Hawaiian history. Did we “steal” Hawaii from the Hawaiians? You betcha.
But remember, the indigenous Hawaiian had no concept of private ownership of land. The king owned it all. The people were to live productively — fish, farm, fight and die — peacefully on the land. Take care they didn’t step in the king’s shadow.
The first white men to arrive, with billowing sails — and TB, venereal disease, measles, mosquitoes, nails, smallpox and other civilized gifts — were Englishmen. Captain James Cook — no “e” — and his horny crew. Cook got eaten. Long pig.
Russians popped in. Popped out. Then come the American missionaries with their book and outdoor walk-around nightgowns. Nudity was a sin. Sex was a sin. Everything was a sin. The Hawaiians say, “When the missionaries arrived, they had the Bibles and we had the land. Now we got the Bibles and they got the land.” Religion reared its ugly head. Most of those early missionary women were not bathing beauties.
Don’t forget the whalers. Fun and games when they came ashore. Hottest spot was Lahaina. Wow wow wow and whoopity do. Then commerce. Sugar. Queen Emma — a compassionate, sensible woman — looks around and sees that the pale faces controlled all the land. So she issued a decree — the Great Mahele-sign a paper, peasant, and your small piece of paradise — your kuliana — belong to you and you can “sell” that piece of paper for a few bucks or a bottle of beer to any one who can then kick you off your land.
A personal touch, years later — the 1980s — my husband and I buy our land from Alexander and Baldwin. Where they got it, nobody knows. Or tells, anyway. We bought it. Worked for the money, used it to buy a piece of paper that says “we own it.” I ain’t given’ it back to no Hawaiians. I gave it to NTBG. John Allerton gets in the act.
Christian missionaries and American business men have a sacred economic system. Greedy business. Form a group, plea with Washington to become a territory — be sure you read Mark Twain. Call out the Marines. Haul Emma off to home detention. Commerce reigns. Tourism. Development. Suburban sprawl. Money. Money. Money, honey. Religion. Capitalism.
Then comes the American military in force. Big brass US Navy muckity mucks. So racist they make Ferguson look like a luau. Pearl Harbor was a big deal. Excellent Naval Base. Best in the Pacific. The Massey case was a scandalous yellow journalism news blast all over the country. Hearst had a field day. There goes tourism. Matson squeals. Help. Shirley Temple sails the Lurline. Kind’a cleans up the act. Good for business.
Then come the Japanese and Pearl Harbor. Please note, they only bombed the bases. Made a mess. Martial law. Americans put back to work — the Great Depression goes bye bye — and the rich get richer building war ships. Kaiser builds a gated community.
If I were an Hawaiian, I’d make “them” clean the place up before I took it back.
Bettejo Dux is a resident of Kalaheo.