Honouliuli becomes living classroom for UH West Oahu students - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Honouliuli becomes living classroom for UH West Oahu students

(Image: William Belcher) (Image: William Belcher)
(Image: William Belcher) (Image: William Belcher)
KUNIA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

It has quickly grown into one of the most popular classes at the University of Hawaii West Oahu, and instructors credit the work their doing outside the classroom for the all the interest the archaeological field school at Honouliuli National Monument is generating.

Honouliuli is the former site of Hawaii’s largest and longest-operating internment and prisoner of war camp during World War II. Now, nearly 75 years later, it has become a living classroom for anthropology students who are learning how to preserve and map its features. 

"It is a great feeling to be able to be part of that. Many of the students that went to that field school -- that was pretty much their first field experience.  To be able to have that opportunity and be part of that is a very exciting thing," said Janice Glade, who participated in the 2016 archaeology field program.

Every other summer, University of Hawaii West Oahu students have an opportunity to enroll in the school’s three-credit, three-week-long, archaeological field techniques course. The students are learning cultural resource management, field mapping and excavation strategies. 

Dr. William Belcher’s class has focused their efforts on examining the POW areas as well as the pre- and post-camp land use of the area, and their hands-on experience has led to an important discovery. 

“We found part of the remains of the cement platform of the mess hall for the POWs in compound one on the north end of the site. That's been a really unique find because people have been trying to find that for a couple of years. It's in all the old blueprints but we just haven't been able to find the actual structure because it's buried under almost three feet of dirt," William Belcher, an assistant professor with the UH West Oahu anthropology and social science department.

The university has partnered with the U.S. Department of Interior and the National Park Service as they work towards developing the former internment site into a national monument. 

Honouliuli was used to detain local Japanese leaders and businessmen, along with Hawaii residents of Okinawan, German and Italian ancestry. Approximately 300 internees were held there along with about 4,000 prisoners of war.  

"I really didn't know that there was a Japanese internment camp here in Hawaii. We hear about Pearl Harbor all the time. That's kind of what we hear about, but we didn't know that there were Japanese internees right after World War II, so that was eye-opening for me. That was new information that I've never heard before," said Glade.

"What I'm hoping is that we can shed a lot more light and get people to understand what happened to Japanese-Americans, Japanese and the POWs on this side of the island because this is the largest camp of its size, of its kind in Hawaii," said Dr. Belcher.

Dr. Belcher says most of what the students are now doing is documenting the structures above ground. 

The students’ survey work is being incorporated into a database with information from previous archaeology investigations. All of the collected data will later be used to help the National Park Service create a resource protection program as the planning for the national monument on the site progresses. 

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly