History & Culture

A group of men and boys, the one in the middle is Brother Joseph Dutton.
Brother Joseph Dutton and patients

Looking back, the pain of separation seems worse than the pain of disease. Now we ask, why did this happen? Why were almost 8,000 people torn from their families and sent into isolation, most for the rest of their lives? Kalaupapa serves as a reminder of a nation in crisis when Hawaiian people were exposed to diseases for which they had no immunities. Options for preventing the spread of contagious diseases were few. Isolation for leprosy seemed like the best solution but came at a high personal price.

Kalaupapa, once a community in isolation, now serves as a place for education and contemplation. It is a place where many families in Hawai'i can reconnect with a grandparent or relative once considered "lost". It is a place where past suffering has given way to personal pride about accomplishments made in the face of great adversity. It is a place where we can reconsider our responses to people with disfiguring disabilities or illnesses. It is a place where the land has the power to heal - because of its human history, natural history and stunning physical beauty.


Last updated: September 23, 2022

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P.O. Box 2222
Kalaupapa , HI 96742


808 567-6802

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