(with one heart)
by Al Gonzales, OurFutureHawaii.com
Usually, I mind my own business and don’t say anything about politics, religion, “Hawaiian kine stuff”, etc. even if it bugs the heck out of me. I have only 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.
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!
We are in deep trouble, if Alapai's generation and younger feel the way they do. 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 of the issues for education, financial assistance, medical care, self-determination, etc. However, I think that most of us miss the key points for the foundation that is essential in reaching these goals. The foundation for our protests, etc., is now 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 mean time, 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 most people believe, the “old days” was 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, all feel that we are “owed” what was “taken away” from us. The white man, with the help of the US government, they feel, "stole" our land. Don’t get me wrong, the US Government should step up and give us the same recognition and consideration that has already been bestowed on the other indigenous people, 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 US government were just another conqueror/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 and become the sole ruler of the Hawaiian Islands. He only succeeded after the white man came and 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 one day”? Ridiculous!
Back in those days, the people living here did not consider themselves as one entity, one race of "Hawaiians". There were three distinct groups.
1. There were the people from the Big Island led by Kamehameha I.
2. The people from Maui, Moloka`i, Lana`i, Kaho`olawe, O`ahu and Moloka`i were under the rule of Kahekili.
3. Kaua`i had their own king and the people there were very different from 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. Kahekili and his people knew very well, from past experience, how brutal and ferocious Kamehameha I, his war chief Kekuhaupi'o 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 were a "good thing". It happened because Kamehameha I was just doing “his thing” as the "Warrior King" that he was! Period! 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, etc.
Think about this:
1. did you know that Kamehame made John Young, Ali`i Nui and gave him rule over most of the Big Island. He remained Ali`i Nui until he died in his 90's!
2. WHAT IF? During the battles that ensued during Kamehameha's quest to "unite" these Islands . . . what if Kamehameha was severely wounded. On his death bed, he gathered all his war chiefs and made them swear allegiance to Ali`i Nui John Young. The invasion continues after the death of Kamehameha 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 Mau`i and O`ahu.) Would we be celebrating "John Young Day" instead of Kamehameha Day? I don't think so, do you?
Some other facts:
* Kamehameha II abolished the old "kapu" and religion, not the white man, years before the missionaries came.
* The American landowners were either given or purchased the vast amount of lands that they owned, from the Ali`i; after all it was the "their" land, the Ali`i could do whatever they wanted. The Ali`i didn't care if the sale or gift of these lands displaced the maka`ainanana inhabiting these lands, they owned these people, too.
* The "Great Mahele", while helping some educated Hawaiians, mostly helped to augment the already substantial land holdings of foreigners. Did you know that after the Great Mahele, over 90% of the land was held by foreigners!
* Before she was "overthrown", Queen Liliuokalani, supposedly, asked the provisional government for a "life-time pension" . . . her request was refused.
* It was after this, supposed, request and subsequent refusal that the "trouble" began between "the monarchy" and the "American landowners".
We should all be thankful that it was the Americans that made us a territory and not some of the other powers, at that point in our history. Russia, Japan, France, Spain, England, etc. all had their eyes on these Islands! Under the Americans, we Hawaiians have prospered more than any of the other Pacific Islanders throughout the Pacific. 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 US government to pay, we Hawaiians, reparations. 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 the Big Island? Who gets paid reparations, first, and from whom? Forget about it, move on!
Before the White Man came, their was a very strict Caste System in place.
1. Aliʻi. This class consisted of the high and lesser chiefs of the realms. They governed with divine power called mana.
2. Kahuna. Priests conducted religious ceremonies, at the heiau and elsewhere. Professionals included master carpenters and boatbuilders, chanters, dancers, genealogists, physicians and healers.
3. Makaʻāinana. Commoners farmed, fished, and exercised the simpler crafts. They labored not only for themselves and their families, but to support the chiefs and kahuna.
4. Kauwā. They are believed to have been war captives, or the descendants of war captives (the original inhabitants of these Islands were placed here). Marriage between higher castes and the kauwa was strictly forbidden. The kauwa worked for the chiefs and were often used as human sacrifices at the luakini heiau. (They were not the only sacrifices; law-breakers of all castes or defeated political opponents were also acceptable as victims.).
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, etc. etc., etc.!! How big are your land holdings? Most of us are, probably, descendants of Maka`ainana or Kauwa!
The “Aloha Spirit” is not a, solely, Hawaiian thing! The only reason Captain Cook was "welcomed" to these islands was because he arrived during the Makahiki. The Hawaiians, then, thought that he was "Lono"; fulfilling the prophecy that he would return during the Makahiki. As soon as they realized that he was just another mortal human, they killed him. The “Aloha Spirit” 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 Hawai’i.
All of the present day efforts towards 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 Hawai`i what it is today. Now, they are being ignored by some of us with Hawaiian blood. Personally, I am Hawaiian, Chinese (my mother), Spanish, Portuguese & Filipino (my father) - my wife is Caucasian - our children are all of these. How many of us "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 Hawai`i 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, filling the lists of the unemployed - homeless - drug addicts - alcoholics - high school drop-outs, etc., etc., etc.! We also have the highest rate of health and social problems: diabetes - cardiovascular disease - obesity - cancer - communicable diseases - mental illness - single parent households - abuse of household members . . . the list goes on!
We Hawaiians need to quit living in the past and feeling sorry for ourselves! We all need to “be Hawaiian” but, also, live and take advantage of all that is offered 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 in our march towards “self determination”!
Read the numerous books and publications available . . . get our history right, then make you decisions based on fact and not some "fairy tale" version of our past!
I really believe that if King Kamehameha was 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, Davis & Young!
HERE'S A READING LIST:
* Ancient History of the Hawaiian People to the Times of Kamehameha I - Abraham Fornander
* Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen - Queen Liliuokalani
* Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii - James L. Haley
* Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands - Gavan Daws