Theindigenous people in Hawaii have undergone persecution and social andeconomic discrimination in a similar nature to the ones that wereinflicted on the American Indians on the United States mainland.However, according to some activists the main distinction is that theinjustice has been and continues to be committed by Asian heritagesettlers rather than the European heritage invaders. Many otherscholars and critics have also come out to oppose these insinuations,claiming that the Native Hawaiians have actively chosen to be in thecondition they are in. This paper discusses the similarities anddifferences between the Asian heritage settlers and the Europeanheritage invaders in the ways they treated the Hawaiian indigenouspeople and the American Indian country respectively, examines theireffects on the social-political status of the Hawaiians, and assesseswhether the native Hawaiians could have been better off without themigration and the statehood that resulted.
Similaritybetween the treatments
Manyindigenous people around the world are struggling for their rights tothe ownership of their ancestral lands and their self-determination.During this same time, the Native Hawaiians are fighting their ownbattles so that they can achieve national liberation from thecolonialism by the United States. The fact that Hawaiians suffer fromthe highest rates of homelessness, poverty, unemployment, healthproblems, incarceration for property crimes and substance abuse yetthey are in their own homeland is not a coincidence (Fujikane andJonathan 99).
Hawaiiis just like the United States, which is its colonial parent sincethey are both settler societies. This implies that Hawaii is asociety where the people and their indigenous culture have beensuppressed, marginalized and even murdered so that the settlers whogained dominance of their lands could benefit (Whyte 45). Within anysettler society, issues of civil rights are those concerning theprotection of the settlers from each other and from the state. Theintra-settler discussions do not include the injustices that are doneagainst the Native people, and therefore, the issues are not includedin the parameters of civil rights. The case has been observed betweenthe European invaders and the American Indians as well as between theNative Hawaiians and the Asian settlers (Fujikane 1).
Justlike the American Indians, the Native Hawaiians have suffered theloss of their sovereignty and land, with the perpetrators declaringHawaii as belonging to no one. Even though many groups have claimedto have been involved in the building of the region. However, a closeexamination of the roadways, the industries, schools and newersubdivisions would reveal a U.S. settler colonialism that is eminentin Hawaii (Smandych 86). However, it is not the Asians that havelargely contributed to the degraded condition of the NativeHawaiians. The major contributors have been the white settlers. TheAsians are accused of having collaborated with the perpetrators ofthe crimes against the Native Hawaiians, especially the Caucasians.However, their collaboration was only a move to fit in the societyit was only their move to gain a free and equal status with thecitizens of the United States. Therefore, they, the Asian Americanshad been subject to similar discriminations and poor treatments bythe U.S. citizens as well as officials. There is even a time when theChinese were prohibited from becoming American citizens through law"The Chinese Removal Act". This implies that the Asians,including the Chinese, were similarly mistreated by the USgovernment, just like the native Hawaiians (Svirsky 334). TheJapanese Americans also lost their lands and culture. They have losttheir link with their homeland and regard Hawaii as their home. Theirchoice to embrace their American citizenship and freedom is thereforenot a reflection of any ill intention towards their native Hawaiiancounterparts, who have chosen to remain as an independent sovereigntyfrom the American government and its citizenship. It is their choice,and not the Asian, native settlers that have contributed to theirsocial, political status (Whyte 65).
Accordingto Fujikane, the Asians collaborated with the Caucasians inoppressing the ethnic Hawaiians. They migrated into the region andhad since attempted to take over the Hawaiians` lands, claiming thatthey are also entitled to these lands. However, their oppression wasnot generally active. The Asian nationals, especially from Japan andChina, immigrated to the United States especially during the goldrush (Goebert and Stephanie 161). Their interaction with the Hawaiiannatives has been a point of contention since they obtained aposition. Their arrival, just like that of the European invadersbrought stress to the native communities, the Indian Americans. Theybrought with them diseases, competition for existing resources, andconflicts (Wu 481).
TheAsian settlers warred with the natives of the land over parcels ofland and, due to their numbers and strength they were able tocapture a majority of the lands. Even though they did not relate withthe Indians on a master to slave relationship, their actions andstruggle to achieve freedom and equality was harmful to the status ofthe Hawaiians (Bischoff 3).
Thenative Hawaiians, similar to the other Native Americans have theright of ownership to the land of Hawaii subject to their discoveryof the region. The land is regarded as their heritage. However, theAsian heritage settlers sought, and still seek to claim the land astheir heritage too. The contention was, and still remains to be, whoactually owns Hawaii (Fujikane and Jonathan 185).
Differencebetween the treatments
Ashas been discussed, the Asians did not make their American Indiancounterparts like the European heritage invaders did. They wereequally subject to the oppression and mistreatment of the morepowerful white Americans (Henderson 17). However, since they werethemselves more powerful than the Native Hawaiians, the AmericanIndians, it was imperative that they could use their power to seek ahigher status. They took up all the land they could for themselvesand left many of the American Indians homeless (Barnes 127). The jobopenings that were available in the area were depleted, and theAmerican Indians have been left to lag behind in terms ofdevelopment. The children of the Asian heritage settlers see thestate as their homeland and heritage, just as those of the nativeIndian Americans (Simpson 6). According to them, the land does notpreeminently belong to anyone, but rather a land of many cultures.They have argued and protested that all Americans can own Hawaii andattach a sense of belonging to it (Ertola 9).
However,despite all of these claims, the population of the Native Hawaiiansis declining due to the factors and influences that result from theirinteraction with the foreign culture (Svirsky 328). The new cultureis overtaking their usual way of life and causing them to endurepoverty and social oppression. Even though they see themselves as thenative citizens of the region, they have been treated by the Asiansettlers as second-class citizens. This fact is responsible for manyof the vices they have had to endure in their lives in the region.Their culture and economy are being affected by the presence of theAsian settlers (Fujikane and Jonathan 89).
Effectsof the settlers on the social political status of Hawaiians
Withtheir large number in the state, and their powerful economic status,the Asian settlers have greatly affected the social lives of theNative Hawaiians as well as their political status. The highpopulation of the Asians has put so much pressure on the ethnicHawaiians. They have taken over most of the proper schools and othersocial amenities (Goebert and Stephanie 165). Owing to their currentstatus as Americans and not ethnic Hawaiians, they are considered ascolonialists who are trying to deprive the natives of their land.Furthermore, the Native Hawaiians had established themselves assupremacy. With the Asians who embrace their American citizenship andequal rights as expressed in the Constitution of the United States,this supremacy is threatened and dreads crumbling (Barnes 133). Eventhough they all contributed to the building of the nation, there aresome sections of the settlers like the Caucasians enslaved the NativeHawaiians and thus contributed to their poverty and social conflictsincluding drug use. The majority of the natives engage in drug usebecause they have been subject to harsh conditions of life and abjectpoverty (Saranillio 283). The majority of the Asians, acting like thecitizens of America, have also oppressed the Native Americans throughsocial discrimination. The ethnic groups who subscribe to an ethnicsovereignty have been discriminated against and made to look likesecond-class citizens. Most of them are unjustly prosecuted for druguse and criminal activities. The justice system of the Hawaiiangovernment has not been fair to the American Indians who are thenatives of the land. It is not easy therefore for them to live a safeand free life (Good 339). They are constantly complaining of thegrabbing of their lands by the powerful people.
Theimmigrant Asians, having attained the American citizenship status,were able to participate in the governance of the state and to makelike home to them. This fact itself has threatened the politicalstability of the Native Americans who have always wanted to be thesole rulers of the land they claim as their own. By engaging inpolitics in the region, the Asian settlers were able to improve theirlives and living standards (Ertola 13). This, however, was not takenlightly by the natives. Some of them tried to compete and were ableto gain better lives. However, a great majority of the natives choseto hold on to their heritage and did not embrace the new life thatwas made available by the American government. They were presentedwith opportunities to seek education and career development, but theychose their old ways as the best. Some scholars have stated thattheir lack of education for the greater part of the centuries thatcontributed to their low economic and social status (Bischoff 4).
Whatif there had been no migration
Incase the gold rush had not driven many populations of Asians tomigrate to the United States and settle especially in Hawaii, it ispossible to argue that the Hawaiians could have been better offeconomically. It can be said that they could have better access toeducation and other amenities. However, many other scholars haveconsidered the condition as it was back then. Even before the Asiansarrived, the Native Americans in the region had been subject to theoppression of the stronger white settlers who had been grabbing theirlands and subjecting them to discriminations (Bischoff 5). Even theabsence of the Asians could not have been effective in preventing thedeterioration of the condition of the Native Hawaiians. Losing theirlands and properties to the Asians was painful enough. However,losing their lands to even stronger and more aggressive anddiscriminatory white settlers could have been even more traumatizing.They could have continued to undergo mistreatment by the whites,discrimination, and domination. The patronizing whites could havefurther degraded their conditions and made them feel like third-classcitizens rather than the second-class state they are in currently.Therefore, the Native Hawaiians are more financially stable and welloff as compared to how the condition could have been if there hadbeen no migration (Barnes 129). They have at least some access to jobopportunities, schools and many other government assistance programs.These could not have been achieved had it not been for the Asians whoactively fought for equal rights for all Hawaiians (Ro et al., 779).
Conclusion Thispaper has discussed the similarities and differences between theAsian heritage settlers and the European heritage invaders in theways they treated the Hawaiian indigenous people and the AmericanIndian country respectively. The paper has also examined theireffects on the social-political status of the Hawaiians, and assessedwhether the native Hawaiians could have been better off without themigration and the statehood that resulted. Even though it is clearfrom every perspective that the Native Hawaiians have undergoneoppression, discrimination, and mistreatment both by the whitesettlers and the Asian, native settlers, the Asians are not to blamefor their current conditions. Even before the arrival of the Asians,the Native Americans had already been suffering from the invasion bythe European native invaders, and other marks of conflict. Theirpolitical status and social status have degraded over the years, andthey have had to suffer homelessness, poverty, and joblessness intheir own homeland. Their condition is very poor, and they havefought for the betterment of their lives by returning their lands tothem. The fact that they once cultivated the lands, they feel,translates to their legitimacy as the sole owners of the land.However, the Asians argue that every American has the right to claimheritage and ownership to any part of America. These people, despitethe conditions they go through today, could be in worse conditionshad the migration not occurred. Even though their populations havedeclined due to the high populations of the non-native Asians, theyhave gained better economic conditions as well as social status.Their political status as the sole supreme power in the area hashowever been degraded.
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