[Congressional Bills 112th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H. Res. 388 Introduced in House (IH)]

112th CONGRESS
  1st Session
H. RES. 388

  Acknowledging the contributions and sacrifices of the young men who 
   served as colonists on behalf of the United States in the Federal 
   occupation of the islands of Howland, Baker, Jarvis, Canton, and 
Enderbury from 1935 through 1942, facilitating the United States claim 
                   of jurisdiction over such islands.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             August 5, 2011

   Ms. Hanabusa (for herself and Ms. Hirono) submitted the following 
                               resolution

                           September 6, 2011

             Referred to the Committee on Natural Resources

_______________________________________________________________________

                               RESOLUTION


 
  Acknowledging the contributions and sacrifices of the young men who 
   served as colonists on behalf of the United States in the Federal 
   occupation of the islands of Howland, Baker, Jarvis, Canton, and 
Enderbury from 1935 through 1942, facilitating the United States claim 
                   of jurisdiction over such islands.

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 Pacific;
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 project;
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 Museum;
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 disappeared 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 standpoint'';
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 Whaley;
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 colonists;
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 House of Representatives--
            (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; and
            (3) recognizes and commends the accomplishments, 
        sacrifices, and contributions of the more than 130 young men, 
        the majority of whom were Native Hawaiian, who participated in 
        the Equatorial Pacific colonization project.
                                 <all>