Hawaii State Study

HawaiiLand of endless summer, aloha, and pristine sandy beaches, it’s time for a Hawaii State Study.  Here’s a bit about the Aloha State:

Hawaii’s History

Many centuries (or perhaps millennia) ago people arrived in Hawaii. Historians and archaeologists believe they came by way of the islands in the South Pacific, originally from Asia, but the truth is that no one knows for sure. Individual kingdoms were set up on each of the main islands, and though from time to time one kingdom would attempt to conquer their neighbors, none were successful until 1810.

The islands were discovered by Europeans in 1778.  True to human nature, the more technologically advanced European nations wished to subjugate and control Hawaii for their own power and profit. Finally, England supplied the King of Oahu, Kamehameha, with guns and moral support which Kamehameha used to take over the neighboring islands, uniting them into a single kingdom. Kamehameha was now in a position of subservience to England, not in name, but certainly in fact.  He owed them.  Hawaii was under British “protection”.

King Kamehameha I united Hawaii into one kingdom in 1810

In 1820 Protestant Christian missionaries arrived from England and the United States and in a few decades nearly all of Hawaii had become Christian, including the monarchs.  Soon the British and French began to fight over control of the islands. There were some internal rebellions. The government changed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy, and perhaps they might have eventually worked out their problems, but a few years later in 1874 Hawaii declared that it would trade exclusively with the United States. Perhaps they thought that a nation espousing freedom would be more kind.

This photo of a Hawaiian surfer was taken in 1890

U.S. businessmen flooded into Hawaii, quickly controlling the economics of the island, which is to say, everything. These American businessmen, no longer wishing to control from behind the scenes, overthrew the monarchy on January 17, 1893.  At first the United States government feebly protested and president Grover Cleveland strenuously objected, but the businessmen in far off Hawaii refused to act and the Senate didn’t care enough to send a military force to deal with the problem.  Cleveland’s successor, William McKinley, was all for annexing Hawaii to the U.S. in spite of the objections from the Hawaiians themselves.  On Feb 22, 1900 Hawaii was officially annexed to the United States.  Hawaiians never have liked it much though and as a step toward a return of their independence they nearly unanimously voted for statehood following WWII.

This is a rainbow over Honolulu, Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Hawaii is known as the rainbow state. Rainbows there can be especially beautiful and frequent, especially in the wetter winter months. Photo by (WT-en) DakotaLady at English Wikivoyage., released to the public domain.

As a territory Hawaii’s governors and other officials were appointed by Washington DC, but as a state they could elect their own government.  The U.S. has taken a hard line on secession, especially since the Civil War, and the secessionist movement in Hawaii has faltered over the years, especially as they have a large population of non-natives who have no desire to leave the United States.

Hawaii Fabulous Facts

  • There are only 12 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet and five of those are vowels, making Hawaiian a very melodic and beautiful spoken language. (a, e, i, o, u, k, m, w, n, l, h, p)
  • Hawaii is made up of 8 main islands (Oahu, Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, Niihau, Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe), but the entire archipelago has over 130 islands and stretches 1600 miles.

    The islands are volcanic and in many places rise very steeply from the ocean. This photo is of the windward side of one of the islands, probably Oahu. The vegetation on the windward (eastern) side of the islands is signifanctly greener and more lush than the leeward side because most of the rain is dropped when the winds hit the mountains. Photo by Christopher Michel, CC license, Wikimedia.

  • Niihau is a privately owned island, on which only native Hawaiians are welcome.
  • The whole state is one school district.
  • The island of Kauai is the wettest place on earth.
  • The largest ranch in the US is Parker Ranch on Hawaii.
  • Hawaii’s main industries are pineapple, macadamia nuts, kona coffee, the military and tourism.
  • About 1/3 of Hawaii’s economy is based on the military presence in the islands.  All five branches have bases in Hawaii.
  • Kilauea is an active volcano, with lava flowing to the sea even now.
  • The state motto is: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono” which means “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”. (Each letter in Hawaiian is pronounced individually even if there is a string of vowels together.  “W” sounds like “V”.)
  • The state fish is the humuhumunukunukuapua’a.  You can see them in the water all over near the harbor of Honolulu.

    This is the humuhumunukunukuapua’a, otherwise known as the reef triggerfish. This photo was taken in Haunama Bay by Qyd, CC license, Wikimedia.

  • The nene, an endangered goose, is the state bird.
  • The state has two official languages, Hawaiian and English.
  • The horizontal stripes of the Hawaii flag represent the eight individual islands.  The union jack in the corner represents the time when Hawaii was a British Protectorate.

Hawaii Activities

Take a look at these activities to go along with a Hawaii theme.

Learn some Hawaiian words:

  • Aloha = hello, goodbye, love
  • Mele Kalikimaka = Merry Christmas
  • Ohana = family
  • Keiki = child
  • Mahalo = thank you
  • Kane = man
  • Wahine = woman
  • Hale = house

Map Exploration

And here’s a Hawaii Map from Layers of Learning.  Located in the central Pacific Ocean, it is the only U.S. state not touching a continent.  Make this printable map into a resource map, showing the economic and natural resources of Hawaii.  Don’t forget to add a key to show what the colors or symbols on your map mean.Hawaii web

Additional Layers

  • Make an aquarium art project using actual fish from Hawaii’s reef as your subjects.
  • Some of the best views of space come from the observatory high atop Mauna Loa Volcano on the Big Island.  Find out more about the observatory and why this is such a prime spot.
  • Hawaii has its own mythology, read more about Pele, goddess of fire; Ku, the god of war; and Maui, the mischievous demi-god.
  • Learn more about volcanoes and how they formed the islands.
  • Study up on oceans.
  • Some landform vocab to go with Hawaii: archipelago, island, headland, reef, lagoon, bay, volcano.
  • Make a timeline of Hawaii’s history.
  • Discuss with your children whether you believe what happened to Hawaii is right and what should have happened and what should happen now. Dig deep and ask the why questions to get to the heart of the matter.
  • Discuss with your children whether a state should be allowed to secede from the Union and why or why not.
  • Discuss whether a people who have been treated badly in the distant past (none of the people alive now were there then) should be recompensed or treated differently.
  • Learn about some cool Hawaiian cultural icons, like hula dancing, surfing, mumus (truly hideous shapeless dresses), lava lavas (a sort of short skirt that men wear, but cool, like in the way a Scottish kilt is cool), outrigger canoes, ukuleles, and shave ice (Matsumoto’s in Haleiwa, North Shore, Oahu).
  • Ancient Hawaiian religious practices involved a strict set of rules called Tapu and also human sacrifice. Learn more about their religious beliefs.
  • Hawaii has its own pop culture including singers like the great Israel Kamakawiwo’ole “IZ”. He died several years ago, but will forever be an icon in Hawaii. Don’t ever ever dis on IZ in front of a Hawaiian. Listen to some if it with your kids, it’s truly beautiful music.

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6 Responses to Hawaii State Study

  1. Emily says:

    Thank you! We are planning a trip to Oahu with our kids and now we will be learning more about Hawaii as a count down before we go!!

  2. Kaleo says:

    Mauna Kea is dormant……Kilauea is the active one.

  3. hal says:

    can you add what its motto is, what its nickname is, and what region it is located in?

    • Hal, if you read closely you’ll find each of those facts within the article. Hawaii’s motto is: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono” which means “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” It’s nickname is the Aloha State. And it is a group of islands located in the Central Pacific Ocean. Hope that helps!

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