Author Julia Flynn Siler joins us to discuss her new book about the rise and fall of Hawaii’s royal family. We’ll hear about Bay Area connections with the so-called sugar kings who controlled much of the arable land on the islands. And we’ll meet a Hawaiian historian and a musician who’ll perform traditional songs on the ukulele, including ones written by Hawaii’s last Queen Lili’uokalani.

Julia Flynn Siler, author of "Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen, The Sugar Kings, and America's First Imperial Adventure" and contributing journalist for the Wall Street Journal
C. Ka'ala Carmack, ethnomusicologist (with a specialty in Hawaiian music), educator and musician
Noelani Arista, assistant professor of history at University of Hawaii at Manoa

  • Ki

    This isn’t related to the Hawaii discussion (which hasn’t started yet), but I’m kind of disappointed that there’s no program related to Martin Luther King today, or at least civil rights.  Surely the Hawaii author could have come in on a different day. 

    • Khyber453

      it’s nice to have some alternative programming since the MLK holiday is everywhere else.  Thank you, Michael for this option…

  • Noe

    I was born and raised on the Big Island. What I find interesting is how local people hold on tightly to our past. Community history and family history are the focus of any gathering. More so than what we see here in the mainland. COuld it be a result of how quickly things change in Hawaii? Locals feeling caught in the whirlwind, and finding comfort in ‘talking story’ if the good old days? How accepting are the locals of all the change going on today?

    • Hilo Hattie

      I live on Big Island… and I wonder if all the ‘heritage talk’ is really just a form of racism.  Many folks here have limited education, experience beyond the islands (except Las Vegas!), professional skills and so forth.  Holding tight to their ethnicity and ‘local’ status may give them a sense of entitlement when little else is held.  PS… I AM a “local” but, my global experience allows me to view my own community here for what it is… just another mix of blood and circumstance… nothing special!

  • Sam

    Please ask the panelists to comment on the current status of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and the role of Hawaiian music and culture in it.  Mahalo!

  • Leslie

    How different a story might the Hawaiian historian, who can read the Hawaiian language documents of the day, have written? What does she think is missing without those resources having been consulted?

    • Julia Flynn Siler

      Mahalo for asking that question, Leslie. I did indeed consult as many Hawaiian language resources as were available and I’ve noted them extensively in the book. (Lost Kingdom has nearly a thousand end-notes that I hope other scholars might find useful.) I’m very glad that scholars are working to translate even more Hawaiian newspapers, but as I mentioned on the show, Queen Liliuokalani wrote most of her letters in English.

  • Harrybet

    Recommend Isabella Byrd ‘s Six Months in the Sandwich Islands
    A surprisingly sophisticated commentary on her visit in the 1870’s both socialogical & political . My wife and I couldn’t put it down….Mahalo

  • William

    Could you please discuss the role of Charles Reed Bishop in the American involvement in Hawai’i? I am a distant relative of his, and I have heard that the indigenous population have a mixed view of his part, and the Bishop name in history. Could you clarify his part in the land grab.

    • Kelii Lindo

      Charles Reed Bishop did not have a part in the land grab. He married Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop in one of the few Ali’i marriages that was truly for love. When Princess Pauahi inherited the estates of her cousin, Princess Ruth Ke’elikolani, along with her own personal estates she became one of the wealthiest individuals in the Kingdom. Her husband, a banker, managed her estates well. When Pauahi died at age 52, she would have been Queen but she refused the succession and ended the Kamehameha Dynasty, her husband continued to manage her estates and fulfilled her dream laid out in her will, creating the Kamehameha Schools. He also financed separately the Bishop Museum to house her inherited cultural treasures from her great grandfather, Kamehameha I, and the Kamehameha Dynasty. It became the core collection of what is today the Bishop Museum. Charles Reed Bishop’s ashes were the last remains to be placed in the Kamehameha tomb at the Royal Mausoleum at Mauna Ala on O’ahu before the crypt was sealed forever. 

  • David Morgenstern

    Great to hear the beautiful singing of Ka’ala Carmack, who is an alum of the SFSU Music Dept. Certainly, the forefront of cultural preservation will be songs, dances and language. BTW: the Bay Area is a ukulele center. 

  • Rox

    I’m learning Hawaiian language & history (circa 1877) by volunteering with “Ike Ku’oko’a” newspaper transcription project …

    • Julia Flynn Siler

      This is a great project. I hope to write a blog item about it soon with some newly translated articles on Pearl Harbor (thanks to Puakea Nogelmeier.)

    • Fcattus

      Is there an address which an ikder briwser can access?  Like AOL or Netscape?

  • Adam

    I called in and asked about the Kanaka Maoli flag (red-yellow-green with crossed paddles). The story as I heard it was about the efforts of an old man who worked for the Kingdom in the days it was ending took the flag as a keepsake. It was “rediscovered” I believe 10 – 15 years ago. I wanted to know the historical accuracy, is there evidence to prove the authenticity, etc. It is an incredibly popular symbol in hawaiian culture today. These experts ought to know something about it…. Adam  SSF

  • Hilo Hattie

    How many full-blooded Hawaiians exist today?  What percent Hawaiian blood is required to attend a Kamehameha school?  To benefit from Hawaiian Homelands and other concessions?

    • Kelii Lindo

      The best place to find a count of full blooded Hawaiians would be census data. You need one half or more Native Hawaiian blood to qualify for Hawaiian Homes; the only one in my immediate family who still qualify is my mother. I, and many Native Hawaiians, believe the blood quantum was solely put in the legislation that passed, it was not in the original legislation, anticipating the day when there would be no more Hawaiians to qualify and what is left of our land would go to the State. There is no required amount of Native Hawaiian blood to attend Kamehameha Schools; my grandniece is only 1/16 Native Hawaiian and she is attending kindergarten at Kamehameha. I am sorry I missed this program. I was born in Honolulu, my great grandmother was a lady in waiting in the court of Queen Lili’uokalani; she was her dress maker. 

      • Hilo Hattie

        Wow!  Half seems really high for Homelands qualification!! Your take on the politics of this sounds probable though.  
        Regarding Kamehameha… the intention of the whole school set up was for the upliftment of Hawaiians.  It’s pretty apparent that there is a lot of politics involved for admission, however.  Kam.  schools have huge numbers applying and so they can take whomever they wish… who’ll make them look good and, not necessarily Hawaiian kids whom they and their families could truly benefit by the quality education.  It’s rather sad… a lot of upper-middle class families attending Kam. schools and the disenfranchised and poor Hawaiian families without hope of entrance… the very community the monarchy intended to uplift!  But, if there is no amount of Native Hawaiian blood necessary to attend Kam. schools… what’s with that ruckus regarding the haole kid getting in 2 years ago?

        • Hilo Hattie

          The 2000 census has no category for Native Hawaiians alone (eg. “Pure Hawaiians”).  Closest thing to it was the category for ‘Native Hawaiian and one other Pacific Islander’… that came out to 874,414 or .3 of the total US population.  Frankly, I’m suspicious of the declarations because of the highly charged politics involved among us Hawaiians.

          • Kelii Lindo

            I am referring to the 2010 census, the most recent one. The first one that has a category for Native Hawaiians. 

          • Ikuaaloha

            Hilo hattie,

            The real “hilo Hattie” aunty clara has passed,god bless her……

        • Kelii Lindo

          HiloHattie, I am not sure about your family’s connection with Kamehameha schools, but many of my family went on scholarship. It is a myth that only the elite Hawaiian families go to Kamehameha. My  best friend, who is a kumu hula in Antioch and kumu ‘olelo came from a very poor family in Kalapana and went to Kamehameha on scholarship. I can give you dozens of examples like this, most recently my grandniece who is attending kindergarten. My niece, her mother, cuts hair and her father works as a trainer at a gym, so not exactly part of the upper class. My niece is a graduate of Kaimuki High. The same can be said for my education at Punahou; my parents both worked and I worked 3 of my 4 yrs in high school to afford tuition, plus scholarship. I did not say no amount of Hawaiian blood. There is no blood quantum. There is A BIG DIFFERENCE.  You can have 1/100th Hawaiian blood or be 100% Hawaiian, unlike Hawaiian homes, it does not matter. I did not say you could attend Kamehameha and not have koko Hawai’i. What Pauahi’s will states is that Native Hawaiian should have preference, and only if there are no qualilfied Native Hawaiian candidates should other races be considered. That is what all the ruckus is about. In regards to Hawaiian Homes, it has always been that blood quantum-since you are Native Hawaiian, I am surprised you did not know that.

  • Redski23

    I’m sorry if I missed this but Sarah Vowell wrote a well researched history of Hawaii and US imperialism there a couple of years ago which has. It been acknowledged.

  • Pam

    My great great great grandfather was Captain Robert Brown, a whaler out of New England and then the owner of a sugar plantation on the big island (later overtaken by a volcano). Does Julia know if he was part of the overthrow? Most of our family records were destroyed in a fire in Honolulu. Also, what can his descendants do regarding reparations? Sounds like we’ll all be typing… Thanks, Pam

    • Julia Flynn Siler

      Aloha, Pam. I believe I did come across the Brown name in my research — indeed, there was a Brown present at the deathbed of King Kalakaua in San Francisco at the Palace Hotel, as I recall. A great place for you to start would be Professor Ralph S. Kuykendall’s three volume history of the Hawaiian Kingdom, which has an extensive index. You might find him there. Good luck!

  • Thump34msg

    Dear Michael, it’s “oo”kelele, not “you”kelele.

    • pono650

      Actually “oo”kUlele

  • Cj

    What is the name of the woman historian who was interviewed?

    • Michael from MA

      Professor Noelani Arista.

  • Michael from MA

    When the author claims that Hawaiian is an impenetrable language due in part to its use of ‘kaona’, it seems a bit of disingenuity on her part; from what Professor Arista claims, there must be thousands of pages of material in Hawaiian available. Did Siler make any attempt to access these sources?

    • Julia Flynn Siler

      Aloha, Michael. I did indeed consult as many Hawaiian language sources as are available and I extensively noted them in the end-notes to Lost Kingdom. I believe that Professor Arista discussed the nature of the language, not me, and I am very excited about what she and other scholars will discover in the course of translating nineteenth century Hawaiian language newspapers.

  • Pualynn

    Please please Michael.  Have the courtesy to learn your guest’s name.  As a friend pointed out, you called Ka’ala “” Ku’ala, Kula, Kua’ala & Kuala ” but never Ka ala.  And I agree that Sarah Vowell’s book is a very concise beginning point for those not familiar with the history of Hawaii.

  • MA Kaiulani Milham

    Can’t believe the author of this book and the host of the show, don’t see that the bombing of Pearl Harbor would never have happened had Hawaii NOT been annexed (illegally) by the US and the US had not made Hawaii it’s base of military operations in the Pacific.  Duh! Idiots! Japan was a friend of the Hawaiian Kingdom, whom King Kalakaua had visited and even proposed a royal marriage between a Japanese prince and Hawaiian princess Ka’iulani. The caller who claimed Hawaii “was happy enough to have us around in 1941” when Pearl Harbor was attacked is just ignorant.

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