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Religion of the Hawaiians: The Coming of the Hawaiian Race Hawaiians: Inasmuch as the group comprises the most highly isolated island territory on the globe, it seems logical to infer that this sturdy race must have migrated to Hawaii from other lands. By tracing the relationship of the original inhabitants it has been found that they belong to the same race as the natives of New Zealand, Samoa, Marquesas, Society, Tonga and other islands in the southern, central and eastern Pacific. That all the native people found over this vast Pacific region are the scattered branches of one great race, springing from a common ancestral stock, has been demonstrated in many ways. The marked similarity in the manners and customs, language and religion, as well as many peculiar physical characteristics and intellectual traits common to the inhabitants of the widely scattered Pacific islands just mentioned, leaves little doubt in the minds of those who have studied these people of the Pacific, as to their racial affinities. Old Hawaiians, especially of the better class, possessed a high type of Polynesian culture that embraced a thorough and useful knowledge of their isolated environment. At the time of their introduction to European civilization, many among them were intimately acquainted with their own history and genealogy, as well as with the fund of information concerning their traditions, myths, arts, occupations and practices; moreover they possessed a store of knowledge about the islands and their natural history that at once won for the race the respect and admiration of their European benefactors. Polynesian Affinities Collectively, this group of Pacific Islanders has been called by Europeans the Polynesian Race, a reference to the many islands inhabited by them. The exceedingly vexed question as to the genesis of the race as a whole and the fixing of the place from whence the progenitors of the dark-skinned kanaka people entered the Pacific has long been a subject of interesting discussion. Since the genesis of the race is by no means a settled question it will not be profitable in this connection to dwell upon the matter farther than to say that the origin of the Polynesian race has been traced by different writers, in different ways to various places. North, South, and Middle America, as well as Papua, Malay, China, Japan and India, have each in turn been declared the cradle of this widely distributed people and each made responsible, directly or indirectly, for their presence in the Pacific Ocean. While it is probable that the origin of the race, as a whole, will always be shrouded in doubt, there is little uncertainty as to the more immediate ancestors of the Hawaiian people. All their various affinities seem to point unerringly in the direction of the islands to the south of us. Although the Society and Samoan Islands, which are the nearest islands in any direction at present inhabited by this race, are more than two thousand miles distant, they, without doubt, form the stepping stones over which the early immigrants passed—if they are not the actual points of origin of the migrations that resulted in the settling of the Polynesian race on this, the most remote group. Evidence of Early Immigrations That the race existed here ages ago, perhaps far beyond the traditions of the people, is believed by some to be proven by certain geologic evidence. Whatever the geological facts may be. They throw much light on the antiquity of the early voyages of the race and point far back into the shadowy past. Their genealogies, which were handed down from father to son with remarkable accuracy, also contribute much information that can be accepted as reasonably authentic and historic, and give a fair basis for measuring time, especially during the past four or five centuries. The comparative study of genealogical records has brought to light proof of many obscure points that had to do with the history and wanderings of the race as a whole, but their traditions are especially clear with reference to the Hawaiians themselves. Traditional and Historical Evidence of Early Voyages Those who have studied, the history and traditions of the Polynesians as a people regard Savaii, in the Samoan group, as the most likely center of dispersal. It is probable that at least one of the bands of early voyagers that settled on these, then presumably unpeopled islands, came from that group in very ancient times—perhaps as long ago as B. Just why these early wanderers set out on the long perilous journey over unknown seas will never be known. It is suggested that they may have been forced from their early homes by war and driven from their course by storms. But since there was no written language, the historian, as already stated, is forced to rely for his data on legends, traditions, genealogies and such other meager scraps of information as are available. Unfortunately, of the very early period scarcely a reliable tradition exists. We are therefore left free, within a certain measure, to construct for ourselves such tales of adventure, privation and hardship as seem sufficient to account for the appearance of the natives in this far-away and isolated land. We know that the first voyages, like many undertaken in more recent times, must have been made in open boats over an unfriendly and uncharted ocean. We know also that they survived the journey and found the land habitable when they came. To the dim and uncertain period covering the several centuries that followed, many great primitive achievements have been ascribed. Amongst them are such tasks as the building of walled fish-ponds, the construction of certain great crude temples, the making of irrigation ditches, and the development of a distinct dialect, based of course, on their ancient mother tongue. But at last, after the lapse of centuries, perhaps many centuries, this long period of isolation and seclusion ended and communication was once more resumed with the rest of the Polynesian world. Ancient Voyages It is reliably recorded in the traditions of the race, but more especially in those of the Hawaiian people, that after many generations of separation from the outside world, communication was again taken up and many voyages were made to Kahiki—the far-away land to the south. From this time on the story of the people becomes much more definite and reliable. We not only know that intercourse was resumed between Hawaii and the islands of the South Pacific, but the names of several of the navigators and the circumstances, as well as the time when their journeys were made, also incidents of their voyages, have come down to us. In some cases the same mariner is known to have made more than a single journey. Naturally the exploits of the brave navigators of the race were made matters of record in the minds of the people and handed down from father to son in numberless songs, stories and traditions. As a matter of fact, there is evidence to prove that during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries of our Christian calendar there came an era of great unrest throughout the whole of Polynesia and a great number of voyages were made to the remote parts of the region. In fact it is asserted in the tradition of the people that "they visited every place on earth. At any rate, there is on record a considerable list of these voyages and an equally long list of the places where they landed, accompanied by incidents of their wanderings. Animals and Plants Brought to Hawaii as Baggage Our special interest in the natural history of the plants and animals of Hawaii makes this period of Pacific travel of unusual importance. It was at this time that most, if not all, of the useful plants and animals that had followed the race in their various wanderings were brought as precious baggage with them to these islands from over the sea. Any one who has experienced the difficulties and disappointments encountered in transplanting a young breadfruit tree from one valley to another, will appreciate in a measure the difficulties that must of beset the Hawaiians in transporting living cuttings of this delicate seedless plant from far off Kahiki to these islands, yet it is practically certain that not only was the breadfruit brought here in this manner but also the banana, the taro, the mountain apple, the sugar-cane and a score or more of their other important economic plants. The wild fowl, the pig and the dog were also brought with them in the same way, in very early times, and were in a state of common domestication over the group when the islands were first visited by the white race. Naturally there were many references in Hawaiian and Polynesian tradition to these long and tempestuous voyages. When all the circumstances surrounding these rugged feats of daring and adventure are considered, it is not too much to say that the race to which the ancient Hawaiians belonged is worthy of a special place among the most daring and skillful navigators of all times. To this day their prowess and aptitude in matters pertaining to the sea is such as to command the admiration and respect of all. The small terraced taro ponds nearby are supplied with water drawn by ditches from the swift, rocky stream. In the extreme distance, the valley is crossed by a trestle carrying a modern irrigation flume. The making of the large canoes employed in their important journeys by the use of stone tools alone, was by no means an ordinary task. Aside from the descriptions of their canoes handed down to us in their traditions, we know that a century ago there existed in these islands the remains of war canoes, such as we are told were used in those early voyages, that were seventy feet in length by more than three feet in width and depth, capable of carrying seventy persons from island to island. What is still more remarkable the hull in each case was carved from a single giant koa log. The selecting of a suitable tree from among its fellows in the mountain forests, the felling and shaping of it by means of the crude stone implements of the time, and the subsequent transporting of the rough-hewn canoe to the sea by main strength, was an undertaking not to be lightly assayed; but the executing of a 2,mile voyage in such a craft seems almost incredible. In this connection it is well to remember that the early Polynesians made not only single canoes of monstrous proportions, but double ones by lashing two together and rudely decking over the space between them. In this ingenious way they made a craft capable of carrying a large number of people and a goodly supply of provisions. Provisions for Long Voyages. It is probable that in their more extended voyages, especially when they were voluntarily undertaken, the natives used the double canoe and provided the craft with a mast to which they rigged durable sails made of mats. The legendary mele telling of the coming of Hawaii-loa states that during live changes of the moon he sailed in such a craft to be rewarded at last by the sight of a new land ever after called Hawaii. As to the supply of provisions it is to be remembered that the Polynesians have several kinds of food capable of being preserved in a compact form. The cocoanut, either fresh or dried, was an invaluable article of food, while dried fish and squid are not to be despised. The taro, breadfruit and sweet potato, or yam, are articles of daily diet, capable of being transported in an edible condition for great distances at sea. Besides cocoanut water, in the nut, to drink, they had utensils for storing fresh water and it is probable that they provided themselves with calabashes and wooden bowls specially prepared for use on their long sea journeys. Steering a Course by the Stars As they were expert fishermen and exceedingly hardy seamen the perils of the deep were considerably minimized. Add to this their intimate knowledge of the food to be found living everywhere in the sea at all seasons and their acquaintance with the habits and methods of capture, as well as skill in the preparation of such animals and plants as they esteemed as food, and we must conclude that they were by nature well fitted for such journeys. With such substitute food as the sea would furnish, always at hand, it was possible for them to travel far and suffer but little, for they were able to eat, not only such fresh and dried food as we have mentioned, but to relish many creatures of the sea in a raw state—as flying-fish, squid and seaweed—that would scarcely be thought of as food by a more fastidious people. Moreover, in making these journeys they were able to roughly guide their course by the stars, the sun and the moon, as they had a crude but working knowledge of astronomy. In addition to this they had a number of traditions, telling of mysterious lands, far away beyond the horizon, that served them both as an inspiration and an assurance, besides being useful to them in many ways in their practical navigation. Establishment of the Hawaiian Race Great care was always exercised in selecting the proper place and season for setting forth on their journeys. Once having made a successful voyage they were particular to start from the same spot in making similar journeys thereafter. In this way the south point of Hawaii as well as the southern end of the little island of Kahoolawe came to be known as the proper points from which to embark on a journey to Tahiti. There is but little doubt that in those times they were expert navigators, who in addition to being able to guide their courses at sea by the stars, also knew the art of steering their canoes in such a fashion as to catch and ride great distances on the splendid long ocean swells, after the manner of the surf riders of less adventurous times. Just how these striking feats of navigation were accomplished we may never know. At any rate there is every reason to believe that they were performed. We do know, however, that the perils attending them were safely passed, the difficulties of the journeys surmounted, and that those who performed them lived to tell the tale of their daring to their children, and they to their children's children. We know that through them in time the Polynesian race came to occupy a new land, established the Hawaiian people and built up a crude though worthy civilization. Without dwelling further on the remote and uncertain period which had to do with the origin and early migration of the Hawaiian people, it will be fitting to briefly consider the race in connection with their natural environment. It is well within the purpose of this sketch of the natural history of Hawaii to treat of the people as the native inhabitants, and for that reason we shall dwell upon their primitive and interesting native culture rather than their more recent political history. In dealing with the race as a natural people it will be of interest to enumerate some of the various forces of nature among which they developed for centuries, since without doubt their environment helped to make the race what it was at the time of its discovery,—a swarthy, care-free, fun-loving, superstitious people, with a culture that, now it has been more fully studied by unbiased ethnologists and is better understood, has at last gained for the ancient Hawaiians, not only the respect, but the admiration of their more highly-cultured and fairer-skinned brothers. Kona Weather and Trade Winds One of the most important physical influences that has affected the people is the climate. Although the Hawaiian Islands lie at the northern edge of the torrid zone, their climate is semi-tropical rather than tropical, and is several degrees cooler than that of any other country in the same latitude. The temperature is moderate, at least ten degrees below the normal owing to the influence of the cool northeast ocean currents. The delightfully cool northeast trade wind, which is obviously the principal element in the Hawaiian climate, blows steadily during at least nine months of the year. During the remaining months the wind is variable, and occasionally storms with heavy rains that blow from the southwest, producing what is known as "Kona" Southerly weather. Taken through a long period, the temperature at sea level rarely rises above 90 degrees during the hottest day of the year, and seldom falls below 60 degrees for more than a few hours at a time, with the mean temperature fluctuating about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference between the daily average midsummer and midwinter temperature is about 10 degrees. With reference to human comfort the temperature excels for its equableness. This fact, coupled with the refreshing trade winds that sweep over thousands of miles of cool ocean and the bright and genial warmth of the tropical sun, produces the climate of Paradise—a condition found in no other region on the globe. Hawaiian boy with wavy hair. Hawaiian girl with straight hair; the holoku or dress is of a style introduced by the early missionaries; the lei of necklace of flowers is of introduced red and white carnations. Typical children of the country villages. Altitude and Its Effect on Climate In fact the Hawaiian language had no word for "weather," as it is usually understood. Nevertheless, a remarkable difference in climate is experienced in passing from one side of the islands to the other, or from lower to higher altitudes. The northeast, or windward side of the group, which is exposed to the trade winds, is cool and rainy, while the southwestern or leeward side is, as a rule, much drier and warmer. The most important variation, however, is due to altitude; the thermometer falling about four degrees for every 1, feet of ascent. It is therefore possible to look from the palm groves that bask in tropical warmth along the coast of Hawaii to the highest mountain peak of the group Mauna Kea, 13, feet to find it frequently snow-capped, particularly during the cooler months. As to rainfall, similar variations occur. At Honolulu the average precipitation is thirty-eight inches, at the Pali, five miles away in the mountains, inches; while at Hilo, on the north side of Hawaii, it is nearly twelve feet. If the group is taken as a whole, almost every variation from warm to cold, wet to dry, windy to calm, may be found. Effect of a Sufficient Amount of Food The direct influence of these facts on the character of the people, however, is rather obscure. Waianae girl fights

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7 Comments

  1. The imu filled and closed; the heat and steam bakes the food which is wrapped in ki or banana leaves. There is an authentic record of a skeleton found in a burial cave that measured six feet seven and three-quarters inches in length, and there is sufficient evidence to establish the fact that men of even larger stature were by no means unusual.

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