Exiled, but not forgotten

LIHUE — Those sent away to Kalaupapa after being diagnosed with leprosy between 1866 to 1969 were constantly on the minds of the royal family.

“There’s a lot about Kalaupapa that people don’t know that they will get from this exhibit, and we feel blessed to be apart of giving a different light regarding to Hawaiian history and the royal family,” said Pam Chock, vice regent for Daughters of Hawaii.

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa’s “A Source of Light, Constant and Never-Fading” traveling exhibit will open at the Kauai Museum on Saturday and run through Nov. 12.

This exhibit is a collaboration project between four non profits — Daughters of Hawaii, Kauai Museum, Kauai Historical Society and Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa — that will display letters and written transcripts of the Hawaiian royal family’s relationship and visits with the residents of Kalaupapa.

“Queen Emma’s wonderful letters that she wrote are something a lot of people don’t know about,” said Charles “Chucky Boy” Chock, director of exhibits/special events for the Kauai Museum. “These letters really show how passionate the queens were to their people and land and how much they cared for the people of Kalaupapa.”

Developed by Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of every individual who was sent to Kalaupapa because of government mandated policies regarding leprosy, now known as Hansen’s disease, the exhibit will show the “beauty and true connection” of Kalaupapa’s relationship with the royal family, Pam Chock said.

Pam and Charles Chock both stressed how Hawaiian history has been sensationalized by the likes of Hollywood in movies that take away the true beauty of Kalaupapa and diminishes the impact the royal family had on its people. Their hope is that this exhibit changes that perspective.

“It’s a wonderful reflection of Hawaii’s history,” Pam Chock said. “The history has been so sensationalized, but it’s not all true.”

The exhibit will feature stories and recollections of the royal family’s visits to Kalaupapa that have been recently transcribed and deciphered from Hawaiian into English.

These transcripts have been deciphered over the past decade as an on-going process by author Anwei Law, who has deciphered over 300 letters written in Hawaiian regarding the people of Kalaupapa, according to Valerie Monson, coordinator and one of the founding members of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa.

“The stories that are going to be told from the interpretations of the letters, which have never been done before,” Charles Chock said. “They deciphered the letters that were all in Hawaiian.”

An educational experience for those who care about the history of Kalaupapa, this exhibit offers an experience for students in high schools and middle schools that they won’t learn in the classroom, according to Pam Chock.

Monson will be giving guided tours of the exhibit at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday.

“This exhibition returns the people of Kalaupapa to the history that they created,” Monson said. “They’ve been left out of history.”

The exhibit will open its doors at 10 a.m. on Saturday until 5 p.m at the regular admission price (kama‘aina, $10, general public, $15, seniors, $12).

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