Archive for the ‘History’ category

Indulge your curiosity on Museum Day

September 18, 2018

Museum Day is an annual celebration of boundless curiosity hosted by Smithsonian magazine. It’s a day we can learn about where we come from, who we are, and the shape of our future.

On Saturday, September 22, 2018 participating museums and cultural institutions are opening their doors with free admission to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket.

There are 10 museums to choose from in Hawaii. Choose a museum wisely – you can download one ticket per email address.

On Oahu:

* Enjoy contemporary artwork by artists with a connection to Hawaii at the Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM), 250 S. Hotel Street, Honolulu, 10 am to 4 pm.

* Immerse yourself in Hawaii’s royal heritage at the only royal residence in the United States, Iolani Palace, 364 S. King Street, Honolulu, 9 am to 3:30 pm.

* Walk in the shoes of Japanese immigrants who sought better lives for themselves  in Hawaii and celebrate the legacy of Hawaii’s own astronaut, Ellison Onizuka, at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, 2454 S. Beretania Street, Honolulu, 9 am to 2 pm.

* Hear stories of Pearl Harbor and see bullet-scarred hangars, historic aircraft, modern jets and helicopters at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, 319 Lexington Blvd, Honolulu, 9 am to 5 pm.

On Hawaii Island:

* See life as it was 150 years ago in a restored Mission House built for New England missionaries David and Sarah Lyman in 1939 at Lyman Museum, 276 Haili Street, Hilo, 10 am to 4:30 pm.

On Kauai:

* Stroll through one of Hawaii’s earliest surviving sugar plantations, with a special exhibit about “Women Making History” and PAULO, the oldest surviving plantation locomotive, at Grove Farm Museum, 4050 Nawiliwili Road, Lihue, 10 am to 2 pm.

* Experience missionary life in Hawaii at Waioli Mission House, 05-5373 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, 9 am to 3 pm.

On Maui:

* Explore the rise of the sugar industry in Hawaii and its impact on Maui’s water resources and multi-ethnic culture at the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum, 3957 Hansen Road, Puunene, 9:30 am to 4 pm.

* Step into the past at the oldest still-standing home on Maui, a “missionary compound” built by Reverend Ephraim Spaulding at Baldwin Home, 120 Dickenson Street, Lahaina, 10 am to 4 pm.

* Learn about the impact of Chinese laborers who built tunnels and irrigation systems and worked in sugar plantations and mills at the Wo Hing Museum, 858 Front Street, Lahaina, 10 am to 4 pm.

Which Hawaii museum will you visit on Museum Day? What connections do you have with Hawaii’s history?

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Learning from the Annexation Debate

March 13, 2018

Chanters descended from the twin curving staircases, their soaring voices filling the rotunda of Ali‘iolani Hale. Barefoot, they led the way through the open doors of the restored 1913 courtroom. We followed silently and sat in hard wooden benches in front of a judge’s bench.

Recently, I attended a performance “Mai Poina: The Annexation Debate,” an eloquent and insightful reenactment that presented the background of Hawai‘i’s annexation through the words of people involved in the debate.

Emma Aima Nāwahī, Ke Aloha Aina newspaper editor and confidant of Queen Lili‘uokalani, and James Keauiluna Kaulia, president of Hui Aloha ‘Āina, greeted each other after a long absence, wondering why they have returned. They drew in the audience by acknowledging us, and realizing that they have been called back for a purpose: to educate us about the events leading up to Hawaii’s annexation in 1898.

Dressed in period costumes, performing in a historical courtroom, Emma (played by Karen Kaulana) and James (played by William Murray) began talking about the annexation debate – using the power of their voices and first-person accounts to walk us back through history. They took us through the so-called “bayonet” constitution of 1887, signed by King Kalākaua,  Queen Lili‘uokalani’s attempt to restore power to the monarchy, and her subsequent overthrow in 1893, to the efforts of Native Hawaiians to organize, petition, and send delegates to the U.S. Capitol to oppose annexation.

They were joined by other historical figures, such as William O. Smith, who played a role in the creation of the Republic of Hawaii, and Senator John Tyler Morgan, U.S. Senator from Alabama who strongly supported annexation. They presented their side of the debate: that the monarchy was ineffective, that Hawai‘i was strategically located, that America needed to ensure their power in the Pacific, and that foreign powers like Japan might seize Hawai‘i – against the wider American policy of nation-building.

With minimal props – chair and podiums – and nothing to distract us from the power of their words, the cast brought to life the emotions, determination, and conviction of the people involved, on both sides of the debate. Karen Kaulana’s clear, incisive voice echoed in the courtroom, a powerful complement to William Murray’s smooth, confident baritone.

In the discussion afterward, we were fortunate to have some knowledgeable audience members who started a discussion about the legality of a Congressional Resolution, whether an attempt to write a new constitution can be considered treason, and how students today are learning about both sides of the annexation debate. We all received an informative viewer’s guide with a timeline, historical photos and illustrations, articles, and the text of the 1897 Resolution Protesting Annexation so that we could take the discussion home.

“Mai Ponina: The Annexation Debate” was free and open to the public, presented by the Hawai‘i Pono‘ī Coalition, a consortium of Native Hawaiian-serving organizations.

What did you learn about Hawai‘i’s annexation in school? How different was it from what students learn today? What can or should be done to address the annexation debate?

Remembering Helen Kinau Wilder

September 10, 2013

Every September, I make a contribution to the Hawaiian Humane Society in honor of my cat Oscar, who was with us for ten years. I’d like to take a moment to remember a woman who made a huge impact on the Hawaiian Humane Society: Helen Kinau Wilder (1869-1954), a Hawaiian heiress and world-traveler who was the first humane officer in Hawaii.

I first read about Wilder in the Hawaiian Humane Society Newsletter (June-August 2012), and I wanted to learn more about this remarkable woman. The most complete information that I’ve found about her is in two articles: “Helen Kinau Wilder: A ‘New Woman’ in the Pacific Islands” on the YesterYear Once More blog, and “In Search of Charlie Chan” by Geoffrey Dunn, which claims Wilder as a long-time Santa Cruz resident.

Helen Kinau Wilder on Horseback

Wilder was deputized as a special constable of the Marshal of the Republic of Hawaii in 1897. At the time, women were the driving force behind animal welfare. Officers in Hawaii ventured out on horseback to investigate animal mistreatment, which included 285 overworked horses and mules in 1900. With their own money, Wilder and her friends hired Officer Chang Apana (the inspiration for Earl der Biggers’ Charlie Chan) as the Society’s officer to investigate animal crimes on the Big Island. Other humane officers, such as Rose Davison and Lucy Ward (daughter of Victoria Ward), followed Wilder’s example and investigated animal cruelty and mistreatment.

News of her appointment and commitment to animals and children reached across the United States. In 1899, Fort Wayne News (Fort Wayne, Indiana) reported: “Honolulu has a policewoman. Her name is Helen Wilder, she is 23 years old, and is a regularly appointed officer of the Hawaiian police force. She wears a soft felt hat, on which glitters the silver star that shows that she is a policewoman. She carries a revolver and is not afraid to use it. She has made several arrests unaided. Miss Wilder loves children and animals, and wherever she is, or whatever she may be doing, carries a pair of handcuffs, which she is quick to snap upon the wrists of the enemies of her small and lowly friends.”

She sounds like someone I would like to know and have on my side. “Helen Wilder is as much a part of Hawaii as is Mauna Loa. Visitors never fail to ask who she is. For with close-cropped hair and confidant stride, her soft hat and shining star, she never fails to attract attention. Hawaiian society, which is itself complex and odd, does not often frown upon her eccentricities,” enthused the Hornellsville Weekly Tribune (Hornellsville, New York) in 1897.

“They like her because she is bright and original, because her personality is as refreshing as it is peculiar. They recognize her clear-grained human worth. Men who are tired of the inane or the clinging vine act find in Helen Wilder a comrade who is interesting, amusing and altogether charming.”

Her personal life was also filled with excitement: a lawsuit after Wilder arrested a mule driver without a warrant (she left the courthouse victorious, humming “My Honolulu Lady”), with a broken engagement to a possible gold-digger, and a secret marriage after which she decided to spend her honeymoon alone.

Is there an animal rights advocate whom you admire? What causes do you champion?