Content Category

Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

Haunani-Kay Trask’s article “Hawaiian Rights and Human Right,” published in her book From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai‘i (1993) summarizes the history of Hawai'i and The United States, emphasizing the impact of colonialism and critiquing the application, or lack thereof, of laws and protections for Hawai’i’s indigenous community. Trask concludes that Hawai’i is a colony of The United States of America who is murdering, suppressing, and marginalizing the indigenous culture of the islands. This paper will discuss the influence of smaller cultures, more specifically the Portuguese immigrants from Madeira, on the Hawaiian culture. Trask asserts that “colonialism has, as one of its goals, the obliteration rather than the incorporation of indigenous peoples” (26); however, she fails to acknowledge the indigenous peoples’ own incorporation of other cultures as a form of self-inflicted obliteration. The ukulele, which many people associate with Hawaiians and “which has been carried far by tourists under the impression that it is an instrument of native invention, or if not that, an instrument invented in the islands” (Tranquada and King 5), was brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants. Modern Americans recognize and even celebrate the ukulele as a classic indigenous Hawaiian instrument, but the ukulele did not originate in Hawaii. Trask claims that America negatively affected the culture of indigenous Hawaiians, yet overlooks the fact that these same native Hawaiians accepted a part of another culture, specifically the ukulele, with consequences like the colonialism from The United States of America.

Faculty Involvement

Professor Brian Roberts

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Ukulele: A Right Not Quite Right

Haunani-Kay Trask’s article “Hawaiian Rights and Human Right,” published in her book From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai‘i (1993) summarizes the history of Hawai'i and The United States, emphasizing the impact of colonialism and critiquing the application, or lack thereof, of laws and protections for Hawai’i’s indigenous community. Trask concludes that Hawai’i is a colony of The United States of America who is murdering, suppressing, and marginalizing the indigenous culture of the islands. This paper will discuss the influence of smaller cultures, more specifically the Portuguese immigrants from Madeira, on the Hawaiian culture. Trask asserts that “colonialism has, as one of its goals, the obliteration rather than the incorporation of indigenous peoples” (26); however, she fails to acknowledge the indigenous peoples’ own incorporation of other cultures as a form of self-inflicted obliteration. The ukulele, which many people associate with Hawaiians and “which has been carried far by tourists under the impression that it is an instrument of native invention, or if not that, an instrument invented in the islands” (Tranquada and King 5), was brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants. Modern Americans recognize and even celebrate the ukulele as a classic indigenous Hawaiian instrument, but the ukulele did not originate in Hawaii. Trask claims that America negatively affected the culture of indigenous Hawaiians, yet overlooks the fact that these same native Hawaiians accepted a part of another culture, specifically the ukulele, with consequences like the colonialism from The United States of America.