Utah memorial celebrates contributions of Pacific Islander women

May 26, 2023, 6:58 PM | Updated: 6:59 pm

IOSEPA, Utah — Tucked in a place you might never visit, and in a place you might have never heard of, there is an important new memorial in Utah.

You can’t hear tropical music or see big ocean waves, but you can find plenty of Aloha in Iosepa. Settlers traveled from Hawaii to a place west of Tooele and south of Interstate 80.

“They were LDS so they wanted to be here, help build the temple,” Charmagne Wixom, President of the Iosepa Historial Association said.

One of those ancestors was Noe Poulsen’s great grandmother — Makanoe Kahluhilaau Kaaepa — who arrived in 1898 with her daughter Hannah Kaaepa. After arriving, Hannah she was invited by the national chairman of women’s rights to attend the women’s suffrage meeting in Washington D.C.

Other suffragists like Susan B. Anthony spoke while Hannah represented the Pacific islanders.

“She was a dedicated person who loved the Lord and served her people and loved her people,” Poulsen said. Hannah returned to Hawaii but her mother Makanoe Kahluhilaau Kaaepa is buried in the cemetery near Iosepa and now a memorial stands there for Hannah too.

“We are just so proud of her,” Wixom said.

Poulsen will share Hannah’s story as part of a memorial celebration and she will clean off Hannah’s mother’s grave as well as a way to say ‘Aloha’ to the ancestors.

“People say nothing comes from Iosepa,” Wixom said. “But a lot comes from this; a lot comes from this place.”

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Utah memorial celebrates contributions of Pacific Islander women