This article identifies nineteenth-century Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) thought about American Indians as an important element in the development of the contemporary Hawaiian sense of Kānaka as part of a broader world of Indigenous people in resistance to colonialism. A Kanaka recognition of Hawaiians’ own likeness to American Indians emerged from a series of overlapping shifts in the representation of Indians in Hawaiian-language texts. Since the 1820s, American missionaries had portrayed Indians to Kānaka as ignorant and savage, examples of why Kānaka must embrace the missionary message of Christian “civilization.” By the 1850s, as Hawaiian voices appeared more frequently in the press, and as Kānaka and American Indians came into direct social contact through diasporic laboring regimes, depictions of Indians became somewhat more sympathetic, a warning sign of the dangers that colonialism posed. By the end of the century—in the context of struggle against annexation to the United States—Kānaka were depicting American Indians as “what we have perhaps become like.” Over time, that sense of likeness would prove potent in the making of the broader category of the Indigenous.


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pp. 859-886
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