Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Little Lesson in Hawaiian History

One of the things I wanted to learn about when I came to Hawaii was how in the world these eight islands thousands of miles off the coast of California came to be an American state. I realized, of course, that it was probably a military strategy, but how did it happen?

When I went to the library last week, I found a whole shelf filled with books regarding said topic. From my lips to God's ears :)

The first book I read was A Concise History of the Hawaiian Islands by Phil Barnes. This book gave me an excellent overview of how Hawaii became the 50th state. From the first settlement of Polynesians in 400 or 500 A.D. to the Sovereignty Movement that sprung up in the 1970s.

The next book I picked up was From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii by Haunani Kay Trask. She is ANGRY!
Despite American political and territorial control of Hawai'i since 1898, Hawaiians are not Americans. Nor are we Europeans or Asians. We are not from the Pacific Rim, nor are we immigrants to the Pacific. We are the children of Papa-earth mother and Wakea-sky father- who created the sacred lands of Hawai'i Nei...
(the opening sentence of her book)
Her book includes her perspective on everything from Hawaii's history, to the economic plight of the native Hawaiian, to the bastardization of the Hawaiian culture through tourism, to political debates being waged over the past 40 years regarding the future of Hawaii.

And finally, I got my hands on Hawaiian Sovereignty: Do the Facts Matter? by Thurston Twigg-Smith. As the great-grandson of a haole (white man) who was integral in the colonization of Hawaii, he has an entirely different perspective.
As Will and Ariel Durant state in The Lessons of History, "Our knowledge of any past event is always incomplete, probably inaccurate, beclouded by ambivalent evidence and biased historians, and perhaps distorted by our own patriotic or religious partnership." (the opening sentence of his book)
Obviously, there are at least two sides to every argument. I'm glad I had the opportunity to learn the two most opposite sides of this argument. In case you are interested, here is my recap:

First of all, the "Native Daughter," though ethnically Hawaiian, was born in California.

Second of all, no one is "native" of Hawaii like the Native Americans. Hawaii was first DISCOVERED by the Polynesians, so the native Hawaiians are actually the offspring of explorers that landed here by happenstance. I'm not saying they do not have a right to claim Hawaii as home, I am just saying that their plight is NOT the same as that of the Native Americans. (Side note: in my research, I found an interesting Wikiarticle about Indigenous People.)

Third of all, if America had not stepped in and claimed Hawaii as ours, Japan would have. We did it without shedding blood. Do you think that Japan would have?

I agree that the Hawaiian culture, language, religion, etc should be appreciated, treasured and protected. However, deeming haole the enemy doesn't change the disrespect you feel. Rather than demanding sovereignty to go about life in your previous manner, why not seek to improve our capitalist, imperialist, parasitic way of life so that you can be proud to Hawaiian and American?

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