Setting aside their bigotry, the Southern settlers hit upon a fact which is studiously ignored by modern anthropologists and historians: the natives of Hawaii, America’s 50th State, were Black people whose ancestral roots extend back to the continent of Africa.
The story of the Black Hawaiians is one of the most tragic of modern times. It is a tale of adventure and gaiety in paradise that turned into a cultural nightmare. It is America’s best kept secret.
We must venture into antiquity to learn of the roots of the Black Hawaiians, whose glorious star, now vanished from the Heavens, once brightened the Pacific for two thousand years.
Most anthropologists, paleontologists and archaeologists around the world generally believe that human beings evolved on the continent of Africa, from 3 to 5 million years ago, and that they eventually spread from Africa into Europe, Asia the Pacific Islands and finally the Americas.
In time, these Black settlers developed very advanced societies that sent navigators to explore and settle various islands of the Pacific Ocean. They reached such places as New Guinea, Fiji, New Hebrides, New Zealand, the Society Islands, Tahiti, Easter Island and thousands more.
The first people to reach what is now Hawaii were Blacks from Polynesia – a name which means “many islands” – in the central Pacific. They sailed to Hawaii in giant canoes about 2,000 years ago.
The Hawaiians and their neighbors in the Pacific have long been the subject of controversy among scientists. The people in this part of the world are generally divided into three groups: Melanesians (the word means black islands), who are unmixed Black people; Micronesians (which means small islands), an ancient Black people who are now largely mixed with Asians; and Polynesians, a people who were also originally Black but have mixed historically with Asian Mongoloids and White Europeans.
BLACK ROOTS A PUZZLE
The Black people themselves are an ethnological puzzle. Many like the Tasmanians, who were exterminated by English settlers were “pure” Blacks. The Australian Aborigines were also very dark with African features and curly hair.
“The basic strain of the original Hawaiians, as seen in their color and their faces,” writes historian J.A. Rogers in Sex and Race: Negro-Caucasian Mixing In All Ages and All Lands, “was undoubtedly Negro, with an admixture of mongolian.”
These people were of black and brown complexions with wavy or close-curled hair, broad facial features and fine physiques. In short, they had the same physical characteristics as millions of other people who now live in the Pacific Islands.
According to one early legend, these early settlers named their new home Hawaii in honor of a chief named Hawaii-Loa, who is said to have led the Polynesians to the islands. But the name Hawaii is also recognized as a form of Hawaiki, the legendary name of the Polynesian homeland to the west.
The ancient land of Hawaii was much like an African society. It was a series of islands ruled by strong-willed chiefs or kings who believed that they had descended from gods.
(LIKE THE PHAROH )
No written records of the islands were maintained, so a court genealogist, similar to the African griot, recited names, family exploits, battles and past glories of a proud people and their royal leaders.
Hawaiian life revolved around religious ceremonies. The heiau stone platforms, generally enclosed by stone walls, served the Hawaiians as temples. Inside these centers of worship were a number of objects for ceremonial use in various rituals.
They were used on numerous occasions, for to the Hawaiian people any new undertaking in life was cause for religious celebration. The principal Hawaiian gods were Kane (life), Lono (harvest) and Ku (war).
Closely linked to Hawaiian religious traditions was the kapu or law administered by the king. It was a rigid system of “rules and guides, do’s and dont’s, what’s and what-not’s” governing events from love-making and marriage to the season for catching certain fish.
It separated kings from commoners, men from women, and Hawaiians from foreigners. It was probably one of the most complex legal systems of the ancient world.
HEAVEN ON EARTH
If ever there was a paradise on earth, the Hawaiians appear to have had it. Blessed by a glorious climate, the people basked in the sun, swam in clear water and participated in competitive games and sports.
They worked, to be sure, in order to live; but there was a fine line between work and play. Fishing, for example, was probably as much a water sport as a source of obtaining food.
The people shared their harvest so that no one was without food; and everyone found shelter in the marvelous huts built mainly from the leaves of palm and hala trees.
“The people worked, swam, sang and danced, isolated from most of the scourges of the rest of the world,” writes Maxine Mrantz in Hawaiian Monarchy, The Romantic Years. “But that was soon to be changed. The ‘Garden’ would be discovered.
“Gone would be the sunny static days of peace and order. Disease, decadence and cultural shock were to take a terrible toll of the Hawaiian people, decreasing their numbers alarmingly.”
This great change, however, was still far off in 1758, which was about the time of the birth of Kamehameha, nephew of King Kalaniopuu who ruled the island of Hawaii and the Hana district of the island of Maui.
At this time Hawaii was not ruled by a single king, but was a chain of islands (Kauai, Maui, Oahu, Hawaii, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau and Kahoolawe), each ruled by a different monarch.
In 1780, before a council of chiefs, King Kalaniopuu officially named his older son, Kiwalao successor to his throne. But this was not to be. Kamehameha coveted the throne and set out to do all in his power to become king.
Following the death of King Kalaniopuu, Kamehameha aligned himself with a number of chiefs in battle against his cousin Kiwalao. Kamehameha defeated Kiwalao and thereafter proceeded to battle against the chiefs of Maui, Lanai and Molokai.
By 1810, King Kamehameha was the first to rule all the islands. Six other kings and a queen would succeed him to the throne.
Generally described as very dark and “extremely handsome,” Kamehameha (or Kamehameha, The Great, as he is often called) was a very capable ruler. He encouraged industry, promoted international trade, checked oppression and suppressed crime. His greatest drawback, however, turned out to be the faith he had in Europeans.
Captain James Cook was the first white man to reach Hawaii. He visited the islands in January of 1778, traded with the natives and was well treated. After returning to Hawaii in November of 1778 and remaining into the next year, he was killed when a quarrel arose between his traveling companions and the Hawaiians.
Legrand H. Clegg II, Editor and Publisher, July 1997