People and History of Hawaii
The spread of Austronesian languages from Wikipedia
- New Zealand (colonized ~1200 CE)
- Easter Island (colonized ~900 CE)
- Hawaii (colonized between 120 and 1120)
- The spread of sweet potatoes to the Pacific
- Chickens to South America
Genetically, the Polynesians stem from peoples of Taiwan, the northern Philipines, Papua New Guinea and Melanesia.
Polynesian success was based on two technologies:
- A winning "bread basket" of agricultural products
- Effective maritime technologies
Taro root from Maangchi
Polynesian voyages from Native Voices
- Buildable from local sources
- Fast, if not quite as seaworthy.
Polynesian training device from Wikipedia
- Zenith stars: Determining latitude using zenith stars. We all know that Polaris, the pole star, marks 90 degrees north latitude. Viewed from the north pole, it would appear directly overhead. Every star, however, appears at the zenith at a characteristic latitude. Polynesian mariners knew the zenith stars for their destinations, and, therefore, could tell when they had reached the appropriate latitude.
- Trajectory stars: For any trajectory, groups of characteristic stars would appear near the horizon. Once could follow one's trajectory by sailing toward star A nil it set, then toward star B, etc. Polynesian mariners were familiar with these trajectory stars.
- Birds: Polynesian mariners followed the flight of migratory birds. According to legend, the Tahitians who discovered Hawaii were encouraged to make the attempt after noting that golden plovers (land birds) migrated in their direction every year. Some speculate that captive birds such as frigate birds, which refuse to land on water, could have been released when land was suspected to be near, then followed.
- Swells: Ocean swells reflect off of and refract around obstacles like islands. Thus, changes in ground swell patterns could be used to detect a nearby island. Although not used for actual navigation, training maps (right) showing common swell patterns were used.
The good news: The islands of the western Pacific occur in arcs. For ancient mariners, it was sufficient to intercept the arc in which your destination was located, then fine tune your search.
The Discovery of Hawaii by Herb Kane
Discovery and Traditional Society:
Discovery: Surprising controversy prevails among archaeologists arising from difficulties with the carbon dating of early sites. What is definite: Hawaii was first colonized between 124 and 1120 CE. (Thanks.)
Linguistic evidence suggests colonization from:
- The Marquesas
These are not mutually exclusive hypotheses. Note: Most Polynesian languages retain the letters "R" and "T". These were among the consonants heaved overboard by the Polynesians en route to Hawaii and are missing from classic "book" Hawaiian. But in the dialect of the one island where Hawaiian remains the vernacular - Niihau - Ts and Rs are present!
Hawaiian oral history maintains that the islands were colonized from Tahiti. One classic chant begins, "Behold Hawaii, an island, a people. The people of Hawaii are the children of Tahiti." Thus, Tahitian background seems certain. Did the Tahitian settlers have company? Tahitians maintained contact with Hawaii for a while. Legend maintains that around 1200, the Tahitian priest Pa'ao introduced a new order of laws that stratified society into classes. Eventually, contact between Tahiti and Hawaii ceased.
Kamehameha I - Ali'i nui by Herb Kane
Casts: Hawaiian society had four levels:
- Ali'i: The ruling nobility, who informed law and managed land use.
- Kahuna: Priests
- Maka'ainana: Commoners
- Kaua: Untouchables. Outcasts who lived in their own communities. Occasionally used as human sacrifices. Very few in numbers. (Possibly descendants of an aboriginal population that had arrived on Hawaii previously?)
The Kapu System: (Kapu = Tongan "taboo") The laws governing all aspects of conduct. This governed, among other things:
- The conduct of commoners in the presence of ali'i.
- Dietary restrictions. (Many foods were off limits to women, or couldn't be prepared by them. Often, these substances were the body forms of deities.)
- Restrictions on the interactions of men and women. (The two genders were forbidden to eat in one another's presence, for instance.)
- Inherited privileges of ali'i.
- Ceremonies to be performed before certain acts (like cutting down an ohia lehua tree).
- Land management and fisheries management.
Ku from Wikipedia
- Kane: The creator and god of procreation.
- Kanaloa: The complement to Kane. (Sometimes, the god of the underworld.)
- Ku: The god of war and politics (right). Only Ku received human sacrifices.
- Lono: The god of agriculture
Numerous lesser deities were also worshipped. We will be in the stomping grounds of three notable ones:
- Pele: The goddess of volcanoes. Best known Hawaiian deity outside of Hawaii. Pictured in popular culture as being, well, hot, but in tradition, when she appears to humans it is usually in the form of an old woman accompanied by a dog.
- Poli'ahu: The goddess of snow who inhabits Mauna Kea
- Hi'iaka: Goddess of medicine, hula, sorcery. Famous for having been born in Tahiti but brought to Hawaii by her sister Pele inside an egg which Pele sheltered in her bosom. Associated with owls and ohia lehua trees.
Religion was not distinct from regular life, and routine daily activities were accompanied by prayers. (Hula, performed at religious ceremonies, was a special case of this.) Despite this religiosity, Hawaiians handled practical matters practically.
Moku and ahupua'a of Hawaii Aha Moku
- Mokupuni - Entire islands, which might be ruled by ali'i nui - kings.
- Moku (districts - including the traditional districts of Hawai'i) controlled by ali'i aimoku. These were the subdivided into
- Ahupua'a controlled by konohiki (land agents). These tended to be narrow wedges that coincide with the drainages of streams.
- Ahupua'a were divided into ili which were divided into kuleana - individual plots worked by families who paid labor taxes to the konohiki.
Hawaiians first encounter with the HMS Resolution by Herb Kane from Ea o ka Aina
First Contact and Unification
The first documented contact with outsiders came in January 1778 when Capt. James Cook's HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery anchored off Kauai and traded for provisions. (One hypothesis maintains that the Spanish contacted Hawaii during the 16th century.) In February 1779, he returned, anchoring in Kealakekua Bay in Kona. Things went cordially until one of Cooks longboats was stolen. In retaliation, Cook attempted to kidnap Kalaniopuu, the ali'i nui of Hawai'i. In the resulting brawl, Cook was killed. Despite this setback, ships of several nations began to call at the islands.
Possibly present at the event was Kalaniopuu's nephew Kamehameha (1736-1819), destined to be the unifier of the Hawaiian Islands. In 1782, Kamehameha became the ruler of Kona, Kohala, and Hamakua. In the following years, a small group British traders entered his service, providing him with guns and gunpowder and the formula for gunpowder, and training his troops in their use. Between 1790 and 1795, Kamehameha waged a war of conquest that led to his conquest of all of the islands except for Kauai and Niihau. In 1810, the ali'i nui of Kauai swore allegiance to Kamehameha, unifying the islands. Kamehameha's personality was marked by:
- Religiosity: He was the custodian of a celebrated statue of Ku - his patron god.
- Benevolence: He was reputed to be gracious in victory, and promulgated the Law of the Splintered Paddle, which protected the safety of non-combatants.
An interesting synergy emerged at this time:
- Technical advice of foreigners was instrumental in Kamehameha's success. Under Kamehameha, British and American advisors settled in Hawaii and intermarried with ali'i.
- The unification of Hawaii under a strong government made it much easier for foreigners to do business in Hawaii.
Liholiho - Kamehameha II from Wikipedia
The End of the Kapu System and Conversion
For centuries, Hawaiians had regarded the Kapu System as divine commandment, and assumed that the gods would visit their displeasure on Kapu violators and those who allowed them to go unpunished. Suddenly at the end of the 18th century, foreigners with impressive technologies who clearly lived well showed up in Hawaii, violating Kapu at every turn, and the gods didn't seem to care. The suspicion arose that Kapu might actually be meaningless.
Kamehameha's faith was unshakable, but after his death in 1819, he was succeeded by his son Liholiho (who reigned as Kamehameha II, alongside Ka'ahumanu, formidable widow of Kamehameha I and regent.) In 1819 he invited guests to a feast in which women and men dined together and women ate forbidden foods. No divine retribution was manifested. The Kapu System was effectively abolished, and with it, the justification for the special status of the ali'i. In effect, it was as if the nation had decided to abandon its religion without having a ready substitute.
In 1820, a group of Protestant missionaries arrived from America, providing a new faith to fill the spiritual hole. Hawaii became Protestant, and under the influence of the Congregationalist Church, hostile to Roman Catholicism. Many traditional practices, including hula, were banned.
Soon, a second foreign influence became apparent. Hawaiians lacked resistance to many crowd diseases of the outside world. Kamehameha II and his wife perished of measles during a state visit to Britain in 1824. This was to be a regular occurrence for Hawaiians abroad and, as foreign immigration picked up, for Hawaiians at home. In 1796, there were roughly 270,000 native Hawaiians. In 1896, there were 39,504 - 36.2% of the population of their homeland.
Foreign affairs and the Kamehamehas
In an increasingly globalized 19th century economy, Hawaii's great advantage of isolation slowly evaporated. Then as now, the islands were:
- An appealing destination for visitors and immigrants
- Strategically located in the central Pacific with at least one outstanding natural harbor
- Too small to be able to protect itself
However their rulers played their poor hand extremely well for a century:
- Learning the cultural standards of "civilization."
- cultivating the favor of foreign powers (Britain, France, Japan, and the U. S.) while
- balancing their influence against one another. (Even down to the design of the national flag.)
- Indeed, in 1842, Britain formally declared its commitment to an independent Hawaii, making it the first non-western nation to be so recognized.
But a series of near-disasters showed that the kingdom lived on the knife's edge.
- 1831: A French frigate arrived in Hawaii with orders to make French displeasure with Hawaiian intolerance of Catholicism extremely clear. Kamehameha III issued an edict of toleration, legalizing Roman Catholicism.
- 1843: The Paulet affair: Investigating rumors of abuse of British subjects in Hawaii (in fact, a land dispute between British immigrants and Hawaiians, who had no traditional concept of private ownership of land), Lord George Paulet arrived in Honolulu in the HMS Carysfort, occupied Honolulu and declared himself to be the head of a provisional government. Ultimately, diplomatic pressure and cooler British heads back home prevailed on Paulet to withdraw. Restored, Kamehameha III proclaimed:
"Ua Mau ke Ea o ka Aina i ka Pono"Later the motto of the State of Hawaii.
"The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness"
- During the mid-19th century Americans made up an increasing proportion of the population. Hawaii's relationship with the U. S. was not straightforward:
- America had emerged as Hawaii's primary trading partner, largely thanks to the growing importance of sugar cane cultivation.
- From the 1840s onward, the U. S. maintained the practice of keeping at least one warship in Hawaiian waters at all times.
- Alexander Liholiho (later Kamehameha IV), visiting the U. S. in 1850, received a strong dose of American racism.
- As king, Kamehameha IV was increasingly suspicious of U. S. motives and attempted to shift toward Britain, but died before this could be accomplished
- 1872: Kamehameha V - the last direct descendant of the Hawaii's unifier, passed away. Succeeded briefly by the elected monarch William Charles Lunalilo who reigned for two years. A second election chose David Kalakaua as Hawaii's seventh king in 1874.
David Kalakaua from Wikipedia
The Merrie Monarch
Kalakaua's reign was a cultural high point in the kingdom, marked by:
- The construction of Iolani Palace
- The revival and royal support of hula (Commemorated in today's Merrie Monarch Festival).
- Commemorative statue of Kamehameha I.
Political successes included:
- 1875 Reciprocity Treaty with the U. S. - a free-trade that allowed Hawaii to export sugar to the U. S. more profitably. All Kalakaua had to do was lease Parls Harbor to the U. S. indefinitely.
- 1881 Good-will tour around the world, negotiating the terms of admission of laborers from China and Japan, and cementing relationships with world leaders.
- Polynesian Confederation: - overtures toward a Polynesian confederation in response to increasing European colonial encroachment. The idea was not new, but the sense of urgency was. Kalakaua responded to German involvement in a rebellion against the king of Samoa by sending an emissary aboard Hawaii's first and only warship, the HHMS Kaimiloa. The result was a sharp rebuke by Western Powers.
- The Bayonet Constitution: Kalakaua was extravagant and, in the view of some, corrupt in his finances. In response, the Hawaiian League - a group of wealthy citizens who favored annexation to the U. S. (an idea first floated in the 1840s) and the Honolulu Rifles private militia mobilized to force changes "by all means necessary." They forced the resignation of Kalakaua's cabinet, helped recruit their replacements, and drafted a new constitution to replace Hawaii's original which was drafted under Kamehameha V in 1865. The new constitution reduced the monarch to a figure-head position and gave preeminence to the Euro-American dominated Legislature, but Kalakaua, under duress, had to sign.
Lydia Liliuokalani from Pintarest
Liliuokalani and the Overthrow
Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last monarch, was a polymath: a politician, author, and song-writer. Like other Hawaiian royalists, she had chaffed against "bayonet constitution" of 1887. As queen, she:
- Had to deal with an economic crisis caused by the McKinley administration's revocation of Hawaii's favored trade status for sugar importation.
- Moved to abolish the "bayonet constitution" in favor of one resembling the 1865 constitution in which the monarch would regain power with respect to the expat-dominated legislature. As a result:
1893: The U. S. expat dominated entrepreneurial class led by Lorrin Thurston formed a Committee of Safety whose aim was to depose the monarchy and petition for U. S. annexation. Hawaiian authorities attempted to respond but were intimidated by the deployment of U. S. Marines for the USS Boston. These were ostensibly on hand to prevent any fighting from harming the U. S. Consulate, but had the effect of intimidating royalists from mounting an effective defense. The queen was captured and a provisional government was formed by the coup plotters.
Under duress, Liliuokalani ceded authority to the U. S. directly, not to the provisional government. In the U. S., President Cleveland regarded the coup as illegal and proposed the queen be restored in exchange for amnesty for the plotters. Liliuokalani allegedly threatened to execute them, instead, with the result that the matter was referred to a committee of the U. S. Senate, which supported the coup plotters. A provisional Republic of Hawaii was established and maintained until the election of the expansionist William McKinley, who supported Hawaii's annexation in 1898. Annexation was never a straightforward issue in the U. S., but the outbreak of war with Spain and the need for a forward base to use against the Philipines tipped the balance.
1930s tourist poster from Pintarest
The Territory of Hawaii
As a U. S. territory, Hawaii was governed by an appointed governor and an elected tricameral legislature. It had a single non-voting representative in congress (sound familiar?) This interval was more important for the economic and demographic changes it saw than for political events.
Agriculture: Annexation was the ultimate free-trade pact, and the sugar cane industry flourished and received heavy investment. In 1899, James Dole commenced pineapple cultivation. Five large firms from the Kingdom era - the "Big Five" dominated commerce.
Tourism: People were already visiting the islands, but in 1909, organized tourism commenced with the purchase of the liner SS Wilhelmina by Matson Navigation Company. In 1927, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel opened in Waikiki. One cultural outgrowth:
Hula: Hula is unlike other Polynesian dance forms in that its gestures have specific meaning and are used to act out stories in songs or chants. Originally used in religious ceremonies, banned by missionaries, and revived by Kalakaua, underwent a transformation:
- Hula Kahiko: Hula as originally practiced was danced to chants and simple percussion. Link to men's and women's hula kahiko.
- Hula Auana: (Modified hula) composed after 1898, evolved along with the tourist industry. Generally performed to accompaniment of modern music and instruments. Link to men's and women's hula auana.
Demographics: By the turn of the 20th century, most residents of Hawaii were agricultural workers from:
- The Philipines
- The Hawaiian Pidgin language which grew up among the plantation work force
- A religious mix in which Buddhism, Shintoism, and Roman Catholicism joined forces with Protestantism.
- The most culturally tolerant society in the U. S. (Home of Barak Obama)
Military: The importance of Hawaii as a forward military asset was evident from the beginning. Under the Theodore Roosevelt administration, the fortification of Oahu and establishment of military bases was a major priority. From 1941 to 1945, Hawaii was under martial law.
Hawaii State Capitol (1969) from Wikipedia
The State of Hawaii
Unsuccessful statehood petitions had been attempted in 1935 and 1937. Failure reflected, in part, lack of enthusiasm by major business interests and the Republican Party. By the 1950s, however, the children of the massive wave of immigrant agricultural workers were able to turn elections toward the Democratic Party. With enthusiastic support in the U. S. Congress, a new statehood petition made headway, passing with the approval of 94% of Hawaii voters. Hawaii became a state along with Alaska in 1959.
At this point, roughly 9% of Hawaiians are of Polynesian ancestry.