“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”
Yesterday, we had a training up at Kamehameha that at one point discussed the concept of Aloha ‘Åina, and used Kaho’olawe as an example. While there are some with varying opinions on the bombing of Kaho’olawe, most people today would agree, I think, that stopping the bombing was the right thing to do. And often, such matters are clear in hindsight – the Kamehameha trustee scandal comes to mind, the consensus about the result of which is rather stunning.
But there are issues going on today, about which there is a lot of debate – Mauna Kea is the most obvious example. In my view, a historical analysis of these contemporary issues can provide a lot of clarity as to how we should act in the present. Some of these issues (maybe not Mauna Kea, but certainly Makua Valley), become quite clear with just a little historical reflection.
While George Santayana’s quote about repeating history is a cliche at this point, the message doesn’t seem to have been received by most. But as Maya Angelou has put it:
History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
My Remarks at the Panel on the International Inquiry – Permanent Court of Arbitration (at Kamehameha Schools)
On Monday, January 30th, Kamehameha Schools hosted a panel discussion on the Fact Finding proceedings taking place at the PCA. The panelists were Dr. Keanu Sai, agent for the Hawaiian Kingdom, and Professor Federico Lenzerini, counsel and advocate for the Hawaiian Kingdom, and professor of International law at the University of Sienna, Italy. I was the moderator, and below are my opening remarks:
Aloha ahiahi kākou and to all those who made this quite unique event possible, Mahalo nui iā ʻōukou.
The writer Thomas Pynchon wrote “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they donʻt have to worry about the answers.” This is a challenging idea that should make us think deeply about how we engage with, among other things, history, and make us ask ourselves if we have indeed been asking the right questions.
Iʻm ʻUmi Perkins and I teach Hawaiian history here at Kamehameha and Political Science at UH, so Iʻm no stranger to controversial topics. Iʻve been teaching many of the concepts weʻll be discussing tonight for nearly 15 years, and Iʻve managed somehow never to get in trouble. But I think thatʻs why I was asked to open tonight’s event. In fact, I was asked by another teacher recently who often gets in trouble for talking about the same things, how I do it – how I stay out of trouble. Which got me thinking – how do I do it? And I started to realize there are ways to discuss tonight’s issues without creating controversy, and one of them is to keep it more about law and less about politics. So for example, I was part of a student organization founded by Dr. Keanu Sai, one of tonightʻs distinguished panelists, when we were both PhD students at UH, it was called The Hawaiian Society of Law and Politics or HSLP, which was about discussing both politics and law, but in a way that was mindful of the separation between them. The Society sought, and to a large extent, succeeded, in integrating the idea of Hawaiʻi as a nation-state into curricula across the UH system and even beyond, so that now, for example, I teach a course on military occupation at UH Mānoa, which serves as a kind of testing ground for the idea of Hawaiʻi as an occupied country by comparing it with other occupations historically. This course was originally created by yet another member of HSLP.
More recently, I wrote an article on this topic in The Nation magazine, which is the oldest weekly magazine in the US, and I was hired to rewrite the Hawaiian history standards for the Hawaiʻi Department of Education, Dr. Sai has written a Hawaiian history textbook called Ua Mau ke Ea, Kamana Beamer (another HSLP member) wrote an award-winning book incorporating this view, No Mākou ka Mana, and several PhD dissertations and Master’s theses have been produced that have furthered this line of research, including one thesis by Donovan Preza (again of HSLP), which was named the best MA thesis in the entire Pacific Rim.
So a lot has happened since 2000 and I think it’s very significant and important that as this case returns to the PCA, this time for fact-finding, the level of understanding locally on this topic has been greatly expanded from the time of the original Larsen case.
One of the questions I’m often asked when I talk to people about these issues is :Is there really a World Court? Many think that law is a matter that is strictly domestic, that is, limited to [being] within countries. But yes, in fact, there is a world court, which has a few organs if you will. According to their website:
The Permanent Court of Arbitration, established by treaty in 1899, is an intergovernmental organization providing … dispute resolution services to the international community.
In the same building, The Peace Palace, in The Hague, Netherlands, where the proceedings weʻll be discussing tonight will take place, is the International Court of Justice, which, according to their website:
is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the UN and began work in April 1946.
Now the Courtʻs proceedings donʻt often make major headlines, theyʻre often about fairly obscure trade disputes. But one case that has made headlines is the case of the South China Sea, that region being a major global geopolitical hotspot right now. And in the ruling for that case, they cited the first Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom case from the year 2000.
So how did it come to be that I began teaching these ideas at a fairly traditional institution like KS. There is, in fact, a genealogy there.
Hawaiian history began to be offered at Kamehameha in 1971 but wasnʻt required until the 1980s. In 1987, when Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi was formed, the former Hawaiian history teacher Kawika Makanani resolved to make Hawaiian history a course on Hawaiian sovereignty as it was understood at that time. In 1993, KS faculty, including Kawika Makanani, former principal Julian Ako, current English department head Kaʻimipono Kaiwi and others conducted a research project to discover and expose more about the 1893 overthrow. In the late 1990s, my predecessor, Kehau Abad, incorporated many of the concepts weʻll discuss tonight into her curriculum, which I subsequently inherited and continued to develop.
Just for comparison, the Hawaiʻi Department of Education began requiring courses in Hawaiian history in response to the 1978 Constitutional Convention, and the Departmentʻs Hawaiian Studies program began in 1980.
Tonight’s event is not about taking positions or taking sides. Tonight is really about educating people, and to that purpose, Iʻd like to conclude my remarks by suggesting what might be done in terms of educating a group of people we all care about – that is Hawaiian youth and the youth of Hawaiʻi more generally. There are serious structural problems in the delivery of Hawaiian history in schools. To name only one example, to become a certified Social Studies teacher, youʻd have to pass the Praxis test, which is very demanding in a number of topics, none of which is Hawaiian history. So if you were able to pass that test, itʻs unlikely – not impossible, but unlikely – that youʻd have a deep knowledge of Hawaiian history and vice versa. If you spent your time learning Hawaiian history, as a young teacher youʻd be hard-pressed to pass that test. This is only one of many such structural problems that result, in the end, in a society that really doesn’t know, and thus has not come to terms, with its own history. Seen in this context, tonight’s event can be thought of as part of a larger community effort to educate ourselves about these critical historical issues and their ramifications today by beginning to understand the international commission of inquiry at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
I once saw a video from the Waldorf schools that has stuck with me ever since. In the video, one of the teachers says “People press down an adult consciousness on children in the name of performance.” That line has stuck with me ever since – focusing on performance rather than development is creating a generation of sociopaths- all so we can brag about our kids to our “friends.”
An article in Big Think entitled “Elementary Children are not Little High School Students,” makes the case for stopping the madness:
Public schools, terrified of losing funding due to low test scores, have moved to “teaching to the test,” where the goal is passing exams, not mastery of a subject. (In Michigan last month it was announced that 100 schools were to be shut down because their students fell short on these exams.)
The article goes on to say that homework for elementary school students is harmful to students, damages family relationships (cutting in to essential family time – drug use is inversely correlated with family dinners), kids need rest after long school days and they need time to be kids. Thereʻs no evidence homework, at least in lower grades, works – countries that pour on the homework, like Iran and South Korea, donʻt score very well on international comparisons, for example, compared to Finland, which assigns little to no homework even in the older grades.
Back in the late 1990s, I did research that led to a report (co-authored with Paul Dunphy) on the privatization of public services in Massachusetts, Privatizing the Common Wealth, in which I looked at “privatization” of public education. The trend, which was still unclear at the time, was that the Right would slowly begin a process of dismantling public education using this sequence: 1) high stakes testing to discredit public schools, 2) charter schools to loosen DOE controls over education, 3) vouchers to redirect public funds to private schools. At some point in the future, when public education is throughly discredited, public schools could begin to be dismantled, replaced by private schools. Whether everyone would be able to attend these schools is unclear at best. Connected to this has been an attack on the teaching profession, which is well under way, and nearly complete in its success (Arkansas has begun hiring uncertified teachers due to lack in interest in the profession). It’s important to understand that this movement is driven by the business community, not educators primarily.
Some of this rhetoric has begun to be taken up by Kamehameha Schools, which has followed the Hawaiʻi DOE in many ways, beginning with standards development (which other private schools like Punahou do not do), so I thought it would be useful to get a sense of what ed reform (or ed deform as opponents have begun to call it) is, and what it isnʻt. To that purpose, I asked HSTA Treasurer, Mililani High School Social Studies department head and 2012 History Teacher of the Year, Dr. Amy Perruso to define ed reform. Here was her concise response:
I would say that the ed deform [yes, sheʻs “biased,” that is to say, has a position on this critical topic – welcome to the real world], properly understood, is a attempt to privatize public education primarily through an attack on teachers and teachers’ unions. It began with a manufactured crisis of low performance (Milton Friedman and Reagan’s “Nation at Risk”), for which teachers are blamed and scapegoated, and will end when the profession of teaching is destroyed, there are no more strong public schools, and access to education is limited to the social, political and economic elite.
In the 90s, I had to admit that I could not point to a “smoking gun” – solid proof that the elimination of public ed was the goal of the nascent ed reform movement. But now the evidence is beginning to be abundant, starting with the pending appointment of Betsy DeVos (wife of an heir to the Amway fortune), whose desire to end public education is well-known, as Education Secretary.*
I began this series, Reflective Practice, as a way of being contemplative of my own teaching practice, but it is equally important to be cognizant of the context in which oneʻs practice is taking place, rather than trudging along oblivious of the forces that create the conditions within which we work with students.
* Contemplating her nomination, the Washington Post published this “scenario” regarding DeVos’s ensuing push for school vouchers:
The shift of funds away from public school districts creates further stresses on traditional public schools. They are deprived of longstanding resources that compensate for the unwillingness of most states to provide adequate levels of funding for those districts that lack the capacity to raise enough money from local property tax revenues.
As traditional public schools wither and close, more and more families are drawn to the unregulated private sector.
The loss of funds for traditional public schools makes teaching less attractive, and existing teachers leave the field in droves. Enrollment in teacher preparation programs plummets; these programs are unable to provide a sufficient supply of replacement teachers for local school districts, even as fewer teachers are needed.
The unregulated charter and private school sectors hire individuals with no formal preparation or commitment to teaching, and these schools function as revolving doors. Lacking a stable teaching force, even those private and charter schools aspiring to help their teachers develop professionally are stymied.
Iʻve ranted in the past about how Hawaiʻi voters voted away their own right to choose the members of the Board of Education. The 2016 Presidential election may be the same process, but increased by many orders of magnitude. Trump may not turn out to be a fascist – he could be too busy with the 3500 lawsuits he is involved in, or focused on his 50 businesses, which he will somehow continue to run while governing the most powerful country on Earth. But the warnings have been issued. There have been enough caricatures of Trump in Nazi garb so that anyone paying attention would at least have come across the idea. So the 2016 vote may indeed be one in which voters – proudly, I would add – voted away their own freedoms.
It’s a fact that we often neglect that corporations are, in fact, dictatorships. Thatʻs so much a given that itʻs become invisible. But the US has now handed its reigns to someone who has only known that paradigm.
The term “non-college educated” was repeatedly used on election night to describe Trump’s base, and these are the same voters for whom a hatred of Obama has been simmering for eight years. It was easy to dismiss these people, with their crazy ideas and support of Sarah Palin, but we – the “club members,” the college educated – have done so at our own peril. We have failed to fight hard enough for an education system that would reduce bigotry. When we say we are interested in education, we mainly have meant our own educations, and that of our children. This is evidenced by the flight to private and charter schools and by tacit support of “school choice.”True, there are many exceptions to this, and it was, and would have been a hard fight. Ed reform has focused so tightly on math and English, it’s led to some neglect of the social science/social studies and humanities fields that could promote empathy.
On an abstract lèvel, this is what weʻve been lacking. There has been a tendency to blame people for things they cannot help – citizenship on the right, lack of education on the left.
Later, reports began to come in that the vote fell not so much along educational lines, but along racial lines. In other words, educated white males had voted for Trump as well. This was not as counter-intuitive as it might seem. Many who go through college study business or “practical,” skill-oriented fields and they, like their non-club counterparts, do not really pick up the social science/humanities orientation – think of conservative fraternities in liberal colleges.
One thing that last eight years has perhaps made us forget is that it has always been very difficult for the Democrats to assemble a winning coalition. As the electoral votes began to run out on election night, and California, Oregon and Washington were done being counted for Clinton, it occurred to me how few pockets of left-wing sentiment there are in America. It was a sea of red after that.
Calls were already coming out for Progressive organizing before the election. My sense is that whatʻs needed is Progressive education in empathy.
In Honolulu stands ʻIolani Palace, built by King David Kalākaua in 1882, and which remains a symbol of the Hawaiian nation for many Hawaiians today. David La’amea Kalākaua was born on November 16, 1836 near Puowaina, which today we call Punchbowl. The name Kalākaua meant “the day of battle.” He was the son of Chief Caesar Kapa’akea and Chiefess Analeʻa Keohokālole but was the hānai son of High Chiefess Ha’aheo who was the governor of Maui. He was not of the Kamehameha line, but descended from Keaweaheulu, a Kona chief who was an advisor to Kamehameha. Later in life Kalakaua published his genealogy in his election campaigns for monarch.
In his youth David Kalākaua spent the early part of his childhood in Lāhaina, Maui. Later he traveled to the island of Oahu to attend the chiefs children school, also known as the Royal School, where he attended for nine years. At the age of 14 Kalākaua started military training and by the age of 16 he was commissioned as a captain in the Hawaiian Army. After this Kalākaua served in many important government positions including Army Major on Kamehameha IV’s staff but his last job before becoming King of the Hawaiian Kingdom was a clerk in the Kingdoms Land Office. (Allen 1994)
Kalakaua’s election was a contentious one. He was running for the second time, this time against the greatly admired Queen Dowager Emma. Her supporters had formed the first political party in Hawai’i, the “Emmaites,” whose motto was “Hawaii for Hawaiians” (Osorio, 2002, p. 162). While Emma was viewed as pro-British due to her English heritage, Kalakaua was seen as more pro-American and pro-business. For this reason he had support in the legislature, and won the election of 1874 by a vote of 39 to 6. There was no popular vote as it was not required by the constitution. Emma’s supporters rioted, storming the courthouse and attacking Hawaiian legislators who had voted for Kalakaua (Osorio, 2002, p. 156). British and American troops from ships in the Honolulu harbor were called on to quell the riot.
As with the previous election, the issue of genealogy was an important one. Emma was descended from Kamehameha’s brother Keliʻimaika’i, and his advisor John Young, which meant she was one-quarter English (Osorio, 2002, p. 152). Kalakaua used the newspapers to show that his genealogy was as exalted as Kamehameha’s – he was not a Kamehameha , but descended from Kekaulike, who was Kamehameha’s ancestor. His great-grandfathers were the “Kona uncles” from Kamehameha’s wars of unification, Keaweaheulu and Kameʻeiamoku (Osorio, 2002, p. 150). The fact that he was not actually a Kamehameha seemed to work against him, and Kalākaua was an unpopular victor. Thus, his reign began on an auspicious note, and did not cease to be controversial.
King David Kalākaua was married to Kapiolani who was the grand daughter of the high ranking Ali’i nui of Kauai, Kaumuali’i. Kapi’olani was very concerned with the health and welfare of her Hawaiian people. She came up with a royal motto during Kalākaua’s reign, she called it “Hoʻoulu Lāhui,” or “Increase the Nation.” Because of her efforts to rejuvenate the well being of the Hawaiian people Kalākaua decided to dedicate a large parcel of royal land that was found in Waikīkī in her honor, today it is known as Kapi’olani Park. King Kalākaua and Kapi‘olani’s efforts helped preserve many of the cultural practices Hawaiians have today. During Kalākauas reign they both dedicated time to practice Hawaiian mele, hula, and many other cultural practices. Which in turn encouraged many other Hawaiian to do the same. (Allen 1994)
The continued overriding concern during the reign of Kalakaua was the threat of an imperialist takeover. War ships of imperialist countries were nearly always present in Honolulu Harbor. In 1887, Kalākaua wrote of his people:
Within a century they have dwindled from four hundred thousand healthy and happy children of nature, without care and without want, to a little more than a tenth of that number of landless, hopeless victims to the greed and vices of civilization … Year by year their footprints will grow more dim along the sands of their reef-sheltered shores, and fainter and fainter will come their simple songs from the shadows of the palms, until finally their voices will be heard no more for ever (Kalākaua, 1888, 64-65, quoted in Nordyke, 1989, 27).
Kalākaua’s view of Hawaiian population decline is supported by data. The population of full-blooded Hawaiians decreased as a percentage of the total by nearly fifty percent during roughly the period of Kalākaua’s reign, from 86% in 1872 to 38% in 1890 (Schmitt, 1968, 74). In [pure numbers], full-blooded Hawaiians declined from 49,000 to 34,400 over that period (Schmitt, 1968, 74). The population of part-Hawaiians, however, was steadily increasing – from 4.4 to 6.9 percent during the same period. The non-Hawaiian population grew, as a percentage of the total, from 9.4% to 54.9% over the same period of 1872 to 1890 (Schmitt, 1968, 74). The total population grew from nearly 57,000 to 89,000 during this period mainly due to immigration for plantation work (Schmitt, 1968, 70). The first Chinese laborers had arrived in 1852, and the first Japanese laborers in 1868.
By 1880 there were fifty-four sugar plantations covering over 22,000 acres (Maclennan, 1997, 98 – 101). One technology connected to sugar and other agricultural industries was railways. Though the first railroad services were short tracks in 1857 and 1858, the first railroad with passenger service was The Kahului & Wailuku Railroad in 1879. The Oahu Rail and Land Company provided extensive rail service on Oʻahu from 1889 until 1947 (Schmitt, 1995, 64).
These changes were facilitated by the 1876 reciprocity treaty with the US. The reciprocity treaty included a number of stipulations. mutual free trade, Hawaii not being able to sign similar agreements with others, and Hawaii not being able to sell of lease lands or harbors to others were among the stipulations of the treaty.
According to Kuykendall, the effects of the 1876 reciprocity treaty were as follows:
In 1875 Hawaii exported twenty-five million pounds of sugar; fifteen years later, the amount was more than two hundred and fifty million pounds…and thereafter [Hawai‘i] doubled its tonnage of sugar shipments every ten years.
The economic effects of the 1876 reciprocity treaty included increased sugar production, which lead to increased tax revenues and ultimately lead stimulated the overall economy, and increased infrastructure development resulted from the reciprocity treaty. This treaty also facilitated other government efforts, such as the building of ʻIolani Palace.
The reciprocity treaty affected the environment by diverting water from the windward side to the leeward side. This, in return, altered windward and leeward environments. Waiahole ditch, trail, and bridge were built because of the treaty in order to insure steady source of irrigation water at an affordable price allowing for growth of diversified agriculture in Central and Leeward Oahu
Socio-cultural effects were also felt as a result of the reciprocity treaty. Living subsistence lifestyles became more difficult. More Hawaiians started working on plantations. Increased immigration, multi-cultural context, and national pride were also felt.
Political effects were seen after the signing of the reciprocity treaty of 1876. The treaty restricted sovereign prerogatives. The signing of this treaty tied Hawai’i to the US. It increased the power of businessmen and improved Hawai’i’s image abroad.
On his trip to the U.S. he ventured to see President Ulysses S. Grant in order to persuade him and United States Congress to adopt a “Reciprocity Treaty.” Besides traveling the world he also was a supporter of new technology. King Kalākaua made plans to build a new palace. In 1881 ‘Iolani Palace opened – it cost nearly three hundred sixty thousand dollars. The palace eventually was one of the first buildings to have telephones and electric lighting. (Allen 1994)
The United States was reluctant to renew the reciprocity treaty because US sugar growers were protesting. The treaty needed a greater incentive: the Pearl Harbor clause. While sugar growers desperately wanted to renew the reciprocity treaty at any cost Kalākaua would not include the Pearl Harbor clause. The sugar grower’s solution was to sign over Pearl Harbor without the king’s approval and make Kalākaua a mere puppet king. While Kalākaua had many strengths, he was also vulnerable. One of Kalākaua’s strengths was that he promoted a vigorous economy. He also promoted the political autonomy and recognition of Hawai‘I and the Hawaiian cultural renaissance. Kalākaua went through a time with a vigorous economy. This included the Reciprocity Treaty of 1876 and the 1881 World trip during which he helped to secure laborers from Portugal and Japan. Kalakaua’s trip around the world took him to San Francisco, Japan, where he met with the emperor and discussed a Pacific confederation, Siam (Thailand), Malaysia, Burma, India, Egypt, where he was inducted into the Egyptian order of freemasons, Naples and Rome in Italy, where he had an audience with the pope, Austria, Portugal, London, New York, Boston, New Bedford, Chicago, Omaha, Ogden, and finally back to San Francisco and Hawai’i. The trip took about nine months. In Portugal and Japan he secured laborers for the sugar plantations.
The position of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s autonomy and reputation benefited from Kalākaua’s efforts. He helped establish diplomatic relations with nations worldwide, including several treaties. He opposed the cession of Pearl Harbor and had built ‘Iolani Palace and Ali‘iolani Hale. In Hawaiʻi, a Hawaiian cultural renaissance occurred during Kalākaua’s reign. He fostered the preservation of traditions such as hula, mele, hīmeni, mo‘olelo (stories and history), wahi pana (famous places), mo‘okū ‘auhau (genealogies), and lā‘au lapa‘au (medical practices). Kalakaua and Walter Murray Gibson became heavily indebted in Claus Spreckles. Spreckles, who was called “the uncrowned king of Hawai’i,” held more than half the national debt (Zambucka, 1983, 106).
Walter Murray Gibson was accused of being involved in the sale of public offices, exemptions to Hansen’s disease (known then as Leprosy) patients, an opium scandal, and elaborate plans for a Pacific empire. The actions of Kalākaua’s associates sparked questions from his constituents, and led to attacks in the press, but whether these “scandals” ever occurred is debatable. Osorio (2002, p. 184) states that “most of the charges were never proven.”
The Hawaiian League was a secret group of foreigners connected to the sugar industry. Their oath of allegiance included the statement “I do solemnly promise… that I will keep secret the existence and purpose of this League to protect the white community of this Kingdom” (Thurston 1936, 608).
In 1887, numerous “scandals” became public, the Reform Party sent petitions and wrotes letters to the newspaper and the Gibson cabinet resigned. The Hawaiian League said that the resignations were not enough. Their supporters then wrote, “The King must be prepared to take his own proper place, and to be content to reign without ruling” (Kuykendall 1967, 358). The Hawaiian League called for a “public meeting” where the attendees “unanimously” called for Kalākaua to meet their demands, Kalākaua agreed and on July 1, 1887 he appointed a Reform Party cabinet. With the Honolulu Rifles surrounding the palace area, the Cabinet presented Kalākaua with the Bayonet Constitution.
The Bayonet Constitution stipulated that the Cabinet and Legislature could override the king and Europeans, Americans, and Hawaiians could vote if they met property and income requirements and if they pledged allegiance to the Bayonet Constitution. With the Bayonet Constitution in place, the Reform party cabinet signed the renewed reciprocity treaty with the Pearl Harbor clause. This event came to mar Kalākaua’s reign, which, at seventeen years, was the second-longest of any monarch.
Kalākaua was successful in many of his goals, such as renewing Hawaiian cultural practices and modernizing Hawaiʻi, but whether these goals were compatible remains an open question. The Bayonet constitution appears to have set the stage for the 1893 overthrow. He was visionary, cultivating a new generation of Hawaiian leaders through his study abroad program, but perhaps not as mindful of what was occurring immediately before him. His last words, “Tell my people I tried,” seem to sum up his reign – good intentions and poor results.