Sand Island (Hawaii)
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It was known as Quarantine Island during the nineteenth century, when it was used to quarantine ships believed to carry contagious passengers.
During World War II, Sand Island was used as an Army internment camp to house Japanese Americans as well as expatriates from Germany, Italy and other Axis countries living in Hawaii. The camp opened in December 1941, soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent mass arrests of civilians accused — often without evidence — of espionage or other fifth column activity. Over 600 Hawaiian residents, many of them U.S. citizens, would pass through Sand Island before it was closed in March 1943. Most of the internees had been transferred to Army and Department of Justice internment camps on the mainland beginning in February 1942; the remaining 149 were moved to the newly constructed Honouliuli Internment Camp.
During the 1970s, over 100 homeless native Hawaiians cleaned up the garbage that filled the island, built homes and took up residence. In the early 1980s, 180 acres of the island were reclaimed by the State of Hawaii for industrial and recreational development. Those who had taken up residence were evicted without compensation.
Sand Island Detention Camp
This camp detained internees until March 1, 1943, having immediately opened after the Pearl Harbor attack. Approximately $500,000 was spent on improving and maintaining the facilities. At one point, it consisted of two enclosures holding 250 Japanese males each, one holding 40 females of mixed races and one for 25 people of German or Italian ancestry.
The detention camp served as the principal transfer and holding site for Hawaii's civilian detainees for fifteen months. Shipments of Sand Island inmates to the U.S. mainland for prolonged confinement commenced in February 1942 and continued until the closure of the civilian camp in March 1943. By that point, more than six hundred local residents from across the Hawaiian Islands had passed through Sand Island on their way to continental camps. Two years later Sand Island was converted into a POW camp. By September 1945 the site held 1,010 Koreans and 952 Italians. Today Sand Island is home to a state recreation area, a U.S. Coast Guard base, a wastewater treatment facility, and an assortment of industrial facilities, but no evidence of the wartime detention center remains.
World War II
Dec. 7, 1941 — 7:57 am: Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. 4:25 pm: martial law declared by Gov. Joseph B. Poindexter. Detention of local Japanese begins
Dec. 8, 1941 — Sand Island camp activated; it housed about 300 Issei and Nisei men and a handful of women. Camps are also activated on the islands of Hawai‘i (Kīlauea Military Camp), Kauaʻi (Kalaheo Stockade), and Maui (Haiku Camp) over the next few days.
Dec. 9, 1941 — Total arrested as of Dec. 9: 473. Breakdown: 345 Issei, 22 Nisei, 74 German nationals, 19 citizens of German ancestry, 11 Italian nationals, 2 citizens of Italian ancestry.
Feb. 19, 1942 — President Franklin Roosevelt issues Executive Order 9066, laying the groundwork for the mass forced removal and detention of 110,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast.
Feb. 21, 1942 — 199 prisoners at Sand Island are transported to mainland detention centers. Five more shipments take place in 1942 and 3 more in 1943. Meanwhile, prisoners held in neighbor island detention centers are transported to Sand Island.
March 30, 1942 — Total number of detainees by this date: 733, with 515 Issei, 93 Nisei, the remainder Germans or Italians.
March 1, 1943 —Sand Island closes; remaining detainees are transferred to a new camp in Honouliuli gulch.
Aug. 14, 1945 — Japan surrenders.
Nov. 14, 1945 — 450 internees return to Hawai‘i; 300 more return on Dec. 19. Total number of Hawai‘i internees: approx. 2,270.
1952 — Immigration Act of 1952 passes. Among other things, it allows for a token immigration quota for Japan and allows Issei to become naturalized citizens.
1988 — President Ronald Reagan signs the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 into law. Its provisions call for Japanese American survivors of the World War II internment to receive $20,000 reparations payments and a letter of apology from the President. The first recipients of reparations receive their checks and letters on October 9, 1990.
2006 — President Bush signs Public Law 109-441, a measure allotting $38 million towards the preservation and acquisition of historic confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II.
2007 — The Hawai‘i State Legislature approves SB 1228, calling for a plan for how best to memoralize World War II confinement sites in Hawai‘i.
Feb. 24, 2015 — President Barack Obama signs the Presidential Proclamation designating the site of the Honouliuli Internment Camp as the Honouliuli National Monument.
Geography and population
Sand Island is home to Sand Island State Park, which offers picnicking, camping, walking, shore fishing and board surfing. It fronts a small sand beach and has good views of Honolulu Harbor and ocean sunsets. The swimming conditions are fair, due to rocks in the water and the fact that Sand Island is near a busy harbor and underground sewer canals. Swimming is also limited to certain areas and not allowed in the harbor shipping lanes. However, fishing is good and you'll see many local fishermen trying their luck.
Sand Island also attracts tourists to its historical bunkers and lookout towers.
Current Social Issues
Sand Island is experiencing an issue with homelessness. Residents and city leaders have proposed the creation of a homeless camp. This has been an ongoing issue for several years. Even though there is much opposition, the city has disclosed plans on how it hopes to handle controversial public behaviors by some of the homeless population on the island. Their next step is to approach the full council for consideration.
Sand island climate is mild year round with very little seasonal difference in temperatures, however there is a very distinct difference between the wet and dry season. Summer high temperatures range from upper 80s to low 90s °F, with winter highs range from upper 70s to mid 80s °F. Precipitation is light year round, more so in the summer. There are approximately 3,100 hours of sunshine annually.
- Kashima, Tetsuden (2003), Judgment without trial: Japanese American imprisonment during World War II, The Scott and Laurie Oki series in Asian American studies, University of Washington Press, ISBN 978-0-295-98299-1
- Sand Island: Blocks 9000 thru 9006, Census Tract 57, Honolulu County, Hawaii, Census 2000, United States Census Bureau, retrieved 2009-12-29
- Keith, Victoria and Rochford, Jerry, "The Sand Island Story", Honolulu, HI. 1981. (video)
- "Chronology of World War II Hawaiʻi Internees." Accessed March 29, 2015.
- "Community Reacts to Sand Island Homeless Shelter Proposal." - Hawaii News Now. August 29, 2014. Accessed March 29, 2015.
- Daysog, Rick. "City Unveils Sand Island Homeless Plan." - Hawaii News Now. August 29, 2014. Accessed March 29, 2015.
- Dean, Aloha. "Sand Island - Sand Island State Recreation Area." Accessed March 29, 2015.
- "Internment Camps in Hawai'i." Accessed March 29, 2015.
- "Sand Island Beach Park." Hawaii Travel Guide. Accessed March 29, 2015.
- "Sand Island (detention Facility)." Accessed March 29, 2015.