Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism [NOOK Book]


In 1897, as a white oligarchy made plans to allow the United States to annex Hawai'i, native Hawaiians organized a massive petition drive to protest. Ninety-five percent of the native population signed the petition, causing the annexation treaty to fail in the U.S. Senate. This event was unknown to many contemporary Hawaiians until Noenoe K. Silva rediscovered the petition in the process of researching this book. With few exceptions, histories of Hawai'i have been based exclusively on English-language sources. ...
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Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism

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In 1897, as a white oligarchy made plans to allow the United States to annex Hawai'i, native Hawaiians organized a massive petition drive to protest. Ninety-five percent of the native population signed the petition, causing the annexation treaty to fail in the U.S. Senate. This event was unknown to many contemporary Hawaiians until Noenoe K. Silva rediscovered the petition in the process of researching this book. With few exceptions, histories of Hawai'i have been based exclusively on English-language sources. They have not taken into account the thousands of pages of newspapers, books, and letters written in the mother tongue of native Hawaiians. By rigorously analyzing many of these documents, Silva fills a crucial gap in the historical record. In so doing, she refutes the long-held idea that native Hawaiians passively accepted the erosion of their culture and loss of their nation, showing that they actively resisted political, economic, linguistic, and cultural domination. Drawing on Hawaiian-language texts, primarily newspapers produced in the nineteenth century and early twentieth, Silva demonstrates that print media was central to social communication, political organizing, and the perpetuation of Hawaiian language and culture. A powerful critique of colonial historiography, Aloha Betrayed provides a much-needed history of native Hawaiian resistance to American imperialism.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Beautiful and irresistible are the peoples’ voices, in their own language and in essays, stories, poetry, and song. Their hidden transcripts and their resistance to oppression reveal a love of the land and a determined and sustained rejection of the colonizers’ imposed silences. Aloha Betrayed offers a devastating critique of colonial historiography and, crucially, a firm foundation for nation-building.”—Gary Y. Okihiro, author of Common Ground: Reimagining American History

“Noenoe K. Silva has located an enormous Hawaiian-language archive of Native resistance to American colonialism in the 1897 petitions against forced annexation to the United States. Now, thanks to Silva’s pathbreaking book, the Native side of the story will finally be told. And what a story it is! Those accustomed to the ‘happy Native’ tourist image of Hawai'i will be shocked to learn that Hawaiians never wanted to be Americans; indeed, they revolted against the American military takeover. Today, Silva’s analysis is key to the ongoing indigenous movement for Hawaiian sovereignty.”—Haunani-Kay Trask, author of From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i

Journal of American Ethnic History - Taro Iwata

"Aloha Betrayed represents a maturation of Native Hawaiian scholarship in the past two decades based on diligent investigation of critical primary sources. In that sense, it is a milestone of the first phase of contemporary Native Hawaiian scholarship and also a native 'takeover' of the historiography of modern Hawai'i."
International History Review - William E. H. Tagupa

"[Aloha Betrayed] stimulates revision and rethinking of the history of the Hawaiian islands."
Contemporary Pacific - Lyn Carter

"[A] fresh new approach to the critique of colonial historiography."
The Hawaiian Journal of History - J. Kehaulani Kauanui

"[B]rilliant. . . . This book is a superb contribution to the ongoing process of decolonization, recovery, and overcoming the suppression of Kanaka Maoli knowledge. Silva's clearly written account based on her original research is a gift to all Kanaka Maoli, especially those currently engaged in the restoration of Hawaiian sovereignty. This book-the fruition of Silva's meticulous and beautiful intellectual labor-is sure to win awards for its value and contribution to knowledge in the fields of political science, history, American studies, and indigenous studies, just to name a few."
Journal of the Polynesian Society - Robert Nicole

"Readers interested in the colonial encounter, Hawaiian history, the politics of language and literature, cultural studies, indigenous rights and post-colonial theory will find Aloha Betrayed a provocative book. The language is accessible, the content well-researched and coherently written, and students will find the conclusions at the end of each of the five chapters particularly useful."
Contemporary Pacific - Sally Engle Merry

"With its substantial and thoughtful reading of the Hawaiian-language archive, Aloha Betrayed makes a major contribution to this reexamination of history."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822386223
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 8/17/2004
  • Series: a John Hope Franklin Center Book
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 800,344
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Noenoe K. Silva is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai'i, Manoa.

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Read an Excerpt

Aloha betrayed

Native Hawaiian resistance to American colonialism
By Noenoe K. Silva

Duke University Press

ISBN: 0-8223-3349-X

Chapter One

Early Struggles with the Foreigners

[Stories are] the method colonized people use to assert their own identity and the existence of their own history. The main battle in imperialism is over land, of course; but when it came to who owned the land, who had the right to settle and work on it, who kept it going, who won it back, and who now plans its future-these issues were reflected, contested, and even for a time, decided in narrative.-Edward Said

In this chapter I examine some of the Kanaka Maoli's early (1778-1854) struggles with the foreigners over government and land. To do so, whenever possible I use texts written by nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Kanaka in their mother tongue. This examination provides a historical context for the chapters following, and it begins the development of several themes in the contests and resistances of the people to colonialism and imperialism. Texts written in Hawaiian allow us to see some Kanaka ways of thinking and recording the past that have previously been ignored or overlooked by historians and anthropologists unable to read Hawaiian. One of the most important recurring themes in these texts is that the Kanaka 'Oiwi often took the tools of the colonizers and made use of them to secure their own national sovereignty and well-being. The ali'i adoptedWestern dress and courtly manners; they and the maka'ainana learned writing and eventually took control of the print media; and they adopted constitutionalism, codifying laws in English and American ways in order to make treaties and to be recognized as an independent nation unavailable for colonization. Another important change during this period was the transformation of the meaning of "pono." In the ancient Kanaka world, pono meant that the akua, (deities) ali'i, kahuna, maka'ainana, and 'aina (land) lived in balance with each other, and that people had enough to eat and were healthy. This state of balance hinged on ali'i acting in accordance with the shared concept of pono. Later, the term was appropriated and transformed by the advent of writing and by the adoption of Western religion and government.


The Kanaka struggles with foreigners might be said to have begun with the representative of the British drive for empire, Captain James Cook. Although the mo'olelo of Captain Cook has been exhausted in its mountains of literature in many fields of study, most of that literature relies on British accounts. Where Kanaka accounts of Cook are used at all, scholars have depended on translations, ignoring the originals written in Hawaiian. It is worthwhile, therefore, to examine the longest account of Cook written in Hawaiian, which was written by Samuel Manaiakalani Kamakau in 1866-1867 and published in a Hawaiian-language newspaper.

Gananath Obeyesekere, in The Apotheosis of Captain Cook, dismissed Kamakau as mimicking the beliefs of the Calvinist missionaries, categorizing his history as "one self-consciously influenced by the Evangelical charter that Kamakau himself, along with other Lahainaluna scholars, helped [Rev. Sheldon] Dibble to construct." Kamakau did attend Lahainaluna school as a young adult, and he was one of the students who wrote parts of Mooolelo Hawaii, first published in 1838. He was a founding member of the first Hawaiian Historical Society in 1841 and went on to a career as a school teacher, legislator, and public official. But according to Thomas Thrum, Kamakau's "journalistic labors date from June, 1865," which is nearly thirty years after his student days with Rev. Dibble. Thus, as Obeyesekere himself has rightly pointed out, it is important to historicize these writings and to disaggregate them critically. During those thirty years, Kamakau became distinctly disenchanted with the Calvinist mission and converted to Catholicism. Undoubtedly, he experienced substantial intellectual development and independence of thought during that period. I am not suggesting here, however, that his account is any more valid according to the rules of haole historiography, because, as I will show, he seems to have rejected some of them, but I would suggest that his work should not be dismissed on the grounds that he had once been an enthusiastic student in the evangelical schools. How Kamakau presented the mo'olelo of Cook to his readers in 1866-1867 tells us much about how Cook was perceived within a nineteenth-century Kanaka worldview, and it is thus crucial to our understanding of the struggles over historiography, conflicting epistemologies, and ultimately, control over the land in Hawai'i.

The commonly cited translation of Kamakau's mo'olelo was originally done in 1961 by Mary Kawena Pukui, Lahilahi Webb, and others, drawing on work by previous authors, including Thomas Thrum. It was edited by Pukui and others and published under the title Ruling Chiefs of Hawai'i. Ruling Chiefs is not strictly a translation of Kamakau's mo'olelo, however. The editors brought together the newspaper articles that Kamakau had written over several years and arranged them into a chronological narrative of "ruling chiefs" from Liloa through Kamehameha III. They also deleted a lot of material from Kamakau's original mo'olelo but did not mark the deletions consistently with ellipses: the reader is thus not always able to see where material has been deleted.

For example, Kamakau's translated account of the first arrival of Captain Cook starts with an ellipsis that represents seventeen pages of contextual material. This material does appear, however, in a restored version of the original narrative, Ke Kumu Aupuni. Although Ke Kumu Aupuni alters Kamakau's original publication in important ways, particularly in the anachronistic imposition of diacritical marks, it presents Kamakau's narrative in a legible form without editorial reordering or deletions.

It is striking that in contrast to English-language histories Kamakau's work does not present Cook's arrival as the most important event in the narrative. Indeed, he embeds the story of Cook within the larger mo'olelo about Kamehameha I. He likewise contextualizes Kamehameha's story by recounting the mo'olelo of wars between the various ali'i of Hawai'i Island, Maui, and O'ahu. These wars were going on at the time of Kamehameha's birth and continued until well after Cook's death. Kamehameha, as is well known, became a victorious ali'i himself, conquering nearly all of the Hawaiian islands. At the time of Cook's visits Kamehameha was a seasoned warrior but not yet a ruling ali'i. In the December 22, 1866, installment, Kamakau narrates the mo'olelo of the battles between Kalani'opu'u, who was Kamehameha's uncle and mo'i of Hawai'i Island, and Kahekili, mo'i of Maui. The installment ends with the statement "'Eia ka manawa kupono no ka hiki 'ana mai o na haole makamua ma Hawai'i nei'" (This was just the time of the arrival of the first white foreigners [haole] in Hawai'i). This statement appears in quotation marks, indicating that Kamakau was quoting someone else, and, more important, that he disagreed with this common assertion of haole historical accounts. He goes on to tell a different history, whose sources are the ancient mele and mo'oku'auhau (genealogies). According to those recordings of the past, which are epistemologically valid to Kamakau and other Kanaka, Cook was not the first white foreigner to arrive in Hawai'i nei. Kamakau contests at length the story that Cook and company were "na haole makamua ma Hawai'i nei" (the first haole in Hawai'i). He first recounts many stories concerning people who traveled to Hawai'i from foreign lands, and the voyagers who sailed between Hawai'i and distant lands in the Pacific; he introduces the voyagers' stories like this: "Ma 'ane'i kakou e ho'oka'awale ai i ka mo'olelo o na kanaka maoli o Hawai'i nei i holo i Kahiki, a me ko Kahiki mai i holo i Hawai'i nei, 'a'ole lakou i kapa 'ia he ahole, a he haole" (Here we set out the story of the indigenous people of Hawai'i who sailed to Kahiki [all foreign lands] and those of Kahiki who sailed here to Hawai'i; they were not called ahole [a type of white fish] or haole).

The stories that follow include the arrival of new ali'i, prior to which, in Kamakau's words, "ua nele 'o Hawai'i i ke ali'i 'ole ... 'o na ali'i o Hawai'i, he mau ali'i maka'inana, a he maka'ainana wale no i kekahi manawa" (Hawai'i was lacking because of no ali'i ... the ali'i of Hawai'i were maka'ainana acting as ali'i or only maka'ainana at times). Pa'ao the kahuna brought new ali'i from Kahiki; following him were many others who traveled back and forth to Tahiti, Samoa, Nu'uhiwa, and other places. Another story, that of Ka'ulu, is an important one in the series because in the ancient mele Ka'ulu claimed to have seen the entire world, and Kamakau states that Asian and European place names are recorded in the mele. Kamakau tempers the claim, however, by saying some parts of the mele were true and some false. The important point to notice here is that Kamakau and others before him knew that Kanaka Maoli had sailed on very long voyages, possibly even outside of the Pacific. Other famed travelers included Moikeha and his brother 'Olopana, who traveled between Hawai'i and Kahiki, followed by Moikeha's sons, Kila and La'amaikahiki.

Among the long-distance travelers were women, who sometimes initiated the voyages. One of these was Lu'ukia, a woman born in Hawai'i. Lu'ukia, Kamakau says, was the first of her family to sail to Kahiki, where she lived with 'Olopana. When she told 'Olopana's daughter, Kaupe'a, about her handsome brother, Kauma'ili'ula, Kaupe'a desired to sail to Hawai'i to meet him. Kaupe'a then initiated a voyage, after which she met and lived with Kauma'ili'ula, became pregnant, and while pregnant sailed back to her homeland of Kuaihelani. Kauma'ili'ula later followed her and arrived on the day the child was born.

Akua also appear in these travel narratives: "Ua 'olelo pinepine 'ia ma ka mo'olelo ka'ao a ma na pule, a ma na mele a ka po'e kahiko a pau, mai Kahiki mai ke akua, a mai ka lew[a] lani mai, a no ka lani mai" (It is often said in the stories and in prayers and in the songs of all the ancient people [that] the deities are from Kahiki, and from the sky, and from the heavens). Among the voyagers to Hawai'i Kamakau mentions the akua Kane, Kanaloa, Ku, and Lono, as well as Pele and her family. In the translation this part of the narrative is omitted, which means that readers of the English miss crucial information for understanding the nature of akua in the nineteenth-century Hawaiian imaginary. "Akua" here cannot actually be equivalent to what "god" signifies in the English language, because, unlike akua, gods are not physical beings that embark on journeys across oceans. The incommensurability of the two terms as highlighted in these passages could erase the debate over whether or not Cook was perceived as a god: that is, Cook may or may not have been perceived as the akua Lonoikamakahiki but this fact bears little relation to what English-language speakers of the time meant by "god." As Herb Kawainui Kane states: "An akua is a being of nature, one of immense power, which may be an invisible spirit or a living person." (Cook may also just have been nicknamed Lono because his ship reminded Kanaka of the mo'olelo, and because "Cook" was impossible to pronounce.)

As Dipesh Chakrabarty points out, the deletion of passages works to produce and reinforce Western practices of historiography, thereby denying the reader possible glimpses into another worldview. Chakrabarty writes that "secular histories are usually produced by ignoring the signs of [divine or superhuman] presences. Such histories represent a meeting of two systems of thought, one in which the world is ultimately, that is, in the final analysis, disenchanted, and the other in which humans are not the only meaningful agents." In the translation of Kamakau's work, however, the world in which humans are not the only meaningful agents, however, is hidden by this practice of deleting text that does not conform to western empiricist standards. It is accessible only in the Hawaiian language text.

Kamakau's January 19, 1867, installment begins the section on white foreigners. Even here, Cook is not the first. In the time of 'Auanini (Kamakau did not speculate on the date), a ship of haole arrived; the captain was named Mololana, and his wife, named Maraea, was on the ship as well. Kamakau says it is not known whether they settled in the islands or sailed away again. Another ship of white foreigners arrived in the time of Wakalana, which Kamakau guesses was prior to 900 a.d. He wonders if these foreigners were the ancestors of the people in Honouliuli, O'ahu, who have light complexions and light eyes. In an ancient mele, a man named Kukanaloa is referred to as a "kupuna haole mai Kahiki" (white foreign ancestor from Kahiki). In more recent memory, in the time of Kuali'i, "nui na mele inoa no Kuali'i e pili ana i na haole" (there were many name songs for Kuali'i about the haole). Kamakau dates Kuali'i's life from 1555 to 1730 (these dates serve only as mere guides, however, because the Kanaka system of dating was based on genealogy rather than anything analogous to the European system of years). Kamakau's final story of the arrival of haole prior to Cook is quite recent, in the time of Peleioholani, whose death Kamakau gives as around 1770.

It is to this substantial genealogy of travelers that Kamakau adds the story of Captain Cook, purposefully disrupting the story told by haole that Cook appeared magically and suddenly as a unique phenomenon, to the shock and amazement of the Kanaka 'Oiwi. The narrative that Kamakau presents to us, with Cook as one in a long genealogy of travelers, is in a traditional Hawaiian vein, relying for evidence on mele from the oral tradition. His missionary teachers taught him the accepted empirical methods for writing history, and here, as with most of his other writings, he deliberately and consciously chose to use Kanaka epistemology to present the mo'olelo of Cook.

When Kamakau's text was cut up and reordered to fit the Western category of "history," the context of Cook's arrival carefully set up for the reader disappears. Just as important, and for some analyses even more so, is the fact that Kamakau's reliance on the mele and mo'ok'uauhau of the oral tradition as valid sources for his own haku mo'olelo has also become invisible. The fact that Kamakau deliberately contested haole historiographic methods is literally lost in the translation. Further, information presented in the stories of women taking leadership roles in long voyages disappears, making it possible for readers to imagine that gender relations in Kanaka past were very much like the European practice where only men were allowed to sail. Anthropologists, historians, and students in all disciplines who read only the translation of Kamakau's mo'olelo will be completely unaware of these stories of women directing and controlling their own lives, and are thus likely to derive an incomplete or even false picture of gender relations in the ancient culture.

It is important, as well, to notice that Kamakau's mo'olelo of Cook describes recurring violence, mainly on the part of Cook's men, from the very first contact. On the first day, the warrior Kapupu'u began to take iron pieces from Cook's ship, whereupon one of Cook's men shot and killed him. The ali'i's kahuna advised against retaliating, however, emphasizing that welcoming the foreigners, despite the killing, was the pono thing to do. That night, Cook and company, rather than behaving as welcomed guests, made a display of firepower, shooting guns, cannons, and fireworks intended to frighten and intimidate the 'Oiwi, which it surely did.

The violent episodes eventually culminated in the death of Cook at Kealakekua on Hawai'i Island. When Cook attempted to take Mo'i Kalani'opu'u hostage, using a technique he had developed in other places, he committed an act that was distinctly not pono and thus unacceptable to the other ali'i and to the warriors around the mo'i. Cook's attitude of superiority, evident in his expectation that the ali'i would be subjugated to his authority, is clear in all the various accounts. Equally clear is the refusal of the Kanaka Hawai'i to be subjugated.


Excerpted from Aloha betrayed by Noenoe K. Silva Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
I. Early Struggles with the Foreigners
1. Historiography and Captain Cook
2. Subsequent Haole Travelers to Hawaiÿi nei
3. Mass Death
4. ÿAi Noa
5. Missionaries
6. Early Struggles over Sovereignty
7. Colonial Capitalism and the Struggle over Land
8. The Legacy of Kauikeaouli
II. Ka Hoku O Ka Pakipika: Emergence of the Native Voice
in Print
1. The Rise of the Plantation Economy
2. Politics, the Economy, and the Möÿï
3. Missionary Planters and the Discourses of Work and
4. Newspapers as Sites of Discursive Struggle
5. Ka Hoku Loa
6. Ka Hae Hawaii
7. Ka Ahahui Hoopuka Nupepa Kuikawa
8. The Haole Desire for Control
9. Fighting for the Right to Speak and to Be Kanaka
10. Nupepa Kuokoa
III. The Merrie Monarch: Genealogy, Cosmology, Mele, And
Performance Art As Resistance
1. Genealogy and Cosmology
2. Ka Papa Kuauhau o Nä Ali'i
3. Kumulipo
4. Hale Nauä
5. The Poni Möÿï (Coronation)
6. The Jubilee
IV. The Anti-Annexation Struggle
1. Events Leading to the 1893 Coup d'Etat
2. Resistance to the 1893 Coup
3. Resistance to the Republic
4. The 1897 Petitions Protesting Annexation
5. Annexation without a Treaty?
V. The Queen of Hawaiÿi Raises Her Solemn Note of Protest
1. The Formal Protests
2. Cleveland's Absolute Denial
3. Representation
4. Kona Lähui Aloha
5. "I Kiss Your Soft Hands" (Letters to Ke Aliÿi ÿAi
6. The Queen Sails to America
7. Nä Palapala Hoÿopiÿi Küÿë Hoÿohui ÿÄina (Petitions
Protesting Annexation)
8. Bones of My Bones
A. Text Of The Objectives Of Nupepa Kuokoa, As Published
Therein, October 1861
B. Songs Composed By Queen Liliÿuokalani During Her

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication: Hawaiians Colonization, Hawaiians Government relations, Hawaiians Politics and government, Imperialism History, Hawaii Annexation to the United States, Hawaii History Overthrow of the Monarchy, 1893, Hawaii Foreign relations United States, United States Foreign relations Hawaii, Hawaii Historiography, Hawaii History Sources
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