It is junk-history to say that Hawaiian natives were forced to assimilate. It is junk-science to say that ethnic Hawaiians have the worst statistics for health, longevity, and social success. Putting the two together to assert that the forced assimilation of native Hawaiians is the primary cause of misery for today's descendants is a typical phony victimhood claim to fuel the Hawaiian grievance industry. Such claims are asserted to make the general population feel guilt and sympathy so they will support demands for money and political power. Ethnic Hawaiian institutions have grown wealthy and powerful by doing "studies" to release for propaganda value and to cite in applications for government and philanthropic grants to do more studies. It seems likely that genetics could be the primary cause of whatever health and social deficits may exist. One way to solve such a genetic problem would be to give race-based political sovereignty to ethnic Hawaiians so they could abolish private property rights, give control to local land tsars (ahupua'a konohiki), and remake the environment to suit ethnic Hawaiian needs. The other way to solve a genetic problem would be to study and re-engineer the Hawaiian genome so gene therapy would allow individuals to thrive under present circumstances. The first option is unacceptable to the general population; while the second option violates religious and cultural values espoused by Hawaiian activists. Perhaps it's time to pull the plug on junk-history and junk-science. Government and philanthropic grants should be given to solve health problems regardless of the race of the victims. If ethnic Hawaiians truly have a higher incidence of health problems, then they will automatically receive a higher proportion of available funds without any need for racial designation.
This essay is written in response to a "news report" entitled "Forced assimilation may hurt Hawaiians" published by reporter Gordon Pang in the Honolulu Advertiser of June 20, 2005. The article is copied in full at the end of this essay, along with a letter-to-editor from a Hawaiian activist who echoes what reporter Pang wrote and begins to make the connection to the underlying idea that, gosh, if only ethnic Hawaiians had race-based sovereignty, we could solve our health problems.
"Forced assimilation may hurt Hawaiians" is typical of the sort of nonsense the media publish in Hawai'i, combining both junk history (distortions, half-truths, and outright falsehoods) and junk science (statistics not backed up with sources, data carefully selected to bolster a predetermined outcome when other data might support an opposite conclusion). The junks are repeated so often through the media megaphone that everyone comes to believe them. The junks are stated very matter-of-factly and with great brevity, while evidence and arguments to the contrary would require extensive research, lots of time to assemble, and highly specialized expertise available only to those who have plenty of time or money. This present essay is an example of the difficulty of correcting a very short junk-history slogan ("forced assimilation") by providing historical evidence and reasoning to counteract it, and correcting some junk science (hurting Hawaiians) by providing preliminary results of a few hours of un-expert research that suggest the facts might be different or incomplete.
THE HAWAIIAN GRIEVANCE INDUSTRY FEEDS ON ITSELF
Have ethnic Hawaiians been forced to assimilate? Do ethnic Hawaiians have the worst statistics for poverty, disease, substance abuse, incarceration, family dysfunction, and other indicators of misery and suffering? Is forced assimilation the main cause of the bad health and negative social indicators?
The Hawaiian grievance industry is booming. Large bureaucracies have been growing in wealth and political power based on victimhood claims. Tens of millions of dollars every year are flowing into this flourishing enterprise, coming from federal and state government appropriations and philanthropic grants. The law of supply and demand is clearly at work here. We all know that if government subsidizes cheese, warehouses will soon be overflowing with with cheese. Today, government is subsidizing "studies" of "Native Hawaiian" victimhood; so of course there are large numbers of such studies raking in many millions of dollars.
These studies feed on themselves. Here's how it works. An ethnic Hawaiian institution like Alu Like or Papa Ola Lokahi will use federal grant money to study some particular problem, like breast cancer among ethnic Hawaiian women. Big bucks are spent gathering data and then mining the data to prove that ethnic Hawaiian women have a higher incidence of breast cancer than any other ethnic group. The study is released to the news media for political purposes, to bolster the claim that ethnic Hawaiians are the poor, downtrodden victims of cultural or racial oppression and are therefore entitled to reparations in the form of racially earmarked money and political power. The study is also cited for years afterward when ethnic Hawaiian institutions write grant applications seeking additional money to do more studies to gather more victimhood data to write more study reports ... Throughout all these studies, very few people actually receive help with their medical or social problems. The money goes into conducting the studies and paying the salaries of the bureaucrats and producing glossy reports, rather than actually treating disease or intervening to change dysfunctional social behavior. If the megabucks spent on these studies had been spent instead to give medical help directly to needy people or to provide skills training so people could earn a good living and behave properly, no doubt the statistics would have improved to the point where they would no longer warrant grant applications to do more studies!
Here are brief descriptions of three organizations devoted to generating reports for the Hawaiian grievance industry: Alu Like, Papa Ola Lokahi, and PASE (KSBE)
The following information about Alu Like is taken from
ALU LIKE, Inc. is a private, non-profit service organization that has assisted Native Hawaiians in their efforts to achieve social and economic self-sufficiency since 1975. ALU LIKE, Inc. has a comprehensive range of services and activities to fill identified needs in the Native Hawaiian community, including community economic development, business assistance, employment preparation, training, library services, educational and childcare services for families with young children. Funding comes from federal, state, county, and private sources. The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Office of Human Development Services have funded ALU LIKE, Inc., through the ANA (the Administration for Native Americans), since 1976. ALU LIKE, Inc. received additional funds as grantees under the Job Training, Partnership Act from the U.S. Department of Labor through the Division of Indian and Native Americans Programs (DINAP) in 1978. ALU LIKE, Inc. continues to receive federal funding and has expanded its funding base to include State purchase of service contacts, county and private foundation grants, and individual donations to continue the expansion of service to Native Hawaiians.
Papa Ola Lokahi has an uninformative website that has been "under construction" for the last couple of years, at:
The website says: "Papa Ola Lokahi was created in 1988 to help improve the health status of Native Hawaiians living in Hawaii. Our programs include planning, advocacy, technical assistance and research projects for Native Hawaiian Health in Hawaii. Our projects also serve the health care planning & advocacy needs of Native American Indian and Alaska Native, and Native Pacific Islander populations in Hawaii and the Western Pacific."
Papa Ola Lokahi was created by an act of Congress. Its purpose is not to actually do medical research or provide medical care, but rather to serve as an umbrella organization funneling money to other racially exclusionary government and private institutions that do research, gather data, write grants, and provide propaganda regarding Native Hawaiian medical problems. In other words, it is a bureaucratic money machine for a racial spoils system. The mission of Papa Ola Lokahi can be seen in a short piece of the U.S. Code, Title 42, Chapter 122, at:
PASE is the Policy Analysis & System Evaluation branch of Kamehameha Schools (Bishop Estate) which does research and report writing on many topics, mostly related (perhaps tangentially) to education. Its website front page is at
The webpage entitled "about" describes its mission as follows: "As the research and data gathering arm of Kamehameha Schools, PASE is committed to advancing Kamehameha Schools' mission: 'To fulfill Pauahi's desire to create educational opportunities in perpetuity to improve the capability and well-being of people of Hawaiian ancestry.' PASE supports this mission through objective, nonpartisan research on social and educational issues that affect the lives of Hawaiians." Some recent reports are: "Ka Huaka'i I Mua" [Findings from the 2005 Native Hawaiian Educational Assessment (Mar. 2005)]; "Kau Li'ili'i: Characteristics of Native Hawaiians in Hawai'i and the Continental United States" [This report highlights the differences and similarities that exist across the two groups by presenting a snapshot of selected well-being measures. (Feb. 2005)]; "Ka'akalai Ku Kanaka: A Call for Strengths-based Approaches from a Native Hawaiian Perspective" [A call to action for building on strengths, not deficits, and critically examining the paths to greater Native Hawaiian well-being. (Feb. 2005--published in Educational Researcher)]; "Hawai'i Charter Schools: Initial Trends and Select Outcomes for Native Hawaiian Students" [Early results comparing Native Hawaiian academic achievement and engagement in charter and mainstream public schools. (Feb. 2005)]; "Snapshot of Hawaiians in the DOE"; [Access individual-school-level data on Hawaiian enrollment, test scores, and participation in special education and the free and reduced-price lunch program. (Nov. 2004)].
The U.S. Census Bureau provides a wealth of data on its website at
That website is so complex that most people cannot figure out how to get the data they want. That's why the Census Bureau occasionally offers seminars in a room full of on-line computers; but the Census Bureau notifies the big institutions before they notify the public. It's hard for an ordinary person to get the free government training, because the seats are already reserved by bureaucrats receiving salary while attending the seminars to learn how to mine the data to justify more grant money.
Let there be no doubt why Alu Like, Papa Ola Lokahi, PASE(KSBE) and other race-based institutions are so eager to do research and gather data. They are not doing scientific studies just for the pleasure of increasing human knowledge, or appreciating the beautiful patters in the data. They are looking for data to support their predetermined conclusions that ethnic Hawaiians have the worst statistics for whatever terrible thing is being studied. There's no money to be gotten for showing that Hawaiians are well-off. The government gives money to institutions who produce the "right" evidence demonstrating a desperate need for it; just as drug companies give money to universities and research institutes to do studies that will provide evidence that a new drug produced by that company is safe and effective. There may or may not be unethical research like tossing out disagreeable data, selecting a sample likely to produce "good" results, etc. Drug companies have a long-term incentive not to use manipulated data to get FDA approval for a drug that is actually dangerous, because the company knows it will be sued if people die. Professors and scientists know their work will be peer-reviewed and tested for replicability, so their reputations are at stake. But there are no such incentives for honesty in the Hawaiian grievance industry; all the incentives go toward proving Hawaiians are in bad shape.
There's also a vicious kind of racial profiling and stereotyping going on. Statistics is all about patterns and averages. Even if ethnic Hawaiians as a group have average results worse than other groups, that does not mean that all ethnic Hawaiian individuals are in bad shape. There are wide variations; with many ethnic Hawaiians doing extremely well. Nevertheless, if a study shows the average is bad, then government grants may be given to the group as a whole to provide benefits to every individual, including those who are already well off. Truly needy individuals of other groups get no help, because all the help is going to the "disadvantaged" group including individuals who are not disadvantaged at all. Thus an impoverished ethnic Japanese woman who already knows she has breast cancer and cannot afford treatment, might actually be paying taxes to provide breast cancer screening for a healthy, wealthy ethnic Hawaiian woman simply because "Native Hawaiians have the worst rate of breast cancer."
Reporter Gordon Pang says, "'Cultural trauma' caused by forced assimilation into Western culture continues to wreak havoc on the health and well-being of Native Hawaiians even today, according to a Hilo, Hawai'i, researcher. Bud Pomaika'i Cook, education director for Ka Maluhia Learning Center, said evidence suggests that what he refers to as 'the cultural trauma syndrome' has occurred not just with Native Hawaiians, but also with aborigines in Australia, American Indians in South Dakota and others he characterized as 'disenfranchised populations.' All disenfranchised populations appear to share similar trends and a primary one is the attacks that were made on their cultures, which he defined as 'shared beliefs, values and practices.'"
Reporter Pang might say he's not making the claim himself; he's merely reporting the work done by someone else. But why did Mr. Pang choose to publicize the propaganda of someone whose job title suggests he's the principal of a school, and who is merely rummaging through the "studies" produced by researchers and statisticians he lacks the scholarly or statistical competence to evaluate for himself?
Why did Mr. Pang choose to report on victimhood propaganda rather than report on the greatly increased health and lifespan of ethnic Hawaiians over the past century of American sovereignty? Why did Mr. Pang not report how the conditions of today's Hawaiians "assimilated" to America are far better than the conditions of their ancestors 100 years ago, or their Polynesian brethren in Tonga today which has maintained its status as an independent nation under the rule of a native monarch? Indeed, why not report on the many Tongans who come to Hawai'i for jobs and healthcare which they are unable to obtain in their own independent and unassimilated monarchy?
DID "FORCED ASSIMILATION" TAKE PLACE IN HAWAI'I?
For many centuries Hawaiians had no outside contact. Then all of a sudden in 1778 Captain Cook arrived. What a shock that must have been! We know that as the decades went by the native Hawaiian population plummeted because of diseases for which the natives had no biological resistance. That's a valid victimhood claim, and has been milked effectively in the tear-jerker of a little book/movie/play "Then There Were None." See:
https://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/lindseynoyesthennone.html But the decimation of population through introduced disease was inevitable, because sooner or later somebody from Europe, America, or Africa would have arrived in Hawai'i carrying diseases. Furthermore, population decimation has nothing to do with assimilation -- even a small population could choose to turn inward, cleave to itself, and refuse to adopt new ways (as, for example, the Amish do in Pennsylvania).
PASE (Kamehameha Schools) in 2004 published a 15-page report by 'Iwalani R.N. Else entitled "The Breakdown of the Kapu System and Its Effect on Native Hawaiian Health and Diet." See:
The report claims that abolishing the old religion (nearly 200 years ago!) is responsible for bad health statistics among today's ethnic Hawaiians, and the solution might be Dr. Shintani's "Wai'anae" diet based on poi and other traditional foods. "Since 'discovery' in 1778 by Captain James Cook, Native Hawaiian culture and practices have changed substantially. In a land they once called their own, Native Hawaiians found themselves alienated not only from the land, but also from themselves and others. This article focuses on historical changes in Hawai'i and how the breakdown of the precontact system in Hawai'i led to the adoption of Western culture and practices. In particular, the article examines how diet changes affected general health of Native Hawaiians." However, no cause-and-effect relationship is argued, and no comparison between ethnic Hawaiians and other ethnic groups is offered to see whether switching from high-fat fast-food diets to the Wai'anae diet is especially good for Hawaiians, or whether it is equally helpful to all ethnic groups. The report merely provides a review of the ancient Hawaiian taboo system and some of the changes that took place, interspersed with modern statistics focusing on high rates of metabolic diseases among ethnic Hawaiians. The report is mostly propaganda, using the device of mentioning two different things at the same time as a way of implying (but never proving) that one is the cause of the other.
"The Breakdown of the Kapu System and Its Effect on Native Hawaiian Health and Diet" is a victimhood grievance essay blaming the (alleged) poor health of today's ethnic Hawaiians on social changes caused by Western contact. This attitude is magnified in a short essay entitled "Legacy of a Broken Heart" which literally claims a connection between a metaphorical broken heart and a physical broken heart. The abstract reads: "This article reviews the Native Hawaiians' health-status and socio-economic survival in general, and the co-morbidity of depression and cardiovascular disease in particular. The etiology of chronic depression among Native Hawaiians is examined in theoretical paradigms that take into account the historical context of colonization and cultural disintegration. An argument is made to assert that the severe psychological effects of cultural conflict and acculturation of Native Hawaiians are reflected by their poor physical health status, notably the high mortality rate for heart disease. Special attention is given to the discussion of sovereignty as a solution to the survival of the Native Hawaiian people." See:
"Forced assimilation" in Hawai'i was done first by Kamehameha the Great, who ruthlessly killed all his opponents and decimated entire villages in order to unify Hawai'i under his dictatorship. Kamehameha succeeded where others had failed because he was clever enough to trade local commodities produced by slave labor (sandalwood, taro, sweet potatoes, fresh water) in order to get spectacular new technology never seen in Hawai'i before, to use as weapons of mass destruction (guns, canons, metal knives, and large ships). The military force that made all the natives assimilate to the control of one ruthless dictator was wielded by a native, not an outsider. The destruction of Hawai'i's sandalwood forests and starvation of countless families forced out of their taro fields to gather sandalwood to enrich their chiefs was done by natives to other natives.
The next candidate for "forced assimilation" was the abandonment of the ancient native religion and its replacement with Christianity. But the ancient religion was abandoned by order of Liholiho Kamehameha II and regent Ka'ahumanu in 1819. They publicly broke an important taboo at a large luau in order to impress everyone that they were overthrowing the old religion. These native chiefs ordered the heiau (temples) to be destroyed and the god-idols to be burned; and then they won a short civil war against a minority of chiefs who wanted to keep the old religion. These things happened several months before the first Christian missionaries arrived in 1820. And those Christian missionaries came to Hawai'i because several natives who had found their way to Yale divinity school begged them to come (including the crown prince of Kaua'i). The story of Opukaha'ia (Obookiah) is well worth reading.
Once the missionaries arrived, the natives were so glad to learn reading and writing, and so delighted to have a new religion to replace the old one, that they converted to Christianity in droves. Thus, assimilation to Christianity and to the replacement of oral tradition with written language was entirely voluntary, not forced. Those men who would have been killed as human sacrifices to the old gods, and those women who would have been executed for the capital sin of eating a banana, were undoubtedly glad their nation assimilated to Christianity.
The next candidate for "forced assimilation" was the adoption of a written Constitution in 1840, replacing autocratic power; and the adoption of private property deeds in 1848, replacing feudal land ownership. These things were done by the request and under the authority of Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III. A few natives (e.g., David Malo) protested the changes and the role of the King's white advisors; but the King (with the consent of nearly all the chiefs) exercised self-determination on behalf of his people to embrace this "assimilation" voluntarily, not because of outside force.
And so it goes down through the decades. The only point at which it might be reasonable to say there was forced assimilation of the natives was when Hawai'i was annexed to the U.S. in 1898, despite the protest of 21,269 people (mostly natives) who signed a petition opposing it. However, that's barely over half the native population. Every time an ethnic Hawaiian today takes pride in a grandparent or great-grandparent who signed the anti-annexation petition of 1887, there should also be pride in the fact that another ancestor refused to sign that petition despite strong community pressure to do so. In any case, life in Hawai'i after annexation was pretty much continuous with life before annexation, except for the temporary disruption caused by thousands of U.S. military personnel passing through Honolulu on the way to the Philippines for the Spanish-American war.
Let's also use a little common sense about assimilation. When Africans were brought to America in chains, that was forced assimilation. When Indian tribes were massacred and the survivors were forced to follow a trail of tears to live in a concentration camp a thousand miles away, that was forced assimilation. Nothing like that happened to ethnic Hawaiians. What did happen was a gradual change in the culture and daily life of the people. If a native Hawaiian from 200 years ago were suddenly transported out of the mud of his taro patch to present-day Hawai'i and required to speak English and live in a high-rise condo and use a computer at work, that would be forced assimilation. But a baby born 30 years ago has grown up living the modern way, and considers the way things are to be normal. That person cannot be said to have been forced to assimilate to anything. Nostalgia for the long forgotten imagined lifestyle of earlier generations does not make it right to claim that the ancient ways are "right" and today's lifestyle has been "forced" upon people who grew up as we are today.
I remember very clearly some of the profound changes in my own American culture that have "forced" me to assimilate to them as the years went by. As a child I rode a bicycle within my neighborhood. As an adult I flew on an airplane from Boston to Paris, rented a car, and drove it all the way through Bulgaria, Yugoslavia (no longer exists), Greece, and Turkey, speaking German or Russian or bits of French or Spanish (whatever worked; or else sign language). As a young child, a TV set was unthinkably expensive for my family and most everyone else. But now I spend hours with the TV running while I do other things; and I even make videotapes to watch at more convenient times. Throughout my college years term papers had to be produced on a manual typewriter, with carbon paper needed for making a copy. An article for publication had to be manually typed in multiple copies and then sent by mail to a panel of judges, who might then write letters among each other to review my work and decide a year later whether it was worthy of publication. Computers back then were built with thousands of vacuum tubes and occupied entire rooms. But today I have my own computer on a corner of my desk at home. I use it to read newspapers all over the world the moment they are published, to compose and edit my articles for publication, and to send them directly to a publisher over the internet. Political rallies today take place on the internet as millions of people physically separated by thousands of miles assemble to support or oppose something.
Assimilating to the computer was somewhat unpleasant. At first I continued to write my essays on paper, and revise them on paper. Only then would I type the essay into the computer for its ability to print it without using a typewriter. There was something almost spiritual about seeing my thoughts flow through a pen onto a piece of paper; sometimes I used an old-fashioned fountain pen to heighten that feeling. But now I compose everything on the computer from scratch, even while feeling nostalgia for that special feeling the fountain pen gave me.
Everyone is "forced" to assimilate to environmental and cultural change, or else is condemned to live in the backwaters and perhaps to die. Today's ethnic Hawaiians grow up in the same environment and culture as everyone else, and as individuals they are not "forced" to assimilate except in the same gradual way as everyone else.
ARE ETHNIC HAWAIIANS HURTING?
Gordon Pang's article contains two categories of alleged victimhood statistical data: one brief assertion about the lifespan of ethnic Hawaiian men; and several paragraphs of data regarding the percentages of various ethnic groups and genders who smoke tobacco. Let's take a look at what the article says, and then explore whether the data might be flawed. This is dull stuff! But what are we supposed to do when confronted with statistics that look realistic or impressive? It's not only dull, but very time-consuming. I can only scratch the surface and indicate possible lines of inquiry. I don't have a million dollars and three years to do a "study."
(1) Gordon Pang reports: "But a study done by the state Department of Health in 2002 concluded that a Hawaiian male, on average will die six years earlier than the average male in all other populations, Cook said."
Really? Well, let's see. After combing through data available on the internet, I discovered
which says it is copying data tables from
"Source: Hawai`i State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, 2003, The State of Hawai`i Data Book, A Statistical Abstract"
According to those tables, in 1990 the average life expectancy in Hawai'i was 78.9. Also, in 1990 the average life expectancy in Hawai'i for Caucasians was 75.53, Chinese 82.93, Filipino 78.94, ethnic Hawaiian 74.27, Japanese 82.06. For the year 2000 the average life expectancy in Hawai'i was 79.9 and the racial breakdown for 2000 was not available. The best we can do with this information is use data from 1990, when ethnic Hawaiian life expectancy was 74.27 (men and women combined) while for all ethnic groups combined (male and female combined) it was 78.9. That's a difference of 4.63 years. We know that women live longer than men, and perhaps a comparison of men with men would indeed yield a discrepancy of 6 years (rounded up), as the article says.
However, what has been left out of the newspaper report is also very interesting. For example, the numbers above show that Caucasians are "hurting" almost as badly as ethnic Hawaiians, with Caucasians living only one year (rounded down from 1.26) longer than Hawaiians; while all three Asian categories (Chinese, Japanese, Filipino) have substantially longer lifespans.
So, why are there no studies about the short life expectancy of Caucasians in comparison with the overall Hawai'i average, and especially in comparison with Chinese who live to 82.9 while Caucasians live to only 75.5? Why are there no studies about Caucasians? Because there is no Office of Caucasian Affairs. There are plenty of Congressional acts appropriating money for Papa Ola Lokahi, but not one penny for (non-existent) Papa Ola Haole.
Some very important topics were never mentioned on the issue of life expectancy.
First, the life expectancy of ethnic Hawaiians has increased dramatically and steadily throughout the ten decades of U.S. sovereignty in Hawai'i. I was unable to find any data for the life expectancy of native Hawaiians prior to the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778, nor during the period of the Hawaiian kingdom. But the same webpage cited earlier reports the following: "Life expectancy in Hawai'i has improved dramatically since 1910 when it was less than 44 years. It was not until 1950 that life expectancy in Hawai'i surpassed that of the U.S. and has continued to exceed the U.S. since then." The life expectancy for all Hawai'i's population (all ethnicities and men and women combined) was as follows: 1910: 44; 1920: 45.7; 1930: 54.0; 1940: 62.0; 1950 69.5; 1960: 72.4; 1970: 74.2; 1980: 77.8; 1990: 78.9; 2000: 79.9. Presumably the life expectancy of ethnic Hawaiians has increased in proportion to that of Hawai'i's overall population (although always trailing by a few years). U.S. sovereignty has been a good thing for everyone, including ethnic Hawaiians.
But Gordon Pang chooses not to report that fact.
The National Cancer Institute sums it up nicely in its report "Cancer in Native Hawaiian Women." On page 6 the report says "life expectancy for Native Hawaiian women has increased considerably since the beginning of the century; life expectancy went from 32 years in 1910 to 64 years in 1950 and to 77 years in 1990 (Park et al., 1979; Braun et al., 1997; Yang et al., 1996). The gap among ethnic groups has been diminishing. Whereas in 1970 there was a 6-year difference in the life expectancy of Native Hawaiian women compared to White women, in 1990 the difference had decreased to 1.5 years (Anderson, 1998)." It's interesting that the data reported by NCI differ significantly from the earlier "healthtrends" webpage. See
Second, the life expectancy of ethnic Hawaiians in Hawai'i compares very favorably with the life expectancy of ethnic Tongans in Tonga. This comparison is important in discussing the effects of "forced assimilation" or political sovereignty. Tonga remains an independent nation under a monarchy, just as the Hawaiian Kingdom was and just as some Hawaiian sovereignty activists would like Hawai'i once again to become. But the life expectancy of ethnic Hawaiians in Hawai'i is significantly better than for Tongans in Tonga. Indeed, many Tongans come to Hawai'i for both jobs and healthcare, while few if any Hawaiians go to Tonga for jobs or healthcare -- that says a lot about which place is more desirable to live in and has a better economy and healthcare system. The U.S. State Department has a fact sheet about Tonga at
Its population in 2002 was estimated at 110,237. Life expectancy in Tonga (98% are ethnic Tongan) in 2002 was 68.56 (male and female combined), whereas life expectancy in Hawai'i for ethnic Hawaiians in 1990 (12 years earlier) was 74.27 (male and female combined) and is probably higher by at least a year in 2000 and a bit more in 2002.
Third, it's worth mentioning that in Tonga, according to the same State Department fact sheet, the Gross Domestic Product per person in 2004 was estimated to be $1,287 in U.S. dollars. According to Census 2000 the median family income for ethnic Hawaiians in 1999 was $49,282 and that 13.1% of them had incomes above $100,000 even though their median age was only 25.3 (compared to a statewide median age of 36.2). The data for ethnic Hawaiians, taken from the U.S. Census Bureau and reported at the State of Hawai'i Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) can be found at:
(2) Gordon Pang reports, " ... The findings reaffirmed earlier studies that showed Native Hawaiians with a greater prevalence of smoking than other ethnicities, and a greater percentage of Native Hawaiian women who smoke than Native Hawaiian men. The research by Kaholokua's group showed 20.8 percent of Native Hawaiians smoke, a larger percentage than the other groups studied. Among other groups, 17.6 percent of Filipinos, 11.6 percent of Caucasians and 7.7 percent of Japanese surveyed smoke. What's more, Kaholokua's group found that 22.1 percent of Native Hawaiian women smoke, more than Filipinos (13.8 percent), Caucasians (11.1 percent) and Japanese (3.7 percent). Among men, 23 percent of Filipinos reported smoking, followed by Native Hawaiians (19.2 percent), Caucasians (12.1 percent) and Japanese (11.8 percent)."
Now, something is badly wrong about those data. For example, the U.S. government Centers for Disease Control reported Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults Aged 18 and Older, 1997 --
All States 23.2%, Hawaii 18.6% By Gender Men 21.4% Women 15.8% and also Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults by Race/Ethnicity, 1996-1997, White 20.3, Black 20.9, Hispanic 23.8, Asian/Pacific Islander 19.2. See:
Periodically the U.S. Census Bureau adds a supplemental interview on tobacco use onto its regular monthly Current Population Survey. Based on data collected during 2000 and 2001, the results were reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health. The report includes data tables showing what percentage of people in each of various ethnic groups are tobacco smokers. However, in that report, the row for "Native Hawaiian" has a * rather than a percentage number; and this is true for every table in the report. The * refers to a footnote which says "Low precision, no estimate reported." So, we must wonder how Keawe'aimoku Kaholokua was able to get reliable data when the U.S. Census Bureau and the prestigious SAMHSA felt compelled to report "Low precision, no estimate reported." See:
Well, that's enough fooling around with statistics. There are thousands of studies of Native Hawaiian income, longevity, health, etc. mostly paid for with taxpayer dollars. Somebody is getting rich, and it's not those poor, downtrodden, disease-ridden ethnic Hawaiians! For example, here's a list of several dozen studies focusing mostly on the topic of cancer in ethnic Hawaiian women:
Reading the titles of those studies, we must wonder how many women actually received treatment because of them, vs. how many dollars were funneled into the bloated bureaucracies that cited the studies in their grant applications for funds to do more studies.
There's also a significant problem with all racial data concerning ethnic Hawaiians. The problem is that there are very few "pure" native Hawaiians. Generations of intermarriage has resulted in a majority of ethnic Hawaiians having low native blood quantum. Nobody knows for sure, but speculation is that about 75% of ethnic Hawaiians have at least 75% non-native blood. That raises the question, what does it mean to be "Native Hawaiian?" The answer, at least in the Akaka bill, is that anyone with even a single drop of Hawaiian native blood shall be called "Native Hawaiian."
When a woman has breast cancer and a smidgen of native ancestry, her case gets added to the statistics showing that Native Hawaiians have the highest rate of breast cancer among all ethnic groups. But by the same logic, her case should also be added to the statistics for Chinese, Filipina, and Caucasian breast cancer, along with the other ethnicities she might have. Yet it is doubtful the data are counted in that even-handed way. This double standard of counting one drop as being Hawaiian but not counting one drop as being Caucasian makes racial data analysis very difficult and very questionable. Perhaps a case of breast cancer (or any other condition) should be allocated fractionally among all the racial groups in proportion to the victim's percentage of each ethnicity. Four women who each have 25% native quantum, 50% Caucasian, and 25% Chinese would then count as 1.0 case of Native Hawaiian breast cancer, 2.0 cases of Caucasian, and 1.0 case of Chinese.
GENETIC PREDISPOSITION IS PROBABLY MORE IMPORTANT THAN FORCED ASSIMILATION IN CAUSING POOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DYSFUNCTION IN TODAY'S AFRICAN AMERICANS, AMERICAN INDIANS, AND ESPECIALLY ETHNIC HAWAIIANS
Earlier we discussed the sort of assimilation that took place in Hawai'i. We noted that Euro-American values were adopted voluntarily by native Hawaiian chiefs and Kings, and embraced eagerly by the common people. That's very different from the truly forced assimilation of Africans brought to America in chains, and American Indian tribes who were massacred and had their survivors forced to march a thousand miles to live in a concentration camp.
But even in the case of Africans and Native Americans, violently forced assimilation directly affected only the individuals who were uprooted from their homelands and forced into slavery or Indian reservations. Once they were assimilated, however forcibly, and began bearing children in their new environment, however oppressive that environment was, those children knew no other way of life. Those children grew up assimilated to that lifestyle and thus were never forced to change to adapt to it. An eagle or dolphin raised in captivity might be unable to survive if released into the wild, because it does not know the skills needed for survival and because the environment outside the enclosure will be strange.
Every species evolves to adapt to its environment. Over a period of many generations in the same environment those individuals whose bodies and brains are best adapted to the local environment will be the most successful at reproducing. In Hawai'i there are hundreds of species of plants and animals that are endemic to Hawai'i -- they are found nowhere else in the world. That's because some ancestors who first arrived in Hawai'i succeeded in adapting to the new environment and lived long enough to reproduce and become ancestors, while other individuals were unable to adapt and died without reproducing. The National Park Service says this:
"In today's world, such special places as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are increasingly important. More than 90 percent of Hawaii's native plants and animals are endemic (found nowhere else in the world)."
It makes sense that Africans who were biologically adapted to the environment of Africa might be unable to thrive in a new environment of America. They and their offspring for generations to come might have shorter lifespans and poorer health due to genealogical factors beyond their ability to control and beyond the ability of medical care to resolve. American Indians whose bodies evolved over hundreds of generations to run fast, and hunt and fish, might have a hard time living on reservations or in cities.
Ever since the Nazis used a theory of Aryan genetic supremacy to justify trying to exterminate the Jews, it has been politically incorrect for anyone to speculate whether genealogy determines intellectual and social abilities. Decades ago Harvard Professor Arthur Jensen was virtually drummed out of academia for proposing a hypothesis that blacks are genetically of lower (average) IQ than whites. And just recently Harvard President Lawrence Summers was nearly forced to resign because he merely raised the possibility that women might be genetically or hormonally less capable than men in scientific fields of study.
But however politically incorrect it may be to propose such theories, it may be scientifically correct to do so. Within less than a week in June 2005, two news articles captured worldwide attention.
On June 18, 2005 Carolyn Abraham published an article in the "Globe and Mail" (Canada) entitled "The New Science of Race." The article began this way:
"Henry Harpending is about to titillate the world's conspiracy theorists with
one of the most politically incorrect academic papers of the new millennium.
Why, he and his colleagues at the University of Utah asked, have Jews of
European descent won 27 per cent of the Nobel Prizes given to Americans in
the past century, while making up only 3 per cent of the population? Why do
they produce more than half the world's chess champions? And why do they
have an average IQ higher than any other ethnic group for which there's
reliable data, and nearly six times as many people scoring above 140
compared with Europeans? Prof. Harpending suggests that the reason is in their bloodline - it's genetic. The 61-year-old anthropologist's explanation is not easily dismissed, but it crosses into the territory scientists fear most.
His group's theory is that during 1,000 years of persecution, social
isolation and employment restrictions in Europe that kept Ashkenazi Jews
from farming, they were forced into (then disreputable) jobs such as trade
and finance, which demanded mental agility. Success in these fields could
lead to food, shelter and family. Under such pressures, the paper suggests,
genetic traits related to intelligence became more prevalent among central
and northern European Jews. Two U.S. journals refused the paper, an unusual experience for this widely published scholar. "We finally had to send the paper to England, where they're not so obsessed with political correctness," Prof. Harpending said. The danger of bolstering bigots is what has scientists so nervous. If a complex trait such as intelligence can be inherited, for instance, and you say one ethnic or racial group tends to have more of it than others, does it follow that another group has less?"
Another news report on June 21, this time in the New York Times, raised the possibility that genetic factors strongly influence an individual's political views. "On the basis of a new study, a team of political scientists is arguing that people's gut-level reaction to issues like the death penalty, taxes and abortion is strongly influenced by genetic inheritance. The new research builds on a series of studies that indicate that people's general approach to social issues - more conservative or more progressive - is influenced by
genes." See (subscribers only):
Native Hawaiians have perhaps a hundred generations of adaptation to the specific environment of Hawai'i; and their ancestors who were the first to arrive in Hawai'i came from elsewhere in Polynesia where they had perhaps another hundred generations of adaptation to a closely similar environment. In addition, Hawaiians had a very small geographic area of eight major islands, with constant inbreeding among the residents of each individual ahupua'a (land section) on an island. Among high-ranking chiefs it was a religious duty for brothers to mate with sisters in order to perpetuate a sacred genealogy. That custom of incest was still very much alive in Hawai'i as late as the mid-1800s, as illustrated by the intense and often repeated love affair between King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III and his sacred sister Princess Nahi'ena'ena despite constant vociferous objections from the Christian missionaries. The inbreeding among high chiefs might explain why Kamehameha II through V failed to produce any heirs to the throne, forcing an election of a non-Kamehameha (Lunalilo) upon the death of Lota Kamehameha V.
Ethnic Hawaiians still live on the same land where their indigenous ancestors lived. They were never uprooted and forced to adapt to a new geological environment as the African slaves and American Indians had to do. But even the gradual transition from a subsistence economy to a money economy; and from working with the hands to working with the brain; and worshiping 40,000 gods to worshiping just one; might have been faster than their biology would allow them to adapt. If genetics dooms ethnic Hawaiians to poor health, short lives, and social dysfunction, there's not much point studying the problem since ordinary medical treatment and social therapy cannot fix it.
The hypothesis of genetic determination of ethnic Hawaiian misery might be testable. Simply record each Hawaiian's percentage of native blood quantum, and incorporate that into the data. If genetics is a major determinant of Hawaiian misery, then the percentage of native blood quantum should predict the likelihood of medical or social victimhood. But if Hawaiian "culture" or Hawaiian "lifestyle" is the major determinant, then that could be proved by finding some way to quantify a percentage of Hawaiian cultural upbringing or current way of living. "How Hawaiian are you?" (either genetically or culturally) would, however, be very politically incorrect to ask or to judge. Indeed, the whole concept of "Hawaiian culture" is so fuzzy and ill-defined that it may be impossible to quantify any individual's percentage of "Hawaiian" upbringing or current lifestyle. Honolulu attorney Paul Sullivan wrote testimony for the Mauna Kea environmental impact statement in which he raised profound doubts whether the concept "Hawaiian culture" has any meaning at all. See:
There was one "study" reported earlier in this essay which noted that "pure Hawaiians" have a greatly higher incidence of cancer than part-Hawaiians. "Cancer in Native Hawaiian Women" says on page 9 that "... rates for pure Hawaiians have been reported to be much higher than for any other ethnic group in Hawaii (Johnson and Oyama, 1996; Look, 1982; Burch, 1984)." That same study, also on page 9, provides some evidence that, as speculated previously, African "forced assimilation" has had more devastating lasting health consequences that Hawaiian assimilation; but there is also data that some other groups have worse cancer rates than ethnic Hawaiians: "Native Hawaiian women have an age-adjusted cancer incidence rate for all cancer sites combined of 321 per 100,000 women, just below the rate for White
women (346 per 100,000), and all Asian American ethnic groups have incidence rates that are significantly lower than those for White and Native Hawaiian women (see Table 1). The only other ethnic groups in which women
have higher total cancer incidence rates than Native Hawaiians are Black women (326 per 100,000) and Alaska Natives (348 per 100,000) (Miller et al., 1996)."
If bad genes doom ethnic Hawaiians to higher than average rates of poverty, disease, social dysfunction, and early death; then of course the level of misery for individuals would, on average, be proportional to the percentage of native blood quantum. "Pure Hawaiians" will die out not only because of intermarriage but also because of genetic vulnerability; and the average percentage of native blood quantum will decline even faster than rates of intermarriage alone would explain.
It sounds politically incorrect to say that genetic predisposition is the major cause of Hawaiian misery. Yet logical consistency absolutely requires Hawaiian activists to acknowledge that genealogy predetermines both physical health and social behavior. A large webpage about "Polynesian voyaging" shows that Hawaiian activists defend the authenticity of the "polynesian-ness" of their style of voyaging by relying on a theory of genetically encoded racial memories which allow knowledge forgotten for centuries to be transmitted genealogically from ancestors to descendants. See:
Another large webpage about "Hawaiian epistemology" shows that the activists believe that ethnic Hawaiians have genetically hardwired ways of perceiving the environment, and ways of thinking, which are profoundly different from non-natives (and therefore ethnic Hawaiians have unique social and educational needs which can only be met through race-based political sovereignty over the educational system and the environment). See:
If (alleged) Hawaiian (group) misery is indeed genetically determined, then no amount of social engineering or ordinary medical treatment can bring them up to the same levels of health, longevity, and social productivity as other ethnic groups. There would seem to be only two solutions. The first is unacceptable to the vast majority of Hawai'i's people who would be disenfranchised and forced to assimilate; the second is unacceptable to Hawaiian activists because of religious beliefs and cultural traditions.
(a) Race-based political sovereignty would allow ethnic Hawaiians to impose the ancient culture and economic system to which they are already genetically adapted. Thus, for example, private property rights could be abolished so that the ahupua'a system of land management could be reinstated. A land-use tsar (konohiki) could unilaterally decide how water will be allocated, which crops will be grown where, and make sure there is plenty of fish and poi. The types of food required for the Shintani "Wai'anae diet" would be available in abundance at low cost, and Hawaiians would once again thrive. Unfortunately, the other ethnic groups would then undergo forced assimilation to the new culture and lifestyle, which would have an adverse effect on their health, longevity, and social dysfunction. But that's OK, according to this theory, because Hawai'i is the homeland for the indigenous ethnic Hawaiians, and everyone else is merely a guest who must either assimilate, get out, or die. Two reports cited earlier support the concept that race-based political sovereignty would allow Hawaiians to take control of the environment and especially of food production, thereby restoring both mental and physical health. "The Breakdown of the Kapu System and Its Effect on Native Hawaiian Health and Diet."
"Legacy of a Broken Heart"
(b) The other solution is to analyze the Hawaiian genome. Gene therapy might allow the genetic Hawaiian requirement for fish and poi to be repaired and replaced with genes that would allow Hawaiians to thrive on modern high-fat diets and fast-food while living a sedentary lifestyle in an urban environment. But Hawaiian activists are extraordinarily hostile toward any studying of the Hawaiian genome, let alone tampering with it. Every time ancient bones are unearthed during a construction project or by anthropologists, Hui Malama representatives immediately demand the bones be treated like delicate precious objects and bundled up and reburied without exposing them to the light of day or to laboratory testing. Sovereignty activists are urging ethnic Hawaiians to refuse to give DNA samples when asked to do so by anthropologists trying to trace patterns of migration or to build a catalog of the human genome. Some activists have asserted that the Hawaiian genome is the intellectual property of the Hawaiian race as a whole, and no individual has a right to sell it or give it away or tamper with it. Recently, when scientists at the University of Hawai'i wanted to experiment on genetic engineering of taro plants, Hawaiian activists objected most strenuously on the grounds that, according to Kumulipo (the Hawaiian creation legend), taro is mankind's elder brother. Tampering with the genome of the taro plant might have consequences for the genome of the humans in the Hawaiian family, and in any case it would be disrespectful toward a family elder.
** Here is the newspaper report by Gordon Pang, in full, which prompted the writing of this webpage. **
The Honolulu Advertiser, Monday, June 20, 2005
Forced assimilation may hurt Hawaiians
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer
"Cultural trauma" caused by forced assimilation into Western culture continues to wreak havoc on the health and well-being of Native Hawaiians even today, according to a Hilo, Hawai'i, researcher.
Bud Pomaika'i Cook, education director for Ka Maluhia Learning Center, said evidence suggests that what he refers to as "the cultural trauma syndrome" has occurred not just with Native Hawaiians, but also with aborigines in Australia, American Indians in South Dakota and others he characterized as "disenfranchised populations."
All disenfranchised populations appear to share similar trends and a primary one is the attacks that were made on their cultures, which he defined as "shared beliefs, values and practices."
Western writers who arrived in Hawai'i in the late 1700s described Native Hawaiians as "a very vibrant, very healthy, very vigorous and fit race," Cook said at a breakout session of the three-day Pacific Global Health Conference last week.
But a study done by the state Department of Health in 2002 concluded that a Hawaiian male, on average will die six years earlier than the average male in all other populations, Cook said.
One common pattern of cultural trauma syndrome is that often, attacks against the original culture start to manifest themselves from within, he said. "This is ... where a person becomes his own worst enemy, and (engages in) self-destructive behavior," he said. Often, people will engage in "suicide by lifestyle," which could result in such things as ignoring the advice of health experts to eat healthier, exercise more or quit smoking.
The key to blunting the impacts of cultural trauma is education, Cook said. "It's the process of empowerment; it's the process of growth; it's education which heals and not just informs, but develops wisdom and understanding in individuals, in families and in communities."
Cook said he and Kelley Withy, a medical doctor with the John A. Burns School of Medicine, are continuing their research.
Also speaking at the health conference was Keawe'aimoku Kaholokua, who was part of a team that compared the prevalence of smoking among Native Hawaiians with Caucasians, Japanese and Filipinos in Hawai'i. The findings reaffirmed earlier studies that showed Native Hawaiians with a greater prevalence of smoking than other ethnicities, and a greater percentage of Native Hawaiian women who smoke than Native Hawaiian men.
The research by Kaholokua's group showed 20.8 percent of Native Hawaiians smoke, a larger percentage than the other groups studied. Among other groups, 17.6 percent of Filipinos, 11.6 percent of Caucasians and 7.7 percent of Japanese surveyed smoke.
What's more, Kaholokua's group found that 22.1 percent of Native Hawaiian women smoke, more than Filipinos (13.8 percent), Caucasians (11.1 percent) and Japanese (3.7 percent). Among men, 23 percent of Filipinos reported smoking, followed by Native Hawaiians (19.2 percent), Caucasians (12.1 percent) and Japanese (11.8 percent).
Kaholokua, a researcher with the Department of Native Hawaiian Health in the Burns School, said the findings track studies elsewhere in the U.S. showing that while men as a whole tend to smoke more than women, that's not the case among native populations, including American Indians and Native Alaskans.
The data, Kaholokua said, suggest a need for tobacco-prevention programs to target specific genders within specific ethnic groups.
The conference, held Wednesday through Friday at the Hawai'i Convention Center, was sponsored by the Hawai'i Public Health Association and the state Department of Health.
Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at email@example.com or at 525-8026.
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, July 6, 2005
Letters to the Editor
Akaka bill offers hope of survival
Gordon Pang's June 20 article "Forced assimilation may hurt Hawaiians" gets to the very root of why the Akaka bill is so important. The impacts of Hawai'i's history have been debilitating, even deadly, for Native Hawaiians; we need an opportunity and control of our resources in order to heal ourselves, individually and as a community.
As a January 2005 report published by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development demonstrates, the approach the Akaka bill proposes has a proven track record of success. America now understands that if you let native people govern themselves, they are able to heal, and to contribute to their communities, their states and the nation. It was a painful lesson learned from 200 years of forced assimilation policy.
For Native Hawaiians, the Akaka bill is about our very survival � culturally, linguistically, spiritually and physically. For the state, it's about the survival of Hawai'i's unique way of life, the sharing of aloha, and the preservation of the culture that drives one of the state's largest economic engines. Besides, if the tourist industry were just about sunbathing and surfing, vacationers could drive to the nearest beach.
Send comments or questions to:
You may now
GO BACK TO OTHER TOPICS ON THIS WEBSITE
(c) Copyright 2005 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved