Ka Wai Ola

By Kekuni Blaisdell, M.D.
From the March 1987 edition of Ka Wai Ola

Ninau: E ke Kauka, since pure Hawaiians have more sickness than us part Hawaiians, doesn’t that mean that Hawaiians have bad genes and it is better for us to marry non-Hawaiians?

Pane Mokuna (Part) II: In the previous column, kela mahina aku nei Mokuna I, we observed that prior to the fatal foreign impact of 1778, ka po‘e Hawai‘i, who were of course Hawai‘i piha (pure Hawaiian), were generally healthier than their haole counterparts. So, in that sense, our kupuna kahiko had gene strength, not weakness. I keia wa (today), some 200-plus years later, ka po‘e piha Hawai‘i have declined to a mere 8,000, are older and have the worst health profile in Hawai‘i nei. This plight appears to be mainly due to lifestyle and environmental factors, although hereditary or gener influences have yet to be systematically investigated. (New genetic research methods that might be applied will be considered in a future column.)

Eia no na‘e (nevertheless), we ka po‘e Hawai‘i behave as if Hawaiian genes are “bad,” for we tend to marry non·Hawaiians. Further, the steady rise in ka po‘e hapa Hawai‘i (part Hawaiian) population since 1920 to about 200,000 currently, with a health profile intermediate between ka·po‘e piha Hawai‘i and non-Hawaiians, tends to confirm, to some persons, the inference of Hawaiian gene inferiority, as if it were true.

Aspect Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i Pluralism Assimilation
Synonyms Hawaiian people
Hawaiian race
Hawaiian nation
Ethnic diversity Partners in equal opportunity Melting pot
Now we are all haoles
One state, one people
Dominant culture and language Modern Hawaiian American continental with local multi-ethnic flavor American continental
Political system Ka po‘e Hawai’i
American continental with local multi- ethnic flavor American continental
Economic system Ka po‘e Hawai’i
corporations with some local multi-ethnic flavor
corporations’ control
Land Ka po‘e Hawai’i
control of Hawaiian lands
Multi-national corporations’ control Multi-national
corporations’ control
Mating Hawaiian x Hawaiian Hawaiian x Hawaiian Hawaiian x non-Hawn Non-Hawn x non-Hawn Hawn x non-Hawn non-Hawn x non-Hawn
Population Ho‘onui i ka po‘e Hawai‘i and “blood quanta” ‘Emi (decrease) of “blood quanta” ‘Emi (decrease) and Ka ho‘opio ‘ana (extinction)
Health Ho‘oka‘oi (improve) ‘Oia mau (continuing ill health) ‘Oi aku ka ‘ino (worse)

Many, if not most, of us ka po‘e Hawai‘i, in the course of Westernization and deHawaiianization, have also adopted modern Western “liberal” attitudes toward marriage, mating, and kamali‘i (children). Some of us have even shared the notion of a new island “Golden People.” This glamorous term, coined by novelist James Michener, suggests a “superior” Cosmopolitan race, with the “best” traits resulting from a mixing of the races of the Occident, the Orient and the Pacific. Gavan Daws, author of Shoal of Time, considered a somewhat similar mindset, but with a bias toward white supremacy, when he concluded his book with a chapter titled “Now we are all haoles.” We hope that our new governor, John Waihe‘e, does not subscribe to this concept when he refers to Hawai‘i as “one state, one people,” and when he defines Ho‘olako as celebrating “the Hawaiian in all of us.”

Although it is unpopular these days to express publicly dissenting views on this issue because of the fear of being labeled “racist,” all native Hawaiians will recognize some degree of reality to the accompanying outline (Table 1) of three main distinctions in a spectrum of opinions on a desired status of ka po‘e Hawai‘i, and related cultural, political, economic, land, mating, population and health implications.

It is offered here as a starting point for much-needed open ‘ōlelo kuka (discussion) if we are to correct our ill health in our homeland and survive as a people. E na mea heluhelu (you readers) are invited to loiloi (examine) this scheme. Please observe in the right lower corner of this table, that if we proceed in the path of assimilation, our health status will continue to deteriorate and we will become extinct as a people. If there is some basic truth in this outline of attitudes, and we also desire ho‘onui (increase) in our members with greater “blood quanta” (biological Hawaiianess) and improved health, we should also consider the associated means to attain such pahuhopu (goals).

Such were the pahuhopu of Ho‘oulu a Ho‘ola Lāhui, founded in 1886 by King Kalakaua and his Queen Kapi‘olimi, to save the Hawaiian race.

Are they our goals today? Aia no ia kakou. Ke kali nei au i ka ‘oukou mau pane.