, kānaka ōiwi
or Hawai i maoli
) refers to the indigenous
people of the Hawaiian Islands
or their descendants.
Hawaiians trace their ancestry back to the first Marquesan and Tahitian settlers of
Hawaii (possibly as early as AD 400), before the arrival of British
explorer Captain James Cook in
According to the U.S.
2000, there are 401,162 people who identified themselves as being
"native Hawaiian" alone or in any combination. 140,652 people
identified themselves as being "native Hawaiian" alone.
overwhelming majority of native Hawaiians are residents of the
States in the State of Hawai i, and in California, Nevada and Washington.
Two-thirds live in the State of Hawai i
while the other one-third is split among mainland states. Almost
half of the mainland share of the population is in
history of native Hawaiians, and of Hawai i in general, is
classified into four major periods: antiquity (Ancient Hawai i), monarchy (Kingdom of Hawai i), territorial (Territory of Hawai i), and statehood
(State of Hawai
Identifying and classifying native Hawaiians is a delicate issue.
Different government agencies have different methods of classifying
native Hawaiians. However, it is widely accepted that such
classifications are necessary to facilitate laws, trusts and wills
governing native Hawaiian programs. For example, programs
administered by the Hawai i State Department of Hawaiian Homelands
are legally bound by trusts to provide services only to Hawaiians
claiming at least 50% ancestry back to pre-1778 settlers of the
In the context of the Hawai i Revised Statutes, section 10-2
- any descendant of the aboriginal peoples inhabiting the
Hawaiian Islands which exercised sovereignty and subsisted in the
Hawaiian Islands in 1778, and which peoples thereafter have
continued to reside in Hawai i.
are defined as:
- any descendant of not less than one-half part of the races
inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands previous to 1778, as defined by the
Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, as amended; provided that the
term identically refers to the descendants of such blood quantum of
such aboriginal peoples which exercised sovereignty and subsisted
in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778 and which peoples thereafter
continued to reside in Hawaii.
The Office of Hawaiian
also differentiates between:
- "Native Hawaiian" (capitalized, referring to any person of
native Hawaiian ancestry regardless of blood quantum) and
- "native Hawaiian" (uncapitalized, referring to a native
Hawaiian with at least 50% blood quantum).
In general usage, however, this distinction is often ignored, with
both capitalizations being used to describe the native Hawaiian
population as a whole regardless of bloodline.
"Hawaiian" first existed as a geographic identity limited to the
Island, and upon the unification of the Hawaiian Islands,
as either an ethnic or political identity.
“Hawaiian” is today mainly used to describe people of partial or
total Native Hawaiian
The Akaka Bill
currently pending in
Congress draws upon the "indigenous" nature of native Hawaiians for
its rationale, and is of particular debate.
For further discussion about terminology commonly used to describe
, see the article Native American name
At the time of Captain Cook's arrival, native Hawaiians may have
numbered some 250,000 to 800,000; there has been debate over such
estimates. Over the span of the first century after first contact,
the native Hawaiians were nearly wiped out by new diseases
introduced to the islands. Native Hawaiians did not have resistance
, among others. The
census of 1900 identified only 40,000 native Hawaiians. The census
of 2000 identified 400,000 native Hawaiians, demonstrating a trend
of dramatic growth since annexation by the U.S. in 1898.
The Hawaiian language was once the primary language of the native
Hawaiian people. Today, native Hawaiians predominately speak the
as a result of
both the emphasis that the Kingdom of
placed on learning English, as well as over a century
of being a part of the United States of America, as a Territory and
then as a State of the Union. Another contributing factor was an
1896 law which provided that English "be the only medium and basis
of instruction in all public and private schools." This law did not
prevent Hawaiian language from being taught as a second language,
but further accelerated the trend of native Hawaiian families
insisting on English first. Some native Hawaiians (as well as
non-native Hawaiians) have learned the native Hawaiian language
as a second language. As
with others local to Hawaii, native Hawaiians often speak Hawaiian Creole English
, referred to
as pidgin English, a creole which developed during Hawai i's
plantation era in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
with the influence of the various ethnic groups living in Hawaii
during that time.
The Hawaiian language has been promoted for revival most recently
by a state program of cultural preservation enacted in 1978.
included the opening of Hawaiian language immersion schools and the
establishment of a Hawaiian language department at the University of
Hawai i at Mānoa.
As a result, Hawaiian language learning has
climbed among all races in Hawai i.
of Hawaii at Hilo established a masters program in the Hawaiian
In fall 2006, they established a doctoral
) program in the Hawaiian Language.
addition to being the first doctoral program for the study of
Hawaiian, it is the first doctoral program established for the
study of any native language in the United States
Both the masters and doctoral programs are
considered by global scholars as pioneering in the revival of
is still spoken as the primary language by the residents on the
private island of Niihau.
In all U.S. states, native Hawaiian children are publicly educated
under the same terms as any other children. In Hawaii, native
Hawaiians are publicly educated by the Hawai i State Department of
Education, an ethnically diverse school system that is the United
States' largest and most centralized.
Hawai i is the only state without local community control of
schools. Under the administration of Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano
(D-HI) from 1994 to 2002, the
state's educational system established special Hawaiian language
immersion schools. In these schools, all subject courses are taught
in the Hawaiian language and use native Hawaiian subject matter in
curricula. These schools were created in the spirit of cultural
preservation and are not exclusive to native Hawaiian children.
these schools are challenged by a relative lack of native speakers
of the Hawaiian language and a dearth of educational materials in
Hawaiian, since olelo Hawaii is typically only a first language for
those who live on Niihau.
native Hawaiians are educated by the Kamehameha Schools, established through the last will and testament of
Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a
princess of the Kamehameha
Arguably, the largest and wealthiest private
school in the United States, Kamehameha Schools was intended to
benefit indigents and orphans, with preference given to native
Hawaiians. Although this Hawaiians-only preference is not
explicitly stated in her will, subsequent Bishop Estate trustees
have interpreted her wording to mean just that. Kamehameha provides
a quality education to thousands of children of whole and part
native Hawaiian ancestry at its campuses during the regular school
year, and also has quality summer and off-campus programs that are
not restricted by ancestry. Kamehameha Schools' practice of
accepting primarily gifted students, in lieu of intellectually
challenged children, has been a controversial topic amongst the
native Hawaiian community. Many 'rejected' families feel that the
gifted students could excel at any learning institution, public or
private. Thus, the Hawaiian community may be better served by
educating children from high-risk, high-crime districts so that a
greater proportion of disadvantaged youths may grow up to be
responsible community contributors.
Since the late 1990s, Kamehameha Schools has been facing several
high profile legal battles. One involved the choice and payment of
trustees. Others have concerned the admission of non-Hawaiians to
the school. A few non-Hawaiians have sued for admission, claiming
that the last will and testament of Bernice Pauahi Bishop has been
misinterpreted, and the policies of race-based admissions are
discriminatory and should be struck down. In 2007, Kamehameha's
Maui campus graduated its first non-Hawaiian student. The student's
2002 admission to the school created an uproar within the Hawaiian
As with other children in Hawai i, some native Hawaiians are
educated by other prominent private academies in the Aloha State.
School, Saint Louis School, Mid-Pacific
Institute and Iolani
Native Hawaiian culture has seen a revival in recent years as an
outgrowth of decisions made at the 1978 Hawai i State
, held exactly 200 years after the
arrival of Captain Cook. At the convention, the Hawai i state
government committed itself to a progressive study and preservation
of native Hawaiian culture, history and language.
A comprehensive Hawaiian culture curriculum was introduced into the
State of Hawai i's public elementary schools teaching: ancient
Hawaiian art, lifestyle, geography, hula and Hawaiian language
vocabulary. Intermediate and high schools were mandated to impose
two sets of Hawaiian history curricula on every candidate for
Statutes and charter amendments were passed acknowledging a policy
of preference for Hawaiian place and street names. For example, with the
closure of Barbers Point Naval Air
Station in the 1990s, the region formerly occupied by the
base was renamed Kalaeloa.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA)
Another important outgrowth of the 1978 Hawai i State
Constitutional Convention was the establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs
popularly known as OHA. Delegates that included future Hawai i
political stars Benjamin J.
, John D. Waihee III
and Jeremy Harris
enacted measures intended to
address perceived injustices towards native Hawaiians since the
overthrow of the
Kingdom of Hawai i
in 1893. OHA was established as a trust,
administered with a mandate to better the conditions of both native
Hawaiians and the Hawaiian community in general. OHA was given
control over certain public lands, and continues to expand its
land-holdings to this day (most recently with Waimea Valley,
previously Waimea Falls Park).
OHA is a semi-autonomous government body administered by a
nine-member board of trustees, elected by the people of the State
of Hawai i through popular suffrage. Originally, trustees and the
people eligible to vote for trustees were restricted to native
Hawaiians. Rice v. Cayetano reached the United
States Supreme Court suing the state to allow non-Hawaiians to sit on
the board of trustees and for non-Hawaiians to be allowed to vote
in trustee elections.
Justices ruled in favor of Rice on 23
February 2000 forcing OHA to open its elections to all residents of
the State of Hawai i regardless of ethnicity.
Native American Programs Act
In 1974, the Native American Programs Act was amended to include
native Hawaiians. This paved the way for native Hawaiians to become
eligible for some, but not all, federal assistance programs
originally intended for Native Americans
Today, Title 45 CFR Part 1336.62 defines a Native Hawaiian as "an
individual any of whose ancestors were natives of the area which
consists of the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778."
There is some controversy as to whether or not native Hawaiians
should be considered in the same light as Native Americans.
Native Hawaiians Study Commission
The Native Hawaiians Study Commission
created by the Congress of the United States on December 22, 1980
(Title III of Public Law 96-565). The purpose of the Commission was
to "conduct a study of the culture, needs and concerns of the
Native Hawaiians." The Commission published and released to the
public a Draft Report of Findings on September 23, 1982. Following
a 120-day period of public comment, a final report was written and
submitted on June 23, 1983 to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy
and Natural Resources and to the U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.
United States apology resolution
On 23 November 1993, U.S. President Bill Clinton
signed United States Public Law
103-150 also known as the Apology
which had previously passed Congress. This
resolution "apologizes to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the people
of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of
Washington-based constitutional scholar Bruce
has outlined a number of counter-arguments disputing the
accuracy of the assertions made in the Apology Resolution.
In the early 2000s, the Congressional delegation of the State of
Hawai i introduced the Native Hawaiian Federal Recognition Bill
named after U.S. Senator Daniel K.
(D-HI). The Akaka Bill
would establish the process of
recognizing and forming a native Hawaiian government entity to
negotiate with state and federal governments. The significance of
the bill is that it would establish, for the first time in the
history of the islands, a new political and legal relationship
between a native Hawaiian entity and the federal government. This
native Hawaiian entity would be a newly created one without any
historical precedent in the islands or direct institutional
continuity with previous political entities (unlike many native
American Indian groups, for example).
This bill came under significant scrutiny by the Bush
Administration's Department of Justice as well as the United States
Senate Judiciary Committee. The political context surrounding the
Akaka Bill is both controversial and complex. Proponents, who
consider the legislation an acknowledgement and (partial)
correction of past injustices, include Hawai i's Congressional
delegation as well as the current Republican
. Opponents include the
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who question the constitutionality
of creating race-based governments, libertarian activists who
challenge the historical accuracy of any claims of injustice, and
other native Hawaiian
who feel the legislation would thwart
their hopes for complete independence from the United States.
A poll commissioned in 2005 by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs
asserted that 68 percent of Hawai i residents support the bill, 17
percent do not support it and 15 percent refused to answer or had
no opinion. Another poll conducted earlier that year by The
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii indicated that 67% of Hawai i
residents were against the Akaka bill. It has been speculated that
the phrasing of the questions asked in both of the respective polls
influenced the results , and so no definitive survey to determine
levels of public support has yet been carried out in Hawai i.
Ka Huli Ao: Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law
In 2005, and with the support of Senator Daniel Inouye, federal
funding through the Native Hawaiian Education Act created the
Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law
at the William S. Richardson
School of Law] at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa]. A few years
later, the program became known as Ka Huli Ao: Center for
Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law. The inaugural director of Ka
Huli Ao is Honolulu attorney Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie
. MacKenzie is also
recognized as the chief editor of the Native Hawaiian Rights
Handbook which is a legal publication that describes Native
Hawaiian law, a subset of laws of the State of Hawaiʻi. Melody
MacKenzie worked as a clerk to the schoolʻs namesake, William S.
Richardson for four years and also served as the Executive Director
of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation for four years, then
worked as a senior staff attorney for another six years.
Ka Huli Ao focuses on research, scholarship, and community
outreach. Ka Huli Ao provides a monthly lunch time discussion forum
referred to as Maoli Thursday which is free and open to the public.
Ka Huli Ao maintains its own blog
as well as a Twitter account and a Facebook
group. Ka Huli Ao also provides law students with summer
fellowships. Law school graduates are eligible to apply for
post-J.D. fellowships that last for one year.
Culture and arts
There have been established several cultural preservation societies
and organizations over the course of the twentieth century.
largest of those institutions is the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, established in 1889 and designated as the Hawai i
State Museum of Natural and Cultural History.
houses the largest collection of native Hawaiian artifacts,
documents and other information available for educational use. Most
objects are held for preservation alone. The museum has links with
major colleges and universities throughout the world to facilitate
With the support of the Bishop Museum, the Polynesian Voyaging Society
double-hulled canoe Hōkūle‘a
contributed to rediscovery of native Hawaiian culture, especially
in the revival of non-instrument navigation by which ancient
Polynesians originally settled Hawai i.
One of the most commonly known arts of Hawaii is hula dancing. It
is an interpretive and expressive dance famous for its grace and
romantic feel that expresses stories and feelings from almost any
phase of life.
- Maenette K. Nee-Benham and Ronald H. Heck, Culture and
Educational Policy in Hawai i: The Silencing of Native Voices,
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 1998
- Scott Cunningham, Hawaiian Magic and Spirituality, Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., 2000
- Rona Tamiko Tamiko Halualani, In the Name of Hawaiians: Native
Identities and Cultural Politics], University of Minnesota Press,
- Marshall D. Sahlins, How Natives Think: About Captain Cook, for
Example, University of Chicago Press, 1995
- Thomas G. Thrum, Hawaiian Folk Tales: A Collection of Native
Legends, International Law & Taxation Publishers, 2001
- Thomas G. Thrum, More Hawaiian Folk Tales: A Collection of
Native Legends and Traditions, International Law & Taxation
- Houston Wood, Displacing Natives: The Rhetorical Production of
Hawai i, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1999
- Kanalu G. Terry Young Rethinking the Native Hawaiian Past,
Taylor & Francis, Inc., 1998
- Patrick W. Hanifin