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UH West O‘ahu receives grant to study historic Honouliuli site

University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu
Ryan Mielke,
Public Relations and Marketing Department
Posted: Aug 11, 2009

A team of faculty and students at the University of Hawaiʻi - West Oʻahu are preparing to help researchers and historians further their knowledge of the Honouliuli Internment Camp, a World War II site in west Oʻahu, thanks to a recent grant of $26,148 from the National Park Service.

"It is great to know that our faculty and students will help answer many remaining questions about Hawaiʻiʻs history while also helping to preserve for generations a site that many people once thought was lost," said Chancellor Gene Awakuni, UH West Oʻahu. "There are firsthand accounts of the experiences at the camp that have not yet been conveyed to researchers. This funding will help many of those stories to be told."

The Multidisciplinary Research and Education at Honouliuli Internment Camp project grant to UH West Oʻahu focuses on the last, largest, and longest-used World War II confinement site in Hawaiʻi. The grant supports UH West Oʻahu faculty and student projects in oral history and archival research on the internment experience, as well as one season of an archaeological field school to investigate and record the physical traces of the internment that remain at the site. Much of the field study by UH West Oʻahu faculty and students will take place in summer 2010.

"The Honouliuli Internment Camp provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the integration of archival information, oral history, archaeology, and architectural assessment," said Dr. Suzanne Falgout, an anthropologist at UH West Oʻahu and principal investigator with the grant. The Honouliuli site has been identified as having the greatest archaeological and educational potential of all eight known World War II internment sites built in Hawaiʻi.

Built in 1943, Honouliuli is historically significant at the national level for its association with the internment of U.S. citizens and resident aliens, as well as military prisoners, during World War II. "Because Japanese Americans, German Americans, and Italian Americans were confined there under the authority of martial law, the site provides a multi-ethnic perspective on a shameful and little-known episode in U.S. history," added Falgout, who is also one of five faculty from UH West Oʻahu who will take part in the project.

UH West Oʻahu faculty and selected students will have the opportunity to research historical documents and to record the memories of former internees, their families, and others who lived in the area and/or interacted with the Honouliuli camp on other bases. To date, only a very few interviews relevant to Honouliuli have been conducted, typically as an aside to other research interests.

"It is important for us to chronicle the stories of the few remaining surviving internees and their immediate family members, not merely to atone for the past but also to create an enduring repository of first-hand knowledge to guide the actions of future generations," said Dr. Alan Rosenfeld, assistant professor of history at UH West Oʻahu. "It is exciting to be part of a research project that not only places Hawaiian experiences at the center of the global historical narrative, but also helps foster partnerships between the university and the local community."

UH West Oʻahu students taking part in the 2010 field study at Honouliuli will learn the archaeological techniques for investigating large 20th century sites; they will also have the opportunity to work alongside local, national, and international volunteers, sharing insights and perspectives.


About UH West Oʻahu

UH West Oʻahu became a four-year, comprehensive university when it served its first class of freshmen in fall 2007. The University offers quality education, small classes and personalized attention at convenient locations. UH West Oʻahu held a ground blessing ceremony in January in anticipation of the start of construction for a state-of-the art, new campus in the City of Kapolei. For more information, visit,, or call 454-4700 or toll-free (866) 299-8656.


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