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Position Paper

The Kalawao Choir, 1901 – Photo courtesy of Damien Museum

Position Paper of Recommendations
for Kalaupapa National Historical Park’s
General Management Plan
“To See This Place Stay Sacred”

“Don’t desecrate what happened here, not because of my lifetime, but because of those who came before me… I would really like to see this place stay sacred….sacred in honor of those who died here because of the disease, those who fought for allowances, fought for their clothing, fought for their medication, fought for their freedom.”

Henry Nalaielua, Kalaupapa artist, musician, author and visionary who was sent to Kalaupapa in 1941 

“Maybe There Is No Zero —
There is Only ‘Ohana”

“When it comes to the people of Kalaupapa, maybe there is no ‘zero.’ When we talk about the future here, we often say ‘when there are no more patients.’ We emphasize the word ‘zero.’ But maybe there is no zero — there is only ‘ohana. We need to make sure that the voices of Kalaupapa are heard, even if the people are not physically with us anymore.”

— Sol P. Kaho‘ohalahala
a founding member of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa whose family ties at Kalaupapa go back to the 1800s. 


Photo: Napua Leong and her father, Tim, present ho‘okupu to the ancestors they believe might be buried in unmarked graves next to St. Philomena Church in Kalawao. The Rev. David Kaupu stands with them. The Leongs were part of a ceremony led by Rev. Kaupu and organized by Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa to reconsecrate the holy land at Kalawao that was held on October 18, 2008. Photo by Wayne Levin


On Jan. 6, 1866, nine men and three women were sent to what is commonly known as the Kalaupapa peninsula because of a new government policy that called for the isolation of anyone diagnosed with leprosy. They would be the first of an estimated 8,000 people from Hawaii who would be taken from their families and relocated, first in the original settlement on the windward side of Kalawao and, later, at Kalaupapa on the leeward side. They were mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, siblings and friends. The separation did not end there. By the early 1900s, children who were born to the people of Kalaupapa were immediately removed from their parents, sometimes forever. For more than a century, the people of Kalaupapa were denied basic freedoms and human rights. 

It would not be until 1969 that Hawaii would officially abolish its policy of isolating people affected by leprosy. However, after the advent of a cure for the disease that arrived in Hawaii in 1946, people were discharged and provided the alternative of being admitted to Hale Mohalu, a residential treatment facility in Pearl City. Consequently, only 40 people were admitted to Kalaupapa between 1949 and 1969. 

While this era in Hawaiian history could have been one of complete tragedy, stories of determination soon emerged: the congregation of Siloama Church organized in 1866, people in Kalawao began writing letters to Honolulu and family members consistently asked to accompany their loved ones who were forced to leave. 

Faced with food shortages, a lack of water, inadequate shelter and no medical care, the early residents had to rely on their inner strength and faith to survive. Many did not and death was common. Religious leaders such as Father Damien de Veuster, Mother Marianne Cope and Jonathan Napela came to work with the people of Kalawao, but they were not the only leaders to emerge. Those who had been sent to die became part of the administration, taught school classes, sang in the choirs and helped with much-needed building projects. 

When medicine to cure the disease was introduced to Kalaupapa in 1946 life changed dramatically as lifespans that had been expected to be short suddenly grew and there was hope of being able to see family again. Even when given the option of moving away from Kalaupapa, however, most people chose to remain in this spiritual place that had become home. Their lives were and continue to be active. Residents have become noted musicians, authors, artists, entrepreneurs and leaders whose wisdom is still being sought across the world. 

In the mid-1970s, the Kalaupapa community began to fear that development interests in Hawaii could force them to be relocated again from this, the place that had become their home. Led by Richard Marks, the community asked The National Park Service to help preserve their lifestyle and their history. Kalaupapa National Historical Park was established in 1980. 

The history of Kalaupapa contains many chapters of many emotions and many heroic figures – all must be remembered to completely tell the powerful story of the people and their lives.

Kalaupapa is not only important in the history of Hawaii, it also has great international significance. Around the turn of the last century, Kalaupapa served as a model for similar places of isolation for people affected by leprosy in The Philippines, Japan and Korea, if not more countries. During the struggle for Hale Mohalu in Honolulu from 1978 to 1983, Kalaupapa leader Bernard Punika’a took the local issue of how leprosy patients were unfairly treated in Hawaii and turned it into a global discussion of human rights that continues to grow. In early 2009, the contributions of Mr. Punikai’a were cited at a United Nations meeting in Geneva and at an international conference in Taiwan. Finally, the importance of the Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian values such as ‘ohana (family), aloha (love) and malama (care) have been shared and emphasized at other international discussions to help with the Restoration of Family Ties in countries where the stigma still keeps families apart. 

Ka ‘Ohana ‘O Kalaupapa

“I see a vision of the ‘Ohana connecting the past, present and future.” 


— Clarence “Boogie” Kahilihiwa, Kalaupapa resident since 1959, a founding member of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa who was recently elected as President of Ka ‘Ohana 


Clarence "Boogie" Kahilihiwa, newly elected President of Ka 'Ohana O Kalaupapa.

Valerie Monson photo.


Ka ‘Ohana ‘O Kalaupapa (‘Ohana) is a nonprofit and nondenominational organization dedicated to promoting the value and dignity of every individual who was separated from their family and forcibly isolated, mostly on the Kalaupapa peninsula from 1866 to 1969 because of past government policies regarding leprosy (also known as Hansen’s Disease). ‘Ohana supporters include patients at Kalaupapa, family members and descendents from elsewhere in Hawaii and the Mainland, friends and others who have an interest in the legacy of the people of Kalaupapa and their powerful message to the world.

The ‘Ohana was formed in August, 2003, during a two-day workshop at Kalaupapa that was attended by approximately 70 people, including many of the patients who were in the settlement at the time. The idea to establish an ‘Ohana originated with Bernard Ka‘owakaokalani Punikai‘a, who was sent to Kalaupapa in 1942 as a young boy and who evolved into one of Hawaii’s greatest leaders. Mr. Punikai’a felt the residents of Kalaupapa were not being included in plans that directly affected them, creating an uncertain future and causing anxiety and resentment. He believed that as the Kalaupapa community got older and its population got smaller it was essential that a group of family members and friends who cared about the people of Kalaupapa be organized to provide support and to make sure that all of the estimated 8,000 people forcibly isolated on the peninsula are remembered.

“The people of the past will never die unless we let them. They cannot die because they are my future. They come back from the past and they strike in my heart. They will know that we are remembering them.”


— Bernard K. Punikai‘a, the founder and Chairman of the Board of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, talking about how he considered the residents of Kalawao and Kalaupapa who came before as “the ancestors” and that he thought of them “every day.” Mr. Punikai`a died on Feb. 25, 2009.

Bernard Punikai'a with his autoharp.
Valerie Monson photo

The motto of the ‘Ohana is “E Ho’ohanohano a E Ho’omau…To Honor and To Perpetuate.” Our mission and vision statements reflect the priorities of the ‘Ohana: 

  • to help find solutions that will allow people to remain in their homes at Kalaupapa for as long as they wish with all the necessary support and services, 

  • to be involved in making sure that the stories the people of Kalaupapa have shared over the years will be accurately remembered and passed down to future generations,

  • to reach out to family members and descendents of the people of Kalaupapa so they are included in future decisions that affect the land and how the history of Kalaupapa is told. 


“Preservation and interpretation of the settlement will be managed and performed by patient and Native Hawaiians to the extent practical.”

— Public Law 95-565, Sec. 102, Sec. 107, signed Dec. 22, 1980 to create Kalaupapa National Historical Park

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary shall give first preference to qualified patients and Native Hawaiians in making appointments to positions established for the administration of the park, and the appointment of patients and Native Hawaiians shall be without regard to any provision of the Federal civil service laws.”
— General Lease No. 231, dated Sept. 22, 1992 


The ‘Ohana hosts two-day annual meetings every fall at Kalaupapa where anyone in the community and their guests are welcome. Invitations to the annual meeting are also extended to officials at the State Department of Health, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and Kalaupapa National Historical Park. During these gatherings, discussions often focus on what Kalaupapa residents, family members and friends of the ‘Ohana would like to see in the future at Kalaupapa.

The overriding themes of the six years of annual meetings can best be summed up by the words of Henry Nalaielua: 
“To See This Place Stay Sacred.”

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa is pleased to offer this Position Paper with many of our hopes for the future. The ‘Ohana looks forward to working with The National Park Service and other interested organizations to make sure the future of Kalaupapa is one that honors the past. The future of Kalaupapa must be guided by Hawaiian values and with the direct participation and guidance of the Hawaiian community.

Vision for the Future

The People of Kalaupapa and their History are the Most Important Resources of Kalaupapa National Historical Park now and forever.

While the majestic cliffs, the natural environment, pristine near-shore waters and spectacular view plains are important components of Kalaupapa National Historical Park that should be preserved, the park’s most significant resource is – and always will be – the people of Kalaupapa and their inspiring history. The park was not established because of the peninsula’s natural resources, no matter how beautiful they might be. The park was created because of the compelling human history of an estimated 8,000 people who were taken from their families and forcibly relocated to Kalaupapa. Their stories of survival, triumph and love remain the core of the park and will remain the core of the park even after the last of the residents has died.

With the patient population getting smaller, there has been a tendency lately to refer to a time in the near future at Kalaupapa “when there are no more patients.” The ‘Ohana does not believe such a time will ever come to be. While the patient population may no longer be with us physically, they will always be present spiritually. They will always be part of this land. 

“We recognize that the land is our spiritual home, the home where we connect with our ancestors who are also there in the land. There is a saying, “Mai kaulai ia na ‘iwi o kou kupuna,” which means “Do not dry out the bones of your ancestors, your kupuna.” They have begun their spiritual life in the land. So I affirm the ‘aina as our ‘aumakua, the land as a vital source that connects us to the life of the spirit.”

— Kahu David Kaupu, who had family at Kalaupapa, from his essay, “Aloha ‘Aina: Love of the Land in Hawaii,” which appeared in the book, “Ancestors in Post-Contact Religion.”


The number of people who were sent to Kalaupapa because they were diagnosed with leprosy will never reach “zero” – there will always be 8,000 or more (the exact number of people who were sent to Kalaupapa has not yet been determined). Thousands of other Native Hawaiians who lived on the peninsula before 1866 will also always be part of this land. 

“My father and grandfather were here. They have passed on, but in spirit they are here. I feel them all the time.”


— Kuulei Bell, who was first isolated because of leprosy when she was a little girl, then released but readmitted when she was a teenager. Mrs. Bell was the President of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa who died on Feb. 8, 2009. 

Kuulei Bell
DeGray Vanderbilt photo


In addition to remembering the lives of the people who were sent to Kalaupapa because of the government’s policies that isolated people with leprosy, Kalaupapa National Historical Park must also include the history of the original Native Hawaiian families who lived on the peninsula before 1866. The hoa‘aina native tenants were eventually relocated to other parts of the islands, first the hoa‘aina of Kalawao were relocated, then the hoa‘aina of Makanalua and, finally, the hoa‘aina of Kalaupapa after the population of the leprosy settlement reached more than 1,000. All the original residents of the peninsula had been relocated by the mid-1890s, ending centuries of residence by the general Native Hawaiian population.

The role of the Hawaiian Royal Family in improving the situation at Kalawao/Kalaupapa must also be included.

The legacies of important religious leaders who came to serve at Kalaupapa such as Father Damien De Veuster, Mother Marianne Cope, Jonathan Napela and Mother Alice Kahokuoluna must be remembered. 

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono places ho’okupu at the base of a tree on the site of the Old Baldwin Home at Kalawao that is the preferred location of Ka 'Ohana O Kalaupapa for the Kalaupapa Memorial. The exact site for the Memorial will be determined during an Environmental Assessment.

Valerie Monson photo

These leaders should be recognized not only for their many contributions to the people of Kalaupapa, but for the relationships they forged with the community that made their work possible and all the greater. Father Damien will be declared a Saint of the Catholic Church in October, 2009, and Mother Marianne could be declared a Saint in the near future. Their canonizations will bring more international attention to Kalaupapa. Such attention – and an expected increase in requests to visit Kalaupapa/Kalawao – must be handled with respect and dignity to all the 8,000 people who died on the peninsula. Large numbers of daily visitors will ruin the sacredness of the area and diminish its spiritual power.

The importance of faith, service to fellow human beings and the legacies of the four major religions that were the bedrocks of the community should be emphasized. Faith has always been an important part of the daily lives of many of the people sent to Kalawao and Kalaupapa – the first congregation of Siloama Church was established within six months of the arrival of the first patients. The Catholic Church, the United Church of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Soto Zen sect of the Buddhist community all had a strong presence at Kalaupapa – today, the Catholic and Protestant communities continue to have regular services. Ideally, the churches would maintain clergy or religious workers living at Kalaupapa to conduct regular services and provide spiritual care for staff and visitors as well as manage and coordinate spiritual retreats and pilgrimages. It is hoped that at least occasional services will be offered in the long-term future so the churches do not become empty museums, but living sanctuaries. 

The paramount mission of Kalaupapa National Historical Park is to accurately present the people of Kalaupapa and their history while preserving their memory with dignity and sensitivity.

“I would like to see some of the facilities restored and rebuilt so that the lonely journey and refuge that these people were forced to take can be … etched in the visitor’s mind, not just the scenery but also what was there and significant monuments to people who should be remembered, and a museum of sorts.” 

— Patsy T. Mink, who introduced the Congressional legislation that would establish Kalaupapa National Historical Park, during a 1988 interview with Anwei S. Law. 


  • The history should be preserved by:

  • Documenting and telling the histories/life stories of Kalaupapa residents who were isolated because of leprosy;

  • Using videotaped interviews of Kalaupapa residents, both deceased and still living, and the experiences of living relatives as often as possible in telling the many life stories of Kalaupapa to visitors;

  • Recognizing the sacrifices made by family members who were left behind and children who were later separated from their parents;

  • Maintaining the cemeteries;

  • Preserving and maintaining representative residences and important structures as they would have looked and been furnished during the various periods of the leprosy settlement;

  • Designing and constructing a high quality museum to professionally display personal belongings and artifacts donated or loaned by Kalaupapa residents; 

  • Constructing the Kalaupapa Memorial as proposed by Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa to memorialize the estimated 8,000 people who, mostly without choice, were sent to Kalaupapa, and to provide their families with a place of healing;

  • Recognizing the contributions of the early kokua (helpers) who accompanied loved ones with the disease to provide assistance and companionship;

  • Acknowledging the sacrifices of hoa ‘aina native tenants who were relocated from their homes and land on the Makanalua peninsula to provide a place for the leprosy settlement’s expansion.


The people of Kalaupapa who were sent here in 1969 or before are living historians who should be consulted and included on all issues affecting their community and in all plans on how best to tell their history. Kalaupapa National Historical Park should consult with family members and friends who have had long relationships with the people of Kalaupapa. Current employees of Kalaupapa National Historical Park never had the opportunity to know or interview many of the Kalaupapa residents whose contributions and influence must be part of any interpretation plan. Whenever interpreters or docents are required, family members/descendents should be consulted and/or hired to share the stories and history with visitors.

It must be acknowledged that the story of Kalaupapa is not just a public health issue, but one that had life-altering implications regarding human rights, ethics and social justice. Leprosy is one of the few diseases where human rights are stripped from people affected by it and where the stigma continues to affect people, even after they are cured, as well as their families into future generations.

Land Management


“When there is no longer a resident patient community at Kalaupapa, the Secretary (of the Interior) shall re-evaluate the policies governing the management, administration, and public use of the park in order to identify any changes deemed to be appropriate.”
— Public Law 95-565, Sec. 109, dated Dec. 22, 1980, to establish Kalaupapa National Historical Park


The Makanalua peninsula – often simply referred to as “Kalaupapa” or “ the Kalaupapa peninsula”—includes three ahupua‘a. Kalaupapa National Historical Park contains 10,725 acres over 12 square miles, including 2,000 acres of ocean. Owners of the land include the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, the State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (1,247 acres) and The National Park Service (23 acres at the Kalaupapa Lighthouse that was acquired from the US Coast Guard in 1980). Some smaller land holdings at the top of the North Shore cliffs that separate the peninsula from topside Molokai are privately owned. 

At the request of the Kalaupapa community and with support from much of the rest of Hawaii and the United States Congress, Kalaupapa National Historical Park was established in 1980. The bill was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter, in what was one of his last acts as chief executive. The Park Service entered into cooperative agreements with the State Department of Health and the State Department of Land and Natural Resources. In 1991, a 50-year lease was signed with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, giving the Park Service jurisdiction over 1,247 acres of home lands . Since 1980, it is estimated that the Park Service has invested nearly $23 million in improvements. The Park Service has been praised for improving the water system, cleaning and preserving the cemeteries, supporting the collection of oral histories, restoring the churches and other important accomplishments. 

The ahupua’a of Kalaupapa was included in the lands set aside for homestead lands for Native Hawaiians when the Hawaiian Home Lands Act was created by Congress in 1921. At that time, health officials believed that chalmoogra oil was an effective cure for leprosy and new patients had not been shipped to Kalaupapa since mid-1919. It was anticipated that Kalaupapa would eventually become available for homesteading, but in 1923 Kalihi Hospital in Honolulu was becoming too crowded and patients were again transferred from Honolulu to Kalaupapa where they were expected to live out the rest of their lives.

The issue of land management at Kalaupapa has long been a main topic whenever the future of the community has been discussed. Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa brought together leaders of Kalaupapa National Historical Park and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands at its 2004 annual meeting where it was clear that many questions remain. 

Questions posed by the ‘Ohana and members of the Kalaupapa community to the representatives of NPS and DHHL at that 2004 meeting – none of them answered:

  • How would the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands support and run Kalaupapa if The National Park Service left? How can we keep alive the memory of the people of Kalaupapa if NPS left? How can we keep the ‘aina for ourselves?

  • Could NPS and DHHL operate in collaboration in the future? Could there be homesteading in Kalaupapa at the same time the NPS continues to maintain the land and interpret the history? Could homesteaders be employed by the Kalaupapa National Historical Park to be involved in telling the history to visitors or hold other jobs with the park? Could descendents of the patients be given priority at homestead lots at Kalaupapa?

  • Can Hawaiian homesteaders on upper (topside) Molokai apply and eventually be awarded lots at Kalaupapa? What about transportation and access?

Recommendations made in 2004 from the ‘Ohana to NPS and DHHL:


  • DHHL should conduct a workshop for the residents of Kalaupapa. There should be a discussion on the Homestead Act and related issues. DHHL officials should get to know the residents, their history and their lifestyle. The Department should coordinate the meeting date with Gloria Marks, president of the Kalaupapa Patients Advisory Council, and Kuulei Bell, president of the ‘Ohana;

  • To make available to the ‘Ohana and the Patient Council more information about the home lands at Kalaupapa. Have an inventory of the lands marked with different sites recorded, etc. DHHL needs to understand what is on the land, what is under the land, etc. The water system needs to be reviewed and the issue of who has access to the water (now located on state land and piped to the Kalaupapa ahupua‘a) discussed.

  • To discuss with the residents how they see the future use of the land and the buildings along with the interpretation of Kalaupapa’s history.

  • Bring the DHHL commissioners to Kalaupapa to talk with the patients and to see and understand Kalaupapa; educate the policy makers about the history of Kalaupapa.

  • Make sure the Kalaupapa community has a clear understanding about the lease agreement between NPS and DHHL. Educate the Kalaupapa residents as to the different rules/laws. The people of Kalaupapa need to know their rights as residents here and need to be assured what will happen to the community and the land after the last patient is no longer living. 


In 2005, the organization, “Hui Kako‘o ‘Aina Ho‘opulapula” (Let the People Flourish On the Land) held a meeting at Kalaupapa regarding the future of the land and what the people of Kalaupapa would like to see. Members of Hui Kako‘o are beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homelands Act who have yet to be awarded homesteads. During the discussion, these were the key themes that emerged as priorities of the Kalaupapa residents:

  • Preserve Kalaupapa and keep it the way it is;

  • The National Park Service should remain at Kalaupapa even after the patients have gone;

  • Hawaiians should work at Kalaupapa after the patients have gone to preserve the old ways and interpret the legacy;

  • Remember the people who lived and died here;

  • Use Kalaupapa as a place of education;

  • Care for the graves;

  • Remember the churches;

  • Preserve the history and uniqueness of Kalaupapa;

  • Existing homes should become potential homelands housing after the patients have gone;

  • Honor the people for future/present Hawaiians to remember;

  • Establish a committee to consider commercial use for Pala’au (residents and topside beneficiaries);

  • Commercial leases go to Native Hawaiians


(Minutes of that meeting can be viewed by clicking here.)

In the summer of 2004, Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa learned that Kalaupapa National Historical Park did not have a General Management Plan and had no immediate plans to complete one because of costs and other reasons. In 2005, the ‘Ohana decided to begin work on its own “Vision Plan” to begin the process of gathering information. The 2005 two-day annual meeting was devoted to discussions about the future. One of the discussions was the future of the three main religions and the churches at Kalawao/Kalaupapa. The ‘Ohana brought together statewide leaders of the three major faiths – The Most Rev. Larry Silva, Bishop of Honolulu; The Rev. Charles Buck, Conference Minister for the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ and Elder Holbrook DuPonte of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. All the religious leaders acknowledged that it would be challenging to maintain clergy at Kalaupapa, but that they were committed to keeping the churches open to provide regular services, if at all possible. The ‘Ohana has also been in contact with leaders of the Soto Zen sect of the Hawaii Buddhist community.

“Within the boundary of the park, the Secretary (of the Interior) is authorized to acquire those lands owned by the State of Hawaii or by political subdivision thereof only by donation or exchange, and only with the consent of the owner.”

— Public Law 96-565, the law that established Kalaupapa National Historical Park. 


In April, 2009, the Board of Directors of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa voted to support the continuation of the current terms of The National Park Service’s 50-year lease with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands that runs through 2041, but opposed any exchange of Hawaiian Home Lands with The National Park Service or any other federal agency.

“This is homestead land. I want to see Hawaiians living on this land. I don’t want only people from the Mainland coming over here and going ‘Oh, how beautiful.’ …”


— Makia Malo, who was sent to Kalaupapa in 1947 as a young boy, the fourth sibling in his family to be taken from his family and isolated at Kalaupapa because he was diagnosed with leprosy. 

Makia Malo (left) and his older brother, Bill, who were both sent to Kalaupapa along with two other siblings.
Valerie Monson photo


It is not unique for The National Park Service to operate on lands that it does not own. The National Park of American Samoa, which was authorized in 1988, entered into a 50-year lease with the Governor of American Samoa to operate the park, knowing that it was not possible to obtain the lands because “Samoans retain their ways of communal ownership of land, an oral tradition of boundaries rather than written or surveyed, and a fierce protection of land and the status land provides a family,” according to the park’s website. 

The National Park Service also reported that the Governor of American Samoa had written a letter that noted an unexpected benefit of The National Park of American Samoa was the “strengthening of the village councils” regarding the traditional and cultural authority of lands included in the park. 

Nez Perce National Historical Park includes 38 sites stretched across parts of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. These lands are still the homelands of the Nimipuu as the Nez Perce call themselves. Today, there are Nez Perce living on the Nez Perce, Colville and Umatilla reservations that are preserved in the park. The Nez Perce also live in other towns and cities in the United States and elsewhere, but they all share a heritage of these rich lands. 

“The Land unites us with (our ancestors) across time, keeping our culture alive…. "

— Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, from the Nez Perce National Historical Park brochure 


According to the Nez Perce National Historical Park website, “Tribal governments, other federal agencies, and local institutions provide advice and assistance in preserving and protecting sites associated with the history and culture of the Nez Perce” at every level. Some of these partners include the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. 

In 1996, The National Park Service and the US Department of the Interior entered into a detailed six-page agreement with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation that gave the tribes “certain responsibilities pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act.” The first portion of this agreement reads:

“WHEREAS, sovereign Indian tribes are uniquely suited to make decisions about historic resources on tribal lands; and

“WHEREAS, enhancing the role of Indian tribes in the national historic preservation partnership will result in a stronger and better national effort to identify and protect historic and cultural resources for future generations of all Americans; and

“WHEREAS, Section 101 (d) (2) of the National Historic Preservation Act provides that ‘A tribe may assume all or any part of the functions of a State Historic Preservation Officer in accordance with subsections (b) (2) and (b) (3), with respect to tribal land; and…….”

(See entire NPS - Umatilla Agreement by clicking here. PDF)

These agreements show that The National Park Service has entered into strong partnerships with other native peoples to provide for the best ways to identify, preserve and protect historic and cultural resources. It should also be noted that Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act singles out and gives Native Hawaiian organizations the same consultative status as Indian tribes.

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, which includes supporters from all ethnic backgrounds and makes special efforts to reach out to family members/descendents, hopes to form a strong cooperative agreement with Kalaupapa National Historical Park to be involved in key decisions affecting cultural matters and how the history is told (interpretation). Other Native Hawaiian organizations with ties to Kalaupapa might also want to seek such agreements.


(Sharing the Legacy of Kalaupapa)

“We’ve got too many people who are coming here who are new…they don’t know. People forget what Kalaupapa was. … The thing is to keep the memory of Kalaupapa alive.”


— Richard Marks, at the 1996 workshop, “Kalaupapa: A History – The ‘Aina, The People, The Significance,” held at Kalaupapa.

Richard Marks talking story in his museum at Kalaupapa. Valerie Monson photo

Because the paramount mission of Kalaupapa National Historical Park is to accurately present the lives of the people, and show how they lived while preserving their memory with dignity and sensitivity, a great deal of thought and planning needs to go toward how to best to tell that history. The people of Kalaupapa must be remembered in the way that they so desire, using their words as much as possible.

Kalaupapa was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976. The reason for this eminent distinction was described by National Park Service historians in 1999:

“National historic landmarks are those buildings, structures, sites or objects determined to be nationally significant in American history and culture. This designation is the principle federal means of recognizing the national significance of historic properties. The historic architecture and cultural landscape of Kalaupapa settlement possess integrity of original location and workmanship, and intangible elements of feeling, association and visual beauty.” 

— Kalaupapa National Historical Park, long-range interpretive plan, 1999

The people of Kalaupapa, family members and others who have had long relationships with the community must be involved in developing a strong interpretive plan. There will always be “new” people coming to work at Kalaupapa, whether they are from elsewhere in Hawaii or the Mainland (most of us were “new” to Kalaupapa at one time or another). This does not mean they can not learn the history of Kalaupapa and accurately describe it, but it means that many of them will not have had the opportunity of hearing this history and the related stories first-hand, from people who actually lived it. 

Fortunately for Kalaupapa National Historical Park, there are family members who know the histories of their loved ones and several longtime friends of the Kalaupapa community who have done extensive interviewing of residents for many years. These family members and knowledgeable professionals should also be consulted on the preparation of any interpretation plan. Any new employee or anyone who does not have a long history of interviewing residents who is hired to draft an interpretation plan at this point in time will not be able to prepare an accurate document without the help of the permanent residents of Kalaupapa, their family members and longtime friends of the community. 

Kalaupapa National Historical Park should partner with Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa in preparing any interpretive plan or brochures.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park has one of the largest collections in the world of oral histories of people affected by leprosy. Many of these oral histories were videotaped so residents can continue to tell their own stories into the future, even after their deaths. Whenever possible, the person who was interviewed and/or the person who conducted the interview should be consulted before the oral histories are made available to the public or to others who are interested in research.

These videotapes should constantly be updated to the most modern technology so they are always available for use.

Reputable stories written about the residents of Kalaupapa should also be preserved as another source of information. This information and quotations from the articles can be used in displays and exhibits or by interpreters/docents who lead tours. 

The future of the visitor experience at Kalaupapa and the concept of a “walking museum” have been discussed in meetings for many years, including a two-day workshop held at Kalaupapa in 1996 that was co-sponsored by Kalaupapa National Historical Park, the Arizona Memorial Museum Association and IDEA (the International Association for Integration, Dignity and Economic Advancement). 

The “walking museum” would involve designating certain residences, structures and other special places for restoration, preservation and interpretation – which would be required as part of a National Historic Landmark. The words of the people and their histories must be told in the appropriate settings – their homes, their gardens, their churches and other special places in their lives.

Visitors could be taken on guided tours around Kalaupapa town with stops at these locations or maps could be produced to allow for self-guided tours. This type of visitor experience has already been successfully implemented in Montgomery, Alabama, to tell the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Civil Rights Movement, which has many themes in common with the story of Kalaupapa. The sites of watershed events during that time period in Montgomery (i.e. The Rev. Martin Luther King’s Church, the bus stop where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat) have been marked, restored and are open to visitors at their original locations. 

“….I am asking that Kalaupapa National Historical Park preserve this wing (of Bay View Home) known as Building One, including my room with all its furnishings. Many stories have been collected about the people who have lived here through the generations – I can still hear some of them singing and talking story while they sat on these impressive porches, I can hear them laughing. Let’s keep everyone who lived at Bay View alive by preserving Building One for historical interpretation.”


— Peter Keola, who lived in Building One at Bay View Home for nearly all of his 67 years at Kalaupapa. Mr. Keola died in 2007, three months after writing a letter requesting that his room and the entire wing of Building One be preserved. The rest of Bay View Home, occupied by Kalaupapa patients since 1917, already have been converted into offices or worker housing. (The original Bay View Home, opened in 1901, was destroyed by fire around 1915.)


Peter Keola with his collection of hats in the room at Bay View Home where he lived for nearly all of his 67 years at Kalaupapa.
Valerie Monson photo

Some of the buildings or special places in Kalaupapa have already been designated or discussed as potential components of this “walking museum” that would be open to visitors in the future. 


The Park Service should:

  • Develop and open Richard Marks’ house and/or museum according to the wishes of his family and in consultation with them for visitor education;

  • Restore and maintain Paul Harada’s garden;

  • Restore and open the home of Kenso Seki, the art studio of Ed Kato and the last wing of Bay View Home, anchored by the furnished room of Peter Keola;

  • Restore the home of Bernard Punikai`a located in Kalaupapa town to interpret the story of the struggle to save Hale Mohalu;

  • Restore and open the home of Olivia Breitha for visitor education;

  • Restore and open the home of David and Annie Kupele for visitor education after the current occupant no longer lives there;

  • Preserve, as much as possible, the Makanalua land that was once the home of Ambrose Hutchison and save and restore any items associated with his life there that might still be found on the property;

  • Identify the site of the Makanalua home of Peter Kaeo, the cousin of Queen Emma whose correspondence with the Queen is the source of the book “News from Molokai;”

  • Preserve the Kalaupapa Lions Club den and Post Office building;

  • Preserve the Kalaupapa Craft Shop;

  • Preserve Paschoal Hall and McVeigh Hall;

  • Preserve Bishop Home in accordance with the wishes and leadership of the Sisters of St. Francis, consider rebuilding at least one of the dormitories where the girls lived and form a cooperative agreement with the Sisters of St. Francis to keep them involved in the operations; 


Ed Kato paints a scene on the Kalaupapa peninsula in his art studio that has been slated for preservation and will eventually be open to visitors.
Valerie Monson photo


The handmade sign by Ed Kato that welcomed visitors into his art studio at Kalaupapa.

Valerie Monson photo


Ed Kato's famous rocks that reflected his positive attitude. The rocks have since been painted over.
Valerie Monson photo

  • Preserve or restore Ed Kato’s artwork around the settlement – his street signs, large informational signs and artwork using rocks. Photographs of his work in pristine condition are available to help create identical reproductions or restorations; 

  • Restore and preserve the grotto made by Eddie Marks that stands in front of the house where he used to live;

  • Restore the fencing around Staff Row and replace the system of buzzers on the gate posts used for residents to summon staff – preserve the footprints in the sidewalk between the former administrator’s house and the former women’s quarters building that were placed there by the children of former Administrator R.L. “Doc” Cooke;

  • Work with the major religions at Kalaupapa to restore, preserve and maintain the churches, parsonages, outlying buildings and grounds;

  • Officially name the pali trail The Kupele Trail. Maintain the trail in good condition for hikers and riding stock;

  • Maintain the Kalaupapa Lighthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and make it available for visitation; 

  • Display the Fresnel Lens at the Lighthouse or somewhere equally appropriate; 

  • Develop a high-quality “display museum” to house permanent exhibits from personal items donated by the people of Kalaupapa to help tell their story and create other displays, possibly rotating displays on the various aspects, events or themes of Kalaupapa;

  • Create a brochure and a map of these historic sites in the “walking museum” to provide a self-guided tour or to provide simply more information about the places available for visitation. Residents of Kalaupapa (former patients) should be consulted about any places in town that would be open to visitation while they are still living there;

  • Consult with the Kalaupapa community and Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, to immediately identify other residences, important buildings and other special places that should be preserved so visitors can see and feel how residents lived; 


Goals and deadlines for restoration of the above facilities should be prepared by Kalaupapa National Historical Park so these historic structures will be completed on a timely basis. Any family members and longtime friends should be consulted to make sure that the homes and other special places are properly restored with the appropriate exhibits and life stories to share the legacy of their loved ones.

A panel of those knowledgeable in the history of Kalaupapa should be established to review what books, tapes, videos/DVDs and other materials are sold at the Kalaupapa Book Store to ensure accuracy and sensitivity. Works of nonfiction need to be separated from works of fiction. Works of fiction need to be specifically identified as such so readers are not confused. 

A panel of those knowledgeable in the history of Kalaupapa who had family there or have done extensive interviewing of residents should be formed to advise Kalaupapa National Historical Park on interpretation and other matters. 

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa’s efforts to interview family members to help further tell the story of Kalaupapa should be supported.

It is important that Kalaupapa National Historical Park work in partnership with Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, particularly with regard to involvement of family members in how the history of Kalaupapa will be told (interpretation) and in planning for Kalaupapa’s future.  Developing a cooperative agreement between Kalaupapa National Historical Park and Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa would help to identify the ways in which this partnership could work most effectively for everyone involved.

All existing wayside exhibits should be updated and replaced; new waysides should be installed to best relate the history of the people.

The proper interpretation of the pre-settlement history of Kalaupapa must be a priority. The history of Kalaupapa contains two chapters that were both impacted by the government’s policies regarding leprosy. The first history, when Native Hawaiians lived on the peninsula and in the nearby North Shore valleys for 900 years, began to end after the Kingdom of Hawaii set aside the peninsula as a place to isolate people with leprosy. When the first individuals arrived with no housing and few provisions on Jan. 6, 1866, the hoa‘aina native tenants assisted them. Hoa‘aina were eventually forced to leave their homes at Kalawao, then Makanalua and, finally, Kalaupapa, so that all of the original residents had been relocated by 1894. It is said that many of the hoa‘aina received land exchanges on the East End of topside Molokai – some also went to other islands.

Research projects into the pre-settlement history of the peninsula should be conducted to find out what happened to the hoa ‘aina after they were forced to leave. Such studies should be conducted by students enrolled in Hawaiian Studies programs at local community colleges/universities as much as possible. Descendents of the relocated hoa‘aina should be encouraged to participate in the research and in the telling of these stories to future generations.

The traditional and contemporary importance of Kalaupapa as a wahi pana (sacred place) must be sustained. Its value as a center for cultural practices should be recognized and promoted. Hawaiian values, skills, crafts, arts and agriculture are to be shared with future generations.

All visitors should have the option of having their experience at Kalaupapa entirely in the Hawaiian language. Because Kalaupapa is a very Hawaiian place where 90 percent of those isolated because of the disease were Hawaiian, the Hawaiian language should be spoken by at least some of the employees of Kalaupapa National Historical Park. This would require that a certain number of guides or docents working with the park be required to speak fluent Hawaiian. 

Efforts should begin to pursue status as a World Heritage site.

Visitor Use


“Kalaupapa National Historical Park was developed under the concept of historical preservation rather than recreation.”

— Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink from her Washington D.C. office in a phone interview with Valerie Monson, 1992


On Sept. 10, 1932, a young Edna "Leslie" Cooke and her brother placed their footprints in the wet cement of the new sidewalk outside the Kalaupapa home of their parents, R.L. "Doc" and Wilhemina Cooke. Doc Cooke was the superintendent of Kalaupapa at the time.
Photo by Valerie Monson 


In 2003, after years of wanting to return to Kalaupapa, Leslie Cooke Mayer, her husband and daughter visited Kalaupapa where she placed her grown-up foot next to the imprint she made as a child. 
Photo by Jean Fogelberg

Because of the wishes of the community, the law that established Kalaupapa National Historical Park limits the number of daily visitors to no more than 100. After residents who were patients are no longer living at Kalaupapa, the number of visitors should be restricted to no more than 150 daily to preserve the area’s solemn atmosphere and historical serenity. This represents an increase of 50 percent of the current limit. 

Any future increase in visitors should be done only after discussions with Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa and public meetings on topside Molokai to examine impacts on the infrastructure, but, more importantly, on how more visitors could have a negative effect on the spiritual nature of Kalaupapa, the rural lifestyle of topside Molokai and the overall visitor experience which should emphasize reflection, contemplation, culture and history—not recreation. 

Damien Tours should always be the business that conducts and coordinates tours in perpetuity for as long as the family wishes to be involved. Kalaupapa National Historical Park and Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa should provide assistance to Damien Tours, if requested, to make sure that this historic company continues its important role on the peninsula. 


The Very. Rev. Larry Silva, Bishop of Honolulu, looking at the tombstone of his great-grandfather, John Santos, who died at Kalaupapa in 1921. A member Ka 'Ohana O Kalaupapa found the tombstone of Bishop Silva's great-grandfather.
Wayne Levin photo.

When there are no more patients living at Kalaupapa, restrict the number of daily visitors, except on rare special occasions, to:

  • Arrivals on aircraft: 75

  • Arrivals on horse or mule rides: 25

  • Arrivals for day visits via Kupele Trail: 50

  • Overnight visitors: No more than 25 per night, all in visitors’ accommodations.


Other recommendations for future visitor use:

  • Prohibit camping on the entire peninsula;

  • Give family members/descendents priority for day visits and overnight accommodations;

  • If more than 150 people request to come to Kalaupapa on a certain day, requests should be honored on a first-come, first-served basis with family members/descendents given priority. Anyone after No. 150 will be told to make reservations for another day; 

  • Never institute an entry fee; 

  • Reach out to bring in school groups for educational experiences at Kalaupapa – high school groups as well as college and university classes. Design a simple brochure that should be distributed to all high schools, community colleges and universities. A staff member of Kalaupapa National Historical Park or Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa should be in charge of maintaining contact with designated educators. 

  • Support retreats sponsored by the religious communities in appropriate facilities at Kalaupapa. There will be more and more requests for pilgrimages, especially after the canonization of Father Damien and the expected canonization of Mother Marianne. Kalaupapa National Historical Park should develop a policy about pilgrimages in conjunction with Damien Tours, the St. Francis Church community and the Hawaii Catholic Church. The Park Service should also consult with the United Church of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Soto Zen communities regarding faith-based retreats. 

  • Because Father Damien and Mother Marianne have both been credited with miracle healings, it is expected that there will be an increase in the number of visitors with serious illnesses or disabilities seeking similar healings. Again, Kalaupapa National Historical Park should take the lead on coordinating efforts on how best to accommodate these requests. 

  • Plan special commemorative events, such as an annual “Family Day” or “ ‘Ohana Day,” where the visitor cap would be lifted by a certain amount to encourage family members and descendents to visit Kalaupapa to pay respect and learn more about their ancestors and share their stories. (It should be noted that this was an idea of Bernard Punikai‘a many years ago.)

  • Require that any visitors who are not on Damien Tours as well as all guests of residents agree to participate in a brief (30 minutes or so) educational presentation developed by Kalaupapa National Historical Park and Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa. Such presentations are required at Hanauma Bay on Oahu. 

  • Inform visitors or potential visitors that they must bring in all their food and other supplies since these will not be available for sale to the general public at Kalaupapa except for snacks and beverages.

  • Develop and enforce a “take out what you bring in” policy to keep the amount of visitor-generated rubbish to a minimum.

  • Work with the airline or airlines serving Kalaupapa to develop a flight schedule that will accommodate the needs of Kalaupapa residents, workers and visitors. There have been times when the first flight from Honolulu to Kalaupapa does not arrive until 1:45 p.m., meaning that it’s very difficult to accommodate day-only tourists from Honolulu who wish to visit the peninsula via Damien Tours. 

  • Compile and continually update a list of charter flights available to Kalaupapa to share with interested groups wanting to visit and/or develop a working relationship with one or more carriers to bring groups to Kalaupapa.


Future of workers at Kalaupapa

When there are no more residents who were patients living at Kalaupapa, the State Department of Health is expected to no longer provide services there, leaving The National Park Service to handle all the maintenance and operations. When that happens, a minimal amount of Park Service workers should be stationed at Kalaupapa to maintain the serenity and sacredness of the peninsula. Only about 20 workers at Haleakala National Park on Maui actually live there, most of them seasonal employees who live in apartments for a few months or less. Nearly all permanent employees commute 30-45 minutes one-way from homes 20 miles or more below Park Headquarters. Even the superintendent of Haleakala National Park does not live at the park. 

When there are no longer any residents who were patients living at Kalaupapa, workers stationed there should be permitted to have their nuclear families live with them, but with the understanding that no public school facilities will be made available for school-age children (The definition of nuclear family is: mother, father and their children 18 years or younger).

Residents of Hawaii – and, in particular, family members and descendents of anyone sent to Kalaupapa since 1866 or the descendent of any hoa‘aina who lived on the peninsula before 1866 – should be given preference for job openings. Kalaupapa National Historical Park should immediately begin an educational and recruitment program to inform students and educators about the types of jobs available at Kalaupapa to increase an interest and awareness among young local residents. 

All workers who live in a house at Kalaupapa should be required to know as much about the history of the previous occupants as possible. Workers must also agree to perform general housekeeping and yard maintenance of the house where they live. Any worker or family member who destroys any part of the property will cause the entire family to be evicted from the house and will be held responsible for any costs associated with needed repairs.

As much as possible, single on-site workers at Kalaupapa who live in a two-bedroom house should have a roommate. 

The majority of workers should live on topside Molokai. Workers will either commute via the Kupele Trail or via a transportation system established by The National Park Service—i.e., arrangements with a small airline. These workers will be assigned a room at Kalaupapa where they can keep basic supplies and clothing. The rooms can be used for overnight stays when access to topside Molokai is not available or because of a long work day or inclement weather. 

All new workers and all new contractors must undergo an in-depth orientation prepared by Kalaupapa National Historical Park and Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa. 

No illegal drugs will be tolerated – anyone caught with or using illegal drugs will face immediate termination.

The superintendent of Kalaupapa National Historical Park should maintain a close relationship with community leaders on topside Molokai and other Hawaiian organizations. Annual meetings open to the public and hosted by the Park Service should be held on topside so residents can be kept abreast of park activities and offer comments. 

Special Restrictions at Kalawao

Kalawao will always be the most sacred part of the peninsula. When one enters Kalawao, it has the feeling of entering a vast and ancient cathedral. Extra precautions must be taken to guarantee that it remains this way in perpetuity.

  • Forbid the installation of electricity or any other modern convenience (other than flush toilets and cold running water at the pavilion near the lookout) in this ahupua`a;

  • Prohibit all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), dirt bikes or other off-road vehicles that can destroy the fragile landscape, create offensive noise and are not appropriate in a sacred place;

  • Prohibit radios, boom boxes or loud noises except sounds associated with church services and celebrations or community gatherings at the pavilion;

  • Prohibit smoking or the use of alcohol of any kind.

  • Prohibit camping, campfires or any kind of overnight accommodations;

  • Allow picnics only at the pavilion and the adjoining picnic tables during daytime hours. All associated rubbish must be packed out; 

  • Continue to maintain St. Philomena Church and Siloama Church where services should be held on special occasions;

  • Continue to maintain the remaining tombstones as much as possible and to preserve the known cemeteries; 

  • At some point, with the arrival of more daily visitors, Kalaupapa National Historical Park will want to consider posting a ranger at Kalawao during daytime hours for educational and safety purposes. Visitors should be prohibited at Kalawao after dark unless they have special permission and supervision.


The Kalaupapa Memorial

Olivia by Val.jpg
“I want to see a monument honoring all the people of Kalaupapa before I die. I want to see all the names. These people are my friends—even though many of them died before I came here and I didn’t know them personally, in spirit we are all together. I know their hearts and souls.”


— Mrs. Olivia Breitha, 90, who was sent to Kalaupapa in 1937 and who authored the book, “Olivia: My Life of Exile in Kalaupapa.” Mrs. Breitha spoke these words barely a week before she died on Sept. 28, 2006—her words were part of the ‘Ohana testimony before the United States House of Representatives only hours after she had died.

Olivia Breitha at home in her favorite chair.
Valerie Monson photo

The Kalaupapa Memorial would be a permanent tribute to the estimated 8,000 people who were forced to leave their families and be sent to the Kalaupapa peninsula. The Memorial will eventually list the names of those sent to Kalaupapa to ensure that they will always be remembered. Currently, there are other Memorials around the settlement that recognize the contributions of Father Damien, Mother Marianne and Jonathan Napela, but nothing that recognizes the contributions of the people who were forcibly sent to Kalaupapa. 

Kalaupapa National Historical Park has recorded 1,300 tombstones or markers, meaning that approximately 6,700 of those affected by the disease lie in unknown graves. So, in addition to serving as a permanent tribute to those who died at Kalaupapa, the Memorial would also serve as a type of tombstone for many individuals who do not have one, giving families and descendents a place to find healing and closure.

Since it organized in 2003, a Memorial has been a priority of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa. A Memorial Committee has had regular meetings and discussions about the best location, design and other components. In addition, the ‘Ohana has raised funds and compiled a list of the names of the first 5,000 people sent to the peninsula. These names will serve as the foundation of the first phase of the Memorial. The research into the names of the last 3,000 residents is continuing.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park should support the ‘Ohana’s recommendations for construction of the Memorial: 

  • The Memorial should be located on the site of the Old Baldwin Home at Kalawao; 

  • The Memorial should be built in increments or modular style rather than as a massive wall; 

  • The names of those sent to Kalaupapa must be inscribed on the Memorial as they become available to the public domain;

  • If anyone living at Kalaupapa does not want their name to be placed on the Memorial, their wishes will be respected and a blank space will be left instead.


Kalaupapa National Historical Park Advisory Commission

Kalaupapa National Historical Park should conduct semi-annual meetings with the Kalaupapa National Historical Park Advisory Commission. 

The current law states that the commission “shall consist of eleven members each appointed by the Secretary (of the Interior) for a term of five years” as follows:

(1) seven members shall be present or former patients, elected by the patient community, and
(2) four members appointed from recommendations submitted by the Governor of Hawaii, at least one of whom shall be a Native Hawaiian. 


Another component of the current law states that:

“The Secretary (of the Interior) shall consult with and seek the advice of the Commission with respect to the development and operation of the park including training program. The Commission shall, in addition, advise the Secretary concerning public visitation to the park, and such advice with respect to number of visitors shall be binding upon the Secretary if the Commission certifies to him that such advice is based on a referendum, held under the auspices of the Commission of all patients on the official Kalaupapa Registry.”


Changes to the law should be pursued to reflect changes in the Kalaupapa population. Such changes should include:

  • If seven patients are not able or willing to serve on the Commission, their places should be taken by those who had family members/ancestors at Kalaupapa, and

  • In the case that seven patients can’t serve, the Board of Directors of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa will submit the names of family members/descendents to be considered to fill those positions and,

  • The Board of Directors of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa and any other Native Hawaiian organization may submit names to be considered for the other four positions, and

  • Of the remaining four positions, at least two should be Native Hawaiian.


Commercial Use

Prohibit Commercial Activity within the boundaries of Kalaupapa National Historical Park except for the following:

  • Sales of books and other educational materials related to the natural or cultural resources of Kalaupapa through the park’s cooperative association or through cooperative agreements set up with non-profit organizations such as the Sisters of St. Francis;

  • Sales of snack food and beverages at the historic tavern;

  • Sales of food and other essential goods at a combination grocery-general store to support the permanent staff;

  • Guided tours conducted by Damien Tours under a cooperative agreement to allow family descendents possessing intimate knowledge of the history and area resources to operate the business;

  • Necessary commercial outlets to provide basic support to staff.


Prohibit any and all commercial ocean or beach activities (i.e., no surfing lessons, no kayak rentals, no weddings). 

Prohibit commercial fixed wing aircraft and helicopter overflights within one-half mile of the peninsula except for regularly scheduled carriers or charter flights transporting passengers who live at Kalaupapa or who have permission to visit. 

Natural Resources

Establish a marine sanctuary or conservation district that extends one-fourth mile offshore (the park’s offshore boundary limit). Subsistence fishing and gathering by residents or Native Hawaiians should be allowed. In consultation with Native Hawaiian organizations, The National Park Service can impose limits of amounts gathered. 

Continue efforts to remove alien species and restore native plants by:

  • Incrementally increasing fenced areas where alien species are controlled and appropriate native species are encouraged and reintroduced if necessary;

  • Implementing a control program for goats, pigs and axis deer which will include citizen participation;

  • Maintaining historically appropriate landscaping around the settlement with non-invasive ornamentals, fruit trees, vegetables and flowers;

  • Controlling alien Christmasberry, guava and other invasives in the cemeteries so grave sites and markers are not obscured or impacted.


Prohibit surfing, windsurfing, kayaking, recreational boating or use of jet skis.

Fishing, hunting and salt gathering should be limited to residents only and in accordance with laws that allow Native Hawaiians gathering rights. Guests may not fish as this leads to groups coming to Kalaupapa for recreational purposes. All fish, meat and salt gathered by residents must be consumed at Kalaupapa.

Under certain circumstances, small quantities of salt may be given away as gifts. 

Archaeological sites

Identify and map all archaeological sites in consultation with knowledgeable residents, kupuna, historians and archaeologists.

Incrementally increase the number of archaeological sites protected from the impacts of alien vegetation.

Restore the most significant pre-settlement archaeological sites for inclusion in the interpretive program.

Develop a brochure devoted to the archaeology of the Kalaupapa peninsula. 


Provide adequate public safety and emergency services, including a small health clinic for employees and visitors staffed by a minimal number of health care workers.

Maintain the Kalaupapa Wharf and work with authorities to maintain the Kalaupapa Airport. 

In Conclusion

Kalaupapa is one of Hawaii’s most precious places and her people are some of our most outstanding citizens and role models who will continually influence future generations around the world. Kalaupapa National Historical Park was established to preserve the lifestyle and the history in accordance with the wishes of the people. Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa is dedicated to assisting Kalaupapa National Historical Park to make sure this history is accurately and properly passed down in perpetuity.

“This is sacred ground. I’m the voice for my ‘ohana that’s no longer here… ”

— Chris Mahelona, who believes he has 36 ancestors who were at Kalaupapa. 

Note: All quotations from individuals in this Position Paper, except where sources are cited, were taken from meetings of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa or from interviews conducted by Anwei Law or Valerie Monson.

The Position Paper was compiled using the minutes and notes from ‘Ohana meetings since 2003; community meetings at Kalaupapa held on Jan. 24, 2009 and April 4, 2009; ‘Ohana Board meetings held at Kalaupapa on Jan. 24, 2009 and April 4, 2009; meetings with ‘Ohana Board Members and other supporters held on Maui on Feb. 5, 2009, and on Oahu on Feb. 28, 2009; notes from the 1996 workshop, “Kalaupapa: The ‘Aina, The People, The Significance;” minutes and notes from “Hui Kako‘o ‘Aina Ho‘opulapula” (Let the People Flourish On the Land) meeting at Kalaupapa in 2005; The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Master Plan for the Island of Molokai; The National Park of American Samoa General Management Plan; The Nez Perce National Historical Park Website; The Minidoka Internment National Monument General Management Plan; the Kahoolawe Community Plan; A Proposal for the Establishment of the Kalaupapa National Historical Preserve (1980); the Kalaupapa National Historical Park long-range interpretive plan (1999); the Kalaupapa National Historical Park Draft Foundation Statement (2007); Molokai: A Site Survey; Molokai: Future of a Hawaiian Island.

Those who have had direct involvement in developing the ‘Ohana Position Paper, so far: the late Bernard K. Punikai`a, the late Kuulei Bell, Clarence “Boogie” Kahilihiwa, Gloria Marks, Pauline Ahulau Chow, Makia Malo, Winifred Harada, Meli Watanuki, Sol Kaho`ohalahala, Sister Alicia Damien Lau, Patrick Boland, Takayuki Harada, Don Reeser, Mahina Martin, Glenn Harada, Pauline Puahala Hess, Piolani Motta, Aulani Shiu, Dayton Kupele, Colette Machado, Randall Watanuki, Rev. Charles Buck, Anwei Law, Mary Evanson and Valerie Monson. The wisdom of other kupuna who have since died at Kalaupapa and the overall presence of the thousands of people who were sent to Kalaupapa also guided the preparation of this document. 

The officers and Board of Directors for Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa consists of four Kalaupapa patients, four family members or descendents and four longtime friends of the community. Seven of the 12 directors of the current Board are Native Hawaiians. Board Members are: 

Clarence “Boogie” Kahilihiwa, President
Pauline Ahulau Chow, Vice President
Pauline Puahala Hess, Treasurer
Valerie Monson, Secretary
Makia Malo, Director
Gloria Marks, Director
Glenn Harada, Director 
Sol Kaho`ohalahala, Director
Colette Machado, Director
Patrick Boland, Director
J. Kalani English, Director
Sister Alicia Damien Lau, OSF, Director

Past Honorary Chairman of the Board: the late Bernard K. Punikai‘a
Past President: the late Kuulei Bell

This Position Paper was adopted by the Board of Directors of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa to be submitted to Kalaupapa National Historical Park as recommendations when it prepares its General Management Plan. The ‘Ohana Board asks the public to read this paper and, if you agree with it, to write to Kalaupapa National Historical Park and encourage officials to include these recommendations in the plan.

There are different ways you can submit your testimony. 

By mail, send to:

Steve Prokop, Superintendent
Kalaupapa National Historical Park
PO Box 2222
Kalaupapa, Hawaii 96742

By email, send to:

Through the PEPC (Planning, Environment and Public Comment) Website.

Please send copies of your testimonies to:

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa
PO Box 1111
Kalaupapa, Hawaii 96742

Download Version of Position Paper

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