Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022 |
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In a front page story in the Sept. 20 issue of The Garden Island, someone was
quoted as saying that descendants of missionaries profited financially “at the
expense of Hawaiians and their culture.”
This idea – that missionaries and
their descendants were the chief exploiters of the Hawaiian people – has been
repeated so often over the years that most people today accept it as true
without ever checking its veracity against the historical record.
doing research for a book about Dr. James Smith and other early Kaua’i
missionaries, I have discovered some interesting details, including the easily
documented fact that many missionaries and their progeny spent their lives in
service to the Hawaiian people without ever getting rich, and were greatly
beloved by the native people they served.
Beginning in 1820, a total of 178
Protestant missionaries arrived in Hawaii during the 19th century. During the
same period, thousands of other foreigners, who weren’t missionaries, also
arrived. These non-missionary foreigners produced many thousands more
descendants than the missionaries did, and those descendants profited just as
much – and sometimes more – at the expense of the Hawaiians as any of the
missionaries or their descendants.
Yet, it is always the missionaries and
their offspring who are blamed for every rotten thing that ever happened to the
Hawaiian people, even though the historical facts paint a far different
In fact, if a contest were ever held to determine history’s
greatest exploiters of the common Hawaiian people, the kanaka maoli’s own ali’i
would have a very good shot at winning first prize.
Try reading some
Hawaiian history, beginning with native historian S.M. Kamakau’s “Ruling Chiefs
of Hawaii.” The truth will set you free.
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