Remembering Iosepa: History, Place, and Religion in the American West

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OUP USA, Jun 20, 2013 - History - 203 pages
2 Reviews
In the late nineteenth century, a small community of Native Hawaiian Mormons established a settlement in heart of The Great Basin, in Utah. The community was named Iosepa, after the prophet and sixth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph F. Smith. The inhabitants of Iosepa struggled against racism, the ravages of leprosy, and economic depression, by the early years of the twentieth century emerging as a modern, model community based on ranching, farming, and an unwavering commitment to religious ideals. Yet barely thirty years after its founding the town was abandoned, nearly all of its inhabitants returning to Hawaii. Years later, Native Hawaiian students at nearby Brigham Young University, descendants of the original settlers, worked to clean the graves of Iosepa and erect a monument to memorialize the settlers. Remembering Iosepa connects the story of this unique community with the earliest Native Hawaiian migrants to western North America and the vibrant and growing community of Pacific Islanders in the Great Basin today. It traces the origins and growth of the community in the tumultuous years of colonial expansion into the Hawaiian islands, as well as its relationship to white Mormons, the church leadership, and the Hawaiian government. In the broadest sense, Mathew Kester seeks to explain the meeting of Mormons and Hawaiians in the American West and to examine the creative adaptations and misunderstandings that grew out of that encounter.

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Thank you for writing this book, it has given me the knowledge and more understanding of our heritage about Iosepa. I am the new President of the Iosepa Historical Association here in Salt Lake City, Utah and would like to share some of your mana'o with those who will be coming out in May.
Again, Mahalo Nui for a great book. Aloha Pat

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This is an excellent piece of scholarship and a thoroughly enjoyable read. I couldn't stop reading it. Insightful work that expands understanding of Native Hawaiian/Oceania diaspora, public/collective memory, religious ideology and faith. Highly recommended.


1 The Pacific World
L257nai L257ie and the Gathering
3 Early Native Hawaiian Migration to the Salt Lake Valley
Creating a Native Hawaiian Community in Skull Valley Utah
Iosepa in Public Memory
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About the author (2013)

Matthew Kester is a historian of Hawaii and the American West who teaches history and cultural studies at Brigham Young University Hawaii.

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