For over a thousand years, there was another story passed from kupuna to keiki, from elder to child.
This story, the Kumulipo, is a genealogy chant
whereby Kanaka Maoli trace their birth to Wakea the
sky-father and Papa the earth-mother; this is the evidence that life unfolds
unendingly into the spirit that is Hawaiʻi.
The genealogy begins with the heavens. It begins when Wakea and Papa mate and the creation of a
people evolve alongside the elements, the land, the spirit and language.
A story told to me by an anonymous MySpace
In 1778, during Makahiki season,
a time when neighboring islands were invited to participate in peace and games,
a shark-deity had brought new stories back from his travels. There was news
from Turtle Island, the continent of America, that the newcomers had fought
amongst themselves and formed a new government, a democracy. Just beyond those
shores, in Europe, a guillotine had been invented to humanely execute
prisoners. From the shores of
China to the east, the shark-deity described a dynasty expanding from the
highest peak in Tibet to the coldest steppes of Mongolia. New nations were
born, some changing, others expanding, and as the shark-deity waded in the
shallows describing his travels, a ship entered into the harbor. These
strangers were welcomed and invited to feast after their long journey, to
partake in the Makahiki.
Stepping upon these shore, these men saw themselves as gods simply
because they were welcomed. Soon, well rested and well fed—all their
hungers sated—they continued on their way, leaving behind mementos like
syphilis and measles.
Throughout the next 100 years, the worst war ravaged the islands, a war
that split some families in half, while other families vanished. This was not a skirmish or a small
battle, it was a massacre where more that half the population died. Victims developed horrible abrasions,
deformities, open wounds, and were left convulsing in their own waste. As the
diseases multiplied and new diseases introduced, an army of hucksters arrived. Missionaries peddling a cure-all, door-to-door salesmen
carting books of scripture, baited the sick and dying to abandon their gods for
the faith of a lord that promised everlasting life. Gifts were given, medicine and
candy, penicillin and sugar, opium and drink.
My anonymous MySpace friend sent me links to
videos on YouTube, historical videos showing the god
Ku tumescent with measles and rigor mortis; Lono swollen and deformed by leprosy;
Kane, infested by small-pox and pecked by gulls; and Kanaloa vaporized by a venereal torpedo whose impact created a tidal wave of blisters that littered the shore.
The old gods were dead.
The monitor on my computer flickered and sputtered to silence.
Estimates of first peoples population estimates in 1778, were between 500,000 and one million Generally accepted population figures suggest that there were closer to 800,000. Today, when you include the military and other non-residents, the population of Hawaii is 1.3 million. In 1953, based on the 1950 U.S. census report, in a total population of 468,000 (all races), there were only 93,000 Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians.
From a 2005, Native Hawaiian Assesment (Kamehameha Schools), today there are approximately 260,000 Hawaiian/part-Hawaiians in Hawaii with, according to a 1994 OHA study, 8,244 pure- blood Hawaiians.
In the rougly 225 years since contact, that’s a 99% reduction of first peoples, while just within the first 50 years of statehood, an increase in over 60% of non native-hawaiian people.
a. 1824-1826 and 1832, epidemics of whooping cough and measles. Kills thousands.
b. 1839 epidemic of mumps
c. 1845-1849 epidemic measles whooping cough, influenza ills more than 12,000
d. 1840 first case of leprosy, in 1865 one out of 39 Natives were affected
e. 1853, 1861, 1882 small pox took more than 7,000 lives
Today the highest mortality rate for diabetes and breast cancer, are Native Hawaiians.