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Historical Events

Transcript of Hui Panala‘au: Hawaiian Colonists, American Citizens video by Bishop Museum

James Carroll: They looked for someone that had some Hawaiian background. And that’s why they came to Kamehameha Schools to see if they can get someone from the school to participate because of our descendance as part-Hawaiians, that we would be used to the South Pacific or wherever.

George Kahanu, Sr.: The army realized that Kamehameha students had the right training to do something like that, you know. And so, boys were happy, proud to be there. And you know what? They got paid.

Estell Campbell, niece of colonist Tom Bederman: When you think these boys were young boys, they went basically, I guess, because it was an opportunity for adventure and they were just kind of adventuresome.

Arthur Harris: But you could smell the island before you could see it because of all the guano from the birds, eh.

Elvin Mattson: Once you get there, you wish you never got there. You know, you’re on this island just all by yourself and it’s, you know, nothing there at all. Just birds, birds, millions and millions of birds. And you just don’t know what to do with yourself, you know. It takes you a while to adjust to that, but once you adjust to it, it’s fine.

George Kahanu, Sr.: I did not receive any kind of special training. I actually relied upon those people more senior that me, you know. And recognizing the fact that whoever’s making the selection, would probably consider that, okay, I’m a young man and I'll be following the senior people. So I don't think there was a need for me to receive any kind of a special preparation.

Arthur Harris: In my case, we went up to the Bishop Museum. I think Mr. Bryan was there, Ed Bryan. And he taught us how to skin the birds for the taxidermist, you know. And collect some of the plants that were—grass and weeds on the island. And some specimens were put in formaldehyde.

James Carroll: The things that were unloaded were can goods—things they are not able to get right there on an isolated island. But to me, it was very idyllic because this was nature in the raw.

George Kahanu, Sr.: The frigate bird we tried was tough and it's kinda strong smell. But the booby bird tasted like chicken, tasted real good. And if you had, you know, shoyu [soy sauce], sugar, and you know, stir-fried, taste real ‘ono [delicious].

One of the things that limited our, whatever we did, was water. We took down and we only were allotted three fifty-five gallons of water. And, you know, if you had clothes to wear, then that meant you had to wash the clothes. And water was limited. So, like Arthur said, it was very, it’s reasonable that we became a nudist colony. (Laughter.)

Victor B.S. Kim: The best part of being on that island is, we feel good that we're doing something. We're doing something. You cannot put your finger on it, but it's a feeling. That barren island, four boys, we all had to live for three months together without fighting. I really enjoyed the Kam School boys. I, as an outsider, especially, yeah? The three boys—you would think that those three would gang up on me, but no. They didn’t.

George Kahanu, Sr.: I felt that what we did there had a bearing on how this war went in the Pacific for the U.S. forces. I feel, in my own heart, that—I feel that we did contribute.

Estell Campbell: People probably have not heard of this. And these are young men that took time out of their young lives to do things behind the scenes that they never get any recognition for. It’s time that's gone from their families, time that they can never get back. For those families that lose their boys, they don’t get them back.

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