Tag Archives: interns

Roselani Highlight – Learning About Sand Island

One of the many projects that our Roselani Intern, Lily, has been working on is the enhanced descriptions of some of our news tapes. Since she is doing her work remotely, she is doing a lot of learning about Hawaiʻi without the benefit of being in the archive to chat with all of us in person. However, through her communication with us over email and through meetings and through the mountain of material she’s been working on during her internship, Lily has been getting a real crash-course in Hawaiʻiʻs more recent history. During her hours of research and viewing, she has found some topics have stood out to her as particularly impactful. Read on to see what caught Lily’s attention this summer.


One thing I’ve really enjoyed during my internship this summer is how many opportunities I’ve had to learn more about Hawaiʻi’s history through the various collection footage I’m going through. In particular, there was one recurring piece of history that I found significant to gaining a deeper understanding about the relationship between the State and Native Hawaiians in the 1980s — the events of Sand Island. 

What I found while watching the news segments on Sand Island in the KGMB Electronic News Gathering (ENG) File collection, and then comparing it to Victoria Keith ProductionsThe Sand Island Story — a documentary filmed at the same time — is that the news withheld a lot of information which, in turn, negatively framed Sand Island residents as squatters and derelicts.

The news segments from November 1979 through January 1980 follow the efforts of the Sand Island residents as they attempt to negotiate with the State and Governor Ariyoshi on their decision to turn Sand Island into a State recreation area and evict the community that had built their homes on the shoreline. 

Abraham “Puhipau” Ahmad talking to State Officials about the bulldozer blockade at the settlement. (KGMB ENG #58)

A primary difference that I observed was how the footage and interviews with Sand Island residents, such as Abraham “Puhipau” Ahmad, are filmed and presented in both the documentary and news segments. The KGMB news segments manage to capture the frustration of residents and highlight their inability to move to another home — but they conveniently fail to mention why most people living on Sand Island are unable to find a new residence; which was largely due to unreasonable housing costs and arbitrary evictions that pushed many Native Hawaiians out of their homes. One couple in the documentary even mentioned that their names had been on the list for housing since 1949 — at the time of filming they had already waited 30 years. 

It appears that the only time the news focuses on the efforts of Sand Island residents to compromise with the State are during ENG File #56, where the community has proposed a cultural park that preserves the Native Hawaiian lifestyle and allows for combined public use and resident living. Unfortunately, as mentioned by the reporter, the State refused every request for a meeting between the parties. Personally, I feel that the lack of information about the Sand Island residents’ attempts for compromise contributed to the negative image the Sand Island community had on the news. It’s unfortunate because the documentary emphasizes the efforts the residents made to create a cultural space to pass down Native Hawaiian traditions. An interviewee in the documentary even points out that the news makes them out as squatters who want a free place to stay, but they have knowledge and desire to pass down Native Hawaiian traditions and culture. 

Another thing I noticed after watching the documentary is the information the news does not include. Important contextual information about the history of Sand Island is absent from the news segments which only further frames the Sand Island community negatively as squatters and illegal tenants. Although at this point I feel that it should be noted a major benefit that I have which the employees and public viewers of KGMB news in 1979 did not have: access to the World Wide Web — which has vastly changed the way we receive our information. 

Clement Apolo reacting to the bulldozing of the Sand Island settlement in Victoria Keith’s “Sand Island Story.”

A quick search of the island’s history is this: Sand Island, originally nicknamed “Quarantine Island” in the 1800s because the area was used to quarantine ships that carried contagious passengers. It was then used as an internment camp during World War Two for primarily Japanese-Americans until 1943. After the war, the neglected space was used as a dumping ground and until the 1970s when there was a cleanup effort by Native Hawaiians — who built homes and cleared away the waste on their own volition. 

It was then that the State reclaimed this land for industrial and recreational development, and in fact, it was only once the State decided to reclaim the land that the community was legally declared squatters on state land. 

Arguably, the absence of this information in the news cycles at that time made it easier to convince the public that the residents are taking advantage of the State, while in fact they were still paying taxes while living on Sand Island. 

Comparing footage from the day of demolition on the homes, there’s a disconnect watching the residents on the news and in the documentary. Peaceful protests are not depicted in that way and the news footage captures the anger and hurt of the residents, yet because of time limitations, the full story cannot be told. One clue that indicates that the news may be presenting the story more one-sided is the involvement — or refusal — of parties outside of the Sand Island community. Both ENG Files #57 and #58 have segments that comment on the outside groups that are in support of the residents. ENG file #57 mentions various activist groups that have joined to protest the eviction –which included People Against Chinatown Evictions, Waiāhole-Waikāne Community Association, Ota Camp, and the Revolutionary Communist Party; and in ENG file #58, a bulldozer operator leaves the job the day that demolition is set to begin. While I can only speculate, I still believe these two segments hint at a larger public concern and engagement than the news was able to broadcast.  

After a bulldozers showed up at 6am to begin demolishing abandoned structures, residents attempt to prevent bulldozing to ensure their homes will not be destroyed. One bulldozer operator left job due to personal feelings on the matter. (KGMB ENG #58)

As ubiquitous as the Sand Island eviction story was for four months on the news, it seems to end with no resolution. In ENG File #73, February 25th, 1980, a solo interview with Abraham Ahmad, “Uncle Puhipau,” outside of the ʻIolani Palace, where he discusses how their option now is to charge the State for breach of trust and bring the attention of the 5F issue to the U.S. Attorney General. ENG File #74 shows a legislature meeting with local community members while they voice their concerns, but the outcome is unclear. 

To my knowledge and from what I’ve been able to determine from research, ultimately the space was not developed the way the State intended when they evicted the residents, and there is still trouble in determining its function; ironically an article from 2014 speaks about a proposal for a homeless shelter in the Sand Island State Recreation Area,  featuring facilities and housing which would temporarily abade the homeless crisis. I’d be curious how the Sand Island State Recreation Area is used today, and what is and is not included in whatever history of the land they might share in the visitor’s center. 

It’s important to keep in mind that KGMB news did not have the same ability to see a broader outline of the events that led up to the State’s reclamation of the land as I did; nor could they have known the failed outcome. The segments tended to frame the conflict with the State in the more positive light.  However, it appears evident in the footage that the reporters were making the effort to interview residents for their side of the story. 

After seeing how drastically the narrative of the Sand Island community can be transformed through the absence of crucial information, I am even more convinced that it is essential to be able to save and preserve as much history as possible from local filmmakers and creators; the ability to see multiple sides of the same story paints a fuller picture. In fact, The Sand Island Story has hours of RAW footage that wasn’t included in the final cut that I’m very interested to check out; especially when the internet doesn’t yield many results on the residents’ side.  

Welcome, Lily Lubin!

This summer we are excited to welcome our first Roselani Intern in two years, Lily Lubin. Lily’s Roselani Internship is taking place in conjunction with her Association for Moving Image Archives (AMIA) Pathways Fellowship. ʻUluʻulu is lucky to be working with Lily for a total of ten weeks for her remote internship and fellowship. Read our introductory interview with Lily, below!

Lily Lubin, Roselani Intern and AMIA Pathways Fellow 2022.

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into this field of work, Lily.

A little background on me! My full name is Elizabeth, but I’ve always gone by Lily — although it’s a little unclear how that nickname came to be. 

I was adopted from China as a baby and raised on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. In the summers, my dad and I would often go birdwatching or collect butterflies and insects and my  interests in preservation stemmed from his. As I grew older, I started to notice the absence of certain things — the familiar call of the whippoorwill or luna moths that would gather on the screen door– and my curiosity grew. 

I went to Emerson College as an undergraduate, where I got a degree in screenwriting with minors in comedy and music history. When I was working in production or recording studios, I realized that I most enjoyed projects that related to cataloging or organizing sessionography. The media archives track at UCLA was the perfect opportunity to combine my interests in film and preservation and I hope that I can offer a more emphatic view on materials where others may not.  

Other things! I like to think I’m funny so I make a lot of jokes, whether they land or not.

In my spare time I like to hang out with my cat. I also love to read and listen to music — my record and book collections are constantly growing and I am always open to suggestions! I don’t have a lot of fun facts for myself, but I like to give fun facts, for instance, did you know that John Lennon helped write, and also sang backup vocals on, the David Bowie song “Fame”? 

What brought you here to ‘Ulu‘ulu? What are some of the things you’re hoping to learn during your internship with us?

I discovered ‘Ulu‘ulu and the Roselani Media Preservation internship through UCLA, where I am currently pursuing my masters in Library and Information Sciences and hope to pursue a profession in media archiving. 

During my internship, I hope to learn more about how an archive runs in real life and the intricacies of working in an archive that focuses on the preservation of cultural and historical materials. 

What projects are you working on at ‘Ulu‘ulu?

I have multiple projects that I am working on simultaneously, which I really enjoy because it covers so many different aspects of archiving – and more specifically media archiving – that I have been learning in my courses at UCLA. 

For instance, a couple of my projects involve creating enhanced/detailed descriptions for digitized footage from Juniroa Productions and KGMB ENG news. This project allows me to be creative in determining what information is key for a researcher or archivist when it comes to discovery and access. Similar to this, I have a project that involves transcribing handwritten ENG news log sheets. 

One of the Electronic News Gathering Log Pages Lily is transcribing.

Another project I have is creating captions for clips from the Pau Hana Years for the ‘Ulu‘ulu website – this project was especially fun because there was such a wide range of topics that are covered and so many creative and interesting people featured that I would never have come across otherwise!

Lastly, I have a project which involves checking the quality of the footage once it has been digitized. While I am waiting to start this project, I look forward to it because it is one of the more technical sides to media preservation. 

Is there anything about the items you are working with that is surprising or unexpected?

Something unexpected about the items I’ve worked on is how meticulously the log sheets and ENG footage were kept before coming to the archive. It’s really cool that someone had the foresight to keep the paper log sheets because it’s a really helpful tool for providing metadata and information that might otherwise be lost to the world.   

Now that  you’ve been at the archive for a little while now, have you found a favorite aspect?

One of my favorite aspects has been watching footage from the 70s and 80s. I wasn’t incredibly familiar with Hawaiian history before entering this internship and I’ve learned a lot about what life was like at that time. 

Do you have any advice for future ‘Ulu‘ulu Interns?

Don’t be afraid to look things up! There are times when I just can’t quite figure out what someone is saying or what is written, so I’ll search for it online. It’s amazing and scary how much is on the internet, but it’s a useful tool to ensure that there are as few blanks as possible. It’s a win-win on both ends because the work will be more accurate and you always learn something new. 

Please tell us a joke! 

One of my favorite knee slappers is a fruit related joke:

One fruit said to the another “I can’t elope” 

To which the other said, “but honey do!”

Thank you, Lily for sharing so much with us!

Through the generous support of the Henry Ku‘ualoha & Muriel Roselani Giugni Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, the Roselani Media Preservation Internship is offered each year at ‘Ulu‘ulu to give a student of merit who is committed to the preservation of our media history the opportunity to acquire practical experience in a moving image archive. 

Welcome Jon!

Please help us give a warm welcome to our first in-person intern in over two years, Jon Snyder! Jon has already been with us for about five weeks, but he has several more weeks to go and we would love to introduce him to you. He has agreed to do a brief interview with us to share a little bit about himself and his time with us so far. Welcome Jon! We’re happy to have you!


My name is Jon Snyder, I am pursuing my Bachelors Degree in English here at The University of Hawai’i West Oahu. I am the perfect example of that old saying “Jack of all trades, master of none,” as I have held many different jobs and hobbies. I enjoy attempting to create music and playing with sound editors. I also have a small book collection of about 400 books. At different points in my life I have been a courier for a local mortuary, a sign maker, and member of a punk band that opened for Blink-182 at the Blaisdell arena. Most recently I have been working at the Leeward Community College Library as a Reference Student Assistant.  

What brought you here to ‘Ulu‘ulu? What are some of the things you’re hoping to learn during your internship with us?

The idea of doing an internship with an archive was planted in my mind when I began classes at UHWO in 2016 by Dr. Brenda Machosky. Through our conversations after class she realized that with my personal experiences and academic work ethic, that I  would be a perfect match for something like this. When it came time to begin looking for an internship for the practicum, I wanted to find something that was not only interesting, but also on campus. ‘Ulu’ulu was the first and obvious choice. Aside from learning how an archive functions and what its purpose is, I would like to see how an archive, such as this one, can not only help to preserve the past but also service the future.  

What projects are you working on at ‘Ulu‘ulu?

I have been working with Hōkū and just finished creating the preliminary inventory for the films and tapes that have come in for the 100th Infantry Battalion. I have also been involved with preparing ʻUluʻulu video clips for website migration with Robbie. Both projects are interesting in their own ways. For me, it is interesting to see how a collection is handled at the beginning phase of its inclusion to the collections here. The interesting part of the website clip migration has been seeing the clips from the past. At times I have to stop myself from trying to see where the clip might be from and seeing how the location has changed over time. 

Is there anything about the items you are working with that is surprising or unexpected?

One aspect that surprised me was how much has to be done to a film or tape before a student or a researcher might even see it. It is not like archives are depicted in movies where someone just walks into the space and begins rummaging around. Everything has a name, number, and location. I really think working at Leewardʻs library has been an advantage for me in understanding how this aspect of an archive works.    

One unexpected thing actually happened the other day. While I was being shown how to examine film that has been donated, we noticed that this particular film had sound on it. I remarked that the sound resembled what a waveform looks like on a computer. To my surprise, I was told that that is pretty much exactly what it is. A lot of little things from my personal interests have seemed to find a use while I am here. I really enjoy learning by doing, and thankfully everyone here has trusted me with being hands on. 

Now, that  you’ve been at the archive for a few weeks have you found a favorite aspect?

I think the thing that I like the most is that there does not seem to be a ton of pressure in the process, even though I know that everyplace has their own deadlines to meet. The preservation process can be time consuming, but since the focus is on making sure that what is coming in is usable and can eventually be digitized, it is understood why some things may take longer than others. I really like the emphasis on preservation here. It is almost the same reason why I like libraries. If you think of every book in a library as being an idea, the library is sort of a repository for ideas. That same feeling is present here at ʻUluʻulu, except the medium being preserved involves moving images. In both examples, the people working at a library and at this archive are working toward a common goal of preserving the past in order to inform the future. 

Do you have any advice for future ‘Ulu’ulu Interns?

Since being a Humanities intern is not so typical for ʻUluʻulu, I would say that it is important to approach anything and everything with an open mind. I have found that even though my major is not typically associated with this kind of work, there is still a lot that I can relate from my schooling to this kind of archival work. If I had to use an analogy I would say, just try to be like a dry sponge and soak up all you can. You never know what may influence your direction in life.