Early Photography of Hawaii’s Missionary Era
Welcome to our collection of early photography of Hawaii’s missionary era. Western values infected Hawai’i with fatal consequences for the Hawaiians’ land. The complicity of the missionaries in royal politics and other intrigues further ensured that much of the land that was alienated wound up in the hands of their descendants, the forebears of the Big Five and the sugar oligopoly that dominated Hawai’i’s economic landscape well into the present day. Hawai’i’s dependence upon foreign markets for its sugar replicated the experience of Hawai’i’s misguided dependence on sandalwood, whaling and tourism. Not that I would credit the missionaries with plotting such far-reaching consequences; nor were they the only ingredient that played into this kettle of fish. But while the white man’s microbes and military technology may have accomplished much of the up-front damage to indigenous populations around the world, it is the values of Judeo-Christian civilization that enjoyed the most lasting effect, for better or for worse.
Aia i ka ʻōpua ke ola: he ola nui, he ola laulā, he ola hohonu, he ola kiʻekiʻe. – Life is in the clouds: great life, broad life, deep life, elevated life. (The reader of omens knows by their shape and color whether clouds promise rain and prosperity, or disaster.)
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