How do local Hawaiians feel about tourists?
Subtropical rainforests and long beaches alternate with barren volcanic landscapes. There are many plant and animal species worldwide only in Hawaii. The archipelago is located in the middle of the Pacific, 3860 kilometers from North America. Of the approximately 130 islands, only the eight largest have been developed - around 1.4 million people live here.
The first people in Hawaii were Polynesians, who probably came to the archipelago around 800 AD. Some sources even assume an even earlier settlement. To this day it remains a mystery why the Polynesians from the South Pacific covered the approximately 3,500 kilometers across the open sea with their boats.
These pioneers brought their social system with them to their new homeland and founded the so-called "Old Hawaii" - a monarchy based on a legal system that set limits to the ruler's power. Another feature of this Polynesian society was that its members believed in innumerable gods.
The British navigator James Cook was also initially worshiped as a god when he landed on the Hawaiian island of Kauai during one of his expeditions on January 18, 1778.
However, when the island residents discovered that the supposed deity Cook was only a human being, conflicts and violent clashes kept coming back. The explorer finally died on a Hawaiian beach in February 1779 after being clubbed.
James Cook brought new plants and animals to the islands, but also vermin and diseases. Within 75 years, 240,000 Polynesians died of flu, cholera, leprosy or sexually transmitted diseases.
In 1810 the Polynesian Kamehameha I took power. He united all islands into one kingdom in bitter wars. Before that, each island had its own ruler. To this day, he is revered by the Hawaiians as a pioneering ruler.
The stolen paradise
After the death of Kamehameha I in 1819, the new ruler Kamehameha II and his wife, Queen Kaahumanu, oriented themselves towards the western world.
From then on, they and the subsequent rulers were strongly influenced by the devout missionaries from Boston, America, who came to the archipelago in the 1820s.
Hula dancing was banned in 1825, the Polynesians had to wear clothes from then on, and in 1840 the first Hawaiian constitution based on the American and European model was introduced.
When the last Queen of Hawaii, Liliuokalani, was overthrown in a coup in 1893, the end of the monarchy on the archipelago had come.
The Republic of Hawaii was finally occupied and Americanized by the United States in 1898, and the Hawaiian language was replaced by English as the official language. On August 21, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially declared Hawaii the 50th state of the United States.
Tourism as the main source of income
The Americans also brought the tourists to the islands. With the first non-stop flight from the mainland in 1927, the number of visitors rose steadily. Tourism gradually replaced agriculture as the largest economic sector in the archipelago.
In 1967 there were already a million tourists from all over the world who came to Hawaii every year. Today this number has leveled off at around seven million visitors a year.
At the edge of society
There is no uniform culture in Hawaii. The archipelago is one of the largest melting pots on earth. In addition to the large groups of immigrant Americans and Asians, around eight percent of the population are Hawaiians, around 6.6 percent of whom are of purely Polynesian descent.
Hawaiians are being marginalized. Most of them were farm workers and lost their jobs when the plantations closed in the first half of the 20th century.
The locals could no longer make a living from fishing and growing taro (a taro from which the traditional food poi is made). The new sources of income in Hawaii, tourism and even the surfing industry, were largely reserved for the Americans and Asians.
This development, which has persisted for generations, means that most Hawaiians belong to an underclass social class with a high rate of unemployment and crime.
Revival of traditions
Many Hawaiians are organizing today to revive the "old Hawaiian" culture and to reflect on their traditions. Not many islanders speak Hawaiian anymore.
There are now several schools again that teach exclusively in Hawaiian. Hula courses also teach the children the traditional form of the hula, which describes the history of Hawaii with its sequence of steps and has nothing to do with the dance for the tourists. The myths and legends of the gods are also taught again.
The independence movement also has the goal of separating Hawaii from the United States and reintroducing the monarchy. The "Akaka Bill" has been discussed in Hawaii and Washington for years. This is a bill that would give the Hawaiians similar rights as the North American Indians and recognize them as a separate people. Many Hawaiians see their future in this.
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