This week we’re going to the most Americanized of all Polynesian groups of islands, a group of islands so Americanized that they’re actually part of America. Got it…? We’re talking about Hawaii! The history of the Hawaiian islands is not unlike the history of other Polynesian islands–settlement by Polynesians, a late 1700s visit by British uber-explorer James Cook, unification into a Kingdom, domination and eventual annexation by a foreign power. What sets Hawaii apart from all other Polynesian islands (with the exception of New Zealand, which we’ll visit next week) is the extent to which the Hawaiian islands have integrated into the colonial power that annexed them, and the way that integration has transformed all aspects of Hawaiian life.
— HISTORY: “About 1,500 years ago Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands are thought to have first set foot on the islands we now know as Hawaii….”
— MUSIC: “Before Westerners arrived in the Hawaiian islands, Hawaiian folk musicfeatured many kinds of chant-songs, known as mele, and much spiritual dance, known as hula….”
— LANGUAGE: “In Hawaiian, hello and goodbye are both the same word: ‘Aloha.’ Aloha also means ‘love,’ ‘affection,’ and much more; the ‘Spirit of Aloha’ is the part of the essence of Hawaii….”
— WHEN YOU GO THERE: “Hawaii may be crawling with tourists, and you may even have been one of them at a time, but not all the main Hawaiian islands are tourist meccas….”
— LUAU: “A Hawaiian luau is more than just a party. A luau is a gathering, a happening, an experience. A luau is a celebration, a joyous exultation and, at its essence, a FEAST….”