S. M. Kamakau on history, 1868.

Letter from Mr. Kamakau.

To all Literary Gentlemen and Friends in Hawaii and elsewhere:

A certain person, styling himself in the Gazette, “A Hawaiian,” and whom I judge to be the same who signs himself in the Au Okoa “R. Kapihe,” and who, moreover, I doubt not,is one aspiring to a very high rank in the Kingdom, seems very jealous of my statements in the Hawaiian History which I am now writing. The line of descent of some of the present high chiefs, and their relationship to Kamehameha I, as I have stated it, appears to find especial disfavor in his eyes, perhaps and very probably, for the reason that another name very near at home to the above-mentioned writer is not included among those whom I have written down as descendants and near of kin to Kamehameha I.

I have simply written the genealogy as it has been taught me from my ancestors, and find in that name no relation to Kamehameha I. How can I falsify the truth before God?

He moreover says that Hawaiian History is something very sacred, and forsooth must not be published! What grounds has he for this assertion? True, there are few that know it, but it is free to all. Ancestral genealogy was indeed tabu on the island of Hawaii, but from Maui to Kauai, they had persons whose business it was to recite ancestral names.

So his first attempt to give a false genealogy is a most unchristian one. And, secondly, as to its being contrary to the wish of the King and the chiefs to have it published, it is only the writer himself that is opposed to it, and wishes to cover things up in darkness. Kamehameha III. was very anxious to have Hawaiian History written, and Messrs. Richards, Dibble, Haalilio, Andrews and others, formed a Historical Society in 1839–41. May be that was before “Hawaiian’s” day?

Others are mentioned as being much more learned than myself in Hawaiian History. This matter has been tried before competent witnesses, some of them chiefs now living, and my claims as an authentic historian, and a better one than the persons mentioned, have been fully confirmed. His late Majesty, Kamehameha IV., but for his premature death, would have employed your humble servant to write history. There is a copy of Hawaiian History in the royal records, but it is, like the one published by the Rev. Mr. Pogue in 1858, very meagre and needs very many important additions.

What civilized country would think of laying a tabu on its history?  How is it with England, with France, and all of Europe? How was it with Greece and Rome in ancient times? And with the Chaldees and Jews?

We profess to be a christian kingdom. So let us come out into the light, and forsake any superstitious pagan tabus or false sacredness of anything of this kind. And is it right for a member of the House of Nobles to be a blind leader back into darkness?

It was after more than six years of sickness, and after repeated solicitations from the editor of the Kuokoa, that I was induced to lay before the public this Hawaiian History, beginning with the year 1736–the year in which Kamehameha I. was born, and going on down to the times of his successors. It is for you to judge of the nature and the motives of this ill-natured opposition.

I place before you gentlemen, and countrymen, my treasures of warmest affection.

S. M. Kamakau.

(PCA, 9/19/1868, p. 2)


Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Volume XIII, Number 12, Page 2. September 19, 1868.

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