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Ancient Hawaiian Civilization

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Kela Torres

on 12 March 2013

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Transcript of Ancient Hawaiian Civilization

Religion and Belief System Before the arrival of missionaries in 1820, Hawaiians had many gods. The Hawaiian chant consisting of 2102 lines, the Kumulipo, ties the royal families to the gods. The four main gods are Kane, Ku, Lono, and Kanaloa. The Hawaiian demi-gods included Pele and many others. The complex relationships between the Hawaiian gods are explained in legends. Every Hawaiian family had their own personal god which protected them. It was believed that spirits could communicate with the living through dreams and in the form of their god. The Hawaiians built many temple and placed offerings to altars. Most offerings were edible, wrapped in ti leaves to keep evil spirits away. Beliefs were later changed by missionaries, but did not die. Modern Hawaiian priests would bless ceremonies with a combination of Hawaiian chants and Christian prayers.
Geography The Hawaiian Islands are made of 8 islands; Hawaii, Maui, Kaho’olawe, Lanai’i, Moloka’i, Oahu, Kauai, Ni’ihau. There are 13 volcanoes in total on the islands. Hawaii, the main island, is the biggest island. This island is home to 7 active volcanoes, including the famous Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Oahu has 2 volcanoes, Maui has 2 and Molokai has 2. Hawaii is known for it’s tropical environment and beautiful beaches. Every island contains both diverse geographical features, such as white-sand beaches and luscious green mountains. The “wettest place on earth” with an average of 460 inches of rain a year (over 38 feet) is Mount Waialeale on the island of Kauai.
Ancient Hawaii The Hawaiian Islands were first discovered by Polynesian voyagers from the southern island Tahiti and Marquis Islands. Over 800 years ancient Polynesians explored 16 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean by canoes. Around 300-600 A.D., the Polynesians brought with them their native culture including chants, stories, animals and plants to the new land. Around 1000-1300 A.D., voyagers traveled back and forth between Hawaii and the “society islands”. Tahitian high priests and chiefs introduced new forms of religion and social structure. After the year 1300, the long distance traveling ended. For centuries after, Hawaiian natives thrived until the overthrow of the last reigning Hawaiian monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani in 1893 by American forces.
Other Hawaiian Gods Iao – infinite source of creation.
Na’wahine – goddess of serenity.
Kane – the god of sunlight.
Ku – the god of war and male generating power.
Lono – the god of learning, intellect, and freedom.
Kanal0a – the god of the ocean.
Wakea – god of earth and nature.
Honua – spirit of the earth.
Pele – the goddess of the volcanoes.
Social Structure Ancient Hawaiians had a kānāwai, which are strict regulations and a system of laws, that told the social order. The mō‘ī, the kings and queens, along with their ‘aha kuhina, chiefs and advisers, took up the highest class. The ali’i, nobility, were below them. Next were the kāhuna, the priests and people known as professionals with specific skills. The maka‘āinana, commoners and farmers, were the following social class. Finally, the lowest class was known as kauā, the outcast members.
Kela Torres Ancient Hawaiian Civilization Technology Advances and Innovations Language There were no large villages; most permanent villages were near the sea and on sheltered beaches. Commoners houses were built by themselves. The framework of most houses consisted of posts, poles, and slender rods tied together with coarse twine. The roofs were covered with ti, pandanus, pili grass, or sugarcane leaves. The house structures are described as resembling haystacks. A door and an additional “air hole” to provide ventilation were also included. Grass or palm leaves covered the earth floors of the houses. Fishing and farming were techniques of finding food. Commoners enjoyed recreation time in the form of games and sports. The favorite sport was surfboarding, the sport at which they were most proficient. A big part of Hawaiian culture was dance and music. Hawaiian hula tied music, dance, and poetry with strong religious overtones. They also created their own instruments such as Uliuili’s and Ukulele’s.
Before the arrival of missionaries in 1820, Hawaiians communicated their culture and traditions orally from generation to generation. Once the American missionaries arrived, they soon created a written language based on the sounds they heard. The Hawaiians quickly adjusted to written literacy. Until the late 19th century, Hawaiian was the primary language of the islanders. After the overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani by American forces in 1893, Hawaiian language was banned from instruction of all schools until 1986. Today the Hawaiian islands have two official languages, English and Hawaiian. The language has 12 letters in it’s written form. There are 5 vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and 8 consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, w). The apostrophe is used in many words to emphasize a vocal pause. The macron mark is used as an assistance to proper pronunciation.
Organization of Government The political hierarchy of the Hawaiian islands was thoroughly organized. High chiefs controlled different parts of an island, a whole island, or several islands. Many wanted to expand their domain but none were successful until Kamehameha. King Kamehameha was successful with the help of European weaponry and military expertise. When Captain Cook arrived, four high chiefs ruled the eight main islands. Each chiefdom was ruled by an ali’i-’ai-moku, or supreme chief. He was simply referred to as ali’i or ali’i-nui, chief or great chief. The ali’i was highest rank among the nobility. Two officers assisted the ali’i-nui, and the kahuna-nui, or chief priest, conducted important religious practices. After the ali’i-nui gained power, he took the lands he wanted and divided the rest among his chiefs. In return the chiefs rewarded the retainers and established a bonding relationship with the ali’i-nui. Commoners had no voice in Hawaiian society. The king had the authority to do almost anything. The ali’i-nui’s ability as leader determined if his people prospered or suffered. If the people felt that the ruler was unjust, they would either kill him, or move to another kingdom. Disputes between kingdoms were very common, and were a routine of life.
Bibliography http://www.mauiculture.net/mookuauhau/index.html

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