864, he had been in Hawaii for nine years, working in the parishes of Puna, Kohala, and Hamakua on the Big Island of Hawaii. Ambrose Hutchison, who would become one of his closest...

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Chapter 9. Steaming Hot Coffee: Ambrose Kanewalii Hutchison

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pp. 101-114

Ambrose Hutchison was the 2,001st person to be sent to Kalawao. He arrived on January 5, 1879, a young man of twenty, who soon demonstrated his “moral compass.” Highly respected as a steady, consistent, and influential leader, he would occupy the position of resident superintendent for a total of more than ten years, longer than any other individual...

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Chapter 10. Damien with the Sparkling Eyes: Music, Kindness, Celebration

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pp. 115-126

At Kalawao, people experienced tremendous difficulty, but they also managed to go on with life, encouraged and inspired by each other. With Father Damien’s arrival there was now someone with good health, boundless energy, and a host of new ideas who would provide a sense of continuity in an environment that had traditionally been characterized by change...

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Chapter 11. A Different Circle: Mother Marianne Cope and the Sisters of St. Francis

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pp. 127-137

The Kalihi Hospital had been abandoned in 1875 and replaced in function by a leprosy “detention station,” which was located next to the police station. At that time, no treatment was offered and people were simply locked up until the next boat was ready to leave. In discussing the establishment of a branch hospital at Kakaako, the Board of Health noted...

Part II. What Is Proper and Just? (1884–1901)

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Chapter 12. “Kaumaha Nohoi” (Deep Sorrow): Queen Kapiolani Visits Kalaupapa

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pp. 141-152

In July 1884, Queen Kapiolani’s great desire to visit her people at Kalawao and Kalaupapa was realized. On July 19, the queen, together with Princess Liliuokalani and her husband Governor John Dominis, Dr. Eduard Arning, and others, visited the settlement. Ambrose Hutchison, the newly appointed resident superintendent of the settlement...

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Chapter 13. Indignity Keenly Felt by All: Experience in the Lahaina Prison

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pp. 153-160

Ambrose Hutchison was the twenty-seven-year-old superintendent of the settlement at the time of the tragedy and ensuing trial of Momona and Lohiau, to which he was summoned as a witness. His account reveals not only the tragedy (his own brother-in-law and his brother-in-law’s uncle were the two men who were killed) but his able handling...

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Chapter 14. I Am Not Guilty: Keanu and Dr. Arning

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pp. 161-168

In his detailed history of leprosy in Hawaii, Dr. Arthur A. Mouritz, resident physician at Kalawao from 1884 to 1887, wrote that “two events connected with the history of leprosy caused the eyes of the world to become focused on Hawaii, gave these islands prominent and unenviable notoriety, and caused them to be regarded as a focus of endemic...

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Chapter 15. “We Will Take Care of Him”: Father Damien Is Diagnosed with Leprosy

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pp. 169-178

The trip to Lahaina to serve as a witness for the trial of Momona and Lohiau was Father Damien’s final unrestricted “visit to the outer world.”1 By this time, it was well known by many members of the Catholic Church, Drs. Mouritz, Arning, and others, that he had leprosy. Ambrose Hutchison recalled the day that Father Damien returned from a visit...

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Chapter 16. Ways That Are a Little Exceptional: Joseph Dutton and Father Conrardy

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pp. 179-188

Joseph Dutton, age forty-three, arrived at Kalaupapa in the early afternoon of July 29, 1886. For the next forty-four years, he did not leave the peninsula, seeking to do penance for what he referred to as a “degenerate decade” in his life. A few days earlier, Bishop Koeckemann had written to Father Damien about Dutton, with whom he had been favorably...

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Chapter 17. Seriously Consider What Is Proper and Just: Effects of the Bayonet Constitution

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pp. 189-198

The evolution of Kakaako into a real hospital by the mid-1880s, resulting from the combined efforts of the king and queen, Mother Marianne, the Sisters, and Walter Murray Gibson, reflected a kinder, gentler, and in many ways more rational approach to dealing with leprosy. In 1884, an act to amend the Penal Code was passed that authorized...

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Chapter 18. Kapoli Brought Flowers: Kapoli Kamakau

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pp. 199-212

Kapoli Kamakau was a woman of great warmth, a loyal friend and companion whose presence graced the lives of those around her. She was also a gifted composer. “Ahe Lau Makani” (“There Is a Breath”), a beautiful waltz, was composed in 1868 by Princess Liliuokalani, her sister Princess Miriam Likelike, and Lizzie Kapoli, who would have been...

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Chapter 19. Nunc Dimittis: The Death of Father Damien

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pp. 213-224

Shortly after Christmas, Father Damien visited the Bishop Home for the last time. He commented on the girls in their pretty blue dresses with red ribbons and how they had never had anything so nice in the settlement prior to the Sisters’ coming.1 He had finished his church and was at peace. On February 19, 1889, he wrote his last letter to his brother...

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Chapter 20. Unforgotten in Our Hearts: Kaluaikoolau, Piilani, and Kaleimanu

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pp. 225-236

By 1890, Hawaii’s isolation policy, which was supposed to have curtailed the spread of the disease within a short period of time, had been in effect for twenty-four years and the number of individuals with leprosy at Kalawao and Kalaupapa hit a peak of 1,213. In 1890, the Board of Health Report blamed politics and inconsistency for the leprosy situation.1 The...

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Chapter 21. We, Your Nation of People, Will Survive: Queen Liliuokalani and the Hawaiian Kingdom

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pp. 237-250

About two weeks after Queen Liliuokalani ascended the throne in January 1891, she wrote to Rudolph Meyer asking that Mrs. Keohohiwa Miau be allowed to come to Honolulu. Mrs. Miau was a mea kokua for her husband, Judge Miau, who had been sent to Kalaupapa in 1889. The queen told Meyer that she wished to confer with Mrs. Miau about many...

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Chapter 22. The Soul of This Land: Robert Kaaoao and Thomas Nakanaela

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pp. 251-264

On July 4, 1894, the Republic of Hawaii was established with Sanford B. Dole, a former advisor to Queen Liliuokalani, as its first president and William O. Smith as attorney general. Four months later, a notice was posted at Kalaupapa stating that all remaining kamaaina must leave within two months or face possible confiscation of their land. This notice...

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Chapter 23. It Is in Your Power to Make All Things Right: The Quest for Self-Government

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pp. 265-277

On the evening of January 11, 1901, a meeting was held at Kalaupapa to discuss the “state of affairs,” which primarily concerned the lack of poi. Robert Kaaoao, Andrew Auld, James Harvest, W. K. Makakoa, and J. H. Kailimai were appointed as a committee to bring the problem to the attention of the Board of Health. Their concerns were outlined in a petition...

Part III. From Generation to Generation (1902–1929)

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Chapter 24. Entitled to Every Consideration: Mr. McVeigh and Dr. Goodhue

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pp. 281-296

Three weeks after he became superintendent of Kalaupapa in April 1902, Jack McVeigh wrote that three baseball teams were practicing and a series of Kalaupapa League games had been scheduled with a $20 prize for the winning team. Six weeks after arriving at Kalaupapa, he commented to J. S. B. Pratt, president of the Board of Health, “Everything...

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Chapter 25. The Fourth of July, 1907: Jack and Charmian London Visit Kalaupapa

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pp. 297-312

On July 1, 1907, Elizabeth Thielemann posed for the standard photograph at Kalihi Hospital, with her arms crossed over her chest to show the condition of her hands. Later that day she would board the inter island steamer that would take her to Kalaupapa. At 5 o’clock in the afternoon that same day, Jack and Charmian London boarded the Noeau, which then...

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Chapter 26. No Place to Honor This Man: Elemakule Pa and the Federal Hospital

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pp. 313-328

The U.S. census for 1910 indicates that Elemakule Pa was the “head” of the household of “patients” at the U.S. Leprosy Investigation Station, better known as the Federal Hospital, at Kalawao. His father, Haalipo Pa, had died at Kakaako Hospital, and he himself had worked for three years as an attendant for the people with leprosy that Dr. Milton...

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Chapter 27. We Called It Ohana: The Bishop Home

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pp. 329-338

Eighty years before Dame Cicely Saunders launched the modern hospice movement, Mother Marianne initiated the philosophy of hospice at Kalaupapa. No one was deemed “hopeless,” the inherent value of each individual was recognized, and people were given the opportunity to help each other no matter what their own difficulties might be. The...

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Chapter 28. “O Makalapua”: The Death of Mother Marianne

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pp. 339-346

Shortly after arriving at Kalaupapa, Mother Marianne wrote to Mother Bernardina Dorn in Syracuse: “The thought of the great distance between us makes my heart heavy and sad—Will I ever see those whom I love again? . . . My poor heart is all too sensitive and feels deeply and keenly the pain of separation from the loved ones and from...

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Chapter 29. From Generation to Generation: David Kupele and Ben Pea

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pp. 347-362

David Ono Kupele was born in 1897, just three years after his mother Maria Keoo had been returned from Kalaupapa, reportedly cured by Dr. Goto’s bath treatment. At the age of six he knew that his father was in hiding since his mother told him never to tell anyone where he was: “I would ask, ‘When is he going to come home?’ ‘No, he cannot come home...

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Chapter 30. Chaulmoogra Oil—Hawaii’s Message of Renewed Life: Alice Kamaka and Rosalie Blaisdell

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pp. 363-372

On June 29, 1919, a skinny little thirteen-year-old girl arrived at Kalaupapa with a package of bread and hard-boiled eggs from her brother and a yellow umbrella from her mother under her arm. With an indomitable spirit, Alice Chang headed off to the Bishop Home and into history as the person who would likely live at Kalaupapa longer than any...

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Chapter 31. A Blending of Souls: Tandy MacKenzie, Adeline Bolster, and Maria von Trapp

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pp. 373-380

Tandy Mackenzie, the Hawaiian-Scottish tenor whom some called “the second Caruso,”was the first professional entertainer to visit Kalaupapa. He returned to Hawaii for a visit in 1922, his first in ten years. When the people of Kalaupapa heard of his return, they collected $180, which they sent to him with an invitation to come and give a concert. He...

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Chapter 32. Every Night We Have Music: John Cambra, Kenso Seki, and the Baldwin Home

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pp. 381-392

The names John Cambra and Kenso Seki are synonymous with the Baldwin Home. They were members of the last generation to live at Kalawao, to know Joseph Dutton personally, and to use Father Damien’s church on a daily basis. More than sixty years after his arrival at the Baldwin Home, John would walk through the graveyard alongside Father...

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Chapter 33. The Suffering Was on Both Sides of the Fence: “Fence-Jumping” at Kalihi Hospital

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pp. 393-401

Minerva Hussey was first admitted to Kalihi in September 1923 at the age of ten. She was reexamined and discharged the next year, with instructions to report each week for observation by the government physician in her district. In the late 1920s, intensified follow-up of those who had been discharged sent Cecil Kiilehua, the agent of the Board of Health...

Part IV. A Time of Evolution (1930–1945)

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Chapter 34. A Union of Cooperation: Wilhelmina Cooke Carlson and Minerva Ramos

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pp. 405-412

R. L. “Doc” Cooke was appointed superintendent of Kalaupapa in 1925, succeeding Mr. McVeigh, and would remain in this position until his untimely death in 1939. “Doc” Cooke was well liked. He had brought the radio to Kalaupapa in 1925, having successfully overcome some problems that had baffled everyone else. He also learned to speak...

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Chapter 35. Another Good Man: The Memoirs of Ambrose Hutchison

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pp. 413-424

In 1932, the year of his death, Ambrose Hutchison had been at Kalaupapa for more than fifty-three years. Throughout his half century at Kalaupapa, Ambrose remained extremely close to his brother William and also to his sister Christina. William’s life was quite different from Ambrose’s. He had eleven children, the first of whom he named Ambrose...

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Chapter 36. Suddenly the Whole World Changed: Twenty Stories of Separation

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pp. 425-436

William Malo: “The ‘bounty hunter’ at that time came to the house down at Laie and got my tutu-man, my step-grandfather, and reported him to the health department. She came to pick him up. My tutu-lady and I said goodbye to him and he walked away from the house and we watched him walk until he was down to the highway—he was taken away never...

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Chapter 37. So Friendly: Pearl Harbor and Life at Kalaupapa

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pp. 437-451

In the 1920s and 1930s, there was a conscious effort made to keep children at Kalihi Hospital so that they could receive an education. In 1941, promin was discovered as a cure for leprosy at the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in Carville, Louisiana, and was producing dramatic results. Although promin would not be introduced to Hawaii until 1946...

Part V. To See This Place Stay Sacred (1946–present)

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Chapter 38. Always This Line of Separation: A Cure, Barriers, and Lawrence Judd

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pp. 455-470

Bernard K. Punikai‘a: “When the sulfones arrived, promin, diasone, promacetin. . .they changed our lives . . . and, you know, the interesting thing about how they brought the sulfones to Kalaupapa, to Hawaii, is because patients had threatened to go to court. In fact, as I understand it, a statement to the court was made that forced the Department of Health to change...

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Chapter 39. Courage and Refusal to Quit: Richard Marks and the End of the Isolation Policy

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pp. 471-484

Francis Marks was a young boy in 1968, when his father, thirty-seven-year-old Richard Marks, stood up and drew widespread attention to the fact that there was something wrong with Hawaii’s policies related to leprosy.1 Although dramatic progress had been made in the medical treatment of the disease, the rules continued to separate families, and...

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Chapter 40. A Quest for Dignity: Bernard K. Punikai‘a and Hale Mohalu

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pp. 485-494

The occasion was the launch of the Quest for Dignity Exhibit, which would be on display in the lobby of the United Nations for three weeks. As he officially opened the Exhibit, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan firmly stated that individuals affected by leprosy should not only be accorded proper medical treatment, “but also the dignity that is the...

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Chapter 41. “My Name Is Olivia”: Kalaupapa’s First Author

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pp. 495-502

When Olivia Breitha died on September 28, 2006, at the age of ninety, articles about her life and death appeared in newspapers and Web sites in at least seventeen different states and in places as diverse as India, the United Kingdom, and Portugal. News of her efforts to ensure the rights of every individual appeared in the most well-known newspapers...

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Chapter 42. To See This Place Stay Sacred: The Education and Inspiration of Present and Future Generations

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pp. 503-514

Every time great progress was made in Hawaii’s treatment of leprosy, there was talk of closing Kalaupapa down. This happened in the 1920s when there was great hope in chaulmoogra oil. It happened again in the late 1940s, after the introduction of the sulfones as a cure for leprosy and the removal of many barriers by Lawrence Judd. The official...

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Chapter 43. Changed in One Day: The Restoration of Family Ties

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pp. 515-534

Clarence Naia: “I was born in Kalaupapa in 1928 and sent out. I was told my grandmother came here and got me and took me to Maui. . . . My grandmother never told me anything about my parents. I came here and then I found out about them. They were dead already. I never even saw my mother and never even saw my father. But John Cambra, he knew...

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pp. 535-539

When a book has taken some thirty years to write, there are a lot of people to thank for contributing to this effort in so many different ways. First, there would not be a book if it wasn’t for the people of Kalaupapa, many of whom are represented in this book through their words and through photographs they shared. Many of those who are not in...


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pp. 541-558


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pp. 559-563

Index of Names

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pp. 565-572

Index of Subjects

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pp. 573-575

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About the Author, Production Notes, Back Cover

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pp. 577

Anwei Skinsnes Law first visited Kalaupapa in 1968 at the age of sixteen. Over the last forty years, she has extensively researched the history of leprosy in Hawaii and conducted over two hundred hours of oral history interviews with the residents of Kalaupapa. She received an M.P.H. from the University of Hawaii School of Public Health...

E-ISBN-13: 9780824865801
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824834654

Publication Year: 2012