[Marxism] Fwd: Those Who Came Before Us » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jan 1 15:37:04 MST 2015
The Achievements of Native Hawai'ians
Those Who Came Before Us
by MICHAEL D. YATES
When we were considering a move to Hawai’i, I looked at a map and was
surprised to see how isolated these islands are, a few specks in the
middle of the Pacific Ocean. I wondered what they were like and how
humans came to find such remote lands. Once we arrived on the Big
Island, we began to explore, haphazardly at first and then with more
purpose, and to read as much as we could about what we were seeing.
There are innumerable signs of the presence of the original inhabitants.
Stone structures, some well-preserved and others just remnants of walls,
dwellings, and burial sites, are everywhere. We have seen thousands of
petroglyphs, pecked laboriously into the lava. Along the western coast,
we have marveled at large spring-fed fish ponds, which the Hawai’ians
connected to the sea in such a way that small fish could get into them
but as they grew larger could not escape. Toward the mountains we have
seen faint traces of what were terraced fields on which farmers grew
sweet potatoes and taro.
The descendants of those who discovered Hawai’i have been badly treated.
When the Europeans and Americans arrived, first Captain James Cook in
1778 and then waves of businessmen and missionaries, multitudes
succumbed to disease, so devastated within a few decades that, despite
the best efforts of the kings and chiefs, they were unable to prevent
the theft of their lands, the destruction of their fields, and the
exploitation of their fertile soils for the production of sugar and
pineapples. There are other reasons, of course, for what happened—the
superior armaments of the Europeans and Americans, naïve collaborations
between Hawai’ian royalty and foreigners. However, the precipitous
decline in the native population, similar to that in Latin America, is
so often neglected by historians that it deserves to be placed front and
center as a causal factor.
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