Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hawaii - Plantations and Usurpation

Green. We were in the interior of O’ahu, Hawaii, in February and everything around us was green: trees, grass, fields - apart from the colors from flowers or trees, like the orange flowers of the African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata) and the soil which is as red as in Georgia. We saw beautiful shades of green - far indeed from the snow in the USA.

About 40 minutes from Honolulu driving down the Kamehameha Highway we went by large pineapple fields.

Then we arrived at the Dole Plantation. It is a large complex, set up mostly for tourists where a supersized gift store welcomes you. There are no free samples and everything is overpriced.

Click on collage to enlarge then click on each picture to biggify

There is also a garden maize, a little touring train, gardens and a restaurant. Various admission prices apply. We were told the plantation now only produces “boutique” pineapples, whatever that means since “une boutique” is the French word for “a shop.” Their crops also include coffee and chocolate.

I bought some postcards and mints. I also bought a tiny package of chocolate, the size of my index finger (priced at $6.) I was tempted by a jar of guava preserve but I cannot show you its picture as it was confiscated at the Los Angeles airport.

It started to rain so we left. This would be my shortest post if it were not for my usual habit of researching more about my subjects. In this case I thought I would read about the Dole Company. Well, I have been at it for a week now and it is fascinating. This reading opened a door on the history of Hawai’i as the Doles were connected with it from the beginning of the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom. I have learnt a lot about Hawai’i that surprised me and also about the USA - most of it painful. Growing up in France we had so much to study with French history, then the history of the rest of Europe that we barely studied the United States – the French and Indian wars, the War of Independence helped by the French, the Civil War and that’s about it.

US Empire, circa 1900

We never learnt about the US “empire” as such (this is what it is called) and establishment of US colonies like Hawaii, Guam, The US Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and Puerto Rico (Liberia, Cuba and the Philippines were given back.) I also did not know that Hawaii had its freedom curtailed unlawfully, that a silent coup deposed the queen (and imprisoned her in her own home.) Hawai'i was forcibly annexed and illegally made to become part of the Union (without native Hawaiian input).

The islands of Hawai’i being in the middle of the Pacific were isolated for centuries. They had a rich and successful culture. When in 1778 Captain James Cook arrived into Kauai he brought with him many diseases which almost wiped out the population. Then from 1820 to 1840 came 200 devout Christian missionaries ready to convert the heathen Hawaiians. This they did – not always for the good of the natives. They destroyed their native culture and forced them to deny all aspects of their heritage, because they said it was evil. The Hawaiians were forced to embrace the “superior” Christian Puritan American culture. Many Hawaiians died. Missionary Hiram Bigham (1789-1869) described them as “almost naked savages, whose heads and feet and much of their sunburnt swarthy skins are bare and appalling” and called them “stupid.” Even though he came from a nation enjoying separation of Church and State and the Bill of Rights, he proclaimed the 10 Commandments the code of laws.

Portrait of Hawaiian woman circa 1900 (courtesy of the Hawai'i State Archives)

Another missionary, Dr Gerrit Parmele Judd (1803–1873,) refused to have doctors inoculate the Hawaiians with an effective smallpox vaccine, instead forcing a cheaper alternative. As a result 5,947 died but Dr. Judd saved $60. The missionaries and their children started to buy land – for almost nothing (these were really land grabs.) This was followed by usurpation of political power. While in Hawaii the writer Herman Melville (best known for his work Moby Dick) railed against the Protestant missionaries who could have helped eliminate poverty, disease, starvation and death but instead preached moral values on Sunday and then acquired native land the rest of the week. Since he had sympathy for the Hawaiians, literary reviewers of the time advised their readers not to read his work.

Herman Melville (1819-1891), courtesy Wikipedia

Descendants of these missionary families still own large amounts of land in Hawaii. One of the missionary families was the Daniel Dole family. Their son, Sanford Dole (1844-1926), was instrumental in the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. It ended the Native Hawaiian sovereignty through unconstitutional means. Sanford Dole appointed himself, with the help of a little group of American Missionary/businessmen, the first president of the forcibly imposed Republic of Hawaii from 1894 till 1900, then governor until 1903. This coup makes for interesting reading and I am still reading on it. I have ordered some books on the subject and will talk more about this in a future post.

Sanford Dole (1844-1926)

Several years later Sanford Dole helped his pastor/cousin’s son, James Drummond Dole (1877-1958), to acquire land and begin his pineapple company. Since the arrival of the earlier foreign traders and missionary/businessmen, the native Hawaiian population had gone down from over 500,000 to less than 60,000 so the planters imported underpaid and sometimes unpaid labor in the form of foreign workers.

The fruit and sugar plantations actively recruited Japanese immigrants sending agents to sign long-term contracts. They also recruited Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Portuguese and African Americans.

In many plantations on the islands they worked long hours from dawn to dusk in hot, dusty fields and lived in communal barracks. European-American overseers enforced company rule with harsh fines and whipping.

In 1907, James Dole, known as the Pineapple King, created a cannery near the Honolulu harbor. In operation until 1991 this cannery was one of the world’s largest. I also found out that actress Bette Midler, born in Honolulu, was an employee in the cannery for a time.

Bette Midler, born in Honolulu in 1945

Dole was a savvy entrepreneur. He developed the first nationwide consumer ad campaign in the United States. Demand for Hawaiian pineapple grew even more. In 1925 he sponsored a recipe contest which drew 60,000 entries. The winning recipe was the pineapple upside-down cake.

His company used a new advertising concept by publishing recipes in the popular “ladies’ magazines.”

Demand increased his production to a million cases of pineapple a year and made his company, called then the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, a world leader. As demand grew for pineapple, more land was required. In 1922 Dole bought the Hawaiian Island of Lana’i. It became the largest pineapple plantation in the world with thousands of workers and their families. It supplied 75% of the world pineapple for 70 years. In 1948 the company was renamed The Dole Pineapple Company.

James Drummond Dole (1877-1958)

Pineapple production on Lana'i ended in October 1992. Today, descendants from original missionaries, Castle and Cooke, own nearly the entire island of Lana’i - they are the real estate arm of Dole Pineapple. The children of the missionaries' families would ultimately make the greatest change in Hawai'i by “acquiring” the land and dispossessing the native Hawaiians. As we drove by large tracts of land we were told that one of the original families owns it – this was a 250,000 acre ranch with 50,000 head of cattle. The Dole Company is now a mega multinational corporation named Dole Food Company, Inc. , based in the US but operating around the globe.In 2007 its revenues amounted to $6.9 billion. It stopped production of pineapple in Hawaii in 2007 as it was not profitable enough. Now cheaper labor is found in Costa Rica and the Philippines although there have been some controversies about working conditions and pesticides.

Vintage postcard - Pineapples at Harvest Time - Hawaiian Islands

"The United States is “just” –[it is] a land of liberty. The people there are the friends - the great friends of the weak. Let us tell them - let us show them that as they love their country and would suffer much before giving it up, so do we love our country, our Hawai'i, and pray that they do not take it from us."

- Mrs. Emma Nawahi, Women's Hawaiian Patriotic League, 1897

Hawaiian woman circa 1900 (courtesy of the Hawai'i State Archives)


Diane said...

What an interesting post,you have certainly done your research. Dis not know where Bette Midler was born I won;t forget now. I love pineapples we used to go to Swaziland and come back with the car full, they were huge and juicy and of course delicious. Pity about the guava preserve!!! Diane

marciamayo said...

Beautiful photos and a good short history of Hawaii. Thanks as usual for educating me in a delightful way.

Fennie said...

Well I never did! Such cruelty in the name of religion. Maybe the native peoples could bring a lawsuit! Thanks for this most interesting post.

mermaid gallery said...

It's all quite criminal...yet most history does seem brutal in wonder the native people there don't like the howlies much. How about some native land claims Canada we are giving back a lot of land and compensating the first nations people. Have they done that in Hawaii...or is just swept under the carpet?

Jenn Jilks said...

Vagabonde, good research. We're digging out of much snow. Good exercise. Cheers from Perth, cottage country!

Anonymous said...

I remember first learning of this horrible chapter in US history when reading James Michener's "Hawaii". I was in high school and was shocked. None of my history classes had told me about this terrible taking of land and passing of disease, while stealing an entire culture. Thanks for the beautiful photos and retelling the story.

Pondside said...

That was all new to me. Interesting that no reparations are required from this large and profitable company.

Ginnie said...

This disturbing post is very difficult to read and absorb, Vagabonde. It would be easy to say I'll never eat anything by Dole again! However, I wonder how many other things would disturb us as much if we did the research, as you have done here so well. I hate it. I hate the history behind so much of what we hold dear. I see the faces of the two Hawaiian women you have posted here and hope to God one day I will meet them and have the chance to bask in their beauty.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned on my blog how the US took Hawaii cunningly and illegally. Well, they also took the this continent the same way from the Native Americans. Not a very good record and we are still out there building nations and getting our face slapped in the process. People are fed up with us taking. Always taking.

Reader Wil said...

Merci de ce post! Hawaii est très intéressant et aussi l'histoire. Mais hier j'ai vu à la télévision qu'il y a une grande éruption d'un volcan. Je ne sais pas quel volcan.

Bill said...

This was wonderful. The Europeans basically started on the east coast and stole land, water, and spirit from Native Americans all the way to the Pacific. When they got there they just couldn't stop. Hawaii got the same treatment.

If there was something left to destroy I'm sure it would happen. A sad commentary about our culture.

Snowbrush said...

What a great post--talk about Christians behaving badly! In the Old Testament, some of the prominent characters were upholders of the status quo and some railed against it. The same has always been true, but of course, the powerful support their friends, so the religious upholders of the status quo usually fare better.

By the way, you might want to double check Stanford Dale's birth year.

Jeanie said...

I think you had to have been a history major -- you know how to ferret out all this wonderful information and make every post fascinating! Interesting to know that the factory came from descendents of missionaries -- and now they are overpriced and don't have gift shop samples!

Learned a lot -- as always. And I loved your illustrations and the wonderful vintage graphics of the pineapple ads!

Vicki Lane said...

To echo one of the comments above -- James Michener's book HAWAII which I read back in 1960 tells the story very well. I think you might enjoy reading it.

Shammickite said...

I'm going to the library today, so I think I'll look for that James Michener book, you have whetted my appetite with your informative post detailing the history of Hawaii. I knew part of the history but hadn't really associated it with the Dole family.
I hope those partypoopers at the airport choked on your guava preserve.

Margaret said...

I have James Michener's book on my bookshelf and have never read it. I am going to crack it open tonight! Looking at the photos, I realize pineapples are not grown on trees ... I had no idea. The quote from Nawahi broke my heart. Many countries colonized and treated people horribly, but I really had no idea about Hawaii. I look forward to your other posts and thanks for all your research. What is being done with all he pineapple fields (farmland) now?

Vagabonde said...

Food, Fun & Life in the Charente - I’d love to go to Swaziland and get pineapples! I was going to order the guava preserve on their catalog but they charged $20 for shipping this $5.95 jar – so I decided not to.

Marciamayo, Fennie, Jenn Jilks, Pondside, Ginnie, Bill – I really enjoy reading all your comments. You are always so very nice and appreciative. I get a lot of enjoyment researching all my posts and am happy when you like them.

Alwaysinthebackrow, Vicki Lane, Shammickite and Margaret – One of the Hawaiian told me that the Michener book is a fiction book and not entirely accurate. My husband told me he read it years ago and it is a huge volume, so I prefer reading the two books I sent for, which are just history books, but I am sure Michener did some good research. The pineapple land is being used for other crops like coffee, chocolate but mostly for real estate. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Vagabonde said...

Reader Wil – Le volcan est Kilauea qui se trouve dans le Parc National des Volcans à Hawaii. Merci pour le message.

Honest Abe Lincoln – what you say is so true – as I read further on this I see we have done similar shady things in several countries of Central and South America.

Mermaid Gallery – welcome here I don’t think I saw your comment before. I am reading on the subject but I don’t think much is being done to repay the Hawaiians.
Thanks for commenting.

Snowbrush – I had made a typo on the birth date, you are correct. Thanks for telling me.

Jeanie – I was not an history major. I am always interested in learning “the rest of the story” or the beginning, depending on what it is! Thanks for stopping by.

Cloudia said...

Aloha Greetings-

You have done a remarkable job here!
How delightful that you found my Hawaii blog and led me here to enjoy your excellent blog.

It would be wonderful to see the review you would produce after reading my little novel "Aloha Where You Like Go?"

Perhaps you could look in on Amazon reviews and see if it might interest you.

Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral



elizabeth said...

This is so fascinating!
I came to your blog via Rauf --one of my favorite bloggers because so bold and honest.
I really must study the history of Hawaii more - rather a mystery to me.
I'm glad to have discovered your blog!

""°o.O Nancy O.o°"" said...

*** Je viens te remercier pour tes mots d'amitié chez moi Vagabonde. C'est gentil et ça me touche. Gros bisous ***

Margaret said...

By the way, I like your new photo with the Hawaiian flower. I am assuming it is from your vacation... :)

Ola said...

It was interesting to discover your blog and this story!
Hope to visit you more often!

Wanda..... said...

Loved the in depth history lesson, there is much shame in the history of most countries, and so often much was done in the name of religion. Also enjoyed the Byodo-in Temple tour!

Dutchbaby said...

Tell it like it is, Vagabonde!

I was especially intrigued to learn about Hiram Bingham's Hawaiian roots. I only knew of him as the man who "discovered" Machu Piccu in Peru. For such an educated man, he sure sounded ignorant.

Fantasic, fascinating post that sheds a whole new light on these beautiful islands.

Pame Recetas said...

Dear Vagabonde: Thanks for telling us that part of history that's always kept under the carpet. We human beings should be all ashamed, unfortunately not to many seem to care as long as we can have our nice pinneaple tart on the table, who cares how it got there!
Sorry for not visiting as often as I'd like to.

claude said...

Mince ! J'ai cru que j'avais déjà vu ce post.
Encore un post très instructif, Vagabonde. L'homme blanc s'est toujours senti supérieur aux indigènes de tout pays, qu'ils soient missionnaires ou. colonisateurs. Tu sais en Martinique, la plus part des plantations de canne à sucre, les distilleries de rhum et les plantations d'ananas appartiennt à des métropolitains que les Antillais appellent les békés.
J'en connais un qui était client dans l'agence d'assurances où je travaillais, Il nous avait invité à aller le voir en Martinique, Un jour de pluie nous y sommes allés. Il nous a fait visiter son usine de glaces et celle de conditionnement en bouteilles de soda et de coka. Toutes les grandes surfaces et magasins d'à peu près de tout sont tenus par des Békés. On s'aperçoit que le temps de la colonisation n'est pas tout à fait révolu.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

The United States has always acted in really terrible ways---starting right here on our home turf when the first boat loads of people arrived from Europe...They destroyed the Indians by giving them Blankets that were infested with Small Pox, etc., etc., etc....In the name of Religion and other erronious things, we have behaved so unconcionanly it is criminal.
Hawaii is just one more place we did such damage.

A wonderful post, my dear....
I hope you are settled in once again, since your trip here.

PeterParis said...

Well, this is the kind of post I enjoy, if that is the appropriate word here! You should never stop learning! :-)

Baino said...

I'm late catching up on your Hawaii posts but loved them. Where else can I travel vicariously, get a history lesson and sate my appetite with pineapples. Lovely pics as always. I spent some time in Tahiti a while ago and the simmilarities in history and geography are quite remarkable. Must get to Hawaii one of these days, looks beautiful and I must admit a deep affection for the Polynesian race.

Ruth said...

I knew some of this, but you did much filling in. Terrific acquiring of this background, and sharing it succinctly with us, which is not easy to do with so much information. The arrogance and indifference of people who did and keep doing this usurpation puzzles me more than anything in life. How to wake up every morning, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, year after year, and keep on doing it? It is very important for all of this to come to light. Thank you for sharing it here, where we average, non-historian, non-academics and add it to our understanding.

Unknown said...

The nature photos are fantastic. And us Christians and us Americans often haven't been very ethical people in our history even today. Fortunately not all Christians and not all Americans are that way.

livininlb said...

Fascinating and informative post, as usual. Now you and Jessica can both complain about your LAX experiences!

Friko said...

Excellent Vagabonde, tell it like it is!
Capitalism and religion combined have a lot to answer for.

Vagabonde said...

Cloudia – Aloha! I am pleased that you are safe. I hope your boat is safe too. I looked at your book- it is now on my list. Thanks for coming by.

Elizabeth and Ola – Welcome to my blog – so glad to see you visiting me. I hope you will come back often.

Vagabonde said...

Nancy et Claude – merci pour vos commentaires. Tu as raison Claude la colonization n’est pas encore révolue, elle a peut-être d’autres noms.

Margaret – yes this is a “flower” pin I picked up in Hawaii. My husband likes it but I feel a bit self-conscious wearing it.

Wanda, Dutchbaby, Pamela, Lady of the Hills, Peter, Baino, Ruth, Tim, livininlb and Friko – thank you all for your kind comments. I was afraid to be boring y’all with the bits of history I uncovered. I’ll read more about it later and give some more information in a future post. I always look forward to reading what you have to say. Thank you for your visit.

Kay said...

Wow! I am so impressed! You're right about the U.S. taking over Hawaii and imprisoning Queen Liliuokalani. That is a painful part of our history that is often overlooked or hidden.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to my favorite Aunt! Love, James Gregory.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the short history. I'm busy reading James Mitchener's Hawaii, and I must say,that you've done your homework. Mithcener weaves fact with fiction, but your facts and his definitely corresponds. How very interesting. Anni

Anonymous said...

I am reading "The Bible and War in America" by Joel McDurmon check American Vision website..and have just learned this history. It is saddening. The Dole's seem to have been power hungry politicians and in the case of James, an industrialist of no conscience. The premise of McDurmon's book is that the unbiblical idea and American reality of a standing army is what has facilitated industrial expansion and corporatism where they both feed off each other and have ultimately led to the welfare/warfare state in which we now exist. Neither the welfare nor the warfare state are Christian in the biblical sense;it is sickening to see Christ's name disparaged as a result of the actions of those committing atrocities in His name.True patriotism in America seems to have been exchanged for militarism. I appreciate the sentiments of the men and women who serve but I think America has been duped. Down with imperialism of all forms! Let people live as free and sovereign beings.--Tyronicus

Snowbrush said...

"Let people live as free and sovereign beings."

Is your ideal for every individual to behave as he or she pleases?

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