Trans-Pacific Exchanges between Hawai’i, Spain and Latin America

While Spanish galleons on route to either Mexico or the Philippines might have stumbled on Hawai’i prior to the 18th century, the first undisputed documented presence of Spaniard in the Hawaiian Islands was of Don Francisco de Paula Marin.  He deserted a Spanish naval ship and became a resident of Honolulu around 1793 or 1794. Marin was originally from Jerez de la Frontera in Cadiz, Spain, and impressed into naval service as a seaman.  Jerez de la Frontera was well known for its agriculture and that seems to have been where Marin’s passion lay. Marin had knowledge of skills involving medicinal herbs, wine making, and wheat production. He also spent a great deal of time in Mexico and the Pacific Northwest so he was familiar also with many of crops from the Americas.   He arrived in Hawai’i as King Kamehameha I was unifying the Hawaiian Kingdom.  He quickly impressed King Kamehameha I and the king incorporated him into his court.  Eventually Marin served in various capacities including accountant, business adviser, interpreter, herbalist and agricultural adviser.  Despite being a Roman Catholic, Marin lived in accordance to Hawaiian customs and had three conjugal unions with chiefly women which produced numerous children. Through his service to King Kamehameha I and his business acumen, Marin acquired large land leases and wealth. He also introduced a number of plants to Hawai’i including:  apples, apricots, asparagus, avocados, cabbage, carrots, chile pepper, a variety of coffee, eggplant, lemons, limes, macadamia, nectarines, nuts, olives, onions, oranges, parsley, peas, peaches, pears, a variety of pineapple, Irish potatoes, rice, tea, tobacco, and tomatoes.  
Marin, in his role as interpreter, also helped to broker a treaty between King Kamehameha I and Captain Hipólito Bouchard in 1818. This Treaty of Friendship between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata (now called Argentina) is considered the first international recognition of the independence of Argentina by an outside power.   Calle Hawai in Buenos Aires is named after this event and King Kamehameha I was made a Lt Colonel in the Argentine army.  This treaty also marked the first treaty that the Hawaiian Kingdom made as an independent power and reaffirms that Kamehameha I saw himself as an equal ruler and not a vassal of some other power like Great Britain, the US, France or Spain.  It also reaffirms Kamehameha I’s foresightedness that the Spanish Empire in the Americas was collapsing and Hawai’i needed to open new channels of friendship, trades and diplomacy to these emerging Latin American nations.
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It is also interesting to note that around the same time as Marin arriving in Hawai’i, developments were occurring with Spanish Captain Estevan Jose Martinez, who was key in the Spanish exploration of the Pacific Northwest. In 1789, Martinez had captured British corvette under the command of Captain James Colnett in Nootka Sound which almost triggered a war between Spain and Great Britain. The Viceroy of New Spain, based in Mexico City and uncle to Martinez, had ordered Spanish vessels to stop Russian and British ships from colonizing the Pacific Northwest. Among the crew of Colnett, there happened to have been Hawaiians in particular a chief named Ka’iana or Tiana, Tajana or Tayana in Spanish.   Ka’iana was the half- brother or cousin (depending on the account) of King Kaumuali’i and the first Hawaiian documented to have visited China, the Philippines, Java, California, Mexico, Alaska, British Colombia, Oregon  and Washington.  Martinez treated Ka’iana well due to his travel experience and rank as a chief. Before being released from Spanish custody, Ka’iana and his fellow Hawaiian crewmates helped Martinez and the Franciscan Father Lorenzo Socies to compile a 200 word Spanish-Hawaiian vocabulary which was published through the Colegio de San Fernando in Mexico City and given to the Viceroy. This was the first time a Hawaiian vocabulary list outside of English speakers had been compiled and the first time Hawaiian was compared to Nootka, Nahuatl, Spanish, and Philippine languages. The purpose of the vocabulary list was to help induce the Spanish government in Mexico City to sent a Roman Catholic Mission to Hawai’i, which would not happen due to the outbreak of the Mexican War for Independence.  But Ka’iana and his crew’s presence that early on shows that while we may remember people such Marin coming to Hawai’i, Hawaiian sailors and adventurers were also going around Latin America and the world.  The interaction and exchanges between Hawai’i, Spain and Latin America was going two ways,

During the reign of King Kamehameha III another event would help to shape Hawai’i’s ties to Latin America.  In 1793 British Captain George Vancouver gave King Kamehameha I five head of black longhorn cattle as well as a herd of sheep.  In 1803, Vancouver also gave Kamehameha horses. Kamehameha set them all free to roam the plains of the Big Island of Hawai’i where they multiplied and became a nuisance. As they were technically the cattle, sheep and horses of the king and therefore his property and was under kapu, people could do very little.  King Kamehameha III, seeing the problem, wrote to Mexico in 1832 asking for vaqueros(professional herders or “cowboys”) to deal with the cattle and to train Hawaiians in ranching.  In 1836, Mexico sent about 200 vaqueros from its region of Alta California (California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas were still all part of Mexico). Since these vaqueros spoke Español or Spanish, Hawaiians called them paniolo. These paniolo introduced the ranching, dive pit herding, the Mexican saddle, the guitar, and the cowboy hat.  Eventually many of vaqueros returned to Mexico, but their legacies live on through the Hawaiian paniolo traditions and Parker Ranch. Also from this cultural exchange, a distinctive Hawaiian type of music emerged–kī hōʻalu—that blended vaquero guitar music with Hawaiian rhythms and expressions.  Another important aspect is that the Hawaiian paniolo traditions are older than American cowboy traditions by some 30 years. As a side note, one of the promoters of paniolo traditions was Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, who admired the paniolos.
Another important tie between Hawai’i and Latin America was the arrival of the first Puertorriqueños or Puerto Ricans in 1900.  In August of 1899, San Ciriaco, a huge hurricane, punished Puerto Rico for two days with winds of 110mph – 150mph.  It left the island completely devastated with thousands of agriculture workers unemployed. The Hawai’i Sugar Planters Association (HSPA) was looking for experienced workers for their plantations and saw the potential of Filipino and Puerto Rican workers. The Philippines and Puerto Rico had just been “acquired” by the United States in 1898 and due to colonial politics, Filipinos and Puerto Ricans were considered US nationals rather than aliens (unllike the Japanese and Chinese) and therefore would be exempted from alien exclusion acts.  When the HSPA found out about the hurricane, they saw it as an advantage and quickly started recruiting desperate workers from Puerto Rico.  Between 1900 and 1901, the HSPA brought 5,000 Puerto Ricans workers to toil on Hawai’i’s plantations. As a result of this migration and with many local Puerto Ricans no longer speaking Spanish, some Puerto Rican traditions and foods were adapted.  The traditional “arroz con gandules” became “gandule rice” and “pasteles” become “pateles.”

Around the same time in 1907, the HSPA also began to recruit Spanish workers mainly from Málaga. These Spanish workers were mainly recruited to replace the local Portuguese, who were increasingly leaving the plantations for other employment opportunities.  This importation of Spanish workers continued for ten years but by 1930, over 95% of these Spanish workers either left for the continental US or went back to Spain as they found plantation conditions unbearable.

1.  Nathaniel Portlock, A Voyage Round the World . . . in 1785, 1786, 1787, and 1788 (1789; New York: Da Capo Press, 1968)
2.  John Meares, Voyages Made in the Tears 1788 and 1789 from China to the North West Coast of America . . . (1790; New York: Da Capo Press, 1967)
3. Ralph S. Kuykendall, The Hawaiian Kingdom, vol. 1, 1778-1854 Foundation and Transformation (Honolulu: U P of Hawai’i, 1938) 429-30.
4.  Samuel M. Kamakau, Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii (Honolulu: Kamehameha Schools Press, 1961) 5. David Samwell, “Journal,” The Journals of Captain Cook . . ., by John C. Beaglehole (Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 1967).
5. George Dixon, A Voyage Round the World . . . (1789; New York: Da Capo Press, 1968) 

Hawaiian Hairstyles

In sketches from John Webber in the 1770s, both Hawaiian males and females were depicted with long and short hair. An argument could be made for or against long hair in the cultural sense as both had a place in pre-Contact Hawaiian society. For example, the cut known as ‘oki mahiole is known to be a cut used for those in mourning and those who are practictioners of certain akua. Shoulder length hair or braided hair tended to be associated with Kū. The depictions of Kū and of Kanaloa tend to actually depict braids. Dyed hair, particularly reddish or white, and long flowing wavy hair tended to be associated with Pele practitioners. In a person’s life, these styles tend to change. Often, due to the influence of Christianity, we tend to think that Kanaka Maoli simply stuck with one or a two akua for their life. But in actually, devotion to one akua tended to shift. Kamehameha for example was a devotee of Pele and once unification was achieved, he shifted to the mo’o sect of Kihawahine. Sometimes this shift was marked with a new haircut.
In the Hawaiian mourning cycle, cutting one’s hair was highly symbolic and ritualistic. Chiefs ritually cut their hair when they lost a battle. Chiefs also ritually cut their hair in specific forms to show their mourning. ʻAko poʻo ʻōʻū (to cut off all the hair at the back of the head and leave hair only in front) was a mourning haircut often associated with chiefs who lost a child. The papa.ʻiole, an irregular “rice bowl” type of haircut, was a cut often associated with chiefs who were in mourning for comrades. The ʻoki kīkepa, cutting or shaving one side of the head, was also a ritual haircut for mourning. The ʻoki pohe or crew cut was another ritual haircut done in times of mourning. These haircuts apply to both males and females.
One of the reasons why such haircuts were attached to such mourning rituals is the time and effort it would take niho ‘oki (shark tooth haircut tool), niho pūpū or niho ʻā pele (obsidian or volcanic glass haircutting tool) to have one’s haircut in accordance to the mourning rituals. Hawaiians of old deeply valued effort in general and such outward displays of mourning and affection showed such efforts.
One must remember that in pre-Contact Hawaiian society, mourning was not simply a private matter of grief, but a public display of affection and loyalty complete with kanikau (wailing), temple rituals, ritualistic hair cuts, ritualistic meals, and specific kapu. It was thought that such displays of affection, ritual, and loyalty in the practical sense helped mourners in the grief process and to affirm ties of community. It can also have a cleansing and therapeutic effect, as it is still common among modern people in many different cultures today to have their hair redone after a messy break up or a traumatizing death in the family. In the Hawaiian spiritual sense, it helped the departed know that his/her life was appreciated and that it’s okay for them to rejoin their ancestors in Pō.
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Picture: Tikhanov’s of King Kamehameha the Great (1818) sporting a cut known as the ‘oki mahiole when he went into formal morning.
While some arguments through Hawaiian culture could be made for keeping the hair long or for cutting in the ʻoki huelo (short hair), I personally think that schools including Kamehameha Schools should allow Hawaiian children to either grow their hair long or to cut it because both outward expressions can be found in Hawaiian cultural norms.

Kamehameha And His Foreign Advisers

I read a comment of someone on Facebook diminishing King Kamehameha’s accomplishments because of his use of foreign advisers. Every country of that era utilized denizens (foreign nationals) as advisers, teachers, and bureaucrats. Mary Queen of Scots had an Italian advisory. Catherine the Great Empress of all the Russias had French and English advisers. The Wanli Emperor of China had Father Matteo Ricci, an Italian, as an advisor. In Polynesia, the Royal Families of Tonga, Samoa, and Tahiti all had foreign advisers in the 19th century. Race and nationality itself in those days was much more fluid than it is in modern times with border controls, passports and immigration check points. Furthermore, many rulers had foreign advisers because foreign advisers could be dismissed easily and owed their allegiance to the king himself rather than an inherited position or long standing wealth. Today, it’s somehow a big deal. Kamehameha’s use of foreign advisers, which was pretty normal for it’s day in most parts of the world, yet it is used to attack Kamehameha but also to imply a certain negative racial undertone about Hawaiians in general. There is also an assumption that these foreign “advisers” merely were involved with warfare. Some were. But most were involved in economic and agricultural activities. Some also served as teachers, land managers, merchants of government monopolies and translators. Hawai’i’s economy had drastically changed after Captain Cook and there was a need to acquire new skills, new perspectives, and new technologies from the outside world and Kamehameha was not afraid of change and listening to the ideas of others. Kamehameha also knew that Hawai’i could either be overwhelmed with the new changes from the outside world or Hawai’i could try to manage and direct it. He chose the latter.
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Jacques Arago: The Baptism of Kalanimoku aboard the Uranie
Between the years 1778 to 1820, on average over 72 foreign ships annually had docked in Hawai’i and that number doubled between the years 1820 to 1850. The esteem Papa I’i had noted that commoners had acquired guns from these foreign ships and the chiefs were acquiring canons and other foreign weaponry. If commoners were acquiring guns, how much more a Hawaiian chief? If one imagines King Kalaniopu’u’s troops marching against Kamehameha’s troops with spears, one would be mistaken. Kalanaiopu’u’s troops had muskets and canons. Some of the canon marks can be seen even till this day at the Nu’uanu Pali. But these weapons were no match for Kamehameha’s innovative use of the floating canons–English canons mounted on Hawaiian lava sleds known as hōlua. Kamehameha often is remembered as a warrior but the islands ultimately were united simply by warfare, but by diplomacy and marriage. King Kaumuali’i ceded Kaua’i twice to Kamehameha (1810 and 1816) and he would eventually enter into a conjugal union with Ka’ahumanu I.
We also know that Kings Kaumuali’i and King Kalaniopu’u also had their own foreign advisors. We know more about Kamehameha’s advisers because Kamehameha ultimately won the war and specifically we know a great deal about John Young and Isaac Davis. We know about Davis and Young because they married ranking Hawaiian ali’i women and their hapa descendants would be history makers in their own right such as Queen Emma. But there were others. There was Francisco de Paula Marin, who served primarily as an agricultural advisor to King Kamehameha. We also know that Kamehameha’s court included at least 8 Japanese who had been shipwrecked in 1806 and served the king. We also know that by 1790 there were also a few Chinese who had originally served under Kalaniopu’u (hence why they left on O’ahu) but then ended up serving under Kamehameha the Great after the later was defeated. They probably were other nationalities who had also served under Kamehameha such as Mexicans and South Americans who were part of the Spanish Empire at that time and hence the Hawaiian name “Paniolo” (likely from the words “La Española” and Español) for cowboy. But as our history books privileges English language primary sources, especially those written by American writers, in Hawaiian history, we don’t know a lot about these other peoples. But the roots of the multi-ethnic society that Hawai’i enjoys today goes back to Kamehameha’s times.
I also would add that Kamehameha also ensured that the foreign advisors and teachers knew their place and respected both Hawaiians and Hawaiian culture–which is different from what happened later on in the 19th century when a few foreign advisers (and their grandchildren) would eventually impose their own culture, poltiical system, legal system, etc.

Serpents of Austronesia

A Māori dragon-serpent or taniwha (purple)

A Cham dragon-serpent or nag(a) (beige)

Serpents of Austronesia

One of the interesting things about Austronesian -speakers and people is the symbol of the serpent. One of the reasons why its a bit odd is because the serpent appears in art and in legends in the Eastern part of Austronesia (Hawai`i, Aotearoa-New Zealand, Tahiti, and Rapanui)–places that do not have snakes at all. In Austronesia, its depiction goes back to the BC era (thus predating the Aztecs and Mayans) and basically has the same characteristics and style. Normally the serpent (taniwhā in Māori, kihā in Hawaiian, naga in parts of Southeast Asia, etc) is depicted with hands (3 to 4 fingers), aquatic, and with a beak-like mouth.

In legends, the serpent is often a shape shifter and can be good or bad. It is also seen as being immortal and in some cases, an ancestral guardian spirit for a particular royal family or tribe. With the Chams of Viet Nam and Cambodia, the naga was one of the major symbols of the Champa Kingdom and a protector of their people. Among the Māori of Aotearoa (New Zealand), it is also not uncommon to see serpents decorated in the beams (or ribs) of a marae or ceremonial meeting house. The Waikato iwi or tribe in the western part of Aotearoa is said to have been protected by eight taniwhā, which is why they could never be conquered.
In the island of Mindanao in southern Philippines, in the house beams of the houses of the Maranao, the
naga is often depicted in house beams as a protector, though due to Islamization the depiction has become more abstract than it used to be. Also in Mindanao, according to the John Garvin’s Manobos of Mindanao (published by the US National Academy of Science in 1931):

The story of the creation of the world varies throughout the Agúsan Valley. In the district surrounding Talakógon creation is attributed to Makalídung, the first great Manóbo. The details of his work are very meager. He set the world up on posts, some say iron posts, with one in the center. At this central post he has his abode, in company with a python, according to the version of some, and whenever he feels displeasure toward men he shakes the post, thereby producing an earthquake and at the same time intimating to man his anger. It is believed that should the trembling continue the world would be destroyed.

In the same district it is believed that the sky is round and that its extremities are at the limits of the sea. Somewhere near these limits is an enormous hole called “the navel of the sea,” through which the waters descend and ascend. This explains the rise and the fall of the tide.

In Hawai`i, on the other hand, kihā were sometimes depicted in petroglyphs and in hula particularly on the island of Moloka`i. One of the patron deities of King Kamehameha I was a deity known as Kihāwahine (“Dragon Woman”). This deity was said to be shape shifter who appeared as a green dragon and in a green sarong as a woman. The devotees and priestesses (males were not allowed to become priests under this deity) normally refrained from wearing green in deference to her when approaching one of her shrines. One of the major attributes of this particularly deity was that her favored priestesses and devotees were said to have the power of prophesy and be able to shape shift–attributes a warrior-king like King Kamehameha would have desired.