by Andrew Walden
On the second Monday of every October, Hawaii celebrates, “Discoverers' Day, in recognition of the Polynesian discoverers of the Hawaiian Islands.” But the Senate wants to put a stop to the celebrations.
According to the text of SCR55, introduced March 3 by Abercrombie-appointed Senator Maile Shimabukuro, the holiday should be dropped because “the use of the name Discoverers' Day to recognize the first arrival of non-Polynesians to Hawaii is problematic because of the inhumane nature of the concept of discovery….”
That is not the purpose of Discoverers’ Day. What part of “recognition of the Polynesian discoverers of the Hawaiian Islands”, does Sen. Shimabukuro not understand?
When the first sailors from the Marquesas Islands landed at Ka Lae on the Big Island about 1,500 years ago, they did not find any humans, so it is not clear how their discovery could be considered “inhumane”. But don’t worry, Shimabukuro has an explanation: “…the basic concept of discovery established Christian dominion over non-Christian nations and peoples and allowed for the colonization and seizure of their lands….”
Uh, huh. So Hawaii should stop celebrating the arrival of the first Polynesian voyagers at Ka Lae 1500 years ago because… “the basic concept of discovery” somehow establishes Christian “domination”? This sounds like somebody’s sophomore-level Ethnic Studies term paper.
As any second grader knows, Queen Kaahumanu voluntarily chose to invite Congregationalist missionaries to the Hawaiian Kingdom to help bring peace and order to the Hawaiian Kingdom after the death of Kamehameha --1300 years after the discoverers landed at Ka Lae.
But don’t worry. After getting two facts dead wrong, Shimabukuro just keeps on Piling it Higher and Deeper.
SCR55 cites other reasons to dump Hawaii Discoverers Day. One reason has something to do with Africa and the 1455 “papal bull Romanus Pontifex.” Another is about Spain and the 1493 “papal bull Inter Caetera.” And, don’t forget, Christopher Columbus “believed until his death in 1506 that he had landed in Asia”—therefore obviously Hawaii should stop honoring Polynesian discoverers.
Some would call SCR55 “cultural imperialism”. And one especially cartoonish line from the Resolution seems to confirm it:
“in 1992, the city of Berkeley, California abolished Columbus Day, renaming it Indigenous Peoples Day to protest the European colonization of North America and call attention to the plight of Native American people”
There you have it. Hawaii Legislators are scheming to make Hawaii a colony of Berkeley. And what should replace “Discoverers Day”?
“Indigenous Peoples Day and Native American Day are two of the most prominent names now used to recognize the day….”
The Senate apparently still hasn’t figured out that Hawaiians are not Native Americans.
SCR55 was approved by the Senate 24-1 April 15 with only Sen. Sam Slom voting “no.”
In the House, the bill was approved April 21 by the HAW and CUA Committees, but when the resolution hit the House floor yesterday, it was postponed. And today the house voted to recommit the Resolution back to the committees, effectively killing it until next session.
And they have the gall to say that Columbus was lost!
Discoverers' Day - HI Legislature: [§8-1.5] Discoverers' Day. The second Monday in October shall be known as Discoverers' Day, in recognition of the Polynesian discoverers of the Hawaiian Islands, provided that this day is not and shall not be construed to be a state holiday. [L 1988, c 220, §4]
Recommitted to Committee: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2011/lists/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SCR&billnumber=55
The committees on HAW recommend that the measure be PASSED, UNAMENDED. The votes were as follows: 6 Ayes: Representative(s) Hanohano, C. Lee, Belatti, Mizuno, Morikawa, Wooley; Ayes with reservations: none; Noes: none; and 4 Excused: Representative(s) Jordan, Yamane, Pine, Ward.
The committees on CUA recommend that the measure be PASSED, UNAMENDED. The votes were as follows: 6 Ayes: Representative(s) Wooley, Belatti, Hanohano, C. Lee, Mizuno, Morikawa; Ayes with reservations: none; Noes: none; and 2 Excused: Representative(s) Jordan, Pine.
Full Text of SCR55 (This is an exercise in self-satire)
SCR 15 REMOVE DISCOVERERS DAY FROM CALENDAR
REQUESTING THE GOVERNOR TO SUPPORT LEGISLATION THAT REDESIGNATES DISCOVERERS' DAY IN HAWAII AS INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY.
WHEREAS, the basic concept of discovery established Christian dominion over non-Christian nations and peoples and allowed for the colonization and seizure of their lands; and
WHEREAS, on January 8, 1455, the papal bull Romanus Pontifex was issued by Pope Nicolas V to King Alfonso V of Portugal, establishing Christian dominion throughout Africa, based upon the concept of discovery; and
WHEREAS, on October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus did not discover America because it had been previously inhabited by indigenous people for thousands of years and because after four voyages to the Caribbean, Columbus believed until his death in 1506 that he had landed in Asia; and
WHEREAS, in his famous letter to the Spanish Crown in 1493, Christopher Columbus was the first to suggest the enslavement of the native inhabitants that he had encountered; and
WHEREAS, on May 4, 1493, the papal bull Inter Caetera was issued by Pope Alexander VI to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain establishing Christian dominion in the Americas and everywhere one hundred leagues west and south of the Azores and Cape Verde Islands, based upon the concept of discovery; and
WHEREAS, as the governor of Espanola, known today as Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Christopher Columbus in the 1490s imposed an institutional system of forced labor that killed many of the area's native inhabitants; and
WHEREAS, on January 19, 1778, British captain James Cook did not discover the Hawaiian Islands, or Ka Paeaina, because the islands had been inhabited by the native Hawaiian people, or Kanaka Maoli, for hundreds of years prior to Cook's arrival; and
WHEREAS, as a result of the crusading concept of discovery and European colonization of native lands, indigenous people perished worldwide; and
WHEREAS, the use of the name Discoverers' Day to recognize the first arrival of non-Polynesians to Hawaii is problematic because of the inhumane nature of the concept of discovery; and
WHEREAS, in the July 1990 Declaration of Quito, Ecuador, in which representatives from one hundred twenty Indian nations met at a continental gathering to mark five hundred years of Indian resistance, indigenous people mobilized and declared their opposition to the 1992 quincentennial celebration of the European arrival in the Americas and reaffirmed their continental unity and struggle toward their liberation; and
WHEREAS, in 1992, the city of Berkeley, California abolished Columbus Day, renaming it Indigenous Peoples Day to protest the European colonization of North America and call attention to the plight of Native American people; and
WHEREAS, since 1992, an increasing number of American states, cities, local governments, and institutions have renamed or abolished Columbus Day; and
WHEREAS, the recognition of Discoverers' Day in Hawaii is synonymous with Columbus Day because of the inhumane nature of the concept of discovery; and
WHEREAS, Indigenous Peoples Day and Native American Day are two of the most prominent names now used to recognize the day; and
WHEREAS, beginning on October 12, 1997, indigenous peoples and supporters have gathered annually in Hawaii to call public attention to this issue; and
WHEREAS, beginning in October 2002, some indigenous peoples and supporters in Hawaii have been referring to Discoverers' Day as Indigenous Peoples Day in solidarity with indigenous people worldwide, to celebrate the survival, pride, and culture of indigenous people, and to call public attention to this issue; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-sixth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2011, the House of Representatives concurring, that the Governor is respectfully requested to support legislation that redesignates the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day, in recognition of the countless numbers of indigenous people worldwide who perished as a result of the indigenous-European clash of civilizations and of those indigenous people who have endured and survived over the past five hundred years and who wish to celebrate their continuity and breath of life, educate the general public about this issue, and create a more peaceful world; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Renaming Discoverer's Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day