Oct 29, 2014

On the term "Haole".

Many people have grown up to believe that the term haole comes from: hā (breath) ʻole (without). To add confusion to that even some Native Hawaiians have accepted this and in the wikipedia entry also mentions this. But it is an incorrect and superficial rendering of the word. The word "haole" does not mean "without breath". Any one who is familiar with the Hawaiian language, Hawaiian grammar and basic Austronesian linguistics knows that that word can not be broken apart in that way linguistically because 'ole can not made ro create an elison (slurred with the preceding word). 'Ole consists of four letters (' + o + l + e), begins with a consonant (') and the stress is on the 'o. Pau'ole (end-less) for example is never pronounced as "Paule" by manaleo or native speakers of Hawaiian. Without getting heavy into piliʻōlelo (Hawaiian grammar), elisons in Hawaiian are only created by two vowels and mostly occurs when a preceding definite article (ka/ke/nā) is followed by a noun that begins with a or e.

In addition, traditional Hawaiian mele and mo'olelo never use that term in the context of being "breathless" nor as a marker of race, "mana" or religious practice. It actually had no racial connotations prior to the 1840s. The idea of race itself was not within the traditional Hawaiian way of thinking which emphasizes genealogical kinship particularly to the land. Nor did it have any negative connotations until the 1860s when Henry Whitney, founder of the Commercial Advertiser (today's Honolulu Star Advertiser) complained about assertive Hawaiian newspapers like the "Ka Hoku Pakipika" because of their nationalistic content and his newspaper was beginning to lose subscribers. It is also interesting to note that "Ka Hoku Pakipika" preferred to not to use word "haole" and instead used the terms kōlea and malihini to describe specific actions that foreigners were doing towards Native Hawaiian culture and language. In fact, the first major complaint about "racism" was not from Native Hawaiians but were directed to Native Hawaiians and specifically against King Kalākaua himself by members of the "Missionary Party" because originally the king had wanted to take two Native Hawaiian cabinet members on his world tour in 1881. This allegation would be used against him throughout his reign because the king had a habit of trying to appoint cabinets composed of 50% Native Hawaiians and he tried to bring Chinese and Japanese into his Privy Council of State. Previously, cabinets were primarily composed of non-Native Hawaiian. Asians were almost absent from the government, though many were becoming naturalized by the 1870s. It was at that time that the term "haole" acquired its modern negative and racial connotations by Native Hawaiians and Asians due to politics of the time. Before that, historically and in Hawaiian mythology, it existed but had nothing to do with race but was merely a trait or a classification of peoples who one does not share an immediate (meaning eight generations or less) genealogical connection to or speaks an unfamiliar language. In other words, something (yes, it can be used to describe an object) or someone "different" than yourself, uncommon in Hawai'i, or originating outside of Hawai'i.  It was not a racial term.

The Kumulipo, for example, uses the word "haole" no less than seven times in describing peoples born of different traits. Kamapuaʻa is actually described as being haole because of his bright brown eyes and in some accounts, his ʻehu complexion and hair (reddish-brown). In other words, a physical trait. There are a number of name chants that use the term "haole" to describe either traits or peoples who speak language that could not be understood. For example, in the 600 line mele honoring Kuali'i, one of the greatest O'ahu kings and who unfortunately does not even have a school named after him, there is an account of Kuali'i's voyage to strange lands:

"O Kahiki, ia wai Kahiki? Ia Ku!

(Kahiki, to whom belongs Kahiki? To Ku!)

O Kahiki, moku kai a loa, Kahiki,
(island far out in the ocean,)
Aina o Olopana i noho ai.
(Land where Olopana dwelt.)
Iloko ka moku, iwaho ka la.
(Inside is the island, outside is the sun.)
O ke aloalo ka—la, ka moku, ke hiki mai.
(In that land the sun hangs low in the sky.)
Ane ua ike oe? Ua ike.
(Perhaps you have seen it,)
Ua ike hoi au ia Kahiki.
(I have indeed seen Kahiki.)
He moku leo pahaohao wale Kahiki.
(An island with weird unearthly voices is Kahiki)
No Kahiki kanaka i pii a luna.
(Of Kahiki are the men who ascend up.)
A i ka iwi kuamoo o ka lani;
(To the backbone of the sky.)
A luna, keehi iho,
(Up there they tread,)
Nana iho ia lalo.
And look down below)
Aohe o Kahiki kanaka;
(No human beings in Kahiki.)
Hookahi o Kahiki kanaka, he Haole
(One kind of men in Kahiki, the haole)
Me ia la he akua, me au la he kanaka.
(He is [acts] like a god, I like a man)
He kanaka no.
(A man indeed.)

The translation is from Dr. Curtis Lyons as published in the Journal of the Polynesian Society in 1893 and as recorded by Judge Abraham Fornander. In this case the term haole is being used to describe people who do not speak the same language as you do. "Me ia la he akua, me au la he kanaka" also alludes to the fact that the people of that place do not seem to have the same kapu. In fact, that is another connotation of the word from other mele inoa---people who do not have the same cultural norms because they do not share the same language and if they do not share the same language, then there is a question of kinship. This idea linking language and kinship is deeply embedded within many Polynesian and Pacific cultures. It also should be noted that some imply that this particular section is talking about Kuali'i's travels to Tahiti, the Marquesas, and the Americas because of the use of nautical terminology (iwi kuamoo o ka lani, etc) and the phrase "leo pahaohao". The term "leo pahaohao" is also a phrase used in some Hawaiian newspaper accounts to describe the language Captain Cook and later the missionaries spoke or sounded like to Native Hawaiians of that era. In fact, in many of the mo'olelo and mele, speaking in a different language and the word haole are normally in the same context. In the Kamapua'a epic, the word is used to describe how different his eyes, hair color, and skin tone were from other people. Again, nothing to do with race, hā or mana. A more accurate translation of the term "haole" therefore might be "someone or something that is different or has different traits than one's own". 

I personally think that one of the reasons why the missionaries were called "haole" had nothing to do with the way they prayed (as the urban legend goes) or they being "breath less" but due to historical and mythological references associating the term "haole" with those who speak a foreign language or "leo pahaohao" as the mele inoa of Kuali'i does. Native Hawaiians did not make the term "haole" into negative racial slur. It was actually the descendants of American missionaries who first began to turn "haole" into a pejorative term because of politics. The concept of "race" as we know it today did not exist in the Hawaiian world view 200 years ago. The word "haole" is some ways is similar to the word "Kanaka" (which in Hawaiian meant "person") which had no negative meanings but became in many contexts a pejorative term used by newcomers to describe Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in general. Unfortunately, due to the historical events (i.e. 1893), misinformation, and the way people used both "haole" and "kanaka", both terms became like niho ʻawa (poisonous fangs). Today, Native Hawaiians have reclaimed "Kanaka" in the context of "Kanaka Maoli" and "kanaka" no longer carries the stigma that it did in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Perhaps its also time to re-evaluate the term "haole" in its proper context and should not be used in negatively. Racism should have no place in anyone's heart and is a poison. At the same time, one should understand context and history why for example certain terms became used in the way that they continue to be used and why such divisions were created in the first place.

Concepts in Hawaiian Succession

Many people nowadays think that simply because they are somehow related to Kamehameha, that is sufficient to claim the Hawaiian Throne or to think of themselves a royal. That is absolutely not true either in the traditional Hawaiian sense nor in the Hawaiian Kingdom's constitutional framework. In the West, lines of succession went from father to eldest son. That's because Western countries adopted ideas about succession from Christianity, which in turn adopted patriarchal ideas from Judaism and from Roman civil law. Hawaiian society was not patriarchal. All of the early Western and Hawaiian accounts agree that the mother's genealogy was of more importance than the father's genealogy. Women's ranks were fixed and in the age where women could have many husbands, paternity could be difficult to establish. Normally, the woman's highest ranking male husband could claim any of her children as his own. If a husband wanted to ensure that a child would be his, he would negotiate a schedule with the wahine and would have to pay an uku or tax to each of her other husbands and/or sometimes to her parents. Kamehameha had such an arrangement with Keopuolani. The same process would also be true of a woman who wanted to ensure that her children were of a particular father. A person's social standing within Hawaiian society depended on the rank of the mother. The rank of the mother served as the baseline in traditional Hawaiian society because no one could question maternity. The first source of mana always derived from women. titles could be inherited from the mother, but titles from the father side were more difficult to inherit. A person could improve his/her social rank through: having children of higher rank (hānau akua); through conquest (kūnaʻina); through acclamation (ololani); revolution (including usurping the throne); and, through deification (hoʻākua). Kūaliʻi for example was acclaimed as ruler of O'ahu by the 'Aha 'Ula who was struggling with a people's rebellion and civil war between the Lono and Kū line of chiefs, though Kūaliʻi came from a junior line of chiefs. 'Umi-a-Liloa was a low ranking chief though he was recognized as a son of King Liloa. The people overthrew his higher ranking brother Hākau and placed 'Umi on the throne. In both Kūaliʻi and Umi-a-Liloa's cases, they were regarded as usurpers by some but they solidified their positions through conquest and having high ranking children. Their successes as well as their devotion to the traditional akua legitimatized their lines and seemed to indicate the affection of the akua towards them. In China one had the "Mandate of Heaven". In Hawai'i you had the "Ka pili mahamaha o nā akua a me ka lehulehu" or the Affectonate Relationship of the Gods and the People". No ali'i could justify their rule without this "mahamaha" or affection. That was the way to maintain their mana.

Now fast forward to Kamehameha III. When he began the process of turning Hawai'i into a Constitutional Monarchy, he divided the ali'i into three major categories: royals; stewards or potential royals; and ali'i. Only the members of the Royal Family could be considered "royal" and these had to be confirmed in public decree with the approval of the Kuhina Nui and the House of Nobles. Higher ranking chiefs who had been loyal warriors and advisers to his father were considered to be stewards of the dynasty and as such some of their children were put into the Chief's Children School. The rest of the chiefs were ali'i and the bulk of the people that the king recognized as chiefs derived from kaukau ali'i, middle-lower level chiefs who owed allegiance to the House of Kamehameha. Even during the time of Kamehameha III, having ali'i blood was not a rare thing as the population was collapsing due to foreign diseases. It still is not a rare thing. With the implementation of the Hawaiian Civil Code, ali'i and royals who had children outside of their legally recognized marriages were not entitled to the same benefits as legitimate children. Kamehameha III, V, and Lunalilo all had known illegitimate children. King Kamehameha III had two very well known illegitimate children and the most well known was Albert Kūnuiakea. Though he was legally adopted by Queen Kalama, due to his mother's genealogy and the new legal code, Kamehameha III ensured that his successor would be Alexander Liholiho Kamehameha. Kamehameha III also set into motion a constitutional process that demanded that all ranks be publicly proclaimed during the lifetime of the sovereign and confirmed by the Hawaiian National Assembly in order to avoid civil war between rival heirs. When Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma had their son, Prince Albert Edward Kaleiopapa-a-Kamehameha, his rank had to be confirmed by the Privy Council , the Kuhina Nui, and the House of Nobles even though the son was legally legitimate. Kamehameha V had three very well known daughters from a Hawaiian commoner and one of these women served as a personal attendant of Queen Kapi'olani at the court King Kalākaua. Kamehameha V also stiffened Hawaiian nobility by declaring in 1865 that hereditary privilege in terms of titles and ranks was to be abolished and all ranks, titles and decorations awarded would be returned upon death to the awardee. When Princess Victoria Ka'iulani was born, her rank also had to be confirmed by the organs of state in the same manner as Prince Albert Edward Kaleiopapa-a-Kamehameha even though her mother was proclaimed a princess in 1875. In other words, she did not inherit the title of "princess". She was proclaimed a princess in her own right because hereditary titles and ranks were abolished decades earlier. Under Hawaiian tradition and under Hawaiian constitutional law, succession always depended on several factors. We still have a lot of ali'i descendants alive today, perhaps two out of three Hawaiians have some ali'i blood, but we legally stopped having royals upon the death of Prince Jonah Kūhiō.