April 29, 2009

Densho is supporting a bill submitted by Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii to have the Secretary of the Interior conduct a study of internment camp sites in Hawaii. The idea is to determine whether they are eligible to be listed as historic sites under the National Park System (like Manzanar, etc.).
“During World War II, over 1,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in at least eight locations on Hawaii,” said Senator Inouye. “In a report completed in 2007, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii documented these sites that include Honouliuli Gulch, Sand Island, and the U.S. Immigration Station on Oahu, the Kilauea Military Camp on the Big Island, Haiku Camp and Wailuku County Jail on Maui, and the Kalaheo Stockade and Waialua County Jail on Kauai. These camps also held approximately 100 local residents of German and Italian ancestry.

Hawaii is suddenly on Densho’s agenda. We received funding from the Tateuchi Foundation to conduct a dozen interviews in Honolulu. Our mainlander interview team is going into research overdrive to prepare for a facet of the incarceration that we’re less familiar with. The Hawaii interviews fit perfectly with our goal of expanding Densho’s collection of video oral histories to tell the full story of the World War II incarceration. Strangely, I’m not hearing any complaints about the team having to set up temporary shop in the Islands.