'Conquest of Hawaii' a painfully true account of island history

The Maui News
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
(Read the original unedited version)


The History Channel presentation "Conquest of Hawaii" on Oct. 12 was very accurate and painfully true as to the history of Hawaii and the facts of the past. It was very surprising that The Maui News editorial (Oct. 14) did not think so.

The editorial writer must have looked at the show with a jaundiced eye. The narrator, John Osorio, is a

professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii, Kelly Hu is a Native Hawaiian actress and a graduate of Kamehameha Schools. Rocky Jensen is a sculptor and deeply involved in the Hawaiian culture. They are truly kamaaina (children of the land).

Almost every question raised about the presentation was based on books that were written about history. Research was done with the Hawaiian method of passing oral history from one generation to the other in the form of oli or chants. It is our unique method of documentation.

We have chants that predicted the coming of the Western man 200 to 300 years before they arrived in 1778. The facts of this exist in footprints that were carved in sandstone by a kahuna (priest) who predicted that the western man would come here someday and obliterate the kanaka maoli. These sandstone plaques, called Kalaina Waewae, can be found at Moomomi Beach on Molokai.

"Conquest of Hawaii" brought tears to my kanaka maole eyes to see again the numerous atrocities our people suffered. As a historian, lecturer and cultural specialist, I can vouch for the authenticity of the presentation and the accuracy of the events in our past history. Overall it was well put together.

Capt. James Cook brought diseases that decimated our people by the hundreds of thousands. The missionaries arrived in 1820, to do exactly what the host, Hu, said, "They came here to do good, instead they did well."

Missionaries who left the ministry saw how bountiful this land was. In the name of Christianity, they became advisers to the kings and queens of Hawaii and changed laws to allow the acquisition of Hawaiian land. Not being satisfied with controlling the land, with the help of U.S. troops they took over the Hawaiian Islands in 1893 in what is known as the "overthrow." It should have been known as a terrorist attack on a friendly nation.

The anti-annexation petition did contain 98 percent of all the Hawaiians living in Hawaii. As for the Statehood Act, America accepted Hawaii with tainted title. Missionary descendants, American businessmen and others gave Hawaii to America. They were not the true owners of the land. Everyone - not just the kanaka maoli - who lived in Hawaii was allowed to vote for statehood. The question is are the kanaka maoli better off today because of the Statehood Act?

All the trouble Hawaiians face today is a direct result of being colonized.

Our people can not find affordable homes and they have to leave Hawaii because not even three jobs are enough to support their families. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Hawaiian Home Lands Act, the Hawaiian people, their entitlements and the alii trusts are being attacked with the laws of this great nation.

The editorial says that the movie avoided "questions facing Hawaiians today." If you looked carefully, the answers to why this is happening today are directly related to events that happened in the past.

These islands always belonged to us. This is our ancestral home. It is time that we stand up and fight for it. Ku ika pono, justice for Hawaiians. Please see my Web site www.moolelo.com.

Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell is a cultural adviser on Hawaiian affairs and an early activist for Hawaiian rights. He lives in Pukalani.

Copyright © 2003 — The Maui News

Original Story URL: http://www.mauinews.com/letters/story/1021202003_let01Viewpoint1021.asp

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