Trying to Set the Record Straight on Hawaii's History

We Hawaiians need to quit living in the past and feeling sorry for ourselves. We all need to "be Hawaiian" but also to live and take advantage of all that is offered to us as Americans.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Usually, I mind my own business and don't say anything about politics, religion, "Hawaiian kine stuff," and that sort of thing -- even if it bugs the heck out of me.

I only have so many hours in a day and if I do have any free time, I spend it with my family. I am not an activist. I am just another Hawaiian trying to exist in our islands and raise my family with positive goals and enduring social values.

But it was my son, Alapai, at 16, who finally opened my eyes. One day, while we were talking about his future, he started spouting the usual "Hawaiian activist" rhetoric. I couldn't believe it. I then asked him if his friends and peers felt the same way. He said yes.

If Alapai's generation and younger feel the way they do, we are in deep trouble. There will be major confrontations, in the future, based on their slanted perception created by the misinformation, wishful thinking, naiveté and downright ignorance of some of our present-day "Hawaiian leaders." We should all be educated enough to pick up and read the numerous books and publications that are available and get our history right.

My family and I support most education, financial assistance, medical care, self-determination and that sort of thing for Hawaiians. However, I think that most of us miss the key points that are essential to reaching key goals. The foundation for our protests is often based on half-truths, innuendo, naiveté, hate, hysteria and ignorance of our Hawaiian history.

We need to base our claims on the truth.

In the meantime, what we, as a race, should be doing is taking full advantage of all of the opportunities and resources that being American affords us. Do that and we can have our cake and eat it, too. If all the rest comes to us, in the future, that will be the icing on our cake.

Unlike what many people believe, the "old days" were not paradise. It was only "paradise" if you were Ali`i. The Ali`i owned everything, the land, the people and the resources. If you didn't work or were unproductive, you were either killed or banished. There were no "lazy Hawaiians" allowed back then.

Most Hawaiians that I speak to feel that we are "owed" what was "taken away" from us. The White Man, with the help of the U.S. government, they feel, "stole" our land. Don't get me wrong, the U.S. government should step up and give us the same recognition and consideration that has already been bestowed on other indigenous peoples -- the American Indian and Eskimo.

However, we still need to get the facts straight before we make claims that aren't based on the truth.

The White Man and the U.S. government were just another conquering entity that took control. This happened all over the world; the early Hawaiians were no different.

When the first Hawaiians arrived in these islands, there was another race of people living here, already. These people were, probably, what are now known as the "Menehune," the "little people." These people coexisted in peace and harmony for decades. Then the Tahitian migration came to these Islands. The existing people were enslaved, killed, tortured and abused for almost a thousand years by the first "Hawaiians" from Tahiti.

Before the White Man came, who else tried to take control of these islands and finally prevailed? Kamehameha I, of course.

For years, he tried to conquer Kahekili to become the sole ruler of the Hawaiian Islands. He only succeeded after the White Man came. Kamehameha I captured two Englishman and appropriated muskets and cannon. We all know what happened then.

Why doesn't anyone say how terrible Kamehameha I was? If he was white and did what he did, he would be the most hated figure in our history. Why is Kamehameha I, who killed more Hawaiians than anything else -- excluding disease -- now known as the "conqueror of the islands" who became a famous hero?

Back in those days, the people living here did not consider themselves as one entity. They were one race of "Hawaiians." There were three distinct groups. There were the people from the Big Island led by Kamehameha I. There were the people from Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Oahu and Molokai who were under the rule of Kahekili. Meanwhile, Kauai had its own king and the people there were very different from people on the other islands, especially in physical stature and language.

These islands were not dis-united. Everyone was living, as they had for generations, separately.

Can we believe that the other "Hawaiians," not under Kamehameha I, really wanted to be "united" and brought under one rule? Of course not. Especially, when they all knew that the price for this "unity" would be paid for with their own blood.

Remember, Kamehameha and his army had tried, previously, on several occasions to conquer Kahekili who, along with his people, knew very well from past experience how brutal and ferocious Kamehameha I, his war chief Kekuhaupio and their warriors were. They already knew first hand the price of "unity."

Let's quit trying to glorify the slaughter of thousands of Hawaiians and turn it around as though it was a "good thing." It happened because Kamehameha I was just doing his thing as the "Warrior King" that he was. Kamehameha I was a remarkable man of "his time" and should not be judged, revered or immortalized using present day parameters of reason, justice, ethics, morals, and that sort of thing.

Think about this: Did you know that Kamehameha made John Young, Ali`i Nui and gave him rule over most of the Big Island? He remained Ali`i Nui until he died after a long, long life.

And what if, during the battles involved in Kamehameha's quest to "unite" these Islands, the king had been severely wounded? On his death bed, would he have gathered all his war chiefs and made them swear allegiance to Ali`i Nui John Young?

Imagine the invasion that would have continued after Kamehameha's death with Ali`i Nui Young as the supreme commander! Remember, John Young and Isaac Davis were a very integral part of Kamehameha's success in defeating the chiefs of Maui and Oahu.)

Would we be celebrating "John Young Day" instead of Kamehameha Day? I don't think so, do you?

We should all be thankful that it was the Americans who made us a territory and not some of the other powers. Russia, Japan, France, Spain, England and others had their eyes on these islands. Under the Americans, we Hawaiians have prospered more than any other Pacific Islanders. Plus, the Americans didn't kill us and take everything like they did with the American Indian. (Remember, only Kamehameha I did that.)

Another thought to consider: We want the U.S. government to pay repatriations to us Hawaiians. What about the descendants of Kahekili? Shouldn't the descendants of Kamehameha I reimburse those displaced descendants of Kahekili and the other Hawaiians not from Kamehameha I and his legacy? Who gets paid reparations, first, and from whom? Forget about it, move on!

Before the White Man came, there was a very strict caste system in place. Do you know from whom you are descended? Where would you be now if we were still a monarchy? Look around, you can see for yourself who the descendants of Kamehameha are -- Campbell Estate, Bishop Estate, Parker Ranch and others. How big are your land holdings? Most of us are, probably, descendants of (lower castes).

The "aloha spirit" is not a solely Hawaiian thing. It was born after the missionaries came. Since then, over the years, it has been developed and nurtured by all of the different races and cultures that make up the fabric of the wonderful tapestry that is Hawaii.

All present-day efforts toward Hawaiian "self determination" have created several splits in our island community. It is "us" against the "others," the non-Hawaiians. Most of these non-Hawaiian groups are the ones that have made Hawaii what it is today. Now, they are being ignored by some of us with Hawaiian blood. Personally, I am Hawaiian, Chinese by my mother, Spanish, Portuguese and Filipino by my father. My wife is Caucasian and all our children are all of these things.

How many of "Hawaiians" are just like us? I am proud of what I am and what my ancestors have contributed to our society. How could I even possibly exclude my "non-Hawaiian" ancestors and their contribution to what Hawaii is today?

Most of what we Hawaiians have contributed, unfortunately, has been very detrimental to the economic, spiritual and environmental growth of these islands.

We've done a great job of populating the prisons, as well as filling lists of the unemployed, homeless, drug-addicts, alcoholics, high school drop-outs and more. We also have the highest rate of health and social problems here, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, communicable diseases, mental illness, single-parent households, domestic abuse and more.

We Hawaiians need to quit living in the past and feeling sorry for ourselves. We all need to "be Hawaiian" but also to live and take advantage of all that is offered to us as Americans.

Stop blaming our failures on others! This mentality has become an anchor around our neck that continues to drag us down. Our leaders need to educate all Hawaiians to "forget about the past and move forward into the future!" Let us rid ourselves of the hate and hysteria-based rhetoric on our march towards "self determination."

I really believe that if King Kamehameha were alive today, he would support the telescopes on Mauna Kea and Haleakala. After all, Hawaiians at one time were the best "naked-eye" astronomers in the world. Also, King Kamehameha conquered these islands by embracing "modern" technology -- using muskets and cannon, under the supervision of English sailors.

Go To Homepage

Before You Go

Popular in the Community