January is Kalaupapa Month

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By Valerie Monson

Two years ago, Ka ʻOhana O Kalaupapa proposed designating January as “Kalaupapa Month” to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature. The bill passed unanimously and then-Gov. David Ige signed the legislation into law.

Ka ʻOhana President Charmaine Woodward, whose great-grandparents are buried at Kalaupapa, says Kalaupapa Month is a “time of remembrance and celebration, the time we celebrate their lives, their legacy, and their love. By overcoming adversity, the people of Kalaupapa guide us on how to traverse difficult situations by portraying characteristics of unconditional love, true faith, and family.”

January was selected as the month to honor the people of Kalaupapa and learn more about their history because there are a number of important January dates related to the settlement’s history, such as Jan. 6, 1866 – the date that the first 12 people affected by leprosy were sent to the Kalaupapa. They were the first of nearly 8,000.

Both Josef DeVeuster (later Father Damien, now Saint Damien) and Barbara Koob (later Mother Marianne Cope, now Saint Marianne) have January birthdates. And January 1978 marked the beginning of a more than five-year-long protest led by the people of Kalaupapa and Hale Mōhalu to assert their rights to be included in the decision-making affecting them.

This month, Ka ʻOhana will be hosting two webinars and distributing essays about the people associated with these key historical events. The webinars are narrated slide shows featuring historical and modern-day photos and are offered to the public at no charge (see sidebar).

Kalaupapa Month is also great time to visit two award-winning exhibits produced by Ka ʻOhana O Kalaupapa.

“A Source of Light, Constant and Never Fading,” at ʻIolani Palace is a historical exhibit that focuses on the strong relationship between the aliʻi and the people of Kalaupapa. “A Reflection of Kalaupapa: Past, Present and Future” at the Molokaʻi Museum & Cultural Center features 100 framed photos of Kalaupapa residents and their family members along with landscapes of the peninsula, mostly taken by acclaimed photographer Wayne Levin over the years.

Finally, a Kalaupapa Month digital brochure featuring additional information and suggested ways to remember Kalaupapa can be viewed on the ʻOhana website: www.kalaupapaohana.org.


“A Source of Light, Constant and Never Fading” exhibit at ʻIolani Palace is open in January on Tuesday through Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (tickets will not be sold after 4:00 p.m.). Go to www.iolanipalace.org for more information.

“A Reflection of Kalaupapa: Past, Present and Future” exhibit at the Molokaʻi Museum and Cultural Center (1795 Kalae Hwy., Kualapuʻu) is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Admission is $5.00 for adults; $1:00 for ages 5-18.

Kalaupapa Month Webinars

Kalaupapa Memorial Webinar

Sat., Jan. 13, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. · Learn how Kalaupapa residents inspired the creation of Ka ʻOhana O Kalaupapa and how they have led the effort to establish the Kalaupapa Memorial.

Save Hale Mōhalu Movement

Sat., Jan. 27, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m · This webinar includes 40-year-old television clips of residents and supporters who were arrested at the protest, along with quotes from residents taken from interviews about why they took a stand.

Email info.kalaupapa@gmail.com to sign up to attend the webinars and receive the essays.