Kaho‘olawe is a small uninhabited island south of Maui with an area of 116 square miles. It is only eleven miles long and seven miles wide. There are black volcanic cliffs around the rim.
From the beginning of World War II, the United States Navy used this island for target practice for many years. No one was allowed to go ashore because of the dangerous gunfire shells and bombs. There are also remains of what used to be a Hawaiian adze quarry and other archeological sites because Hawaiian people used to live here. The Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana was successful in stopping the naval bombing of the island in the 1970s and in lobbying the U.S. government to give Kaho‘olawe back to the Hawaiian people. This finally happened in 1994. Now Hawai‘i will be able to decide how Kaho‘olawe should be used for the Hawaiian people. Since there is little rainfall or water, it may not be a good place to live. But there are important historical sites to preserve. The U.S. government has pledged millions of dollars for the cleanup of unexploded bombs and other debris on the island. However, this cleanup will take a long time. Kaho‘olawe is sometimes still referred to as the “Target Isle.” However, the sadness associated with such a name makes the phrase “Protected Isle” a better name now.