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LCC Exhibit Has Letters, Photos From Residents Of Kalaupapa

An exhibit that recently opened at the Leeward Community College library is shedding light on the history of Kalaupapa and its people.

Developed by Ka ‘O-hana O Kalaupapa, “A Source of Light, Constant and Never-Fading” is on display through Aug. 30.

“We hope the public comes away with a different view of the history of Kalaupapa and with great admiration and respect for the people who were sent there,” said Valerie Monson, Ka ‘Ohana coordinator.

It started when Ka ‘Ohana historian Anwei Law began to research the history of Molokai settlement for her book, Kalaupapa: A Collective Memory. According to Monson, Law has been studying its history for more than 40 years.

It is estimated that 8,000 people with Hansen’s disease were sent to the island peninsula between 1866 and 1969.

“One of the goals of the ‘Ohana is to present the history of Kalaupapa as told by the people themselves – 90 percent of them Native Hawaiians,” explained Monson. “Too often, this history has been based on what was written in English and by people not living at Kalaupapa.

“The ‘Ohana has made a point to look at what was written by the people of Kalaupapa in their own language, Hawaiian. These letters, petitions and other documents have been translated into English, and have shed a new light on its history.”

The exhibit includes historical and contemporary photographs, excerpts from letters and petitions written by the settlement’s residents, as well as diary entries from Queen Lili’uokalani, whose close friend was sent to live there.

“We hope family members who visit the exhibit will contact Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa to learn more about their ancestors – and to join our efforts to remember everyone who was taken from their family and sent there.”

The exhibit is open 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m Monday-Thursday and 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Friday.

It opens next at Kapiolani Community College.

For more information, visit kalaupapaohana.org.