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Reviewed by:
  • Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism
  • Lyn Carter
Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism, by Noenoe K Silva. A John Hope Franklin Center book. American Encounters / Global Interactions. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004. ISBN cloth, 0-8223-3350-3; paper, 0-8223-3349-x; x + 260 pages, tables, photographs, appendixes, notes, written in English and Hawaiian (with English translations), glossary, bibliography, index. Cloth, US$74.95; paper, US$21.95.

In Aloha Betrayed, Noenoe K Silva has developed a fresh new approach to the critique of colonial historiography. Drawing on nineteenth-century Hawaiian-language texts and newspapers as the basis of her analysis provides a timely remedy for a common problem dominating Pacific historiography—the absence of indigenous voices.

The book is divided into five chapters tracing Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) resistance to the colonization process, and particularly the effect of colonization on Hawaiian leadership and politics. The first twochapters provide historical background important to the development of the book's main themes. These chapters also deal with the Hawaiian-language resources that Silva researched for the book. The analysis investigates the use of all genres of the oral tradition, thus illustrating Silva's more liberal approach as to what constitutes relevant historical resources. Included in chapter 2 is a table containing the details of Hawaiian newspapers published between 1856 and 1864. Chapter 3 discusses the resistance strategies and tactics used by King Kalākaua, in particular the way Hawaiian genealogies, mele (ie, song, chant, poetry), and performance were used to communicate protest and encourage unification. Chapter 4 looks in some detail at the anti-annexation movement and the 1897 petition, signed by 95 percent ofthe Native Hawaiian population. Chapter 5 examines the role of women, particularly Queen Lili'uokalani and Emma 'A'ima Nāwahï, in the resistance movements. There are two appendixes: One is a text outlining the objectives of Nupepa Kuoka (Independent Newspaper), which was published by haole (white people or foreigners) in opposition to Ka Hoku o Ka Pakipika (The Star of the Pacific). The second contains a list of songs composed by Queen Lili'uokalani during her imprisonment. Silva has included photographs of prominent political figures of the period, newspaper articles, and illustrations, all of which add substance to her text.

In her introduction Silva explains the language and translation conventions she has used for the transcription and translation of the Hawaiian-language material. She states that leaving the original text in its older form and not imposing contemporary orthography makes it possible for readers who are literate in Hawaiian to "see the original spellings and perhaps glean alternative and/or additional meanings" (13). Further descriptions of aspects of Hawaiian terminology give readers a reference point for understanding variations, such as the Hawaiian terms for people and the different status titles.

Three main themes are evident throughout the book and somewhat [End Page 154] intertwined. The first challenges the predominant use of English-language print material to explain and verify events in Hawaiian history. Silva states that "there is a history of resistance to U.S. colonialism that has gone unrecorded in mainstream historiography," which has had "far-reaching consequences" (162163). She is referring in part to the imposition of English to the detriment of the Hawaiian language. The dominant English language has greatly contributed to contemporary Hawaiians' loss of knowledge about their history. Silva makes persuasive arguments in favor of the authenticity of the nineteenth-century Hawaiian-language newspapers in providing alternative explanations to an otherwise often one-sided perspective on historical events. The newspapers are a useful tool for explaining how the indigenous people—the ones most affected by changes brought about through colonization—actually thought about what was happening around them during times of great change and challenge to their lifeways. Although Hawaiian-language manuscripts have been used in the past, Silva maintains that interpretation of the translations have reconfigured and misrepresented indigenous voices and favored the colonial agenda. Silva's analysis of the translations of Kamakau's mo'olelo (history, narrative), Ke Kumu Aupuni (chapter 1), is a compelling example of how English-language writers have manipulated and reordered Hawaiian print material. The...