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Rethinking history: Hawaiian expert says Hawaii was never ‘colonized’

“I resent the use of ‘colonization’ and the force it grants to outside powers and erasure it does. Hawaiians really felt they were controlling those forces”
– Puakea Nogelmeier.

What does it mean to be Hawaiian? So much of today’s Native Hawaiian activism calls up the anger over the century-old overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. But a Kalihi man who is an expert in much of Hawaiian history and culture says it’s time to reframe the narrative – casting Hawaiians as power brokers, and not victims.

This is the writing of Samuel Manaiakalani Kamakau on the history of Kamehameha and the kingdom he established. “Ke Kumu Aupuni, ‘The Foundation of Nationhood.’ It’s the history that Samuel Manaiakalani Kamakau wrote for his own people in 1860s,” says Hawaiian language expert Puakea Nogelmeier who, with his team at Awaiaulu are finishing translation on this now, and set to publish a book on it in English next spring.

“It illuminates the whole rise of Kamehameha to taking the islands as a nation,” sums Nogelmeier.

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