Kamehameha I died in 1819 By that time, foreigners' influence had profoundly eroded many traditional religious and social customs Within a few months of Kamehameha’s death, his wife Ka`ahumanu who was serving as kuhina nui (regent administrator) and his young son and successor, Liholiho (Kamehameha II) overturned the kapu system by violating the `ai kapu which required men and women to eat separately. As a result, the destruction of heiau (temples) and ki`i (images) were triggered. It also resulted in the discontinuation of formal religious services in heiau and of Makahiki celebrations
As a result, the ali`i were no longer seen as representatives of the gods, but rather as authority figures Farming and fishing were affected as well Without Makahiki, there was no period of rest from work, no fixed season when fishing was prohibited, no fallow time mandated for the land The lunar calendar was no longer observed which provided logic and ethic for planting
In the same year, whaling vessels began arriving in the islands `Iliahi or sandalwood was a hot commodity. Enormous quantities of the fragrant wood was being cut down to be shipped elsewhere Because so much time was devoted to cutting down forests of `iliahi for profit, farmers couldn’t work the land and the `iliahi supply quickly dwindled
The introduction of grazing animals – horses, cattle, sheep, and goats, also took its toll on the land. Prior to Western contact, the only hooved animal in the islands was the pua`a or pig. Many of the introduced animals destroyed the native flora, eroded the soil with their hooves, and fouled the waterways. Many plants were also introduced and these became problematic too as they pushed out native plants in the decades to follow
In 1820, the first company of American missionaries came to Hawai`i, initiating yet another wave of changes The missionaries preached the Western concepts of law, property and government to the ali`i who ruled the islands They lobbied the ali`i hard for the institution of private property – a foreign concept to the kanaka maoli Eventually, the ali`i caved form the constant pressure and The Great Māhele was enacted in 1848 and lasted until 1855 The Great Māhele was a process of dividing the land and awarding private title to it In the end, Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III) held 984,000 acres as crown lands. Government land amounted to another 1,495,000 acres. Konohiki land, awarded to 245 chiefs and their families totaled 1,619,000 acres. Kuleana or small parcels of land for maka`āinana and other individuals came to 28,000 acres for 9.337 people, about 1/15 of the population. Of this number, only 6 percent was Hawaiian or part-Hawaiian.
The overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy by American business interests in 1893 resulted in annexation 5 years later by the U.S. Within a century of Western contact, the kanaka maoli had lost their land, their power and their very way of life Thus, it is hardly surprising that some of the traditions that we learned about throughout the semester were swept away by these changes Of course, not all has been lost. Many families continue to pass traditions on throughout the years Others have gained interest in certain aspects of the culture and traditions and have been able to revive some of those traditions
Kanaka maoli have learned to adapt to modern times. Though some may choose to use metal tools and other innovations to work the land, they still have the same passion and fidelity to the past that is inspiring Traditions such as following the lunar calendar for planting persist Many programs expose Hawaiian youth to the proud planting traditions of their culture
Many other practices have been nurtured over the years or have been revived as discussed throughout the semester – kapa making, lā`au lapa`au, lauhala weaving and much more. Among the most prominent sources of promoting this reawakening is hula. Hula has had its own struggle for survival since coming under missionary fire. Formal restrictions on hula began as early as 1830, when Ka`ahumanu banned hula and its accompanying chants to be performed. Hula was practiced openly after Ka`ahumanu’s death in 1832, but the missionaries continued to push for it to be banned. By 1859, licensing for hula performances was required and a $500 fine or 6 month prison term was instituted for violators. The law restricting public hula was repealed in 1870. Public displays of hula were further revived during the reign of Hawai`i’s last king, Kalākaua. The hula renaissance has promoted awareness of the native flora and helped to rejuvenate traditional forms of lei and instrument making.
The Hawaiian culture, like all cultures, is constantly evolving. Awareness of the traditions associated with plants is an important part of preserving and protecting them for future generations Recreating the past is impossible, but it is within our reach to stem the loss of both cultural information and traditional plants to promote its genuine use and continuity of the ways of old Hawai`i.
Plant use today
PLANT USE TODAY
`AI KAPU• 1819 – Kamehameha I died – End of `ai kapu by Liholiho (Kamehameha II) & Ka`ahumanu
LOSS OF THE LUNAR CALENDAR• The rhythms of the moon dictated when planting, harvesting and fishing activities should occur
`ILIAHI• `Iliahi – sandalwood• First commercial venture with the West