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Approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans, most of them United States citizens, were incarcerated during World War II. The internment story has garnered increasing national attention over the past 20 years with a focus on events that took place on the West Coast and other mainland sites. The sites of the Manzanar, Minidoka, and Tule Lake Internment Camps are now units of the National Park System.
In contrast, the Hawaiian internment story has received relatively little attention. Because the 160,000 Hawaiians of Japanese ancestry comprised almost 40 percent of the islands' population and were vital to the economy, the wholesale incarceration of Japanese Americans was neither feasible nor desirable. However, over 2,000 Japanese Americans, as well as over 100 German Americans and Italian Americans, both aliens and U.S. citizens, were interned at eight locations in Hawai'i.
The Hawai'i internment camp sites 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. Preliminary assessments of these sites suggest that there is a range of opportunities to preserve and interpret the Hawaii internment story. Kilauea Military Camp, located on public land within Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, is the most intact, with buildings used during the internment still standing, and post-war developments and modifications relatively minor. At the other end of the spectrum is Sand Island, where only the road pattern and a remnant of the Italian prisoner of war camp remain. Honouliuli, protected by its location on private property and nearly hidden by dense vegetation, offers great potential for archaeological research and education.
The National Park Service has begun a "special resource study" of these sites, and is exploring a range of opportunities to tell these important stories. We will share a draft report with you presenting our findings and management alternatives. We hope you'll take the time to let us know your thoughts and ideas.
In Section 125 of the Defense Appropriations bill of October 2009, Congress directed the National Park Service to conduct a special resource study of the national significance, suitability, and feasibility of including the Honouliuli Gulch and the associated sites within the State of Hawaii in the National Park System.
The NPS is directed to consult with the State of Hawaii, appropriate federal agencies, Native Hawaiian and local government entities, private and nonprofit organizations, private landowners, and other interested parties.
The study will evaluate Honouliuli Gulch and associated sites located on Oahu and other Hawaiian islands with respect to (1) the significance of the site as a component of World War II; (2) the significance of the site as the site related to the forcible internment of Japanese Americans, European Americans, and other individuals; and (3) historic resources at the site.
At the conclusion of the study process, the National Park Service will submit a report to Congress that describes the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the study.