“We deserve to be remembered.”

— Cathrine Puahala, who was sent to Kalaupapa in 1942 when she was 14 years old. Mrs. Puahala was an inventive craftsperson, human rights advocate and international motivator. She died on July 30, 2008, at the age of 81.

The Kalaupapa Memorial Act, which was introduced to Congress on behalf of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, will authorize the establishment of a Monument on the Kalaupapa peninsula that will eventually list the names of everyone who was sent there.

Because nearly 80 percent of those who died at Kalaupapa no longer have a marked grave, if they ever had one in the first place, the Monument will serve not only as a permanent way of honoring these individuals for their sacrifices, but also as a type of tombstone. It is hoped that the Monument will bring pride, healing and a sense of closure to descendents and insure that the estimated 8,000 people who lived and died at Kalaupapa will forever be remembered with dignity.

The Kalaupapa Monument will embody what the ‘Ohana stands for: “E Ho`ohanohano a E Ho`omau….To Honor and To Perpetuate.”

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Congresswoman Mazie Hirono presents ho`okupu on the grounds of the Old Baldwin Home, the preferred site of the proposed Kalaupapa Monument.

In 2008, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono spearheaded the effort that resulted in the Kalaupapa Memorial Act being adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives. Representative Neil Abercrombie, a longtime friend of Kalaupapa, co-sponsored the bill. Senator Daniel Akaka introduced companion legislation to the U.S. Senate with Senator Daniel Inouye as co-sponsor. The bill passed its committee hearing and is part of a package of land bills that is waiting to be heard on the Senate floor.


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Cathrine Puahala shown at a meeting of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa.

The Monument proposal has received enthusiastic support from many at Kalaupapa, their family members and descendents, state leaders and the media. Editorials urging the construction of a Monument at Kalaupapa have come from The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, The Maui News, The Northwest Hawaii Times (Washington state) and The Sunday New York Times, which proves that this important project has national and international significance.
Once the bill is adopted by Congress and signed into law by the president, the ‘Ohana will seek bids and designs for the Monument from interested artists and begin to raise funds.

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Gloria Marks and her husband, Richard, have educated thousands of visitors through their world-reknowned Damien Tours.
“The Monument is a good thing. It will open up society’s mind about their family here. People come here and listen to our stories and it makes a difference.”

— Gloria Marks, a resident of Kalaupapa for more than 50 years. Mrs. Marks has been co-owner of Damien Tours for more than 40 years and Fuesaina’s Bar at Kalaupapa. She is a longtime member of the Kalaupapa Lions Club and St. Francis Church. She serves as treasurer of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa.

Photos by Valerie Monson


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