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• I may be wrong but …
• Why does Hawai‘i have problems?
• Loved Pearl and the Navy
I may be wrong but …
Regarding a November 18, 2007, article by Juan Wilson on “Sovereignty and Sustainability,” there are some points that need to be understood and clarified:
One, Mr. Wilson implies that the Hawaiians are the indigenous people of Hawai‘i. It must be pointed out that there was a group of people who were here for over 1,000 years before the Hawaiians arrived. The Hawaiians subdued, enslaved, tattooed, and never allowed them into the greater society. As a matter of fact, this group was segregated into closed areas, allowed to work only at night, forbidden to have any kind of relationships with the conquerors, much less to intermarry with them. These people were called the ka‘uvas.
Two, “Hawaiian population was affected by Mainland diseases.” The United States was a latecomer and participant in the history of Hawai‘i. Let’s start with Captain Cook; he was British. As a matter of fact, it is well documented that some of his men infected some Native Hawaiians with some of the common western diseases. The French and Germans were also here. Do not forget the Chinese — they brought in leprosy. The boundaries of contact between Western colonizing powers were unlimited in the entire Pacific and, therefore, the spread of diseases was an inevitable consequence. But was the spreading of diseases a one-way street? Of course not.
Three, “Land and water were grabbed.” Kamehameha III — considering the enormous pressure put on the king by the British, French, German, and American traders in the fur, sandalwood, and whaling industries and by Hawai‘i-born American entrepreneurs seeking land to grow more sugar — appointed a land commission to determine the land rights of the king, landlords (konohiki), and tenants (maka’ainana). Initially, the commission decided that the land should be divided into thirds (one-third each to the king, the konohiki, and the maka’ainana). This decision was not, however, adopted. The king then divided all the land between the king (60 percent) and chiefs (40 percent) . Later on, the king further divided the land into private lands (Crown lands) 23 percent, Chiefs, 40 percent and government lands, 37 percent. What happened to the maka‘ainana or tenants? The Kuleana Act of 1850 was adopted. In each mahele between the king and the chiefs were the words “subject to the rights of the tenants.” A maka‘ainana or tenant could get a land grant if he/she could prove that he/she occupied and cultivated any portion of crown, government, or konohiki land, if a claim was filed, and if proof was provided that the land was cultivated for the purpose of earning a living.
For the tenants, the process was too cumbersome. Besides, the konohikis were unwilling to give up. So, who “grabbed” what from whom? There is an implication that land was there for anybody who wanted it and, therefore, those “land grabbers” ought to be blamed. It is not as simple as it is made out to be. Surely the kings, and chiefs knew what they were doing.
The motivation of Kamehameha III to initiate the Great Mahele was to insure that land, after he was gone, would remain in Hawaiian hands. If there were any alienation of land it must have been done by those that had control over those lands. Fair enough?
Why does Hawai‘i have problems?
In The Garden Island (Letters, Dec. 4), Harry Boranian of Lihu‘e wrote the letter “Housing and medical care are the real problems,” saying that there should be more attention to these things.
I’m a little confused, and I hope someone out there can explain to me the reasons for this dilemma. The Democrats are the party of the people, they care about children, they care about health care for everyone, they are the party that will fix all of our woes. It is refreshing to know that they care.
Now, my question is: Why don’t we have the best education facilities in the nation? Why don’t we have the best paid and the best quality teachers in the nation? Why don’t we have the best and most available health care in the nation? We have some of the highest taxes in the nation and we have had Democrats in control of the Legislature for as long as Hawai‘i has been a state. With those two conditions, why are there any problems in Hawai‘i?
Please, somebody, elucidate me on this matter.
Gordon “Doc” Smith
Loved Pearl and the Navy
After Pearl Harbor was bombed, the Navy placed ads in newspapers across the country to recruit mechanics and helpers. It didn’t matter if the applicants had never seen a ship before, the navy was looking for mechanical skills of all kinds.
I was 19 years old. My father had a little meat and grocery store in St. Paul, Minn. I didn’t have enough money to go to college, so I went to a federal government machine shop school. That training qualified me to be a machinist helper in shop 38 at Pearl Harbor, so that’s where I found myself in March 1942. Other workers were transferred from Navy yards around the country: Brooklyn, Bremerton, Norfolk, Mare Island, etc.
The shock effect of these imports on the local boys at Pearl Harbor shipyard was huge. First of all, all Mainland mechanics and helpers were classified First Class. This did not set too well with the local boys who were working their way up to first class from third and second class.
Secondly, there was a language problem. I can remember a young man from Brooklyn, New York, who saw a mynah bird for the first time. “What kind of a boid is dat?” he asked a young local boy of Hawaiian-Chinese ancestry. “Das one mynah bird” was the reply. It’s a good thing that Brooklyn was pointing at the Mynah, otherwise the Hawaiian wouldn’t have understood “boid”
The change in the ethnic and cultural makeup of our population is evident today. Many of the Mainland transplants stayed in Hawai‘i and reared families. Younger people such as I ended up joining the military. I entered the Army in Hawai‘i in 1944 and was honorably discharged in 1946.
During my 18 months at Pearl Harbor, I worked on every kind of ship in the Navy. I worked on all the old straight deck aircraft carriers, Including Yorktown and Saratoga. I, with hundreds of others, helped to raise the battleships California and West Virginia, which were towed to Bremerton and recommissioned before the war ended. Although I am proud to have served in the Army, a part of my heart will always be with the U.S. Navy and the sailors that I met when I worked at Pearl.
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