Hawaii’s history in story and legend is ancient and proud, dating back at least a thousand years before American colonies became a nation in 1776. Although the exact date is unknown, it is estimated that Polynesians first settled on the Islands between A.D. 300 and 600. The Hawaiians were a people without writing, who preserved their history in chants and legends. Much of the early history has disappeared with the death of the kahunas and other learned men whose function it was to pass on this knowledge, by means of chants and legends, to succeeding generations.
Modern Hawaiian history begins on January 20, 1778, when Captain James Cook’s expedition made its first contact with the Hawaiian people on the islands of Kauai and Niihau. While Captain Cook was probably not the first man to “discover” the Hawaiian Islands, he was the first known European to arrive. In 1893, the United States overthrew Hawaii’s Queen Liliuokalani and the Monarchy of the independent nation of Hawaii. Five years later Hawaii became a territory of the United States and in 1959 it became the 50th American state.
The most isolated land mass in the world, Hawaii is like a third world country with first world capital, under American law. Furthermore, many Hawaiian assets are owned by investors from the United States and Japan. A well-known book, “Land and Power in Hawaii,” by Gavan Daws, describes how possession of land and water rights is commensurate with power and rule on the Islands. Hawaii is currently experiencing a growing sovereignty movement that may result in reservations of land being created for Native Hawaiians, similar in some ways to reservations for American Indians. It remains highly unlikely that Hawaii could again become an independent nation.