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Hawaiian Language as a Political Weapon

(c) Copyright 2011-2012 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved


Hawaiian language is a great treasure for Hawaii and the world. But it is also used as a political weapon in ways unlike any other language.

The public school system provides a Hawaiian studies component in all schools, plus charter schools focusing entirely on Hawaiian culture, plus classrooms and entire schools using Hawaiian language for teaching all subjects. All these school programs have not only the practical effect but also the deliberate purpose of fostering racial pride, racial separatism, and ethnic nation-building. The government is using tax dollars to pay for programs whose effect and intention is to undermine the sovereignty of the State of Hawaii and of the United States.

Aside from the schools, Hawaiian language is used for political purposes in government operations and personal expression. For example, Hawaiian language has been used for singing Christian hymns and for giving prayers to both the Christian God and the Hawaiian gods as part of official committee hearings on the Akaka bill to establish a race-based government, and also in the opening of each day's proceedings in the plenary sessions of both chambers of the state legislature.

A Honolulu County ordinance was adopted in 1978 that every new street on Oahu must be given a Hawaiian name. That ordinance was adopted as part of a big Hawaiian sovereignty political push that included the creation of OHA in a 1978 state Constitutional Convention. But aside from requiring Hawaiian names for new streets, there have also been very aggressive moves in Honolulu County Council and the state legislature to force the removal of existing street or place names honoring World War 2 military events, or honoring Caucasian historical figures who were active in the Hawaiian Kingdom and Republic, to be replaced with Hawaiian names. Those battles over names might seem trivial, but they required enormous expenditures of time and money for multiple hearings, accompanying documentation and legal research; and they aroused great hostility between ethnic Hawaiian activists vs. military veterans (some of whom are also ethnic Hawaiian).

Politicians and ordinary people giving speeches or writing newspaper commentaries often sprinkle their English with Hawaiian words, or even entire sentences, as a way to create the impression that what they say is both profound and authentically Hawaiian. Some activists further insist that Hawaiian grammar must be used whenever Hawaiian words are sprinkled in English-language statements, including the use of Hawaiian diacritical marks which were never a part of the written language until invented by university professors paid with tax dollars.

Hawaiian sovereignty activists claim that race-based political sovereignty is necessary to preserve Hawaiian culture and language. They assert a right to sovereignty by demanding that street names must be Hawaiian. They try to pass laws that government documents produced in English must also be made available in Hawaiian at government expense, and perhaps additional laws requiring that testimony before judges, boards, or commissions may be (or perhaps eventually must be) in Hawaiian.

Prayers to the Hawaiian gods are always in Hawaiian language, and even prayers to the Christian God are usually in Hawaiian when politically-correct culturally-mandated "blessings" are given for new or rededicated buildings or roads. Hymns and prayers in Hawaiian are often used at the beginning of official government hearings or events, including committee hearings or plenary daily sessions in the legislature.

Aside from whether generic or sectarian prayer is appropriate at all in official government proceedings, Hawaiian language is used on such occasions, rather than English, as a rhetorical device for the political purpose of making the audience feel the speaker is authentic, or is saying things that are especially profound or righteous. To achieve the desired effect it's often necessary to say only a few sentences in Hawaiian at the beginning, or to sprinkle an English presentation with occasional Hawaiian words throughout. But it is politically incorrect for people lacking Hawaiian blood (especially Caucasians) to use Hawaiian in that way, especially if they are expressing views in opposition to sovereignty or racial favoritism.

Here's a list of topics, in order of appearance. This is not the order of importance. Practical, observable, legislative and legal topics tend to appear near the top, while historical and philosophical analyses appear near the bottom. The easy way to quickly scroll down to the beginning of any particular topic is to copy/paste that topic's number, or a string of a few words from its title (in quotes), into the edit/find window in your computer. For example: (3) will take you to topic #3; or [a different topic] "Sprinkling Hawaiian words" will take you to where that phrase appears in a topic's name (or elsewhere in the body of the webpage).

(1) Demanding that the names of places and streets must be Hawaiian -- historical background and 4 case studies: Thurston Ave.(Kamakaeha), Barbers Point (Kalaeloa), Dillingham Military Reservation (Kawaihapai), Fort Barrette Road (Kualakai). See also item (16) below.

(2) Demands that Hawaiian language as an "official language" of Hawaii be taken seriously by requiring that it must be used in government documents and that people must be allowed to use it when filing court documents or giving testimony before boards and commissions, or in court.

(3) How Hawaiian language, and the ancient Hawaiian religion, are used as political weapons in government hearings and political performances.

(4) The essential role of Hawaiian language in Hawaiian religion

(5) Sprinkling Hawaiian words occasionally throughout a speech or essay, to create an appearance of authentic Hawaiian-ness.

(6) The insistence on using Hawaiian grammar or spelling when speaking or writing English. Examples of pluralizing nouns and using 'okinas. See also item (16) below.

(7) Hawaiian culture and language are used for political indoctrination in the tax-supported public schools -- the Hawaiian Studies component of the general curriculum; the Hawaiian-focus charter schools; the Hawaiian language immersion schools; how Kamehameha Schools has infiltrated the public schools.

(8) Why are there no automated translation programs for Hawaiian, when such programs are easily available for other languages? It appears that Hawaiian language experts want to keep control of the language so it can be used only for "politically correct" purposes, and also to provide job security for a growing cadre of instructors and independent-contractor translators who must be politically correct to keep their jobs.

(9) There are political and emotional implications of using Hawaiian language rather than English, and sometimes those implications depend on the race of the speaker.

(10) How Hawaiian language, culture, and sovereignty are interconnected

(11) The role of the Christian missionaries and their native partners in creating a written Hawaiian language.

(12) A brief history of the dominance of English language in Hawaii -- How English became almost exclusively the outside language whose words were incorporated into Hawaiian, and how English gradually replaced Hawaiian as the dominant language among foreigners and natives alike.

(13) The false claim that Hawaiian language was made illegal by the Republic of Hawaii after the monarchy was overthrown, and that this was done for the purpose of destroying Hawaiian culture. How this false claim is used for political purposes, to evoke anger and solidarity among ethnic Hawaiians and sympathy among non-ethnic Hawaiians to support demands for sovereignty.

(14) The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and its predecessor the Honolulu Star-Bulletin is a daily newspaper which publishes a column every Saturday in Hawaiian language with no English translation. Often the topics are twisted versions of Hawaiian history intended to stir up anti-American or anti-Caucasian hostility.

(15) A project to digitize Hawaiian language newspapers from the 19th Century appears superficially to be for scholarly research and revitalization of the language, but is actually being done primarily for political purposes in service to the sovereignty independence movement.

(16) Forcing the name of a person or place to be Hawaiianized through transliteration of its sound following Hawaiian grammatical rules or conceptual translation of its meaning into Hawaiian vocabulary.


(1) Demanding that the names of places and streets must be Hawaiian -- historical background and 4 case studies: Thurston Ave.(Kamakaeha), Barbers Point (Kalaeloa), Dillingham Military Reservation (Kawaihapai), Fort Barrette Road (Kualakai).

One of the ways Hawaiian language is used as a political weapon is to demand that the names of places and streets must be Hawaiian. This demand is usually presented as a way to preserve the Hawaiian culture and heritage. That makes it seem honorable and sweet. Bleeding-heart liberals love it.

But this demand is far more political than cultural. The right to give something a name is a right belonging to an owner. It's a fundamental exercise of power and authority -- an assertion of sovereignty. In the context of street names in Honolulu this demand has a very clear racist and/or anti-American thrust when ethnic Hawaiian sovereignty activists try to remove English-language commemorative names of historical persons, ships, or battles from the streets on military bases or in town. Doing this is a form of ethnic cleansing, since nearly all the people-names to be disappeared are Caucasian. Removing the American military heritage from the names of places and streets is also a first step toward removing the military from Hawaii altogether, which in turn is a step toward ripping the 50th star off the flag and removing U.S. sovereignty from Hawaii.

There is a very lengthy and heavily documented webpage "Using Hawaiian language as a political weapon by demanding that the names of places and streets must be Hawaiian -- historical background and 4 case studies: Thurston Ave.(Kamakaeha), Barbers Point (Kalaeloa), Dillingham Military Reservation (Kawaihapai), Fort Barrette Road (Kualakai)." See


(2) Demands that Hawaiian language as an "official language" of Hawaii be taken seriously by requiring that it must be used in government documents and that people must be allowed to use it when filing court documents or giving testimony before boards and commissions, or in court.

In 1978 the State of Hawaii held a Constitutional Convention which produced numerous amendments that were approved by a vote of the people. Among the amendments was the new Article XV, Section 4, which still remains in effect: "English and Hawaiian shall be the official languages of Hawaii, except that Hawaiian shall be required for public acts and transactions only as provided by law."

Section 4 makes clear that although Hawaiian is an official language of the state, there is no requirement to use Hawaiian in official government documents, court filings, etc. Neither the state nor the counties are required to publish documents in Hawaiian. Nobody is required to be able to read or write Hawaiian. Thus, for example, if a sovereignty activist is accused of a crime, or files a civil lawsuit, both the prosecution and defense, or plaintiff and defendant, might be free to file documents in Hawaiian but English translations would also be required. The English version would be the only "official" one, because the opposite side in the case cannot be required to use any language other than English.

But Section 4 includes the phrase "Hawaiian shall be required for public acts and transactions only as provided by law." That phrase implies that such requirements could be "provided by law." And so Hawaiian sovereignty activists point out that the legislature has the power to pass a law to require government documents, or documents in criminal or civil cases, to be printed in Hawaiian.

A small example of forcing businesses to accept documents in Hawaiian is the use of Hawaiian language to write checks. I've been writing checks in Hawaiian since 1993. Sovereignty activists do that as an assertion of political power; but I do it because I believe Hawaiian language is a treasure worth preserving. I use Hawaiian to write the date, the memo, and the spelled-out number of dollars and cents, whenever the checks are paid to an institution in Hawaii and will be processed in Hawaii (for example, car insurance, car registration fees, and state income tax).

The law says that the spelled-out money amount takes precedence over the numerical money amount in case there's any discrepancy between them. Thus banks and other institutions are taking a risk if they accept payment by a check written in Hawaiian -- someone in the institution really needs to know Hawaiian. At first the bank where I sometimes wrote a check to get cash was reluctant to let me use Hawaiian. But a couple months later the bank teller showed me a memo that had been circulated to all tellers at all branches, which had the Hawaiian spellings for all the numbers. Mission accomplished! The Hawaii Constitution says the bank is not required to accept checks written in Hawaiian, unless the legislature passes a law to require it. So far no such law has been passed; but many individuals and institutions have aloha for the Hawaiian language and are willing to go out of their way to help it flourish.

In recent years Hawaiian activists have actually introduced resolutions and bills in the legislature to enact such laws that would require government or perhaps even private institutions to accommodate Hawaiian-language documents. During the legislative sessions of 2009 and 2010 there were at least 27 such pieces of legislation. Since 2010 was the second session of a biennial period, most of the legislation during that year was passed forward from 2009 and had already had hearings and committee reports, and had undergone several revisions. Multiple versions and revisions are an indication that the legislation was being taken seriously. To get access to all that legislation, go to

and in the little search window copy/paste exactly what's inside the square brackets below, including quote marks (but not including the brackets themselves)

[ "Hawaiian language" documents ]

Today's Hawaiian sovereignty activists who use Hawaiian language as a political weapon take inspiration from Princess Ruth Ke'elikolani. Here's a quote from her Wikipedia biography, which is very similar to many other biographies available on the internet:ōlani

"Ruth was a staunch defender of ancient Hawaiian traditions and customs. While the kingdom became Christianized, Anglicized, and urbanized, she preferred to live as a noble woman of antiquity. While her royal estates were filled with elegant palaces and mansions built for her family, she chose to live in a large traditional stone-raised grass house. While she understood English and spoke it well, she used the Hawaiian language exclusively, requiring English-speakers to use a translator. Although trained in the Christian religion and given a Christian name, she honored practices considered pagan, such as patronage of chanters and hula dancers. She continued to worship the traditional gods and various aumakua, or ancestral spirits. When Mauna Loa erupted in 1880, threatening the city of Hilo with a lava flow, her intercession with the goddess Pele was credited by Hawaiians with saving the city."

Hawaiian activists have used Hawaiian language as a political weapon to slow down and paralyze government hearings, especially regarding environmental impact statements for live-fire military training in Makua Valley, and hearings of the Hawaii Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights regarding the Akaka bill. The activists made demands to be allowed to give their testimony in Hawaiian, and to require the hearings officers to provide a translator at government expense to translate Hawaiian into English (See below for evidence that this happened).

The plain fact is that everyone in Hawaii who speaks Hawaiian also speaks English, and their English is more fluent than their Hawaiian. In nearly all cases people grow up speaking English (or Ilocano or Japanese or German etc.) as their first, native language; and then later they might choose to learn Hawaiian for cultural purposes or as a hobby. Nobody will be rendered unable to learn or to express themselves if Hawaiian is not made available to them. So the demand to be educated in Hawaiian, or to give testimony in Hawaiian, is made for political purposes rather than out of necessity.

For example, Hawaiian activists insisted on presenting oral or written testimony in Hawaiian language for the Makua EIS scoping hearings in 2002. The activists were knowingly and intentionally obstructing the process. They knew their use of Hawaiian would slow down the process and force the expenditure of resources for unnecessary translations. In a social setting, it is considered impolite, boorish behavior when people speak a language they know their audience does not speak -- especially if the speaker is capable of speaking the audience's language. But in a formal, legal proceeding, such boorish social behavior becomes obstruction of a government operation. Such obstruction may be prosecutable; or at the very least, it should give government officials a perfect right to ignore such testimony.

Evidence of the intent to use Hawaiian language for obstruction is provided in the form of e-mails circulated among the activists.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Sparky Rodrigues"
Sent: Sunday, March 31, 2002 5:13 PM
Subject: EIS Scoping Meetings set...

We need your help. April 9 and 13, 2002. Testimony can be submitted via e-mail. The Army has announced two Scoping Meetings for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for live-fire training at Makua. This is the community meeting where we have a chance to present our concerns and focus the EIS study on what is important. No limits, every subject is open for presentation. Kingdom of Hawaii, Crown and Ceded lands, Sovereignty, Independence, Land Use, resources, Hawaiians on the Land, Kupuna Kahiko, health impacts, Clean up issues, social impacts, Malama 'Aina, Aloha 'Aina, Mo'olelo that is important, all the forms of endangered Hawaiians.
In the past testimony and words given in the Hawaiian Language was always recorded as "Inaudible". This is still happening in our courts and society today. As part of the Court Settlement, the Army has to provide a court reporter and must be able to record the testimony in Hawaiian or a audio tape recording of the testimony must be transcribed into Hawaiian than translated into English. This may be the first time this has happened. This is for the Record.
I urge you to participate in the Scoping Meetings by providing testimony. If you are able to 'Olelo Hawai'i please do. If English is most comfortable your testimony is very important. If you are able to enlist the support or participation of Youth, Makua and Kupuna, please Kokua.
Know that the Army and supporters of live fire training on the 'Aina will be present in mass and will submit written testimony. The 'Aina is important and needs our help, our mana'o, our voices.
Mahalo for your Kokua. Sparky, Leandra & Ohana.

The following additional e-mail was sent a few days prior to the Saturday April 13 Makua scoping hearing. Notice that the writer of this e-mail confesses that he cannot speak or write Hawaiian language, but he nevertheless urges his fellow protestors to use Hawaiian if they are capable of it, because "We need to serve notice to these occupation forces, English is our second language." That claim is clearly bogus.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Sparky Rodrigues"
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2002 2:28 PM
Subject: 'Olelo Hawai'i, 4-13 Saturday EIS mtg

Hi, the EIS Scoping meeting is a key part of our efforts to make an impact on the Community of Waianae and our 'Aina. In the past the Hawaiian language was NOT considered in any testimony. The federal government has never acknowledge our language in any court or testimony. Always documented as inaudible. This EIS process is a real opportunity to Question the Army in our native language. I lack the ability to speak our language so I will submit testimony in the colonizers language. I'm looking to you to spread the word and gather those who can 'Olelo Hawai'i. Offer testimony in the Hawaiian Language for the EIS Scoping process. Answer the questions of our colonial occupation. How the military has impacted our culture, social-economic condition, the 'Aina, wai, kai... The settlement forces the Military to accept our language both spoken and written as testimony. Please participate and include your Hawaiian voice. We need to serve notice to these occupation forces, English is our second language. Hope to see you and your Ohana on Saturday. Mahalo, Sparky


(3) How Hawaiian language, and the ancient Hawaiian religion, are used as political weapons in government hearings and political performances.

On March 1, 2005 there was a hearing on the Akaka bill before the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee. The hearing opened with a Hawaiian language chant written and performed live by OHA Chair Haunani Apoliona. Since members of the committee (including ethnic Hawaiian Senator Akaka himself) do not speak Hawaiian, one wonders what was the purpose for doing that. It was not to provide information about the bill. Rather, it was to put on a performance for political purposes: bolstering the claim that ethnic Hawaiians are an indigenous people with their own language, and "witnessing" for their beliefs much like religious zealots who feel better when they shout from a mountaintop. The hearing was broadcast live over the internet, and saved on the committee website. Unfortunately it is no longer available.

On March 31, 2005 two committees of the Legislature of the State of Hawaii held a joint meeting to receive information about the Akaka bill from Hawaii's two U.S. Senators and Hawaii's two U.S. Representatives. Committee Chairman, Representative Scott Saiki, began the official hearing by asking committee member Representative Ezra Kanoho to offer a prayer. Rep. Kanoho proceeded to lead a singing of the Christian Doxology in Hawaiian language [most of the ethnic Hawaiians in the hearing room sang right along with him in Hawaiian], and then followed with a prayer mostly in English invoking the presence of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to bring everyone together to help pass the Akaka bill. First, of course, the use of explicitly Christian praising of God and prayer to Jesus for a political purpose in a government hearing is grossly inappropriate (although not unusual in Hawai'i). Second, the use of Hawaiian language was a blatant political assertion of special status for ethnic Hawaiians, and a propaganda technique for leading the audience to believe that ethnic Hawaiians are an indigenous people who have a special relationship with God. For a complete transcript of the hearing, including the Hawaiian language Doxology hymn, see:

On at least three high-profile public occasions I have used Hawaiian language as a political weapon.

(a) In August 2000 federal judge Helen Gillmor ruled in favor of myself and 12 other plaintiffs in the Arakaki#1 lawsuit, allowing me and other people with no native blood to become candidates for trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The TV news cameras were rolling as we came out onto the courthouse steps. Reporter Daryl Huff asked me "Mr. Conklin, if you win your election, will you forget the [ethnic] Hawaiians in order to carry out your political agenda?" I answered in Hawaiian language: "'A'ole au e poina i na kanaka maoli Hawai'i 'oiwi. Nui ko'u aloha i na kanaka maoli, a me na po'e a pau noho ma Hawai'i nei." And then I repeated it in English: "I will not forget the native Hawaiians. I have great love for native Hawaiians, and for all the people of Hawai'i." The reporter did not know Hawaiian. Hardly anyone watching the news broadcast knew Hawaiian. But that's the sound-bite that was broadcast, because speaking Hawaiian was an attention-grabbing political act.

(b) On January 12, 2004 I personally appeared and gave testimony to a NASA scoping hearing for an environmental impact statement regarding placing a new telescope on Mauna Kea: "How the telescope campus on Mauna Kea serves the spiritual essence of this sacred place in accord with Hawaiian creation legend; why testimony from Hawaiian sovereignty activists should be discounted in view of their motives." My testimony opened with a short prayer in Hawaiian. The prayer was very sincerely directed to show respect to the Hawaiian gods, but was also intended as a public performance using language for a political purpose. See:

(c) On September 12, 2010 I gave a lecture/discussion on the Akaka bill at the Church of the Crossroads in Honolulu. I opened with a prayer in Hawaiian, and then repeated it in English. The prayer begins during minute #7 on the video which can be seen at

In 2009 there was a protest by the Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church, against explicitly Christian prayer in the legislature. A protester was arrested. A lawsuit was filed. In mid January 2011 the American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern to the leadership of the Hawaii state Senate about the issue. As a result, the Senate abolished its long-standing rule requiring an invocation (prayer) at the opening of each day's session; and there was no invocation by any religious leader at the Senate ceremonies for the first day of the legislature's 2011 session on January 19. However there was an "ecumenical" invocation in the House, given partly in Hawaiian language by Kamaki Kanahele. A letter to editor in the Maui News of January 26 by ethnic Hawaiian Pualani Malone said "I am particularly concerned with the direction the Senate has taken because, by logical conclusion, Hawaiian cultural practices and spirituality must now be restricted from government-sponsored events as well. Many Hawaiian chants, hula, blessings, etc., include the names of deities which the government of Hawaii, under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, must not endorse by their inclusion. Many Hawaiian chants are in a language not understood by the majority of citizens of Hawaii, and therefore the public may be subjected to and exposed to a belief system that it cannot discern freely while at government-sponsored functions. If the Hawaii state Senate, presided over by Sen. Shan Tsutsui, seeks to comply with the First Amendment as they have stated by removing the name of any specific god from the business of governing, then they need to do so completely and without prejudice."

One of the ways Hawaiian language is used as a political weapon in public performances is not by actually speaking the language, but by lamenting alleged past suppression of the language, celebrating the revitalization of the language, or promising support for future revitalization. By doing these things, a politician gains support and perhaps votes or campaign contributions. Governor Abercrombie's "State of the State" speech on January 24, 2011 is an example of this. He singled out and praised a woman who was the first ethnic Hawaiian to receive a Ph.D. in Hawaiian language. And in the course of doing that he also proclaimed the frequently heard lie that a law in 1896 made it illegal to teach Hawaiian language. The text of Abercrombie's written speech, an audio tape, and a video with closed captioning, together with a news report about the Ph.D. recipient, and criticism of Abercrombie for repeating the scurrilous lie about it being illegal to teach Hawaiian language, are all in a webpage at


(4) The essential role of Hawaiian language in Hawaiian religion

Hawaiian religion is the basis for political demands to own or control land. Sovereignty activists claim certain places are "sacred" to the gods; bones of the ancestors contain their living spirits and must not be disturbed; and indeed these islands themselves were born as living beings created by the mating of the gods.

Has anyone heard any language other than Hawaiian being used for a chant, in honor of an ancestor or Hawaiian king, or a prayer to a Hawaiian god? Hawaiian language is even used when praying to the Christian God at a time when a house or road is being blessed. Using Hawaiian language makes it all seem so very authentic. Are the Hawaiian gods either dead or stupid? Are they incapable of understanding English, Japanese, or Ilocano after those languages have been spoken here for at least a century or two? Surely if the Hawaiian gods are actually living, and capable of hearing and responding to prayer, then they must have learned English by now and could be offered prayers in English. The insistence on praying to them only in Hawaiian is thus clearly shown to be (ab)using the gods as stage-props in a political performance.

The main reason for using Hawaiian language in cultural performances and especially on ceremonial occasions is to create an emotional and political impact. Indeed, the main reason for invoking the Hawaiian gods is often political rather than spiritual. Some "traditional practitioners" are primarily political practitioners in disguise -- they (and their audiences) do not believe the gods are real or that they continue to exercise power and to intervene in human affairs. They use Hawaiian language, and memorized Hawaiian chants and prayers to the Hawaiian gods, merely to impress their human audience rather than to sincerely praise the gods or ask for their help.

The use of Hawaiian language when speaking to the Hawaiian gods is similar to the use of Latin in the Roman Catholic mass prior to the Second Vatican Council half a century ago. Every mass throughout the world was performed in Latin, regardless of whatever the local language might be and regardless of the fact that nobody in the audience spoke Latin. Using Latin added a feeling of mystery and authenticity. It also gave political power to the priests, who could speak to God on behalf of the people in the special language of the Church which was beyond the people's ability to understand. The Second Vatican Council, after careful deliberation, concluded that using Latin had become a form of idolatry and priestly arrogance. They decided that the priest should turn around to face the people instead of facing the altar, and should perform the mass in whatever language the local people speak. But there is no School of Theology for the Hawaiian religion; there is no agency with authority like the Second Vatican Council; there is no interest in doing missionary work to convert Christians, Jews, Buddhists, or Muslims to the Hawaiian religion; and there is no desire to democratize the political power of those sovereignty activists who can speak to the Hawaiian gods (whether or not they actually believe in them).

There are some ordained Christian priests, ministers, and members of religious orders who are ethnic Hawaiians and who have no hesitation telling audiences that they also believe in the Hawaiian religion and believe there is no fundamental conflict between the two religions. The obvious contradictions between the two religions, and the desire to believe in both of them simultaneously, has been a constant source of tension within the hearts and souls of Hawaiian natives and also between the native Christians and the American missionaries. Perhaps the most famous example is King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III -- he was deeply in love with his sister Nahi'ena'ena, and also sired a baby with her in fulfillment of his obligation to perpetuate the highest level of mana (spiritual power) through the ali'i custom of ni'aupi'o mating; but even while doing that he also was a believer in Christianity and was constantly "ordered" by the missionaries to give her up and be faithful to a single non-incestuous wife. He constantly vacillated between the two religions, like an alcoholic or smoker trying but failing to change behavior. There are two questions ordained Christian ministers who are ethnic Hawaiians should be asked, to discover whether they can answer honestly and directly: Do you believe the Hawaiian gods and the Christian God are equal in status and in reality of existence? Are the Hawaiian gods incapable of understanding English?

Actually, the Hawaiian gods were put to death in 1819 by the decision to abolish the old religion and destroy the idols and heiaus. That decision was freely made by the sovereign King Liholiho Kamehameha II, his stepmother and regent Queen Ka'ahumanu, and High Priest Hewahewa -- a decision made and carried out the year before the first Christian missionaries arrived in the islands. That decision was sealed by the blood of High Chief Kekuaokalani, who had been given the war god Kuka'ilimoku by Kamehameha The Great on his deathbed. Kekuaokalani started a civil war to preserve the ancient religion. He was killed, along with his wife Manono and more than 300 warriors in the Battle of Kuamo'o (near Iao Valley). Those "traditional practitioners" trying to revive the ancient religion today are disrespecting the sovereign decision of their ruling chiefs who exercised self-determination on behalf of the Hawaiian people by abolishing the old religion, and who sealed that decision in blood.

As we have seen, Hawaiian language is an essential element in public performances where Hawaiian religion is used. A webpage has a compilation of webpages that describe how the religion is used for political purposes.

"The role of religion in Hawaiian history and sovereignty. How the ancient native Hawaiian religion is being revived to serve the political goal of establishing race-based sovereignty. How the native religion and Christian religion shaped culture and politics in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Compilation of selected webpages and books."

See especially "Religion and Zealotry in the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement -- how religious myths are used to support political claims for racial supremacy in Hawaii"


(5) Sprinkling Hawaiian words occasionally throughout a speech or essay, to create an appearance of authentic Hawaiian-ness.

Many Hawaiian words and phrases are part of everyday speech in Hawaii, even when the speaker normally uses English, Japanese, Cantonese, Ilocano, or some other language. Only a few thousand people speak Hawaiian with any degree of fluency, and most of them are students or recent graduates in "Hawaiian studies." But everyone throws occasional Hawaiian words into normal conversation; for example: aloha, mahalo, mele kalikimaka, 'aina, pono, puka, kala, hele, komo mai, akua, aumakua, make. Children are proud to show off by saying the long name of the officially-designated state fish even if they don't know the meaning of the name or its components: humuhumunukunukuapua'a. Most people know the name of the state song Hawai'i Pono'i and perhaps can even sing the first verse in Hawaiian. Some people know the state motto even if they don't know its true original meaning: Ua mau ke ea o ka 'aina i ka pono.

But there's a dark side to the way Hawaiian language is used. It's a political act to say more than a sentence or two in Hawaiian when speaking to a group, especially if the topic is the history of Hawaii or a current political issue. A person who has native blood and publicly speaks Hawaiian is regarded with respect and is seen to be exercising his indigenous right to speak it. His use of Hawaiian to express a message is seen as emphasizing both the importance of the message and the authenticity of the speaker. But a person with no native blood who speaks Hawaiian to a group is often seen as an arrogant showoff who has no right to use Hawaiian in such a way -- especially if the topic is historical or political. Even in a quiet, friendly conversation between two people, someone with no native blood might unintentionally provoke resentment or even an angry outburst if he speaks Hawaiian to someone who does have native blood but turns out not to be fluent in the language.

Although it's fashionable for people with no Hawaiian blood to study Hawaiian, and they are certainly made to feel welcome in language courses, it is also considered improper for someone known to have no Hawaiian blood, to speak Hawaiian to someone who does have Hawaiian blood, unless the speaker is very sure that the listener is fluent in the language.

While engaging in political activity demanding government handouts or sovereignty, ethnic Hawaiians often sprinkle Hawaiian words and phrases through their English-language speeches, and sometimes speak entire sentences or paragraphs or prayers in Hawaiian. Often the activists do not actually speak Hawaiian very fluently, but will say a Hawaiian word first and then immediately afterward the English word, to make it sound like the Hawaiian word came into their mind first but now they're condescendingly translating it into English to be polite to the audience. Mahalo ke Akua -- thanks to God -- for helping us to malama da 'aina -- take care of the land -- because that's our kuleana -- responsibility -- as kanaka maoli -- native Hawaiians.

The sprinkling of Hawaiian words makes the speech sound authentic, from the heart; and bolsters the audience's inclination to be sympathetic to the message because it's being delivered by a "real Hawaiian." That's why it's taboo for anyone who is not ethnic Hawaiian to use Hawaiian language in public speeches or prayers to oppose demands for money, land, or race-based political power. Of course there are genuine ethnic Hawaiians who really speak Hawaiian fluently -- some of them do the sprinkling of Hawaiian language in English-language speech not because they are phony but because they want to impress an audience with their authenticity in order to score political points.

There are a few non-ethnc-Hawaiians who speak Hawaiian fluently, teach the language, and are welcomed in the Hawaiian community (for example Puakea Noglemeier ["The voice of The Bus], and Kepa Maly). They are accepted because they "know their place" and support sovereignty demands without asserting leadership. A fluent speaker I know, who has a Ph.D. in linguistics with specialty in Hawaiian, but who lacks Hawaiian blood and also opposes the sovereignty demands, was ruthlessly excluded from jobs where he would have been a professor of Hawaiian language. His rejection by the "Hawaiian language community" is due to his refusal to "know his place" and knuckle under to the expectation that anyone who speaks Hawaiian must also be a supporter of sovereignty.

Here's an example of how Hawaiian language gets sprinkled unnecessarily for the purpose of impressing an audience that the speaker/writer is authentic and speaking from the heart. It appears that words in square barckets were inserted by the newspaper editor to clarify the writer's intention, but words in round parentheses were actually put there by the writer himself (who is a sovereignty leader in the Hui Malama group that reburies ancient bones dug up during construction projects). If the writer wanted to write in Hawaiian, with or without an accompanying English translation, he should have done so. But sprinkling Hawaiian words unnecessarily throughout an English-language essay, and providing immediate English translations of them one by one, is a sign of using Hawaiian language purely for political effect. The letter is also interesting because it is self-serving puffery and was not written in response to any particular issue. What a wonderful fellow this is in his own mind!
Honolulu Weekly, January 12, 2011, letter to editor

Hawaiian to the core

Aloha kakou. My mookuauhau, or genealogy, begins on the island of Molokai. At the present time my ‘ohana resides on the North Shore in Pupukea on Oahu.

My manao (thoughts) are based on a lifetime of hands-on experiences, community involvement and local activism, nationally and internationally. My works have spanned the [range] of political, social and economic [topics] and spiritual challenges.

We kanaka have endured…from the repatriation and reburials of our iwi kupuna (the bones of our ancestors), their moepu (sacred burial objects) to the desecration of their wahipana (sacred places) worldwide. We have implemented the teaching of Hawaiian values, beliefs and history–utilizing the visual arts with our educational systems, from the youth to the kupuna in every venue, from the shores of Hawaii to areas throughout the world.

I am presently the vice chairman of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) and actively involved with the reconciliation efforts to restore the mana, or power, of our ancestors, back to the Kanaka Nation of Hawaii.

This leka (letter) is but a snapshot of the injustices, censorship and coercion brought on by the continued economic, social, political and military occupation of our Nation.

Mahalo hou…thank you again.

Kunani Nihipali
Haleiwa-Pupukea, Oahu


(6) The insistence on using Hawaiian grammar or spelling when speaking or writing English. Examples of pluralizing nouns and using 'okinas.

Some Hawaiian activists insist on using Hawaiian grammar or spelling when speaking or writing English. It's easy to see how the main purpose for doing this is to impress an audience that the speaker/writer is knowledgeable about Hawaiian and familiar with local custom. Those who like conspiracy theories might say it's an attempt to force English to sumbit to Hawaiian dominance by following Hawaiian grammatical rules.

Here's a trivial but frequent example: Hawaiian rules for pluralizing nouns are imposed on English speech.

In English we add the letter "s" to pluralize a noun. One house, many houses. One bag, many bags. But in Hawaiian, a special word is placed in front of a noun to pluralize it, and the suffix "s" is never used. Ka heiau (the [stone] temple), na heiau (the [stone] temples). He heiau (a [stone] temple), he mau heiau (some [stone] temples). However, if we are speaking English, we should use English rules of grammar and add the suffix "s" to pluralize a noun. The heiau, the heiaus. A heiau, some [several] heiaus.

Here's a more obscure and less frequent example of imposing Hawaiian grammar on English speech: Using the 'okina in "Hawai'i" and "Hawai'ian."

The 'okina is a diacritical mark which was not used when the written language was created in 1820, but came to be used later to let non-native-speakers know how to pronounce words. It indicates a glottal stop, and seems to have now won acceptance as a 13th letter in the Hawaiian alphabet (sort of like Las Vegas is often called the 9th Hawaiian island).

The word "Hawai'i" is written in (today's) Hawaiian language with the 'okina between the two "i"s. It's the name of the largest island in the archipelago. Kamehameha The Great was born and raised on that island, and it was the first island he conquered. So when he had succeeded in slaughtering all his enemies and conquering or intimidating all the islands into submission under his dictatorship, the entire archipelago came to be called "Hawai'i". The situation is similar to the way many people used the word "Russia" (a single country) to apply to the entire "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" which was forced into submission under the control of Russia.

The official name of the State is "Hawaii" without any 'okina, although some people include the 'okina when naming the State because they have seen it spelled that way so often. But when the State name is made into an adjective, it is clearly an affectation, and probably an indication of political inclination, to spell it with the 'okina: "Hawai'ian." To see the conflict, go to Google and do two different searches, using the quote marks both times: (a) "State of Hawai'i"; (b) "State of Hawaii" and note that most of the search results from using the 'okina are webpages favorable to Hawaiian sovereignty. Likewise, try (a) "Hawai'ian" and (b) "Hawaiian". Thus the usage or non-usage of the 'okina in the State's name and its adjective subtly conveys a political attitude, although some people might not be aware of it or might, through inattentiveness, inadvertently use the version whose political implications they do not intend.

An example is this webpage for an obviously politicized course at the University of Dayton law school:

"Native Hawai'ian Sovereignty"
"Race, Racism and the Law: Speaking Truth to Power!!"

However, when the title page shows a photo labeled "Queen Liliuokalani" and calls her "The Last Hawaiian Queen" there is no 'okina placed in either the name "Liliuokalani" or the word "Hawaiian." So some law professor, who no doubt pays close attention to the presence or absence of a comma in a legal document, was too ignorant or lazy to be consistent about using the 'okina. More likely, he was simply excited to show off his political correctness to impress his leftwing students by the way he wrote the title "Native Hawai'ian Sovereignty". See

When speaking English we should use the spelling without any 'okina: Hawaii and Hawaiian. It's just like what we do when using the name "Germany" while speaking English -- we call it "Germany" and not its native name "Deutschland." And when making an adjective out of it, we say "German" and not the native word "Deutsch" or, even worse, the native word made into an absurd English-style adjective "Deutschlandish."

I personally confess that I have been guilty of "political correctness" when pluralizing words or referring to Hawaii. In the early years of my permanent residence in Hawaii (starting 1992), and especially during the several years when I attended Hawaiian language courses, I wanted to show off my knowledge and also gain acceptance as a "local" person. So I usually used the Hawaiian style of plurals and State name, just to impress people favorably. Many of my webpages were written in that style and remain uncorrected due to lack of time to repair them. More recently, as I try to recover from political correctness, I have been criticized harshly by sovereignty activists who claim that I do not really speak Hawaiian, and who bolster that claim by pointing out that I say "leis" or "heiaus" while speaking English. That's a "cheap shot" showing that they are the ignorant ones, not I !


(7) Hawaiian culture and language are used for political indoctrination in the tax-supported public schools -- the Hawaiian Studies component of the general curriculum; the Hawaiian-focus charter schools; the Hawaiian language immersion schools; how Kamehameha Schools has infiltrated the public schools.

There's a "Hawaiian studies" component to the curriculum in all public schools, brainwashing children with a twisted version of Hawaiian history regarding the revolution of 1893 and annexation of 1898. There's a "Kupuna in the Classroom" program to bring elderly people into the schools to tell stories about old Hawaii, teach songs, etc.; but that program requires the kupunas to be ethnic Hawaiian. Why not have elderly Filipinos tell stories about life on the sugar plantation, and sing Sakada songs? Why not have elderly Caucasians or African-Americans tell their memories of the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

But aside from the widespread regular "Hawaiian studies" program, there are two types of tax-supported public schools in Hawaii which are being used as incubators of both racial separatism and ethnic nationalism, and where Hawaiian language is a core element to accomplish those missions.

In 2000 the New Century Public Charter Schools were established. 25 schools were to be relatively independent from the regular public school system, with their own boards of directors, their own unique curricula, and the authority to spend their budgets without much oversight from the regular Department of Education. There are now more than 30 of these charter schools. More than half of them are "Hawaiian-focused" -- Hawaiian culture is the core of the curriculum (taro cultivation, voyaging canoes, the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom), and about 90% of the students are ethnic Hawaiian. The main focus in these charter schools is on Hawaiian culture rather than Hawaiian language, although the language is an important subject to be learned and is used extensively in most school subjects and in managing the daily routine. Bills have been repeatedly introduced in the legislature to allow the consortium of Hawaiian-focused charter schools to have their own Department of Education completely separate from the regular one, so they can set their own standards, certify their own teachers, and charter their own additional schools.

In 1984 Hawaiian language-immersion preschools were established where teachers and children would use Hawaiian all day long as the language for teaching and learning all the subjects in the curriculum and for managing all their daily routines. In the years since then the Hawaiian language immersion program has been expanded to individual classrooms in regular public elementary and high schools, and then to entire language immersion schools with numerous classrooms at all grade levels from K-12. Unlike the charter schools, these language immersion classrooms and schools adhere more or less to the regular curriculum of the Department of Education; but the textbooks, lessons, homerooms, guidance counseling, discipline, sports, etc. are conducted entirely in Hawaiian.

Activists have demanded that the public schools must provide Hawaiian language immersion schools to all children who want them, including transportation and special tutoring on the same basis as English-language schools. Those demands are defended on the grounds that the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says that indigenous children have a right to be educated in their native language.

Of course a child should not be forced to learn a strange new language in order to get an education. If a child is born and raised in a family that speaks only an indigenous language, then it's a matter of human rights that if that nation has a compulsory school attendance law, then the government should provide teachers who use that indigenous language as the medium of instruction for all subjects.

But consider this analogy. Suppose a child in Mexico [Hawaii] is born and raised in a typical family that speaks Spanish [English] as its primary (and only) language. Suppose the child has a smidgen of Aztec {Hawaiian] blood. Then Aztec [Hawaiian] is the child's "indigenous" or "native" language even though neither the child nor his parents actually speaks it (yet). Must we interpret the U.N. Declaration to mean that the government of Mexico [Hawaii] is required to create an Aztec-immersion [Hawaiian-immersion]classroom or school and use the Aztec [Hawaiian] language to teach history, biology, etc. to the child? Clearly that is not the intent of the U.N. Declaration; or else we can reject that Declaration as ridiculous. It's a political question whether the government has the money and desire to balkanize the nation by allowing politically active parents to force their children to learn so-called "indigenous" languages which will be useful for ethnic nation-building and for preserving an ancient language but useless in the real world.

The right of a child to be educated in his "native" language means the right to be taught in the language which the child grew up speaking and continues to speak in his daily activities; it does not mean the child has a right to be taught in a language he does not know but which was formerly used by "native" people who share one of his bloodlines.

Why are there no public (tax-supported) charter schools in Hawaii focused on Japanese or Filipino culture? Why are there no public language immersion schools using Japanese or Ilocano languages? Apparently those ethnic groups lack the desire and/or the political clout to do that. And the general public probably would not approve.

Both the Hawaiian charter schools and the Hawaiian language immersion schools are hotbeds of racial separatism and ethnic nationalism. The organizers and administrators publicly proclaim that their primary mission is to decolonize the minds of the children; to foster racial pride and solidarity; to give the students the knowledge and attitudes that will enable them to build a future for an independent and self-sustaining Hawaii that throws off the yoke of American imperialism.

A major webpage with numerous subpages is devoted to analyzing the use of charter schools and language immersion schools as incubators for racial separatism and ethnic nationalism. See

That webpage singles out one of the Hawaiian-focus charter schools for special attention. "Kanu O Ka 'Aina" in Waimea, Hawaii Island, was founded by Ku Kahakalau, who also serves as head of "Ka Lei Na'auao" which is the consortium of all Hawaiian-focus charter schools. That particular school was singled out for analysis because the school's own public statements made clear that its primary purpose is to inculcate children with an ethnic nationalist attitude and the skills to exercise political leadership.

Ms. Kahakalau wrote: "Kanu wants to empower Hawai'i's native people, who are direct descendents of earthmother Papa and skyfather Wakea, to once again assume our rightful stewardship over our archipelago."

Ms. Kahakalau wrote: "Probably the most unique and critical aspect of Kanu's educational foundations is the fact that Kanu wants to actively prepare native students to participate in - and perhaps even lead - Hawai'i's indigenous sovereignty movement. Initially I was sort of hesitant to claim that Kanu represents a liberatory pedagogy. However, the more I reflected on the true purpose of my model the more I realized that my model is definitely designed to liberate. Specifically, Kanu wants to encourage Hawaiian students to become politically conscious, and individually and collectively tackle the problem of Hawaiian oppression by the United States and our subjugation to American law and a Western way of life. In that vein, Kanu has the potential of significantly contributing to the Hawaiian sovereignty effort."

Ms. Kahakalau wrote: "Utilizing problem-posing as an instructional technique, Kanu hopes to make our students realize that the occupation of Hawai'i by the United States of America is not fatal and unalterable, but merely limiting and therefore challenging. Additionally, Kanu wants to empower our students to accept this challenge and find solutions to this and the many other dilemma, that face Hawai'i's native people in their homeland today. By actively participating in finding solutions to native problems, it is envisioned that Kanu students will become an intricate part of the process of native liberation from American domination that nearly caused the demise of our native people and our way of life."

Although those statements appeared in the school's website in 2002, the same philosophy guides the school today. On November 16, 2010 Leslie Wilcox did a 30-minute interview of Ku Kahakalau on the PBS-Hawaii TV program "Long Story Short." The transcript of that show is available at

Here's a very revealing question and answer copied from the transcript. Notice how Ms. Kahakalau is taken aback by the question, displays nervousness and stalls by clearing her throat, and then her first words are typical of the way a foreign spy or enemy diplomat might respond to an interrogator: "we neither confirm, nor deny." It was the only question in the interview which made Ms. Kahakalau visibly uncomfortable and which she perceived to be a hostile question.

"LESLIE WILCOX: What about Kenneth Conklin, who’s criticized the school, and in fact, Charter Schools—Hawaiian Charter Schools in particular, saying that in having the Hawaiian culture driving the school, you also have a politically driven agenda, leading all kids to Hawaiian sovereignty?"

"KU KAHAKALAU: That is something that we neither confirm, nor deny. No. I [CLEARS THROAT]— we feel we are Hawaiians in the 21st century, and as a native people, we have indigenous rights. And those rights are very clear, they’re at the UN level, they’re also within our state constitution. It’s very clear, according to our state constitution, that not only have Hawaiians the right, but the State is supposed to provide a system of education that allows us to learn our culture, our language, and our traditions ..."

Kamehameha Schools (Bishop Estate) is well known for having wealth of $8-15 Billion which it uses to support a small system of private schools exclusively for ethnic Hawaiians (plus a couple of kids who have no native blood who were either forced into the schools by court order or else were allowed in by a politically and legally savvy board of trustees as tokens to prove that Kamehameha has only a "preference" and not an absolute racial requirement for admission).

But aside from running its own private school system, Kamehameha has also made multimillion dollar grants to the Hawaiian-focus charter schools. And for more than a decade Kamehameha has had a program of partnering with ordinary public schools in areas where the public school kids are predominantly ethnic Hawaiian. Under these partnership agreements, Kamehameha donates a percentage of the school's regular operating budget in return for major control over the school's curriculum. Thus a powerful, wealthy racial separatist institution has infiltrated the state's public school system and has taken control of the parts of it that shape the hearts and minds of children.

Here's a webpage about Kamehameha Schools' race-based admissions policy, and how it uses its wealth and political power to promote ethnic nation-building. This webpage has links to annual supplements which include news reports about Kamehameha's huge grants to charter schools, and its partnership program with regular public schools selected because of their large proportion of ethnic Hawaiian kids.


(8) Why are there no automated translation programs for Hawaiian, when such programs are easily available for other languages? It appears that Hawaiian language experts want to keep control of the language so it can be used only for "politically correct" purposes, and also to provide job security for a growing cadre of instructors and independent-contractor translators who must be politically correct to keep their jobs.

Look at Google translate. It provides the ability to translate from and to dozens of languages.

There's a box where copied text can be pasted, with a pulldown menu immediately below the box to identify which language the text is already in and which language you want to translate it into. Or, there's another box where you can paste the URL for a webpage, along with a pulldown menu to choose which language to use to display the webpage. The list of available languages includes some which use characters and diacritical marks very different from English, and some languages which are very obscure or spoken by very few people. But Hawaiian is not available. It is possible to choose Hawaiian as the language to use to display the Google website itself, but that's merely a stunt that's limited to displaying the Google website and does not allow users to translate outside text either to or from Hawaiian.

You can use Google to translate from Russian to German, or from Mandarin to Greek. Some of the languages offered are quite obscure. Many of them, such as Japanese, have very complex layers of meaning, double entendre, culture-based metaphors, etc. -- just like Hawaiian. Yet Google's automated robot allows translation. The translation is not always completely accurate. Sometimes it's weird or even funny, like some English-language (translations of) instruction booklets for assembling a bicycle whose box of parts was manufactured in China. It can be amusing to test the accuracy of the Google translator by typing a few sentences in English, having the machine translate it into Japanese, and then copy the Japanese translation, paste it into the text box, and translate that back to English. But despite some inaccuracies, the Google translator is helpful in getting the general idea of what's said.

Hawaiian is not available in the Google translator. Why is that? Because experts in Hawaiian language have refused to cooperate with Google. There is nothing about Hawaiian that makes it any more "untranslatable" than any other language which Google actually does translate. The Hawaiian experts want to keep Hawaiian as an esoteric language, so that they can keep control of it. There are millions of words published in Hawaiian language newspapers from 1834 to 1948, which have now been scanned and digitized; but the contents are only able to be used for political purposes by a small number of researchers who are all sovereignty activists. The Hawaiian experts at the university demand that everyone use their diacritical marks (kahako and 'okina), even though such marks were not used in the 1800s. They invent new rules of grammar which do not reflect actual usage by elderly native speakers. They seem to be trying to make Hawaiian into some sort of secret language which only the high priests are capable of speaking correctly. How sad! How silly!

Puakea Noglemeier is a mainland Caucasian who came to Hawaii and immersed himself in Hawaiian culture and language. He is now accepted by everyone as an expert in Hawaiian language. Bus riders on O'ahu will recognize his voice announcing the place-names of all the stops. On September 30, 2009 he gave a public lecture about Hawaiian language at Windward Community College in the high-capacity Paliku theatre. During the question period I asked him why there is no automated translation program for Hawaiian, and when it might become available. His answer was vague and unsatisfactory. He seemed uncomfortable with the question and uninterested in the topic.


(9) There are political and emotional implications of using Hawaiian language rather than English, and sometimes those implications depend on the race of the speaker.

On any particular occasion the mere fact that Hawaiian language is being used might carry major political and emotional implications, depending on the circumstances and the subject matter being discussed. The racial identity of both the speaker and the listener are also important.

If someone who is ethnic Hawaiian gives a speech or prayer entirely in Hawaiian language, or even sprinkles an English-language speech or prayer with Hawaiian words and phrases, the audience is moved more deeply than if English alone is used. But if someone who is known not to have Hawaiian blood gives a speech or prayer in Hawaiian, or makes use of Hawaiian words and phrases, the performance is deemed less persuasive and the speaker might even be vilified as a phony or "wannabe Hawaiian" who has no right to use the language -- especially if the message is politically incorrect or in opposition to race-based entitlements or sovereignty.

The Pope makes a show of speaking a sentence or two in each of dozens of languages when delivering his "Urbi et Orbi" annual message to "the city and the world" from his balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square. In addition to the actual content of what he says, the Pope's use of a huge number of languages tells a worldwide audience that he cares about all people of all nationalities and races. It also conveys the unstated but clear claim (perhaps warning?) that the Roman Catholic Church speaks on behalf of God who rules the entire world.

Any language used anywhere in the world can be the medium for tacit, concomitant messages that are conveyed merely because it is that particular language which is being used, especially if the language is not the usual language spoken in that place. But using Hawaiian language in Hawaii carries much more baggage than using any European language anywhere in Europe, whether it's a local person speaking his local native language to a local person or foreigner, or a foreigner speaking the local language however imperfectly, or a foreigner speaking his own language to a local person who understands it however imperfectly.

Of course the tacit concomitant message being sent by a speaker might be different from the tacit concomitant message being received by the listener. Such messages become more significant and powerful when a language is being spoken in a place where it is not the language of everyday use, or when the speaker would not normally be expected to use that language.

For example, anyone speaking Hawaiian in Hawaii, where it is not the language of everyday use, might be similar to anyone speaking French in Chicago. If a waiter in a gourmet French restaurant speaks French to a tourist from France, that's polite; but if the waiter insists on speaking French to an American customer who doesn't know French, that's not only rude but also a snobbish, arrogant assertion of superiority. The funny thing is, some customers are happy to pay extra for it as a sign the restaurant is authentically French.

A real example is this: When traveling in Zagreb in about 1980 (now the capitol of Croatia but then a town in a northern region of a unified Yugoslavia) I went into a restaurant to get lunch. The waiter didn't speak English. I tried to speak German (having studied it four years in high school), which the elderly waiter angrily refused to speak (because the Nazis had occupied Croatia and committed atrocities there). I tried to speak Russian, which the waiter reluctantly agreed to speak -- I knew some Russian from studying it two years in high school and an additional semester in college; and the waiter knew some Russian because Yugoslavia had lots of Russian troops stationed there (which is why the waiter was resentful about using that language). The fact that I am American made the waiter less resentful than if I had been Russian, and far less hostile than if I had been German. Nevertheless, the fact that I offered to use those languages made me a suspicious character in his eyes, and he watched closely to be sure I paid the bill before I left.

The choice to use Hawaiian in Hawaii carries far greater political implications than the choice to use any of the other languages I am aware of, regardless whether a language is used in its "home" locations or anywhere else, and regardless whether a language is spoken by someone who grew up speaking it as a native language or learned it later in life.

Hawaiian language is the sacred mother language for Hawaiian sovereignty activists, even when they themselves did not grow up speaking it and have not taken the time to learn it. It is certainly peculiar when a Hawaiian activist who does not speak Hawaiian says "Hawaiian is MY language" in a tone of voice that clearly also conveys the message "and don't you dare speak it, you f**kin' haole." What would cause an otherwise rational person to hold such an attitude?

Hawaiian sovereignty activists claim that Hawaiian language was made illegal by the Republic of Hawaii following the revolution that overthrew the monarchy in 1893.

The claim that Caucasians suppressed Hawaiian language and made it illegal is one of the most scurrilous libels in the Hawaiian grievance industry. The main purposes of the claim are to evoke sympathy from non-ethnic-Hawaiians and stir to up ethnic Hawaiian racial hatred toward Caucasians. The claim is asserted frequently, and defended tenaciously, despite clear and convincing proof that it is false. See the other section in this webpage that is devoted to that topic.

A non-ethnic Hawaiian might say a few sentences in Hawaiian expressing gratitude for a favor and imagining that speaking Hawaiian shows special respect and appreciation to the ethnic Hawaiian listener. But the listener, who turns out not to speak Hawaiian, might perceive the use of Hawaiian as a racial attack or an arrogant assertion of superiority. This scenario actually happened to me about twelve years ago at the end of a day spent in the mud of a taro patch in Kahana. I spoke one or two sentences in Hawaiian to thank the sovereignty activist who had organized the bus tour and work gang. Her reaction was anger. "You haoles made my language illegal so I don't speak it. How dare you now throw it in my face!" Was her anger manufactured as a political power play, to smack me down and put me in my place? Or perhaps it was real. Either way, she's a smart lady who now has a Ph.D. and could easily have studied Hawaiian the same way I did; but she was too busy with politics to take the time, and still to this day has not taken the time, to learn "her" language.


(10) How Hawaiian language, culture, and sovereignty are interconnected

Hawaiian culture is the core of what makes Hawaii a special place, and Hawaiian language is the core of Hawaiian culture. But the culture and language are neither owned by, nor limited to, people who are racially Hawaiian. Race-based political sovereignty is not necessary for the preservation and flourishing of the language and culture.

Hawaiian music, hula, voyaging canoes, etc. are genuine celebrations of cultural identity not only for ethnic Hawaiians but for the entire multiracial society of Hawaii. But they are also used as propaganda vehicles to persuade people in Hawaii, the U.S., and world that ethnic Hawaiians are a separate and distinct people entitled to self-determination and nationhood.

Hawaiian language and culture belong to all the people of Hawaii, not just one racial group. People of any race or national background own and have a right to exercise authority over a language or culture in proportion to their level of fluency or degree of participation in it. There are thousands of people who have no native blood but participate actively in hula, and to a lesser extent in other Hawaiian cultural elements such as restoration of heiaus (stone temples) and lokoi'as (fishponds), lua (martial arts), etc. [The use of the letter "s" to pluralize Hawaiian nouns when speaking English is a topic discussed previously. This is a political issue!] The Hawaiian culture is so strong, and so widely practiced, that it would continue to flourish for centuries to come even if some horrible genetic disease were to kill off all people with a drop of Hawaiian native blood. That assertion is comparable to saying that French cuisine and German classical music would continue to be enjoyed throughout the world even if France and Germany themselves were vaporized by nuclear bombs.

Sovereignty activists repeatedly say they need race-based political sovereignty to preserve the culture. That's silly of course -- Hawaii's people of Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino heritage have preserved their cultures very well in Hawaii without any ethnic-based government. The Hawaiian activists say those ethnicities have the nations of Japan, China, and Philippines to look to as homelands; but the fact is that those ethnic groups in Hawaii, especially third generation and beyond, generally do not have much interaction with their so-called "homelands", often do not speak "their" languages, and in most cases would not be welcomed "back" as citizens of nations they have never visited.

For example, multigeneration ethnic Japanese in Hawaii are unable to feel at home anywhere else but in Hawaii. So says the book "Jan Ken Po: The world of Hawaii's Japanese Americans" by Dennis M. Ogawa; with a foreword by Daniel K. Inouye. (Honolulu, Hawaii: Japanese American Research Center, Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce, 1973). Mr. Ogawa points out that those ethnic Japanese in Hawaii for several generations, who can still speak Japanese, speak an archaic version which makes them ridiculed and outcast if they travel to Japan; and their cultural behavior would seem strange and foreign there. Likewise, if they try to live on the American mainland, even in places like California with lots of Japanese, their Japanese and English speech is filled with pidgin accents and words found only in Hawaii, making them socially unacceptable.

The general public sometimes seems to have been persuaded that there could not be a Hawaiian culture without ethnic Hawaiians. An often-heard statement expressing this sentiment is "No Hawaiians, no aloha." [If there were no Hawaiians there would be no aloha.] But that's absurd. The Aloha Spirit is infinitely powerful and universal for all mankind; and might be regarded by Christians as Hawaii's manifestation of the Holy Spirit. See "The Aloha Spirit -- what it is, who possesses it, and why it is important" at

The general public also sometimes appears to have been persuaded that political sovereignty is necessary to preserve Hawaiian culture, perhaps because of the "mascot syndrome" whereby the Hawaiian race has become the "state race" or pet, in much the same way as the nene goose has become the state bird, the hibiscus is the state flower, and the humuhumunukunukuapua'a is the state fish. See a psychological analysis of this Hawaiian mascot syndrome at

Hawaiian language is the core of every mode of expressing Hawaiian culture. Has anyone seen a hula where the accompanying chants and songs are not done entirely or primarily in Hawaiian language? Wouldn't it feel strange to see someone dancing hula while the accompanying song is in English? Perhaps the only one like is a semi-sarcastic parody that has the name "Sophisticated Hula" and is often performed at tourist luaus where tourists are encouraged to get up and dance.


(11) The role of the Christian missionaries and their native partners in creating a written Hawaiian language.

It is claimed that the missionaries came uninvited, destroyed the ancient religion, replaced Hawaiian language with English, and overthrew the monarchy. Thus, the history of Hawaiian as a written language has become a topic in the politics of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.

Prior to the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778, the only language spoken in Hawaii for perhaps more than a thousand years was Hawaiian, although there were various dialects of it on different islands. Hawaiian was entirely a spoken language -- until Christian missionaries arrived in 1820 from New England. The missionaries brought a printing press, created an alphabet, translated portions of the Bible into Hawaiian, and printed thousands of copies to be used not only for religious purposes but also as a textbook to teach Hawaiian natives how to read and write their own language.

Today it has become "politically correct" to portray the missionaries as destroyers of the native religion and culture, uninvited invaders, and an advance platoon for an army of American imperialists. The missionaries are attacked as being destroyers of the Hawaiian language, first by creating an alphabet that failed to capture the true sounds of native speech, and then by supplanting Hawaiian to make English the dominant language.

But in fact the old Hawaiian religion was overthrown by the natives themselves in 1819, the year before the missionaries arrived. A few months after Kamehameha The Great died, his son King Liholiho Kamehameha II, together with the new King's stepmother Ka'ahumanu and High Priest Hewahewa, jointly decided to publicly break the taboo against men and women eating together by having the son go over to his stepmother and sit down with her at a huge luau and eat with her. They then proclaimed the old religion to be dead and ordered the destruction of the heiaus and burning of the wooden gods throughout all the islands. Hawaii's society, and its laws and culture, were thus in shock and lacked any basis for law or morality, until the missionaries arrived. It was unplanned but nevertheless perfect timing, which some theologians have called a miracle set in motion by the hand of God.

The missionaries were not uninvited. On the contrary, seven native Hawaiians had made their way to Yale University divinity school during a period of several years previously, including Crown Prince Humehume, son of King Kaumuali'i of Kaua'i. The most charismatic and gifted orator among them, Opukaha'ia (given the Christian name Henry Obookaia), pleaded with the Yale theologians to send missionaries to Hawaii to save his people from their evil heathen ways; and so the missionaries came. When they arrived Liholiho and Ka'ahumanu gave them a year's probationary period to show their worthiness, and then they were welcomed permanently.

The missionaries were accompanied by some of the native men, including Prince Humehume, during their voyage of many months from New England around the bottom of South America and across the Pacific to Hawaii (unfortunately Opukaha'ia himself was not able to accompany them, because he had died). During that time the missionaries and natives worked together in very close quarters on the ship to create the new Hawaiian alphabet and to translate parts of the Bible. Thus the missionaries did the best they could to listen to the speech of the natives while creating the written language; and by the time they got to Hawaii they were fluent to use Hawaiian as their language for preaching. They printed the Bible in Hawaiian, preached in Hawaiian, and did not try to replace Hawaiian with English.

Some of the children and grandchildren of the missionaries became business owners and were active in overthrowing the Hawaiian monarchy 70 years later, decades after the missionaries had been released by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions who told them to either return to New England or make their own living to support themselves if they wanted to stay in Hawaii.


"Henry Opukaha'ia (Obookiah) -- Native Hawaiian Travels to New England in 1809, Converts to Christianity, and Persuades Yale Divinity Students to Come to Hawaii as Missionaries in 1820 to Rescue His People From Their Heathen Beliefs and Lifestyle." This is a very large webpage, compiled mostly from the writings of zealous Christians (including a memoir written by Opukaha'ia).

Douglas Warne, "Humehume of Kaua'i - A Boy's Journey to America, an Ali'i's Return Home" Honolulu: Kamehameha Publishing, 2008, 237 pages.
ISBN 978-0-87336-151-4. Printed in China!
Hawaii Public Library Catalog # HB, Kaumualii, Wa

Synopsis published on "Booklines Hawaii" consisting mostly of content from the back cover of the book [additional material by Conklin inside square brackets]:

Humehume was the firstborn son of Kaumuali'i, the last great ali'i nui (paramount chief) to rule over Kaua'i and Ni'ihau. [born about 1799]. As a four-year-old, Humehume was sent to America and promised a Western education. He reached New England but received little schooling and was eventually abandoned. His father presumed him dead.
In actuality Humehume survived his adverse childhood and escaped to join the U.S. Marines. As an adolescent he fought in the War of 1812, was injured in combat at sea, and later traveled to distant lands [Algeria] while serving in the U.S. Navy [punitive mission against Barbary pirates.
[Following his military adventures, Humehume was brought to the attention of the Christian missionaries at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut. A total of seven Hawaiian natives, including the famous Opukaha'ia, studied Christianity there with a view to helping the missionaries learn Hawaiian language and assist them when they went to Hawaii.]
After sixteen years of separation, he returned to Kaua'i with the first group of Protestant missionaries [arriving in 1820] and reunited with his father. Yet Humehume’s homecoming was bittersweet. The American missionaries expected him to be fully converted to Christianity and an example to his countrymen. But Humehume – as the son of Kaua'i’s most powerful ruler – was expected to know the ways of his people and to follow the lead of his father. "Humehume of Kaua'i" is the story of those conflicting expectations. The accounts of Humehume’s life after his return to Kaua'i illuminate a specific time and place that have received little attention in the history books. The story of his journey also sheds light on Kaua'i’s unique position in the larger context of Hawaiian history. It was Humehume who led the last, desperate revolt against the Kamehameha dynasty in 1824 and his defeat solidified the control of the Hawaiian Islands under one rule.


(12) A brief history of the dominance of English language in Hawaii -- How English became almost exclusively the outside language whose words were incorporated into Hawaiian, and how English gradually replaced Hawaiian as the dominant language among foreigners and natives alike.

Prior to the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778, the only language spoken in Hawaii was Hawaiian, although there were various dialects of it on different islands.

European explorers and merchants visited Hawaii in increasing numbers during the first few decades after Captain Cook. Some of them played major roles in wars and diplomacy among Hawaiian chiefs. Englishmen Isaac Davis and especially John Young were given high rank by Kamehameha The Great and held great power both on the battlefield and in Kamehameha's governing council. Englishman George Vancouver made several lengthy visits to Hawaii, advising Kamehameha on matters of world diplomacy and creating the national union-jack flag which Kamehameha adopted and which still remains the flag of today's State of Hawaii. Vancouver also gave Kamehameha some cattle which were released on Hawaii Island under a strict no-kill taboo and became the foundation of the Hawaii cattle and ranching industry including Parker Ranch.

Englishman John Young (Hawaiian name Olohana) served as a battlefield general, helped train Kamehameha's troops to use guns and cannons, was appointed Governor of Kamehameha's home island (Hawaii Island), married the King's daughter, and was given a house immediately next to the great Pu'ukohola Heiau. He was so important to Kamehameha's victories in war and to the building of a government that his tomb is in Mauna Ala (the Royal Mausoleum) where his bones are the oldest ones there, are covered by a miniature heiau (stone temple) and guarded by a pair of pulo'ulo'u (sacred taboo sticks). He fathered John Young Junior (Keona Ana) who became Kuhina Nui under Kauikeaouli King Kamehameha III, the second-highest raking leader of the Kingdom without whose signature no act of the legislature could become law. His granddaughter grew up to become the beloved Queen Emma, wife of Alexander Liholiho Kamehameha IV and founder of Queens Hospital, and a contender for the throne who lost to Kalakaua in the election of 1874.

But England was not the only European nation which exercised great influence in the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Russians were among the earliest explorers and merchants, perhaps hoping to control and own Hawaii in the same way they owned Alaska. A Russian fort was built by a Russian merchant on Kaua'i in 1815, five years after King Kaumuali'i had finally given power to Kamehameha under threat of invasion. The fort played an important role in the struggle by Kaumuali'i to break away from Kamehameha and re-establish an independent Kingdom of Kaua'i -- a struggle which continued under Kaumuali'i's Yale-educated son George Humehume until Kamehameha's troops finally destroyed the fort in 1824.

French explorers, artists, and missionaries also had significant influence in Hawaii. The first non-native to land on Maui was La Perouse in 1786. French Catholic missionaries arrived in 1827, only seven years after the American missionaries. At first they were discriminated against and expelled, but in 1839 Kamehameha III issued an Edict of Toleration to allow all Catholics including French to worship, preach, and teach. In 1843 a rogue British warship captain forced Kamehameha III to cede power to him for several months until that action was countermanded by Admiral Thomas on July 31. A Hawaiian diplomatic mission to France and England resulted in a joint declaration by those two nations on November 28 promising each other, and Hawaii, that neither would take over Hawaii. However, in 1849 two French warships sent marines ashore and temporarily took over government buildings.

In 1820 American Christian missionaries created a written form of Hawaiian language after learning to speak it fluently with the help of several natives. The written language was eagerly and rapidly embraced by chiefs and commoners alike, throughout all the islands. That had the effect of standardizing the language on nearly all the islands to conform to the pronunciation encoded in writing by the missionaries, whose ears heard only what speakers of American English found intelligible or writable.

The only original dialect which remains largely unchanged and noticeably distinct is spoken on Ni'ihau -- a small island owned privately since 1864 by a Caucasian family, where a slowly declining population of fewer than 200 natives have lived for decades in relative isolation from the rest of the islands. The owners have always maintained a policy which prohibits outsiders from visiting (including family relatives of the residents) without written permission from the owners. Thus, the lifestyle and Hawaiian language dialect remain unique and out of date by modern standards.

Attitudes in the rest of Hawaii toward Ni'ihau and its residents are strongly ambivalent. On one hand, the "romantic" attitude is that Ni'ihau is an example of the "real" Hawaii because nearly all the residents have 100% native blood quantum, speak Hawaiian as their language of everyday use, have a subsistence lifestyle of fishing and growing taro, etc. On the other hand, critics point out that the natives of Ni'ihau have far less sovereignty than ethnic Hawaiians on the other islands, because Ni'ihau is owned by a Caucasian family who exercise strict control over all aspects of life including how the land is used, who can visit, etc.

Since about 1980 there has been a great upsurge in interest, especially among ethnic Hawaiians, in learning Hawaiian language.

Captain Cook spoke English of course. But before arriving in Hawaii he and some officers and crew members had visited other Polynesian islands over a period of many years including Aotearoa (New Zealand), Tahiti, and Samoa; and Cook usually had at least one Polynesian traveling with him who could also speak English. Upon landing on Kaua'i in 1778, and returning to Kealakekua (Hawaii Island) in 1779, Cook recognized close similarities between Hawaiian and other Polynesian languages, making some degree of communication possible with the natives.

The earliest explorers, whalers, and merchants and plantation owners were English and American, although there soon came to be significant and growing influence from speakers of French and Russian; then from speakers of German, Portuguese, Italian, Cantonese, and Japanese; then Spanish, Tagalog, Ilocano, Visayan, Korean, Vietnamese, and others.

Despite the presence of so many people speaking so many languages, nearly all the words of foreign origin that are used in Hawaiian language in slightly altered form (known as "loan words") are English. For example "ka'a" sounds approximately like, and is the Hawaiian word for, "car." "Ka'a" also has the happy advantage of being conceptually appropriate because one of its meanings even before Captain Cook arrived, and long before cars were invented, is related to what a car does: "rolling." The word for "truck" is "kalaka" which seems very different, but is as close as possible to "truck" after obeying the rules of Hawaiian language which require every consonant to be followed by a vowel, every word to end with a vowel, and the letter "r" (which the missionaries did not include in the 12-letter alphabet they gave to the Hawaiians) to be replaced by the letter "l" (which was how the missionaries heard the natives speaking a sound that was probably halfway between "r" and "l").

The point is that even though Russians, Germans, and Frenchmen have had major influence in Hawaii for the past 220 years, No Hawaiian ever gave thought to "borrowing" the corresponding words for "truck" from those languages: "gruzovik", "Rollwagen", "camion." In fact, there are two very different ways Hawaiians create loan words: either by translating the concept or by translating the sound (but consistent with the rules of Hawaiian language). For example "computer" translated in the conceptual way is "lolouila" which literally means "electronic brain" (because "lolo" is "brain" and "uila" is "lightning" or "electricity" and because an adjective comes after the noun it modifies). "Computer" translated as it sounds, but altered to comply with Hawaiian-language rules, is "kamapiula" (kah-mah-pee-OO-lah). But no Hawaiian ever considered using either the conceptual or the way-it-sounds method to invent a Hawaiian word by borrowing the Russian, German, or French word (and certainly not any of the Asian languages or Spanish or Portuguese which have been spoken in Hawaii beginning about 150 years ago).

Hawaiian language was solely oral until Christian missionaries from New England arrived in 1820. Seven native Hawaiians had found their way to the divinity school at Yale University in the very early 1800s -- most notably the charismatic Christian convert 'Opukaha'ia (Henry Obookiah) who persuaded the missionaries to come to Hawaii to rescue his people from their heathen ways, but who died before their voyage. Four natives accompanied the missionaries on their first voyage to Hawaii, one of whom was the crown prince of Kaua'i. The missionaries spoke Hawaiian fluently, having learned it from the natives at Yale and learning it even more intensively during the very lengthy voyage in a small ship traveling from Boston around the tip of South America and across the Pacific. The missionaries created an alphabet and written Hawaiian language, and brought with them a printing press. They translated portions of the Bible into Hawaiian, set up the printing press which can still be seen at Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu, and made thousands of copies for use in teaching the natives how to read and write Hawaiian.

Because Britain and the U.S. were by far the dominant trading partners with Hawaii, English rapidly became the language of commerce. It soon also became established as equal to Hawaiian in the legal system and in politics, with legislative proceedings and laws being required to be published in both Hawaiian and English. English became the preferred language among the natives, who increasingly sent their children to schools where instruction was provided in English and increasingly insisted the children speak English even at home. By 1892, the year before the monarchy was overthrown, 95% of all the schools in Hawaii were already using English as the language through which all school subjects were taught.

Following the revolution of 1893 the revolutionary Provisional Government and then the permanent Republic of Hawaii actively sought annexation to the United States. The government was faced with tens of thousands of Chinese and Japanese plantation workers whose children were born in Hawaii and who would soon, hopefully, become citizens of the U.S. Therefore in 1896 the government of the still-independent nation of Hawaii passed a law amending the compulsory school attendance law to require that every school which wanted to be certified as meeting the definition of a "school" must use English as the language for teaching all school subjects. This law had very little actual impact on the native Hawaiian children since nearly all of them were already being taught in English during the closing years of the Kingdom and thereafter. However, nearly all the Japanese parents, and many of the Chinese, wanted to be sure their children continued to learn the language and culture of their homelands; and therefore these Asian parents created hundreds of after-school and weekend academies where the language of their homeland was the medium of instruction.

A scholarly essay about the history of how English came to be the dominant language in Hawaii is written from the perspective of a Hawaiian sovereignty activist and published in a journal where most of the articles are from that perspective. See:
Lucas, Paul F. Nahoa. "E Ola Mau Kakou I Ka ‘Olelo Makuahine: Hawaiian Language Policy and the Courts." The Hawaiian Journal of History, Volume 34 (2000), pp. 1-28.


(13) The false claim that Hawaiian language was made illegal by the Republic of Hawaii after the monarchy was overthrown, and that this was done for the purpose of destroying Hawaiian culture. How this false claim is used for political purposes, to evoke anger and solidarity among ethnic Hawaiians and sympathy among non-ethnic Hawaiians to support demands for sovereignty.

Unfortunately the native population dwindled rapidly between 1778 and 1900 because of new diseases brought by Western contact. Hawaiian language was in fact largely replaced by English even among the natives -- not because Hawaiian was suppressed or made illegal, but because native leaders and ordinary people saw that English was the pathway to success.

In the 1880s, when Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop created Kamehameha Schools, she ordered that its language of instruction must be English. By 1892, under the government headed by Kalakaua and Lili'uokalani, 95% of all the government schools were already using English as the language of instruction for teaching all the subjects, and native parents were refusing to allow their children to speak Hawaiian in the home. In 1892, when Lili'uokalani gave her speech at the ceremonial opening of the Legislature, she gave it in English. These were free choices made by the most powerful natives who could have chosen Hawaiian but instead chose English.

The dominance of English during the 1880s and 1890s is shown by the fact that tens of thousands of immigrants from China, Japan, Portugal, etc. chose English rather than Hawaiian as the language they learned for the purpose of assimilation.

2011 is the centennial of the Chinese revolution led by Sun Yat-Sen, so it's worth exploring his activities in Hawaii and his choice to learn English rather than Hawaiian. When Sun Yat-Sen came to Hawaii as a boy, he chose to attend Oahu College (later called Punahou School) alongside the Caucasian boys, and he learned English but not Hawaiian. In fact, in 1882 he won second place in an English contest (not a Hawaiian contest) and was given his award personally by King Kalakaua. He came to Hawaii a total of six different times over a period of many years. The first two times were before the Hawaiian revolution of 1893, but the last four times were after that (and as an adult). His third and fourth visits were during the Republic of Hawaii, while his fifth and sixth visits were during the Territorial period. He clearly had no misgivings about the Hawaiian revolution which overthrew a corrupt and ineffective monarchy, and no misgivings about Hawaii's annexation to the U.S. Indeed, the example of Hawaii might have helped strengthen his determination to carry out his revolution in China. The ethnic Hawaiians were not helpful to him, so he raised money and got political support from the Chinese community in Hawaii and also from the Caucasians. He adopted Christianity as his own religion and saw the animist religion and superstition in China (comparable to Hawaiian kahunaism) as a hindrance to economic and cultural advancement.

By 1896, under the Republic of Hawaii, there were tens of thousands of Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese plantation workers attending school. Many of them were Hawaii-born subjects of the Kingdom and therefore would be eligible to vote when they became adults. The government decided it was important for children to grow up having a common language they all could speak. There was no doubt that common language should be English, because English was already the dominant language of commerce, politics, and the arts. Thus a law was passed requiring that English be the language of instruction in all schools, public and private, that wished to be certified as "schools" to comply with the law requiring all children to attend "school." However, parents were free to send their children to after-school and weekend academies to perpetuate the languages and cultures of their homelands -- nearly all Japanese parents did that, but Hawaiian parents chose to have their children grow up speaking English as their primary language (and often their only language).

In 1992 I began learning Hawaiian language. After a few years, I was able to speak it with moderate fluency, but rarely had occasion to speak the language outside of class. One day I joined a group of Hawaiian activists working in a taro patch. We enjoyed each other's company, and the bonding that comes with getting mud under the toenails together. On a bus ride returning from the workday, I sat next to the Hawaiian activist who had led the group. I spoke one sentence to her quietly in Hawaiian language, thanking her for including me in the day's events. She turned angrily toward me and hissed: "How dare you speak to me in Hawaiian! I don't speak my own language because your white ancestors stole our language from us, made it illegal. Now you use your white privilege to study my language and throw it in my face." The funny thing is that this Hawaiian activist could have learned Hawaiian the same way I did, by going to a community school for adults tuition-free. But she was too busy playing playing politics and harvesting sympathy for her alleged victimhood.

Nobody anywhere in the world, except Hawaii, ever insulted me for my efforts to speak a local language. Even though I undoubtedly made errors of grammar, vocabulary, syntax, and pronunciation, the local folks throughout Spain, France, Germany, and Italy, whose languages I speak with varying degrees of fluency, seemed pleased that I was trying to use their language instead of expecting them to speak English. The same was true in other countries which speak one or more of those languages (Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Mexico, Guatemala), or countries where I used an outside language which locals often know (I used Russian, German, and French in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Morocco). They took it as a sign of my respect for them and their culture. And if their fluency in English was better than my fluency in their language, they would switch to English as a courtesy to me, to be sure we communicated more easily and accurately.

A language and culture belong to the people who use them and live in them. Language and culture are not the property of any racial group. It is racist to assert that a particular racial group has a special ability to understand things (including languages) which nobody else can understand who lacks a drop of the magic blood.


"Was Hawaiian Language Illegal? Did the Evil Haoles Suppress Hawaiian Language As A Way of Oppressing Kanaka Maoli and Destroying Their Culture?" This webpage begins with a personal narrative describing how difficult it was to find out the truth; then there is a lengthy and heavily footnoted section describing the law of 1896, providing school and language data taken from scholarly books published by the University of Hawaii Press, quoting policy decisions by the Kingdom government, and citing U.S. court decisions regarding whether a State or Territorial government could require or prohibit specific languages from being used in schools. See

"Examples of Some Angry or Bitter Published Articles Claiming That Ethnic Hawaiians Were Victimized by Having Their Language Made Illegal or Suppressed"

Sun Yat-Sen in Hawaii: Activities and Supporters" by Yansheng Ma Lum and Raymond Mun Kong Lum


(14) The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and its predecessor the Honolulu Star-Bulletin is a daily newspaper which publishes a column every Saturday in Hawaiian language with no English translation. Often the topics are twisted versions of Hawaiian history intended to stir up anti-American or anti-Caucasian hostility.

The name of the series of columns is Kauakukalahale. This word is the name of a certain type of rain called "the house-surrounding rain" because the wind blows the rain in all different directions at once. Metaphorically, in the context of newspaper articles, it suggests a large number of words, like raindrops, coming at a topic to probe into it from all angles.

A list of the most recent several columns in the series, with clickable links to download them, is updated each week and can be found at

However, there appears to be no list of, or access to, all the many dozens of columns that have appeared in this series during a period of several years.

The Hawaiian title each week is followed by a sentence or two which were published as the article's sole English-language synopsis. However, the synopsis is often deceptive in failing to identify the main editorial thrust or conclusion of the essay. Some of the articles are filled with highly controversial political propaganda, anti-American or anti-Caucasian diatribes. Most of the articles are accompanied by online comments, which often reveal controversial issues contained in them. Most of the comments are in English, and many are personal attacks against other commenters who dare to disagree with the article (usually the only dissenting commenter is Ken Conklin). It's clear that few people actually read these articles, fewer are capable of discussing them intelligently, and very few are capable of using Hawaiian language to engage in the discussion.

Thus, the weekly column is something like a circus stunt -- fun to see Hawaiian language actually being published in a newspaper, just to show it can be done and the language is not yet dead. The mere existence of the weekly column is a political statement comparable to carrying an upside-down Hawaiian flag in a parade.

There's also an acknowledgment at the end of every weekly column, both online and in print, as follows: "This column is coordinated by the Hawaiian Language Department at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, supported by the Initiative for Achieving Native Hawaiian Academic Excellence." So, the column is like a paid political ad -- it's "supported", i.e. paid for, by an entity outside the newspaper, at the University of Hawaii. Real columns in the newspaper are written by columnists whose salary is paid by the newspaper; outside commentaries or letters to editor are written by ordinary people in the community who are limited to a maximum of one short letter per month; political ads are written and paid for by candidates or political parties who are required to disclose the sources of their income and expenditures to the Campaign Spending Commission and who must include a "paid for by" statement in every newspaper or TV ad.

Here's an example of one of many columns in the series which are politically focused to support Hawaiian sovereignty.

The column on Saturday January 8, by Hawaiian independence activist Keao NeSmith, was entitled "Ha'alipo a Ho'omana'o a'e". The single sentence English synopsis of the column says "January is a solemn month of reflection in Hawai'i — even a hundred years later."

The column's title could be translated as Lamentation and Commemoration. It tells about some events from January 1887 (bayonet Constitution) and January 1893 (overthrow of the monarchy), saying that's why January is a sad month for (ethnic) Hawaiians. The implication is: Boo-hoo -- we're victims and entitled to rise up and get our independence back. The article blames Caucasians and America for the events of the two Januarys.

The column, in Hawaiian, with its English synopsis and all its online comments (mostly personal attacks against Ken Conklin for daring to say he's celebrating the historical events of January rather than lamenting them), is at

As it happens, on that same day the New York Times ran an article about a new law in Arizona which prohibits ethnic studies courses in the public schools from advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government, promoting resentment toward any race or class of people, or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of respect for people as individuals. The law is aimed at the "La Raza" ethnic nationalist curriculum.

I wrote an essay analyzing how the Arizona law would prohibit the use of NeSmith's Hawaiian-language column in Hawaii's "Hawaiian Studies" curriculum. The essay includes links to the Arizona law, the New York Times article, the NeSmith article, a webpage comparing Hawaiian nationalism with Chicano nationalism, and a webpage regarding violence and threats of violence to push demands for Hawaiian sovereignty. My essay is at

Although Hawaii's Constitution says Hawaiian is an official language of the State, along with English, the predecessor newspaper "Star-Bulletin" had a policy of prohibiting online comments in Hawaiian -- even comments to the Hawaiian-language column -- and banned people who repeatedly violated its English-only rule. Why? Because the newspaper editors can't read Hawaiian well enough to know whether a comment is obscene, or a vicious personal attack, or even libelous. So now the real editors have subcontracted the monitoring of online comments on the Hawaiian-language column to the ethnic Hawaiian editors of that weekly column. The column itself serves somewhat like a secret message to Hawaiian activists, since the general public has no idea what's being said.


(15) A project to digitize Hawaiian language newspapers from the 19th Century appears superficially to be for scholarly research and revitalization of the language, but is actually being done primarily for political purposes in service to the sovereignty independence movement. The project is likely to engage in history-twisting by selecting royalist newspapers while ignoring Hawaiian language newspapers that were anti-monarchy or pro-annexation, thereby creating the impression that native Hawaiians were entirely pro-monarchy. The project might also twist history by allowing insertions or deletions of individual words or paragraphs, in the absence of providing photos of the scanned pages that would enable neutral scholars to verify the accuracy of transcription. An army of sovereignty activists are being recruited to do the transcribing by manually retyping thousands of pages from looking at photos of them, rather than using an optical character reader; thereby using the project to foster solidarity among the activists and to recruit new ones. The beginning and ending dates of this project were intentionally selected to be the dates of the two Hawaiian kingdom holidays of greatest political significance: Ka La Ku'oko'a (November 28, Independence Day) and Ka La Ho'iho'i Ea (July 31, Sovereignty Restoration Day). The organizers of the project are independence activists; and the sponsoring institutions and financial supporters are OHA, Bishop Estate, etc. See the webpage "The politics of digitizing Hawaiian language newspapers" at


(16) Forcing the name of a person or place to be Hawaiianized through transliteration of its sound following Hawaiian grammatical rules or conceptual translation of its meaning into Hawaiian vocabulary.

Hawaiian sovereignty activists are so zealous about using Hawaiian language as a political weapon that they sometimes disrespect the name of a person or place by treating it as though it is a concept to be translated into Hawaiian language vocabulary. The example that started the controversy got printed in the Hawaiian language column of Saturday April 28, 2012 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The name of a famous basketball player, now known as "Metta World Peace", was conceptually translated to Hawaiian as "Maluhia Honua Meka" not as an exercise in translation but as though that string of three Hawaiian words is actually the player's name.

But it's highly improper to do that sort of thing with the names of people and places. It might be called linguistic imperialism or ethnic cleansing -- one language grabbing people's names from other languages and cultures in order to purify or assimilate them rather than respecting them in their original unaltered form. The fact that Hawaiian activists choose to twist a proper noun by translating its concept into Hawaiian vocabulary and using Hawaiian grammatical rules shows a level of zealotry unmatched by writers of articles in English or other European languages who leave unmolested the names they mention that originated from different languages.

When two languages have very different alphabetical characters or systems of writing, such as Russian vs. Chinese vs. English, French, etc. it is often customary to transliterate names that originate from one language by spelling them in the alphabet or linguistic system of the recipient language in such a way that anyone who pronounces the name will speak the same sounds. But peoples' names which happen to have conceptual meanings (like Green or Lichtblau) are almost never translated into the vocabulary of the receiving language.

In any case, nearly everyone who speaks Hawaiian also speaks English, and the letters in the Hawaiian alphabet are the same, and make the same sounds, as letters in the English alphabet. So there's no need to do either transliteration or conceptual translation. A person's name is precious to him. So when Hawaiians insist on changing a person's name through either transliteration or conceptual translation, it is both unnecessary and disrespectful. It's political. It's an assertion of dominance, control, and perhaps humiliation. It's an example of using Hawaiian language as a political weapon.

See a webpage exploring this topic in general, and focusing specifically on a controversy played out in the Hawaiian language column of the Honolulu newspaper.


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