University students dig up World War II past
Beneath the overgrown brush is a story quietly revealing itself. On the hillside above Kunia is the former Honouliuli Internment Camp.
It is one of five camps in the islands where the United States military interned Japanese-Americans during World War II.
"It is a story in Hawaii's history that is nearly forgotten. Many people even still today really have never heard of the internment in Hawaii," said Betsy Young, with the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.
Landowner and agriculture company Monsanto is donating the 160 acres for educational use.
Students at the University of Hawaii's West Oahu campus took a trip into the fields Thursday afternoon.
The anthropology majors are gaining valuable hands-on experience, not taught in a classroom.
"A lot of people in Hawaii don't know about this place, and it's real good for us to learn and we can go out into the community and we can educate people," said UH student Clint Krall.
The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii is leading tours to the excavation sites to provide a glimpse into the past.
Hours of shoveling dirt revealed a bowl dated 1941, glass bottles and an underground sewage system.
Teams also exposed concrete slabs where the internees washed their clothes and ate meals together.
"It was a place that I'm sure they could get away from the tents and have some social interaction," said archaeologist Ron Beckwith.
Students and volunteers are relying on basic tools and modern day technology to uncover an emotionally charged time in Hawaii's history.
"It's the human factor that these were Japanese-American citizens and their rights were taken from them, and the thought of that happening or possibly happening today or in the future is pretty appalling," Beckwith said.
Monsanto is hoping to donate the land to the National Parks Service.
Last month, the governor signed a law aimed at preserving Honouliuli's history.
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