America is currently undergoing a “revisionist history” revolution. Statues of Christopher Columbus or Italian Cristoforo Colombo or Spanish Cristóbal Colón are being removed, while Columbus Day is replaced with Indigenous People’s Day. America’s bloody and imperfect past is being “white washed” by a Millennial Generation that believes none should be offended. Of course, none of the Millennials are willing to leave the United States of America and return the stolen land to the indigenous people. Removing statues and holidays clears their collective guilt apparently.
A similar movement is gaining momentum in America’s 50th state, Hawai’i. My Facebook friend, Heidi Gillette, shared a Really American’s video that asked, “Don’t you think the truth about America’s 50th state should be taught injustice our schools?
Here’s the truth: in 1893, a group of Hawaiians who partnered with American business men convinced Republican President Benjamin Harrison to push Queen Lili’uokalani off her rightful throne. It was a coup; it was theft of a kingdom.
Might Makes Right
So, YES, let’s tell the truth about Hawaiian history. Each year on June 11th, we celebrate King Kamehameha I, also called Kamehameha the Great. He is considered the Founder and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawai’i. Kamehameha was not a pacifist. Hawaiians were fierce warriors and Kamehameha “unified the islands” using force — AGAINST the WILL of the people.
In 1795, Kamehameha set sail with an armada of 960 war canoes and 10,000 soldiers. He quickly secured the lightly defended islands of Maui and Molokaʻi at the Battle of Kawela. He moved on to the island of Oʻahu, landing his troops at Waiʻalae and Waikīkī … on Oahu a fierce battle ensued, with Kamehameha’s forces forming an enclosing wall. Using traditional Hawaiian spears, as well as muskets and cannon, they killed most of Kalanikūpule’s forces. Over 400 men were forced over the Pali’s cliff, a drop of 1,000 feet. Kaʻiana was killed during the action; Kalanikūpule was later captured and sacrificed to Kūkāʻilimoku. In April 1810, King Kaumualiʻi of Kaua’i became a vassal of Kamehameha, choosing not to fight the powerful ruler.
This is the history of most of the world. As civilization moved forward, big fish conquered smaller fish. And larger fish conquered the big fish.
In 1893, US Marines and pro-American forces surrounded Queen Lili’uokalani. She chose not to fight, as she preferred not to shed Hawaiian blood. She abdicated her thrown. Likely the fierce Hawaiians could have repelled Marines, who had long supply lines back to the US. Queen Lili’uokalani was the Hawaiian leader. She made the decision not to fight. The rest now is history.
Keep in mind many nations wanted the Hawaiian islands — for strategic purposes. Hawaiians were not capable of defending the islands. Had the US not absorbed the kingdom, maybe it would have been the Russians. There are remnants of a Russian fort on Kauai’s west side near Waimea town.
Or it might have been the Japanese. They were brutal to islanders in the Pacific — engaging in genocide as they dominated the waters. Or it might have been the British, or the Chinese, or the Dutch, or the Spanish.
I believe Hawaiians got the best deal they could. America is not perfect but has offered native Hawaiians more opportunity than they likely would have received from other nations in a power hungry world.
History is violent and unfair. Big fish gobbled up small fish; larger fish gobbled up the big fish. This is the history of King Kamehameha the Great. This is also the lesson of Hawaiian and world history. Those who were pacifist or peaceful didn’t seem to have made it to the 21st century. On June 11th each year, remember Kamehameha and the Kingdom of Hawai’i. This is a beautiful and wise culture. Being part of America doesn’t mean principles such as acting pono, living kuleana or treating each other with aloha should be forgotten. They should become part of the national fabric that binds us together.
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