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As was the case in the Japanese community as well, it became not uncommon in the 1930s for children to be sent to Okinawa for schooling, returning to Hawaii afterwards and coming to be known as ''kibei'' ("returned to America").
 
As was the case in the Japanese community as well, it became not uncommon in the 1930s for children to be sent to Okinawa for schooling, returning to Hawaii afterwards and coming to be known as ''kibei'' ("returned to America").
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==World War II & the Occupation==
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==World War II==
 
A number of Okinawan-Americans served in the US military in World War II, in the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, or Military Intelligence Service. The 442nd would go on to become the most-decorated unit in US military history, with numerous Purple Hearts and Congressional Medals of Honor, and all three units were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. Japanese and Okinawans, the ''kibei'' in particular, proved themselves as members of the Military Intelligence Service, intercepting and translating Japanese military communications. While the 100th and 442nd fought mainly in Europe, members of the MIS also served in Okinawa, where in some cases (though, sadly not in others), they were able to speak with Okinawan civilians, encouraging them against committing suicide, and to emerge from the caves, trusting the Okinawan-American soldiers to lead them to safety. Some soldiers, ''kibei'' in particular, met siblings, cousins, parents, or former classmates in Okinawa; some, sadly, found themselves fighting on the battlefield against these relatives or former friends.<ref>[http://mis-film.com/ MIS: Human Secret Weapon] (documentary film about the Military Intelligence Service), dir. Junichi Suzuki, 2012.</ref>
 
A number of Okinawan-Americans served in the US military in World War II, in the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, or Military Intelligence Service. The 442nd would go on to become the most-decorated unit in US military history, with numerous Purple Hearts and Congressional Medals of Honor, and all three units were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. Japanese and Okinawans, the ''kibei'' in particular, proved themselves as members of the Military Intelligence Service, intercepting and translating Japanese military communications. While the 100th and 442nd fought mainly in Europe, members of the MIS also served in Okinawa, where in some cases (though, sadly not in others), they were able to speak with Okinawan civilians, encouraging them against committing suicide, and to emerge from the caves, trusting the Okinawan-American soldiers to lead them to safety. Some soldiers, ''kibei'' in particular, met siblings, cousins, parents, or former classmates in Okinawa; some, sadly, found themselves fighting on the battlefield against these relatives or former friends.<ref>[http://mis-film.com/ MIS: Human Secret Weapon] (documentary film about the Military Intelligence Service), dir. Junichi Suzuki, 2012.</ref>
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Further, of the Okinawan-American soldiers stationed mainland Japan during the Occupation, many ended up marrying mainland Japanese wives, and many Japanese-Americans stationed in Okinawa ended up marrying Okinawan women, bringing the two groups closer together, at least for those particular families.
 
Further, of the Okinawan-American soldiers stationed mainland Japan during the Occupation, many ended up marrying mainland Japanese wives, and many Japanese-Americans stationed in Okinawa ended up marrying Okinawan women, bringing the two groups closer together, at least for those particular families.
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One sign of increased acceptance can be seen in the number of Okinawans who came to hold top-ranking positions in Japanese community organizations in the early postwar, such as president of the United Japanese Society of Hawaii, or vice president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Honolulu.
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Meanwhile, a much greater portion of the Okinawan community in the islands got involved in community associations in the postwar, as these associations organized drives to collect funds or goods to send to Okinawa to help in recovery and relief after the end of the war. Between already extant organizations, and a great number which sprang up specifically for this purpose, hundreds of thousands of dollars in clothing, food, medical supplies, books, livestock, bicycles, eyeglasses, sewing machines, and the like were sent as aid to Okinawa. In one particularly famous such drive, one group collected over $50,000 from members of the community, and were able to send 550 Nebraskan pigs to Okinawa, to provide a means of livelihood, and food, to pig farmers and their communities, many of whom had lost nearly everything in the war.<ref>Shari Tamashiro, [http://www.pigsfromthesea.com/ Pigs from the Sea] (website), 2014.</ref> Whereas in the prewar it was chiefly only the executive boards and the like of these community organizations, among others, who might be seen as being particularly engaged in ''the'' Okinawan community, now a much larger number of people became more directly involved in activities organized by these associations, and could see themselves as more actively a part of an Okinawan community.
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==Occupation==
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The Allied Occupation ended in mainland Japan in 1952, but continued in Okinawa until 1972; the heightened sense of the importance of their community, and of their ability to help their homeland, which many Okinawans in Hawaii felt in the aftermath of 1945 thus was extended into the ensuing decades. In 1951, the Hawaii United Okinawa Association (HUOA) was founded,<ref>Originally, the association's Japanese language name was ''Hawaii Okinawa-jin rengôkai'' ("Hawaii United Association of Okinawan people"), omitting reference to Okinawa prefecture, which would imply acceptance of Okinawa being a part of Japan, and which did not exist as a political entity from 1945-1972. Following reversion, however, the organization quietly renamed itself ''Hawaii Okinawa kenjin rengôkai'' ("Hawaii United Association of people of Okinawa prefecture").</ref> incorporating under its umbrella numerous already existing organizations of descendants of particular villages (''son'') or districts (''aza''), such as the [[Urasoe]] shijin kai (Assoc. of People of Urasoe City), [[Ginowan]] shijin kai (Assoc. of People of Ginowan City), and [[Onna]] sonjin kai (Assoc. of People of Onna Village). This was opposed by many in the community who felt that it was a step backwards, against the kind of integration with the Japanese community which had begun to take place, and which had led to the fading of discriminatory attitudes and prejudices. Many others felt differently, however, and supported and joined HUOA.
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As for the question of "reversion" of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty, many ''issei'' recalled the poor conditions in Okinawa under Japanese rule which they had left, and so saw the prospect of a return to Japanese rule in a particularly negative light; many ''nisei'' and ''sansei'', meanwhile, being American citizens, born and raised in a Territory of the United States, were supportive of the US military occupation, and many felt that Okinawa should become a US Territory as well. Some in the community, and in US political and military circles, even spoke of Okinawa as a "Hawaii of the Western Pacific." Rev. Jikai Yamasato of the Jikôen Hongwanji, a very prominent figure in the community, was one of the only voices calling for Okinawa to be rejoined to the Japanese state. Meanwhile, a very few others, calling themselves the Japan Victory Association, maintained denial of Japan's defeat in the war.
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However, in 1960, a Mr. Yagi, head of a labor union based on Maui, returned to Hawaii from a trip to Okinawa and reported that the majority of Okinawans in Okinawa were frustrated with the US Occupation and desired reversion to Japan. His assertions that the US Occupation had done little to improve conditions for most Okinawans, and that to the contrary US officials and servicemembers were living in a relative luxury they were not sharing with the Okinawans were at first denied and rejected by both the local Okinawan community in Hawaii, and representatives of the US military. Soon, however, the majority of the community turned skeptical of the military, and came to suspect that Yagi's assertions held merit. Still, most came to agree that Okinawa's fate should be up to the people of Okinawa. While in the broadest senses, the history of the relationship between Japan and Okinawa was one of conquest, overthrow, and annexation, and of discrimination and efforts at cultural erasure, in certain very powerful practical and economic ways, Okinawa had grown powerfully interconnected with Japan since the [[Meiji period]]; in terms of the Japanese language, education, commercial prospects, and a number of other factors, there were compelling reasons for Okinawa to return to integration with Japanese political, educational, commercial, financial, and societal systems.
    
==Today==
 
==Today==
Today, Hawaii is home to a great number of Okinawan groups and associations, and cultural activities and events. The University of Hawaii at Manoa is the only university in the US to boast a dedicated Center for Okinawan Studies, and offers courses in [[Okinawan language]], [[Ryukyu odori|Ryukyuan dance]], and classical Okinawan ''[[sanshin]]'' music.
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Today, Hawaii is home to a great number of Okinawan groups and associations, and cultural activities and events. The University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) is the only university in the US to boast a dedicated Center for Okinawan Studies, and offers courses in [[Okinawan language]], [[Ryukyu odori|Ryukyuan dance]], and classical Okinawan ''[[sanshin]]'' music. The Manoa-based East-West Center, which has a close relationship with the university but is a separate institution unto itself, has strong relationships with Okinawa in a variety of ways, listing Okinawa specifically (and separately from Japan) as one of the regions in which it engages; among the Center's various activities, it offers extensive fellowships specifically for Okinawan students to come study at UHM. Community organizations such as HUOA, meanwhile, sponsor scholarships for students traveling in the other direction, i.e. for Okinawan-American students from Hawaii to study at the [[University of the Ryukyus]].
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The Hawaii United Okinawa Association (HUOA) and Hui O Laulima, along with other groups, organize a three-day Okinawa Festival every year. In its 32nd iteration as of 2014, the festival, held in recent years in Honolulu's Kapiolani Park, features special guest performers & MCs from Okinawa, and performances by Okinawan music and dance groups from throughout the State of Hawaii, including ''sanshin'', ''[[taiko]]'', [[lion dance]], and hula. Members of the various associations prepare and sell ''[[andagi]]'' and other Okinawan foods, and a number of other tents sell a variety of Okinawan goods. This typically takes place the last weekend of August, or the first weekend of September. A number of other annual festivals are celebrated quite largely as well, with Okinawan Lunar New Year (typically in February, at the same time as Chinese New Year) seeing tens of separate dinners or parties in honor of the occasion. Between the Okinawan and Japanese communities, [[Bon odori|Bon dances]] fill up the summer, with one society or association or another holding one nearly every week.
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The Hawaii United Okinawa Association and Hui O Laulima, along with other groups, organize a three-day Okinawa Festival every year. In its 32nd iteration as of 2014, the festival, held in recent years in Honolulu's Kapiolani Park, features special guest performers & MCs from Okinawa, and performances by Okinawan music and dance groups from throughout the State of Hawaii, including ''sanshin'', ''[[taiko]]'', [[lion dance]], and hula. Members of the various associations prepare and sell ''[[andagi]]'' and other Okinawan foods, and a number of other tents sell a variety of Okinawan goods. This typically takes place the last weekend of August, or the first weekend of September. A number of other annual festivals are celebrated quite largely as well, with Okinawan Lunar New Year (typically in February, at the same time as Chinese New Year) seeing tens of separate dinners or parties in honor of the occasion. Between the Okinawan and Japanese communities, [[Bon odori|Bon dances]] fill up the summer, with one society or association or another holding one nearly every week.
    
Hawaii is also home to a number of Okinawan restaurants, grocery stores, and the like, something extremely rare even in the largest and most culturally/ethnically diverse cities of the US mainland.  
 
Hawaii is also home to a number of Okinawan restaurants, grocery stores, and the like, something extremely rare even in the largest and most culturally/ethnically diverse cities of the US mainland.  
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