Aileen H. Clyde 20th Century Women's Legacy Archive: Pacific Islander oral history project, ACCN 0814

Pacific Islander oral history project

The Pacific Islander oral history project is part of the Everett L. Cooley oral history collection, ACCN 0814

Angilau (b. 1973) talks about her childhood before she moved to Tonga; she compares her experience of going to school in Utah to her experiences in Tonga. Religion was a main focus in school but the children took part in diverse religions. Moana now lives in Utah and she describes feelings of discrimination at her job. The Polynesian culture is thriving in Utah and she wants to support and perpetuate knowledge about that culture to both Polynesians and Utahns.

Twins Mata Brown and Finau Conklin were born and raised in Fiji. Their uncle, Sitiveni Rabuka, was the prime minister of Fiji. They attended college in Hawaii and Utah, starting at BYU-Hawaii. Both are LDS and describe their conversion to that faith. They discuss growing up in Fiji at some length, including politics and Indian-Fijian ethnic relations and describe life in Utah and Hawaii. Both mention having been subjected to some discrimination.


Brown describes growing up in Hawaii where her family lived two miles from civilization. When her family moved to Oregon she experienced culture shock because it was so different from Hawaii. She talks about growing up in a huge family. Sarina explains the cultural differences between herself as a child and her children. She talks about her membership in the LDS church and her parents’ conversions to the LDS church. She discusses being Polynesian in Oregon and in Utah.


Fale (b. 1978) was raised in Fiji but her ethnicity is Rotuman. She has a twin sister and two brothers. Gaylene and her sister moved to Hawaii to attend university at BYU Hawaii. While there, Gaylene got a job as a Tahitian dancer at the Polynesian Culture Center. She then danced with the promo team. Gaylene and her husband moved to Utah. Gaylene discusses the differences between Fiji and Rotuma. She talks about going to school and growing up in Fiji.


Hunkin was born in Tahiti, French Polynesia, and raised in Washington, D.C. and American Samoa. She discusses her education and religious beliefs, and the importance of both within her lineage. She graduated from BYU Hawaii and she is a real estate agent.


Hafoka (b. 1987) was born in Frankfurt, Germany. Her father was German-Hungarian and her mother is of Maori and Tahitian descent. Both her parents were in the military so Crystal was raised in both Germany and Hawaii. Crystal has maintained a close connection to her South Pacific heritage through dance and she has performed with the Polynesian Cultural Center. She is a fourth generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Line Hafoka was born and raised in Hawaii. Her family moved to Hawaii from Tonga when she was young. Line mostly describes her home life growing up. Her parents believed knowing English was extremely important and only spoke English, never Tongan. They believed their children needed to do well in school and go on to college. She did well and after high school moved to Utah to get a Masters degree in social work from BYU.


Hafoka (b. 1959) tells us about her young life in the Tongan Islands, then her move to San Mateo California. She describes her family’s relationship with the LDS church, including her arrival at Brigham Young University at the age of 17, with a book and tuition scholarship, a small government grant, and no other support. She thought at the time that she was the only Tongan woman at BYU, where she graduated at the age of 19.


Hemaloto (b. 1968), daughter of a Samoan man and a Japanese, Hawaiian and German mother, grew up in American Samoa. Hemaloto remembers growing up speaking English and associating with the few other English-speaking children at school. Hemaloto, one of eleven children, moved to Utah with her family when she was in junior high and finished high school at Jordan High in Sandy. She recalls some racism. She attended college at BYU-Hawaii and took a degree in English.


Henderson (b. 1983), of Honaunau, Hawaii, was born at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. Her mother is Hawaiian and Filipino, and her father German and Tongan. Her parents met at Sea World, where they both worked, married, and her mother, raised Catholic, soon converted to her father’s Mormonism. Ms. Henderson spent most of her childhood in Utah, until her family briefly moved to California to help her father’s old band, the Jets, get together. After only a short stay she moved to Hawaii because her grandfather was dying. She remembers being a tomboy as a child, and relates a story her mother told her, that her grandfather blessed her before she was born and told her mother she would have a boy. She loved moving to Hawaii, and felt much more at home there. Ms. Henderson relates having some trouble reconciling her religious and cultural identity, but feels that thanks to an LDS mission she went on (because she didn’t feel it was fair to require boys but not girls to go on missions) she understands herself much more completely than before. She attended BYU in Provo, Utah, because, as she relates, since the seventh grade she has wanted to make movies and BYU-Hawaii had no film program. However, Ms. Henderson is far more comfortable in Hawaii, wants to help Hawaiians patriotically, and soon returned to Hawaii. She discusses her parents’ lives, her family relations, and her sense of ethnic otherness at some length. Her future goals are to make films, have a family, and most of all, be happy in the gospel and helping Hawaiians.

Fusi Williams was born in Tutuila, American Samoa. Her grandmother raised her in Pago Pago until she was twelve, when Williams joined her family in Hawaii. Williams discusses her faith and she and her family’s LDS service at some length. She talks about Samoan culture in the islands and Samoan LDS growth in California, discusses her sense of Samoan and American culture, and mentions that she wanted her children to learn Samoan. 

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