Category Archives: Hawai’i

Wordcatcher Tales: Minidoka, Owyhee, Spudnik

On our recent Overland Trail roadtrip through Oregon, Idaho, and other northwest states, the Far Outliers encountered more than a few unusual names. Here are three of them.

hunt-roadsign
Minidoka is a Dakota Sioux word that means ‘water-spring’. The same root meaning ‘water’ occurs in the names Minnesota, Minnetonka, and other places where the Dakota Sioux once roamed. It occurs in several placenames in Idaho, including the name of Minidoka County, the eastern neighbor of Jerome County in south central Idaho. On our way through Jerome County, we got off the Interstate to visit the Minidoka National Historic Site. In 1942, nearly 10,000 people of Japanese ancestry were evacuated from Alaska, Washington, and Oregon and interned in Jerome County at a place locally known as Hunt. The historic marker (above) that directed us to the camp did not call it “Minidoka” but did mention Japanese internment. The internment camp built in Jerome County was soon renamed for neighboring Minidoka County to distinguish it from another Japanese internment camp in Jerome, Arkansas. There is lots of new signage within the Idaho site now, but only the one historic marker to help strangers find their way there.

Owyhee is an old rendering of what is now spelled Hawai‘i, the name of the largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. How did it come to name so many features of the region where Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada come together? According to the Owyhee County Museum in tiny Murphy, Idaho, the name honors several Hawaiian fur trappers who worked for the North West Company of fur trader Donald MacKenzie, who explored the area between 1818 and 1821. The Hawaiians disappeared, but an echo of their homeland graces Idaho’s first incorporated (and second largest) county, as well as a city, a desert, a mountain range, a river, a lake, and a dam far into the interior of the Pacific Northwest.

Spudnik is a cutesy name for many different things. A few of them even have something to do with potatoes. In the quirky but informative—and sometimes corny—Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho (the “Potato Capital of the World”), we saw an early model of a potato-scooping machine invented by local potato farmers Carl and Leo Hobbs about the time the first Sputnik was launched in 1958. They decided to market their new line of potato harvesting equipment under the name Spudnik. Now they sell the largest-scale potato planting and harvesting equipment in North America.

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Top Secret WWII POW Camp in Hawai‘i

Honolulu resident John Bond, who has done a lot of historical research on the Ewa area of Oahu, has posted on the Ewa Battlefield blog a long compilation of his findings about a top secret World War II POW camp near Iroquois Point. Here are a few excerpts.

Camp Iroquois was unique as a Japanese POW camp with a philosophy of winning the “hearts and minds” which helped play a significant classified, secret role in winning the Pacific War. Americans usually heard very grim and brutal stories of the treatment of American prisoners in the hands of the Imperial Japanese military.

Japanese military POW’s arriving from the Pacific island battlefields were relatively few in numbers due to the fact that they were expected to never allow themselves to be captured alive. Huge numbers killed themselves by suicide attacks or killing each other.

Those that were captured early in the war usually were the result of incapacitating wounds or ship being sunk, such as at the battle of Midway where the Imperial Japanese Navy lost four aircraft carriers, among other fleet ships. Those survivors that could be picked up were brought back to Pearl Harbor to be interrogated for their military knowledge.

Then they were screened for a possible interest in cooperating with the United States to win the war by saving Japanese lives and preparing for the future democratic government of Japan.

Additionally, the alumni of the Camp Iroquois project became some of the most important ambassadors, academics and writers that greatly influenced future American Japanese relations and the establishment of many organizations developing diplomatic and cultural relationships and a solid mutual defense partnership….

Camp Iroquois really should be a part of the telling of the Honouliuli Internment and POW Camp story. Fortunately a lot of the story has actually been saved in great detail by the US Navy Japanese/Oriental Language School Archival Project, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries in newsletters called The Interpreter.

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Origins of WWII Korean POWs in Hawai‘i

From Korean Prisoners-of-War in Hawaii During World War II and the Case of US Navy Abduction of Three Korean Fishermen, by Yong-ho Ch’oe, Univ. of Hawaii, in Asia-Pacific Focus: Japan Focus, vol. 7, iss. 49, no. 2 (30 November 2009):

Approximately 2,700 Korean POWs were captured and brought to the Island of Oahu, where they were incarcerated until the end of the war and their repatriation to Korea in December 1945…. Plucked mostly from various Pacific islands toward the end of the war, these Korean POWs were detained in a camp in Honouliuli on the Island of Oahu. This camp, located in Honouliuli Gulch, west of Waipahu, was opened in March 1943 as the Honouliuli Internment Camp to detain Japanese and Japanese-American internees as well as POWs from Japan, Italy, and elsewhere. It was later renamed as Alien Internment Camp and still later as POW Compound Number 6….

The first arrivals of Korean POWs to the Honouliuli camp must have come in late 1943 or early 1944 as the following report suggests: “As a result of the Gilbert Island operation and the capture of Korean noncombatant prisoners of war, it has been found necessary to construct an additional enclosure to separate the Japanese from the Koreans.”…

Among the 798 men on the Japanese side on Makin Atoll, there was one labor unit consisting of 276 men “who had no combat training and were not assigned weapons or a battle station,” according to one report. It is believed that most, if not all of them, were Korean. If this is true, out of 276 Korean noncombatants, only 104, less than half, survived as prisoners while 172 died in the fighting.

The Gilbert Islands Operation then turned against Tarawa Atoll, where more than 4,700 defenders, including 1,200 Korean laborers, were stationed.8 After four days of fierce combat, the atoll was brought under American control. The total Japanese and Korean casualties were reported to be 4,713. The only survivors were one Japanese officer, 16 enlisted men, and 129 Koreans who were taken as POWs. This means that out of 1,200 Korean noncombatant laborers on Tarawa, only 129 survived as POWs and nearly 1,000 died in battle….

In addition to these Korean POWs from the Gilbert Islands, some 300 to 400 Korean laborers were brought to the Honouliuli camp after the American military operation on Saipan in 1944. In a telephone interview I conducted with Mr. Young Taik Chun, a second generation Korean-American, on October 27, 1990, he stated that in July or August of 1944 the United States military authorities asked him to interpret for Korean POWs at the Honoulilui camp, who had just been brought from Saipan. When he arrived at the camp, there were 300 to 400 Koreans, all of them noncombatant laborers, who had recently been transported from Saipan….

It is likely that Korean laborers from various other Pacific islands, such as Guam, Tinian, Palau, and Peleliu were also brought to the Honouliuli camp as POWs, having experienced similar ordeals….

A United States military report, dated July 28, 1945, states that 2,592 Koreans were detained in Hawaii…. This number increased to 2,700 by December 1945 when a complete list of the Korean POWs of the Honouliuli camp was made just before they were repatriated to Korea.

There were also three Korean college student draftees (Ko. hakbyŏng, Jp. gakuhei) who deserted and surrendered to the British in Burma (a fascinating story), and three fisherman abducted in April 1945 by an American submarine, Tirante, in the strait between Japan and Korea.

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Evangelizing Japanese in Hawai‘i, 1915

From “Events in Hawaii,” by F. S. Scudder, in The Christian Movement in the Japanese Empire, including Korea and Formosa, a Year Book for 1915 (Conference of Federated Missions, Japan, 1915), pp. 333-336.

Interchanges – Our geographic situation has furnished us, as usual, special opportunities of brotherly service. In May, 1914, the visit of the training ships Asama and Azuma gave many Americans the privilege of becoming acquainted with Rear-Admiral Kuroi, whose noble character won the admiration of ail who met him. It was a happy coincidence that while a party of prominent citizens of Hawaii were touring Japan and daily receiving the highest courtesies in that Land of the Rising Sun, we of the setting sun should have the opportunity of offering the first welcome to these men of the Japanese navy on their visit to various American ports.

A band of thirty young men, wearing a “Y” on their sleeves, and representing the Japanese Y.M.C.A. tendered their services as guides throughout the city and vicinity of Honolulu. An international welcome service was held both in Honolulu and Hilo, in each of which no less than 1,000 people gathered. At the Honolulu service, the picture of Admiral Kuroi, seated between Governor Pink­ham and Admiral Moore, and in the midst of a group of fifteen other prominent citizens of Honolulu, was one that called out from many the remark, “How could those two Admirals ever be conceived as being ranged on different sides in a conflict.” Such services certainly tend to bind us together in sympathy, respect and mutual interest.

Peace Scholarship Students – Another incident evoking interesting comment was the coming of three more Peace Scholars from Japan to the Mid-Pacific Institute. That the sending these three boys should have been deemed of sufficient importance to draw together at the home of the Prime Minister of Japan a number of the leaders of great movements in that Empire, shows the remarkable way in which the master minds of Japan foster, from its tiniest beginnings, the ideal of world peace.

In the great pageant of Peace given at the Mid-pacific carnival in February of this year, no part called forth more unanimous admiration than that taken by the Japanese. Not alone the exquisite beauty of their costumes, but the dignity and unequalled decorum of the participants were conspicuous.

No account of the year’s activities would be complete, without mention of the definite efforts put forth to bring about mutual understanding between the people of America and Japan. Central Union Church gave its minister, Rev. Doremus Scudder, D.D., leave of absence for three months, to join with Rev. S. L. Gulick, D.D., in a campaign of good-will in the United States. The results of this campaign, though of far-reaching impor­tance, are not yet made public. This was followed by the visit of Doctors Mathews and Gulick on their way to and from Japan, and on his return trip, Dr. Gulick made a tour of these Islands, investigating the condition of the Japanese here and the estimate put upon them by the people of Hawaii. Dr. Gulick’s report of this investigation will prove of intense interest and value.

Rev. S. Kimura made a three months’ evangelistic campaign in the Islands, deeply stirring the Churches of all nationalities, and giving a strong forward impetus to the work among the Japanese.

The Hongwanji Buddhists are planning to erect a temple in Honolulu costing $100,000.

Young Japan in Hawaii – One of the big problems of missions in the ever-changing condition of Hawaii is that presented by the changing language of the people. Looking at this from the Japanese side alone, it is of serious proportions, as will be noticed from the following considerations, but what is here said in reference to the Japanese is likewise applicable to the youth of all other nationalities growing up in our midst.

An On-coming Problem
The Japanese population in the Hawaiian Islands is about 90,000
Of these the number born in the Islands is approximately 23,000
The yearly increase by children born in Hawaii is about 3,000

Here in a nutshell we have a problem which may be outlined as follows: Since the immigration of Japanese, excepting of brides, is practically discontinued, the increase of the Japanese population must henceforth be chiefly of those born in the Islands–who are educated in the public schools and whose knowledge of the Japanese tongue, after they are eight or ten years of age, becomes less and less, while English becomes their favourite language. By the time they are old enough to attend church services we are in danger of losing all influence over them, for on the one hand, their knowledge of Japanese is so limited that they can not understand the sermons preached by Japanese ministers, and on the other hand, even our best qualified Japanese ministers are not equal to preaching in English acceptably to those youths who have attended our public schools, and acquired English through play and study from their childhood days.

What can be done for these on-coming thousands of young men and women who are thus growing up among us? Shall they go to English speaking Churches? The question answers itself; for, outside of Honolulu, the Churches of all denominations in these Islands which have English services can be counted on the fingers of both hands [emphasis added]. That is sufficient evidence of the need for inaugurating English services throughout all the Islands.

Buildings Ready – Church buildings are already available, each nationality being fairly well provided with suitable buildings, but unless these Churches are quick to adapt themselves to the changing order, they will soon be ministering to a small body of old people, while the great body of our young people will be unshepherded.

Who, then, shall be secured to conduct these English services? To place in the field additional missionaries from the mainland [U.S.], even if it were possible, would be inadequate; for the present generation, at least, the ministers to the different nationalities should be related by blood to the people they are to serve.

Need of Dual Ministry – It is evident then, that while utilizing the present church buildings as permanent centres of rel1g1ous life we must have a bi-lingual ministry if we aim to reach both the old and the young, and as the difficulties in the way of securing one man who will speak the two languages are practically insuperable, we must begin as rapidly as possible to provide each of these Churches with an associate minister, of its own national type, who shall take charge of the English work.

This may seem like a staggering financial proposition, but it is not more staggering than the thought of a whole generation of the youth of all natioµalities growing up without religious guidance, and hence setting back the moral development of our people indefinitely. The unique situation calls for unusual outlay. The time has come when we must face the fact and plan to meet it with a definite programme.

Question of Expense – The sooner the problem is faced, however, the less the expense involved. By beginning at once to adapt ourselves to it, placing in the field one new man at a time and locating him at a strategic centre, the initial expense would be moderate, and the help thus given would so strengthen the Churches that they would move more rapidly towards self-support, thus keeping down the annual increase to a reasonable sum.

Our first aim, it would seem, should be to place one English speaking Japanese minister on each of the four Islands where we have Japanese work, who should institute a regular English service in each Church as often as the size of his circuit will permit, and then, from this beginning, to go on increasing the number of our English speaking preachers till every Church has its dual ministry.

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Hawaiians in the American Civil War

One of my earliest blogposts was on the American Civil War in the Pacific, which focused on the Confederate raider CSS Shenandoah sent to the Pacific Ocean to attack American whalers, most of whom were from the New England states.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a small ceremony at Oahu Cemetery honoring one among at least 119 men from the Hawaiian Kingdom known to have joined the war effort, mostly on the Northern side. The ceremony dedicated a headstone for the grave of PVT J. R. Kealoha, who sailed to Pennsylvania in 1864 to enlist in the 41st Infantry Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops, then fought at Petersburg and Appomattox, and returned to Honolulu, where he died in 1877. His burial site had been entered in the cemetery records, but no grave marker had survived. Two of the organizers of the event, Justin W. Vance and Anita Manning, recently published an article I highly recommend, “The Effects of the American Civil War on Hawai‘i and the Pacific” (World History Connected, October 2012).

At least a score of those who enlisted in Massachusetts regiments were descended from Protestant missionaries from the Bay State who had attended schools in New England. But at least 49 Native Hawaiians also served in either the Union or Confederate military, half of them at sea, where their sailing skills were highly valued. They had to use anglicized aliases, like “Friday Kanaka,” which make their records hard to track, and most of the soldiers served in the U.S. Colored Troops. Ten Hawaiian sailors were forced to enlist in the Confederate Navy after their whaling ship, Abigail (from New Bedford, Mass.) was captured by the CSS Shenandoah, which finally surrendered in England many months after the war ended. The most unusual Asians in the Confederate ranks were Christopher Wren Bunker and Steven Decatur Bunker, sons of Chang and Eng Bunker, the original “Siamese twins,” who migrated from Siam via Boston, where they were moved to adopt the name Bunker, to North Carolina, where they became tobacco-planting slaveholders and strong Southern sympathizers.

The Western National Parks Association is due to publish a book on Asians and Pacific Islanders in the Civil War some time this winter (2014–2015), and the Hawai‘i Sons of the Civil War are planning to a documentary film.

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Pacific Coast Baseball, 1890

From The Greatest Minor League: A History of the Pacific Coast League, 1903-1957, by Dennis Snelling (McFarland, 2011), Kindle Loc. 80-98:

The crowd began congregating on a gray, drizzly December morning in 1890 at San Francisco’s Clay Street Wharf. Bracing themselves against the cold wind and brisk dampness of the seafront, people from all walks of society had assembled in response to the arrival of the U.S. Navy flagship Charleston, which sat anchored in the bay. Undaunted by the dreary weather, the throng waited patiently in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Charleston and its famous passenger, David Kalakaua, the King of Hawaii. The King disembarked at fifteen minutes to four o’clock in the afternoon and, accompanied by Admiral George Brown, boarded a twelve-oar barge that rowed him ashore. Shouts went up as royal salutes were fired from other ships in the harbor, and smoke enveloped the entire scene. Emerging from the smokescreen, the barge reached the gangplank and the coxswain shouted, “Way enough! Toss oars!” King Kalakaua, cutting an impressive figure in his Prince Albert coat and a black, chimney pot hat, stepped onto the wharf and was greeted warmly by General John Gibbon and the Fourth United States Cavalry. The King acknowledged his crowd of admirers and was escorted to one of twelve carriages waiting to transport the dignitaries up Market Street to the Palace Hotel.

Numerous events were held in the King’s honor, including an all-star baseball game staged five days before Christmas at Haight Street Grounds between a team of native Californians who played in the eastern professional leagues and a group of locals from the California State League.’ The King, whose attendance made him the first monarch to attend a baseball game on American soil, was quite familiar with the sport thanks to his financial advisor, Alexander same Alexander Cartwright often credited with creating the modern game. The King’s presence was a measure of how far Cartwright’s favorite game had progressed.

The story goes that baseball was introduced in the West during Cartwright’s journey to California via wagon train during the Gold Rush. Whether true or not, it is almost certain that he or some other veteran of East Coast “base ball” planted the seed, and by the early 1850s there were accounts of people playing “town ball” in the streets of San Francisco. Cartwright did not linger, instead sailing on to Hawaii where he sent for his family and became a prominent citizen. By the time of his death in 1892, Cartwright’s connection to baseball was forgotten, even in his native New York. Nearly a half-century would pass before the ex-bank clerk/volunteer fireman and his Knickerbockers teammates received credit for their contributions to the game. By that point, the Abner Doubleday myth was entrenched and Cooperstown had the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Although Cartwright may have been forgotten, the game he promoted was not. It developed, thrived and spread everywhere, including the West. Teams were soon being established all over California, although they initially functioned as social clubs requiring little physical activity beyond drinking and exaggerated storytelling. That began to change by 1860 when players from Sacramento and San Francisco met in a state championship series. The San Francisco team, the Eagles, captured the silver ball engraved “For The Best Base Ball Playing, September 25, 1860.”

For more about the earliest baseball in the Hawaiian Islands, see Punahou and Baseball in the Hawaiian Kingdom.

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Wordcatcher Tales: Honi Kuu Okole, Ka Puhio Wela

At least two of the U.S. Army Air Force B-17 bombers that operated in the Southwest Pacific Theater during World War II sported Hawaiian nicknames.

Honi Kuu Okole ‘Kiss My Ass’ (from Fortress Rabaul: The Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942-April 1943, by Bruce Gamble [Zenith, 2010]) – The Hawaiian words would be spelled differently these days, but honi ‘kiss’ + ku‘u ‘my [beloved]’ + ʻōkole ‘ass’ would seem to render ‘Kiss My Ass’ pretty effectively. However, I suspect the syntax might be more accurate if the verb were preceded by the auxiliary e that marks the imperative (or future).

Ka Puhio Wela – Though well-researched and well-written, Bruce Gamble’s Target: Rabaul: The Allied Siege of Japan’s Most Infamous Stronghold, March 1943–August 1945 (Zenith, 2013), p. 275, nevertheless repeats a bit of well-entrenched American military lore that is linguistically incorrect:

“One of the more creatively named bombers in the Fifth Air Force, the B-17 wore Double Trouble on the left side of the nose and Ka-Puhio-Wela, the Hawaiian phrase for double trouble [emphasis added], on the opposite side.”

There is no way to construe Ka Puhio Wela literally as ‘double trouble’. Ka ‘the’ and wela ‘hot, heat’ are pretty unambiguous, but puhio doesn’t show up in exactly that form in any of the major Hawaiian dictionaries. It may be an abbreviated form of pūhihio (= pūhiohio) ‘whirl, blow (like the wind)’ or ‘break wind’. By itself, the root hio can mean ‘a sweep or gust of wind’ or ‘to break wind silently’ (perhaps descended from an earlier Polynesian form *fio ‘whistle’). Another similar form, pūhiʻu (also spelled puhiu) means ‘to break wind audibly, rudely’. So the most literal English translation of Ka Puhio Wela may be ‘Hot Blast (of Wind)’ or ‘Hot Fart’.

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