History of United States

..When looking at United States’ history, America’s acquisition of Hawaii isn’t a pretty story. Due to conspiring American planters, missionaries, military and opportunists a queen was deposed, a people suppressed and an American territory acquired. Though the process is oversimplified in this statement just know that this was not America’s proudest moment.

Some would contend insult was added to injury once mainland Americans figured out what a beautiful, exotic paradise the United States acquired. Just prior to the 1893 coup that brought Hawaii under the American umbrella, a group of Hawaiian entertainers toured the mainland. Promoters billed the group as “naughty, naughty.” as they attempted to introduce Americans to the “hula dance.” If it wasn’t naughty it soon got to be in that the hula dance was adapted with a special spin by strippers and burlesque. The ukulele music that accompanied the hula was rewritten into ragtime racist melodies aimed at native Hawaiians. Again, this was not one of America’s finest moments.

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Once Hawaii became an official territory some of the record companies wanted to promote the music of the islands but felt it was too Hawaiian. Hence what is known as half-white songs or hapa-haole was created. The country enjoyed the music, and the tourism industry began to promote the area with brochures, posters and postcards. The Matson Navigation Company particularly worked on introducing the world to this tropic paradise through advertisements. Today collectors of Hawaiiana would look for all that promotional ephemera plus the recordings of the hapa-haole music.

What was already an exotic destination became even more so after so many American soldiers made their way through the islands during World War II. They loved the luaus, tiki bars, flowered shirts, plastic hula-girl nodders and more that were part of the Hawaiian experience. Again, collectors love all things associated with this era as well.

In the 1960s the Civil Rights movement encouraged native Hawaiians to reclaim their heritage. Now there are collectors looking for authentic dress, evidences of the ancient martial arts known as lua and true Hawaiian folk art. These two categories of Hawaiiana – the promoted version and the authentic version – exist side by side, and there are many who collect both forms.

Hawaiian history is an interesting read if nothing else. For example a biography of Queen Lili’uokalani, the last ruling monarch of Hawaii, is filled with intrigue, betrayal and imperialism. Besides her royal position she was a talented musician and wrote many songs about her native land, including the national anthem “Aloha Oe.”


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