Introduction to Hawai’i History
Sometime between 200 BC and 300 BC, voyagers followed a bird that founded the O’hia Lehua flower of the Big Island. This was the first life born from the volcanoes and is the island flower of Hawai’i. This was one story on how the Native Hawaiians came to be on the islands. The other belief is that The Creator, Kane, and the gods below him created everything. Lono created sound, Ku created substance, together with Kane, they created Menehune, the messengers/servants of the islands and the first man and earth. They took pieces of all four corners of the world with clay and spit, they created kalo (taro) and then man. Kalo and man were brothers that supported each other. Man tends the kalo and kalo feeds the man. This shows a great significance of the respect, appreciation and devotion of the local people with nature (earth, kalo and water specifically).
Hawaii is a social culture. Many people see paradise here, feel the Aloha Spirit here and feel immediately at home. You will hear the word “aloha” as a greeting or farewell, but it means much more than that. Aloha’s acronym is as follows:
A stands for ala which means pathway or awake
L stands for lokahi which means unity or harmony
O stands for oia’i’o which means truth or honesty
H stands for ha’aha’a which means the value of humility
A stands for ahonui which means the patience with perseverance
Over time, the islands created tribes and a warrior named, Kamehameha fought many of the different tribes, wanting to conquer all by uniting the islands, he became King Kamehameha. Around 1778, a British sailor came to the Hawaiian Islands known as Captain Cook. He and King Kamehameha publicized their union and began traveling to each other’s countries. As more foreigners came to the Hawaiian Islands, they found the potential for business and moved to Hawaii. There was a focus on the sugar cane plantations and the British brought immigrant workers from Asia. To communicate with the Natives and foreigners, pidgin, a common language was born. Pidgin is still used today as a shorted and combined version of languages from English, Japanese, Cantonese, Hawaiian and Portuguese. Around 1843, after many British settlers lived in Hawaii, part of the British flag was put on the new Hawaiian flag. Hawaii was recognized as an independent state and a legit royal kingdom. In 1893, Queen Liliuokalani proposed a new constitution but a group of landowners who controlled the sugar cane plantation called the Community of Safety and the U.S. minister overthrew the queen. The queen gave the right to vote only to the Native Hawaiians and when this happened, U.S. troops came to Hawaii and arrested Queen Liliuokalani. 38,000 out of 40,000 of the local population signed a petition that claimed that they do not want to be a part of the U.S. nation. Later, all schools were forced to speak English, so students who spoke Hawaiian were reprimanded for not speaking English. In 1959, Hawaii became a U.S. state but in 1993, president Bill Clinton formally apologized stating that Hawaii became a U.S. state formed by the U.S. minister and “without consent of the Native Hawaiian people”.
Many people still suffer from this experience that happened decades ago. Many local people believe that not only was the islands taken away without their consent, but they were disrespected and taken advantage of which overthrew the Queen and Royal Kingdom after opening the islands to the foreigners with the aloha spirit. Many diseases resulting in deaths affected thousands of Native Hawaiians after Captain Cook came to the islands. To this day, many of the local people hesitate in welcoming or accepting foreigners “haole” onto the Hawaiian grounds let alone their homes. Upon arriving the Hawaiian Islands, it’s important to not only know about the history and culture but to have compassion, respect and a sense of lokahi that comes with accepting and practicing the Aloha Spirit.
Be kind to the people, the culture, the land and the ocean while you are here in Hawai’i and I hope this practice becomes embedded in you wherever you go. Take the Aloha Spirit wherever you go and in whatever you do.
This information is a condensed introduction to Hawai’i history.