Hawaii News Interior Department report details legacy of Hawaii boarding schools By Timothy Hurley email@example.com May 16, 2022 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! A Department of Interior study released last week identified more than 500 student deaths linked to more than 400 U.S.-supported boarding schools for Indigenous people operating from 1819 to 1969. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. A Department of Interior study released last week identified more than 500 student deaths linked to more than 400 U.S.-supported boarding schools for Indigenous people operating from 1819 to 1969. Seven of the schools were in Hawaii. The investigation identified 53 marked or unmarked burial sites at schools across the federal Indian boarding school system, but officials declined to say where they were located to protect against grave- robbing, vandalism and other disturbances. Department of Interior officials said further investigation for a second volume of the report is in the works and could uncover as many as tens of thousands of deaths tied to the boarding schools. But are any of those burials linked to schools in Hawaii? “I hope that isn’t the case,” said Benton Kealii Pang, president of the Oahu Council of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs. “But who knows? We have no idea.” Pang said he welcomes further investigation about what may have happened here and to shed light on the legacy of the boarding schools in Hawaii. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced Wednesday a yearlong tour for Interior Department officials that will allow former boarding school students from Native American tribes, Alaska Native villages and Native Hawaiian communities to share their stories as part of a permanent oral history collection. The seven Hawaii schools identified as Indigenous boarding schools: >> Hilo Boarding School >> Industrial and Reformatory School (with branches in Kawailou, Keoneula, Kapalama, Waialee and Waialua) >> Industrial and Reformatory School for Girls (with branches in Keoneula, Kapalama, Maunawili, Koolaupoko, Moiliili and Honolulu) >> Kamehameha Schools >> Lahainaluna Seminary >> Mauna Loa Forestry Camp School >> Molokai Forestry Camp School Only Kamehameha and Lahainaluna continue today, with Kamehameha still providing instruction to Native Hawaiians and Lahainaluna now a public school run by the state Department of Education. The first-of-its kind federal study asserts that the boarding schools in Hawaii, like elsewhere, were used as tools to suppress native language and culture and to assimilate Native Hawaiians. Of the 106 pages of the report, only nine are dedicated to the boarding schools in Hawaii. Not a great deal of detail is offered about the schools, with the notable exception of the Hilo Boarding School, which was founded by missionaries in 1836 for Native Hawaiian male children. The 1848 charter of the Hilo Boarding School called for schooling about Christian living with “sound, useful knowledge, coupled with manual labor to promote good citizenship training.” For its operation, the Hilo Boarding School relied on student manual labor, including for agriculture, according to the report. In 1900 the school established a “pupil government” with a judiciary body composed of child magistrates to impose penalties on other children for school regulation violations and military discipline. In 1910 the school instituted a military regimen including uniforms, drills and rifles. The “military regimen proves to be of great assistance in the formation of right habits and ideals. It is a most important aid in maintaining good discipline and morale, and instilling loyalty to the school and the Nation,” according to a federal Indian boarding school department document quoted in the report. Walter Kahumoku III, a University of Hawaii West Oahu administer who is an expert on Hawaii’s educational history, said it is unlikely that Hawaii has any school-related deaths or burials associated with its boarding schools. “What happened on the continent is not the same here,” he said. “Children were not ripped from their communities. Children were not tortured in that way.” But the boarding schools in Hawaii, along with most public and private schools in that era, all played a role in a campaign to erase Native culture, suppress the language in favor of English and turn the Native Hawaiian population into law- abiding Americans, Kahumoku said. “They worked to get the native out of the natives, he said. The state Legislature in April adopted a resolution that apologizes to Native Hawaiians for a law, dating back to 1896, that effectively banned the use of the Hawaiian language in schools. Pang said there are plenty of stories about Native Hawaiian students being beaten at school for using English. The language ban, he said, was standard practice for those colonizing Indigenous communities. “You take away the foundation of their traditions, and you assimilate them into a new Western or European culture,” he said. Kahumoku, a former Kamehameha Schools administrator who is now executive assistant to the UH West Oahu chancellor and co-director of the Doctor of Education program at UH Manoa, was one of a handful of Hawaii scholars who met with Department of Interior officials during the making of their report. Kahumoku said those officials were unaware that Hawaii even had boarding schools. But those schools, he said, left the same damaging legacy their counterpart schools on the continent left: generations denied their identity as Hawaiians, unaware of their traditional practices and not knowing about their traditional belief structures. And Kamehameha, which today is the acknowledged gold standard for Native Hawaiian education, did its part in helping to stamp out the Native culture during the 20th century, he said. For decades Kamehameha ran its schools in English only and didn’t teach anything about the Native Hawaiian culture, he said. The Christian-centered curriculum generally focused on vocational, agricultural and military-style training. Hawaii historian and UH Manoa ethnic studies professor Davianna McGregor came to Kamehameha’s defense, saying it was founded by the the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha I, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, with the noble aim of giving Native Hawaiians the opportunity to succeed in a changing world. McGregor said she is proud that her own grandmother Louise Aoe Wong Kong McGregor was a member of the first class of the Kamehameha School for Girls in 1897, and her father, Daniel Pamawaho McGregor, graduated from Kamehameha in 1926. She said her grandmother was a teacher and community leader who fought for women’s suffrage and was the first to stand in line to vote. “One thing I am critical of is that it adopted English- only instruction,” she said, although noting that the Republic of Hawaii made instruction in the Hawaiian language against the law. Asked for comment about the report, Kamehameha Schools produced a statement saying the document only begins to scratch the surface of the trauma inflicted on Native Hawaiian, American Indian and Alaska Native families for generations by federally supported boarding schools. “The initial findings are an appalling and sobering testimony to the imperialistic history of the United States, its treatment of Native people, and the need for redress. “For Indigenous communities around the world, the legacies of oppression, forced assimilation and foreign greed are all too familiar. The diminishing of Native language, culture, and identity, the usurping of governance, and confiscation of land are textbook strategies of imperialism; they are intended to debilitate and dominate. “Kamehameha Schools, the living legacy of Ke Ali‘i Bernice Pauahi Bishop, has devoted itself to improving the capability and well- being of Native Hawaiians through education. Grappling with the contradictions and internal conflicts of our own colonial history, we continue a process of transforming over time to serve and uplift our communities through Hawaiian culture-based education. “Critical to this transformation is our own examination of the historical issues so we can better know our truths, engage in healing processes, and empower our communities.” “We proudly stand with all Native Hawaiian, American Indian, and Alaska Native peoples who have persevered through systematic violence over centuries, holding onto the strengths of our ancestors and innovating Native ways of life that nurture vibrant communities now and for generations.” Previous Story Lawmakers award Hawaii nonprofits nearly $50M Next Story Kokua Line: Are Oahu parks being watered?