[Congressional Record Volume 157, Number 113 (Tuesday, July 26, 2011)]
[Pages S4913-S4914]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. AKAKA (for himself and Mr. Inouye) submitted the following 
resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary:

                              S. Res. 239

       Whereas in the mid-19th century, the Guano Islands Act (48 
     U.S.C. 1411 et seq.) enabled companies from the United States 
     to mine guano from a number of islands in the Equatorial 
       Whereas after several decades, when the guano was depleted, 
     such companies abandoned mining activities, leaving the 
     islands open to British exploitation;
       Whereas in the 1930s, military and commercial interest in 
     Central Pacific air routes between Australia and California 
     led to a desire by the United States to claim the islands of 
     Howland, Baker, and Jarvis, although the ownership of such 
     islands was unclear;
       Whereas in 1935, a secret Department of Commerce 
     colonization plan was instituted, aimed at placing citizens 
     of the United States as colonists on the remote islands of 
     Howland, Baker, and Jarvis;
       Whereas to avoid conflicts with international law, which 
     prevented colonization by active military personnel, the 
     United States sought the participation of furloughed military 
     personnel and Native Hawaiian civilians in the colonization 
       Whereas William T. Miller, Superintendent of Airways at the 
     Department of Commerce, was appointed to lead the 
     colonization project, traveled to Hawaii in February 1935, 
     met with Albert F. Judd, Trustee of Kamehameha Schools and 
     the Bishop Museum, and agreed that recent graduates and 
     students of the Kamehameha School for Boys would make ideal 
     colonists for the project;
       Whereas the ideal Hawaiian candidates were candidates who 
     could ``fish in the native manner, swim excellently, handle a 
     boat, be disciplined, friendly, and unattached'';
       Whereas on March 30, 1935, the United States Coast Guard 
     Cutter Itasca departed from Honolulu Harbor in great secrecy 
     with 6 young Hawaiians aboard, all recent graduates of 
     Kamehameha Schools, and 12 furloughed army personnel, whose 
     purpose was to occupy the barren islands of Howland, Baker, 
     and Jarvis in teams of 5 for 3 months;
       Whereas in June 1935, after a successful first tour, the 
     furloughed army personnel were ordered off the islands and 
     replaced with additional Kamehameha Schools alumni, thus 
     leaving the islands under the exclusive occupation of the 4 
     Native Hawaiians on each island;
       Whereas the duties of the colonists while on the island 
     were to record weather conditions, cultivate plants, maintain 
     a daily log, record the types of fish that were caught, 
     observe bird life, and collect specimens for the Bishop 
       Whereas the successful year-long occupation by the 
     colonists directly enabled President Franklin D. Roosevelt to 
     issue Executive Order 7368 on May 13, 1936, which proclaimed 
     that the islands of Howland, Baker, and Jarvis were under the 
     jurisdiction of the United States;
       Whereas multiple Federal agencies vied for the right to 
     administer the colonization project, including the Department 
     of Commerce, the Department of the Interior, and the Navy 
     Department, but jurisdiction was ultimately granted to the 
     Department of the Interior;
       Whereas under the Department of the Interior, the 
     colonization project emphasized weather data and radio 
     communication, which brought about the recruitment of a 
     number of Asian radiomen and aerologists;
       Whereas under the Department of the Interior, the 
     colonization project also expanded beyond the Kamehameha 
     Schools to include Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians from other 
     schools in Hawaii;
       Whereas in 1937, in preparation for Amelia Earhart's 
     arrival on Howland island, the colonists constructed a 
     landing field, readied a shower and bedroom for her, and 
     prepared a performance for her, but she never arrived, having 
     disappearing en route to the island on July 2, 1937;
       Whereas in March of 1938 the United States also claimed and 
     colonized the islands of Canton and Enderbury, maintaining 
     that such colonization was in furtherance of commercial 
     aviation and not for military purposes;
       Whereas the risk of living on such remote islands meant 
     that emergency medical care was not less than 5 days away, 
     and such distance proved fatal for Carl Kahalewai, who died 
     on October 8, 1938 en route to Honolulu after his appendix 
     ruptured on Jarvis island;
       Whereas other life-threatening injuries occurred, in 1939, 
     when Manuel Pires had appendicitis, and in 1941, when an 
     explosion severely burned Henry Knell and Dominic Zagara;
       Whereas in 1940, when the issue of discontinuing the 
     colonization project was raised, the Navy acknowledged that 
     the islands were ``probably worthless to commercial 
     aviation'' but advocated for ``continued occupation'' because 
     the islands could serve as ``bases from a military 
       Whereas although military interests justified continued 
     occupation of the islands, the colonists were never informed 
     of the true nature of the project, nor were the colonists 
     provided with weapons or any other means of self-defense;
       Whereas in June of 1941, when much of Europe was engaged in 
     World War II and Imperial Japan was establishing itself in 
     the Pacific, the Commandant of the 14th Naval District 
     recognized the ``tension in the Western Pacific'' and 
     recommended the evacuation of the colonists, but his request 
     was denied;
       Whereas on December 8, 1941, Howland Island was attacked by 
     a fleet of Japanese twin-engine bombers, and such attack 
     killed Hawaiian colonists Joseph Keliihananui and Richard 
       Whereas in the ensuing weeks, Japanese submarine and 
     military aircraft continued to target the islands of Howland, 
     Baker, and Jarvis, jeopardizing the lives of the remaining 
       Whereas the United States Government was unaware of the 
     attacks on such islands, and was distracted by the entry of 
     the United States into World War II, which delayed the 
     retrieval of the colonists;
       Whereas the 4 colonists from Baker and the 2 remaining 
     colonists from Howland were rescued on January 31, 1942, and 
     the 8 colonists from Jarvis and Enderbury were rescued on 
     February 9, 1942, 2 months after the initial attacks on 
     Howland Island;
       Whereas on March 20, 1942, Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of 
     the Interior, sent letters of condolence to the Keliihananui 
     and Whaley families stating that ``[i]n your bereavement it 
     must be considerable satisfaction to know that your brother 
     died in the service of his country,'' and subsequently urged 
     the families to submit claims for compensation;
       Whereas in April 1942, the claim of the Keliihananui family 
     was denied because there were no ``qualified dependents'' to 
     submit claims;
       Whereas during the 7 years of colonization, more than 130 
     young men participated in the project, the majority of whom 
     were Hawaiian, and all of whom made numerous sacrifices, 
     endured hardships, and risked their lives to secure and 
     maintain the islands of Howland, Baker, Jarvis, Canton, and 
     Enderbury on behalf of the United States, and 3 young 
     Hawaiian men made the ultimate sacrifice;
       Whereas none of the islands, except for Canton, were ever 
     used for commercial aviation, but the islands were used for 
     military purposes;
       Whereas in July 1943, a military base was established on 
     Baker Island, and its forces, which numbered over 2,000 
     members, participated in the Tarawa-Makin operation;
       Whereas in 1956, participants of the colonization project 
     established an organization called ``Hui Panala`au'', which 
     was established to preserve the group's fellowship, to 
     provide scholarship assistance, and ``to honor and esteem 
     those who died as colonists of the Equatorial Islands'';
       Whereas in 1979, Canton and Enderbury became part of the 
     republic of Kiribati, but the islands of Jarvis, Howland, and 
     Baker still remain possessions of the United States, having 
     been designated as National Wildlife Refuges in 1974;
       Whereas three quarters of a century later, the Equatorial 
     Islands colonization project has been nearly forgotten;
       Whereas May 13, 2011, marks the 75th anniversary of 
     President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Executive Order proclaiming 
     United States jurisdiction over the islands of Howland, 
     Baker, and Jarvis, islands that remain possessions of the 
     United States; and
       Whereas the Federal Government has never fully recognized 
     the accomplishments, contributions, and sacrifices of the 
     colonists, less than 6 of whom are still alive today, and 
     most of whom are in their 90s: Now, therefore, be it
       Resolved, That the Senate--
       (1) acknowledges the accomplishments and sacrifices of the 
     Hui Panala`au colonists and extends appreciation on behalf of 
     the people of the United States;
       (2) acknowledges the local, national, and international 
     significance of the 7-year colonization project, which 
     resulted in the United States extending sovereignty into the 
     Equatorial Pacific;
       (3) recognizes and commends the accomplishments, 
     sacrifices, and contributions of the more than 130 young men, 
     the majority

[[Page S4914]]

     of whom were Native Hawaiian, who participated in the 
     Equatorial Pacific colonization project; and
       (4) extends condolences on behalf of the United States to 
     the families of Carl Kahalewai, Joseph Keliihananui, and 
     Richard Whaley for the loss of their loved ones in the 
     service of the United States and apologizes for the lack of 
     compensation afforded to these families.