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The Islands of Aloha

The land plays an important part in "Lilo & Stitch", creating the tone and style of the whole picture. Hawai'i's history is constantly evolving into a colorful palate that develops an equally diverse culture.

The Birth of the Islands

The Hawaiian island chain, located in the northern middle of the Pacific Ocean, was created by volcanic eruptions. The tectonic plates pulled apart to create hot spots in the ocean, which ended up creating a ridge of islands across the sea. Many of the islands are submurged and never broke the ocean's surface. The last eight, which happened to be the largest of the entire chain, are the most well known: (from West to East) Ni'ihau, Kaua'i, Oahu, Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i, Kahoolawe, Hawai'i (often referred to as 'The Big Island').

At first, the islands were only barren acres of lava rock, but soon by way of oceantides and bird migration, plants started to soon take root. It is easily understood that even from the beginning, Hawai'i was always a tourist state.

Around 300-750 A.D, it became home to its first inhabitants, the Native Hawaiians when a group of polynesians arrived after a long sailing venture to the tiny obscure island chain. The group, actually consisting of a mixture of poly-, micro, and macronesians, were a diverse group for sure, but soon adapted the new land as their own. The Hawaiian culture, therefore, took its roots in other island cultures, such as the Tahitians and Samoans, including their clothing (or lack of it), weapons, food preparations, and most importantly language. Tiny villages sprouted up around all of the islands with their own chiefs and leaders and they lived symbiotically and peacefully.

Rulers from the Past

Peace continued until one chief decided that a united people was better. Kamehameha, of the biggest island, Hawai'i, decided to take the advantage and try to wrangle a way to take over each head chief of every island, mostly by force. One-by-one, Kamehameha's warriors went on to conquer each island, adding to his newly formed Kingdom. One of the most infamous battle occured on Oahu's Pali Mountain range, where Kamehameha's troops pushed the defending army to the edge of the cliffs and over, therefore securing the new King's reign.

After Kamehameha The Great past on, the Kamehameha Dynasty was carried on. Liholiho, or Kamehameha II, took on his father's role from 1819. His brother, Kauikeaouli, became Kamehameha III and was one of the most beloved Hawaiian kings. Kamehameha IV, Alexander, was actually Kamehameha III's nephew and adopted son, but became King since Kauikeaouli had no children. Interestingly enough, at Alexander's death, his older brother, Lot, became Kamehameha V, and was the last of that family dynasty to rule the islands.

After the Kamehameha family had run out of rulers (or ali'i), it was determined that the next monarch would be elected. The Hawaiian parliament chose William Lunalilo, who was actually a distant Kamehameha relative. He only ruled for a little over a year before dying without any heirs. After his death, David Kalakaua became the last reigning King of the islands with a bang. Kamehameha IV's widow, Queen Emma, and her supporters felt she had more right to the throne than Kalakaua (a distant Kamehameha relative and chief) and the British Marines were called in after riots broke out.

In 1882, his monarchy took up residence in the first and only existing Royal Palace in the (now) United States. Iolani Palace, comissioned by Kalakaua himself, was located on King Street in Downtown Honolulu, the main city of Oahu. His roots with the people were strong, as he released many of the taboos (kapu) in the culture, such as the native art of dance called hula. Kalakaua was also a modern day monarch, who would travel extensively, in particular England to both show off his educated background, but also to promote the Hawaiian Islands in the rest of the world. In fact, it was on one of his transcontinental trips in 1891 that the King fell ill and had to relinquish his crown to his only surviving relative, his sister Liliuokalani, on his deathbed. When his body was carried off a ship from San Francisco, the newly sworn-in Queen was present to lead the mourning party.


Queen Liliuokalani enjoyed her role to carry on her brother's legacy, but she was destined to become the last reigning monarch. Victim to the rising power of non-Hawaiian businessmen, the Queen was soon engaged in a battle of wills. The businessmen had started gaining notoriety in Hawai'i after the influx of New England missionaries arrived back in 1820. With non-natives needing supplies and services, mainland businesses (usually maritime companies) started taking root in major ports like Honolulu. Soon enough, their influence was felt all over the islands, overpowering the native population (anthropologically and economically). The native Hawaiians were soon in the minority as they were pushed into obscurity. The Queen, meanwhile, struggled constantly to secure more benefits and rights to "her people" as the businessmen tried to urge more influence on the government.

In 1893, the Queen was formally overthrown and locked in Iolani Palace. The businessmen coalition wanted to make Hawai'i a republic under the United States Government. Liliuokalani sent a formal letter to the President pleading for Hawaii's protection, and at first, it was determined that she had been wronged. But after war broke out in the Phillippines impacted the U.S. Navy, and Hawai'i began looking very pivotal to their military strategy. In 1898, the Republic of Hawai'i was annexed to the United States.

After turning into a Territory in 1900, it wasn't until 1959, that the United States declared the Territory of Hawai'i the 50th State. Only the last seven islands were part of the official land bequeathed to the U.S. Ni'ihau has been legally declared private property owned by a native Hawaiian family, where they strictly speak Hawaiian, no English. Children on Ni'ihau complete High School on nearby Kaua'i but the rest of the residents enjoy a life of solitude.

Modern Times

Today, Hawai'i remains the most diverse populated place in the world. Because of it's situation in the middle of the Pacific, Hawai'i remains a strategic piece of land in every sense of the world. It is the midpoint between the Americas and Asia, so it is a natural trading point. The farming industry was originally Hawai'i's biggest business; growing sugar cane and pineapple mostly. Workers were transplanted from Asia: first, the Chinese, then the Japanese, Filipinos, and the Koreans (the Southeast Asians migrated later). More plantation workers migrated from the Portuguese islands of Madeira and Azores islands, as well as Puerto Rico.

Rancheros from Mexico traveled to Hawai'i to become the first paniolos, who ran the large cattle ranches. The caucasian native-born families, known as kamaainas, came from the early missionary and business owners and they naturally made up some of the richest groups on the islands. With such diversity, it is easy to see how amalgamated the Hawaiian culture can be. Mixed up with each culture, language, and best of all, culinary traditions, the Hawai'i of today is undefiniable place. The official language may be English, but it is not uncommon to hear almost every language in the world spoken there, not to mention the unofficial language of Hawai'i Pidgin English, an adopted dialect spoken by true locals.

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