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Coming of the West

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What happened when Hawai'i was introduced to the west?

Coming of the West

Captain James Cook, a British explorer in 1778 arrived in the Hawaiian islands and named it the "Sandwich Islands" after the British Earl of Sandwich. Only a year later he was stabbed in Kealakekua Bay of the Big Island of Hawai'i in a dispute over which he died. By then, Hawai'i had been introduced to western civilization: technology, warfare, trade and disease.

Prophecies of ancient Hawai'i told of a communication from the heavens from the "true god" unlike any other. Kalaikuahulu, a kahuna (priest of Hawaiian religion) had also foretold with it the end of the kapu system and the unification of the Hawaiian islands. Captain Cook's arrival as likened to the Return of Lono (god of peace) and other factors added to Hawaiians belief that their prophecies were being fulfilled. Acceptance of Christianity by the Hawaiians was inevitable as later key indicators predicted in the prophecy were met when Christian missionaries arrived. Missionaries sought to eradicate the old Hawaiian religion and convert Hawaiians to their new religion.

Venereal and other diseases Hawaiians had never been exposed to were introduced and the population decimated. New explorers came with increased trade. Russians, French, British and then the Americans arrived ashore and began to compete for the new land's resources.

Hawai'i's strategic position in the Pacific provided the U.S. now with a unique vantage point of the world. With the help of a small group of trusted "advisors" and upon military orders on January 16, 1893, the Hawaiian government was overthrown and the U.S. completed their annexation of Hawai'i. To stop further bloodshed, the last queen, Lili'uokalani agreed to imprisonment in her home of 'Iolani palace. From her jail she wrote the famous song Aloha 'Oe (Farewell to Thee) to denote the end of the Hawaiian monarchy.

With the annexation and further statehood of Hawai'i came a new set of rules, regulations and an entirely new society.



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