Filipino plantation laborers arriving at the dock in Honolulu. The tags around their necks identified the plantations of their destiny. (Hawaii State Archives)
Over 300,000 Asians entered the islands between 1850 and 1920. Brought here as “cheap labor,” they filled the requisitions itemizing the needs of the plantations. To control their workers, planters utilized a divide-and-conquer strategy through a multitiered wage system, paying different wage rates to different nationalities for the same work. Japanese cane cutters, for example, were paid ninety-nine cents a day, while Filipino cane cutters received only sixty-nine cents. (“Strangers From A Different Shore”, Takaki)
The Oahu Stake Samoan Choir posed in the 1960’s in front of the Hawaii temple. This choir was one of the several patterned after the Tabernacle Choir. The temple, dedicated November 27, 1919, is located at Laie, on the northeast shore of Oahu.
The Samoan migration to Hawaii was unique in that the Samoans did not come as plantation workers and they were the only significant group of Polynesian migrants to Hawaii. The first large group of Samoans came to Hawaii in 1919 when the Mormon temple was built in Laie on Oahu’s northeastern shore.
Giant Garden Products: Joseph Keauniu, 14, left, and his cousin, George Malo, 12, display two giant turnips which Joseph raised in his Papakoleo home garden. Both are Kawananakoa school students. (Photo courtesy of Honolulu Star-Bulletin, taken on Jan. 11, 1945.)
When the sheriff came to deliver the eviction order, he was met by a solid wall of over 500 angry eviction fighters blocking Waiahole Valley Rd, and chanting “Hell No- We ain’t moving!”
Many Hawai’ians lived in the country because they could be closer to the land and the Hawai’ian way of life. A “country lifestyle” developed based on the traditional Hawai’ian and Asian concepts of sharing, exchanging goods and socializing. The large land estates owned most of the land the people lived and worked on and soon began to rezone the areas for resort, housing development and other more profitable use of the land.
But community after community resisted. The largest and most militant struggle was by the farmers and residents of Waiahole-Waikane Valley which began in 1974 and still continues. The demand for long-term leases to keep the land in agricultural use, to stop capitalist development, and to keep the country lifestyle mobilized thousands of people.
12 Save Our Surf teenage activists visiting smelly inland urban sewage treatment plants at Palisades (Pearl City), 1970. (Photo courtesy of John Kelly.)
Save Our Surf (SOS), Hawaii’s young surf rider activists, fought to preserve Hawaii’s wave producing reefs and public access to them. Using old fashioned political techniques- hand-bills, demonstrations and colorful presentations at public meetings- the SOS teenagers quickly won the respect of the politicians and developed strong grassroots support in the community at large.
Korean War Bond drive booth.
Feb 26, 1943. In Hawaii, citizens of all different races mobilized to help the war effort, organizing sales of war bonds aimed at specific subsets of the population. On this date, the Korean community also commemorated the 24th anniversary of Korea’s declaration of independence from Japan.
Children wearing gas masks. Image from Bishop Museum Archives, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Poison gas had been used on the European battlegrounds of World War I. It was considered such a horrific weapon that it had later been outlawed by international treaties. Even so, most countries prepared for possible poison gas attacks in World War II. In Hawaiʻi, every person was issued a gas mask, which was supposed to be carried at all times. Most people stopped doing so within a few months since the masks were heavy and awkward to carry. And fortunately, the masks were never needed.
Samoan Fita-Fita Guard. Copied from inside back cover of “All Hands” magazine by USMC Photo Lab, 8 April 1949.
The Fita Fita Guard was the first military unit created in American Samoa in 1904. By World War II the Fita Fita (Samoan for soldier) counted 100 men in its ranks. Samoans regarded the Fita Fita as an elite group, and the men served with pride and dignity. When the Navy left American Samoa after World War II, most of the Fita Fita transferred to Hawaii (the first significant out-migration of American Samoans to the U.S.).
1949 DOCK STRIKE. The 171 day strike challenged the colonial wage pattern whereby Hawai’i longshore workers received significantly lower pay than their West Coast counterparts, even though they worked for the same company and did the same work. Company managers’ wives held pickets against workers and were known as the “broom brigade.” The woman’s sign reads “Don’t make your Hawaii a ghost town,” in line with company predictions that the strike would ruin Hawaii’s economy.
1965, Patsy Takemoto Mink of Hawaiʻi becomes the first woman of color in Congress.
Hawai’i Sugar Plantations. The Hawaiians were the first plantation workers followed by the Chinese in 1852, Japanese in 1868, Portuguese in 1878, Germans and Scandinavians in 1881, Japanese contract workers in 1885, Spanish in 1899, Okinawans and Puerto Ricans in 1900, Koreans in 1903, and Filipinos in 1906.