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The Conversation: Oral History of Kaho'olawe


It was 30 years ago today that history was made on the Hawaiian Island of Kaho’olawe.

That's when live fire exercises and target practice on the island officially ended. Here’s what led up to that.
The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, the U.S. Military used Kaho?olawe for target practice: live-fire military exercises -ship to shore shelling, amphibious landings, gunnery practice, torpedo blasting, and bombing.

Fast forward to January 1976, Native Hawaiians staged an occupation of Kaho?olawe to draw national attention to their call for Congress to grant reparations for the role of the U.S. in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. Nine persons landed on the island, where they were subsequently arrested and released. This was the start of a wide grassroots movement to stop the bombing of Kaho?olawe, reclaiming its standing as a sacred Hawaiian island -the Protect Kahoolawe Ohana was born.

On October 22, 1990, President George H.W. Bush issued a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense to immediately “discontinue use of Kaho?olawe as a weapons range.”

We have a series of audio tapes to play for you today from the UH Manoa Center for Oral History.

Joining us this morning is Derek Kekaulike Mar - who serves as a Native Hawaiian Cultural Advisor providing cultural training for DAWSON and the Hawaiian Native Corporation. 

Dawson is a Native Hawaiian-owned business headquartered in Honolulu, with offices across the U.S. and operations worldwide. The DAWSON companies are subsidiaries of the Hawaiian Native Corporation (HNC), and are also underwriters of HPR. 

Here to help guide us through some of the voices put together by the Center for Oral History is HPR’s News Director Bill Dorman.


Coming up on Tuesday 10/27/20:  Weaving Voices: Stopped the Bombing 30th Anniversary Kaho?olawe Aloha ??ina, Online via Zoom 

On October 22, 1990, President George H.W. Bush ordered the Secretary of Defense to stop bombing Kaho?olawe. Join us in celebrating this 30th anniversary. In this event, first-generation oral histories will weave together with rising generation perspectives. Together we reflect on the Aloha ??ina movement that mobilized thousands across the islands to stop the bombing of Kanaloa Kaho?olawe, sparked a renaissance of Hawaiian culture, language, arts and sciences, and continues to protect sacred Hawaiian lands.


Kaulupono Lu?uwai (3rd Year, UHM, William S. Richardson School of Law), KaipulaumakanioLono Baker (Graduate Student, UHM, Hawaiian Theater)


The RSVP link:

Link to Lei Anuenue Schedule

Link to Protect Kaho'olawe Ohana's Facebook


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Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at
Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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