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A Place to Instruct and to Record History

Cover Image: Masthead of Ka Elele Hawaii published on September 23, 1852. 

Aloha Nūhou Monday! 

Dear Reader, the Hawaiian language newspapers were a place used for instruction and for the recording of history. There are famous contributors whose accounts have been translated and published in books, like Samuel Mānaiakalani Kamakau, John Papa ʻĪʻī, and David Malo. There however are countless others who remain unrecognized, their words recorded only in the pages of the newspapers, waiting to be recovered. 

Image: One of the 27 four-legged animals described and illustrated in Ka Lama Hawaii, the first Hawaiian language newspaper. Unlike the horse, most of the animals described in 1834 were not found here, like the zebra, tiger, sloth, kangaroo, and anteater. There is a translation of 24 of the 27 animal descriptions done by Esther T. Mookini published in 1985 under the title O Na Holoholona Wawae Eha o Ka Lama Hawaii: The Four-Footed Animals of Ka Lama Hawaii by Bamboo Ridge Press.

Image: “Ka Lio i Pae Mua ma Hawaii Nei.” Ka Elele Hawaii, September 23, 1852, p. 46.

The First Horse to Land Here in Hawaiʻi. 

In the month of June, 1803, on the 24th, that is the day on which the first horse landed here in Hawaiʻi, at Kawaihae was where it came to shore; it was a mare. It was given to ʻOlohana [John Young] to care for, and the people were overjoyed to see that horse. The name of the ship that brought it was the Lelia Byrd, and its Captain was Richard J. Cleveland. The ship sailed from California, and the horses were brought as a gift for the aliʻi Kamehameha I. One horse was released at Kawaihae; the ship then sailed on to Lahaina and a number of horses were released and given to the aliʻi for he was there. The aliʻi looked at the horses and did not have much like for them in the beginning, because at the time he had no knowledge of horses. But when he saw the haole riding the horses, then he and the people felt admiration for them, and they enjoyed greatly riding upon the horses. That was the year 1803, 49 years ago.  

Hawaiʻi is blessed and cursed as well by the horse. People who use them wisely are blessed by horses. And they employ the horses to assist in their work to increase their wealth. However, people who simply purchase and care for horses for pleasure are cursed. Their money is used up in buying a horse, and they gain no benefit from the horse, just amusement. Those people lose out because of the horse.  

Here is one more thing, the horses here in Hawaiʻi are becoming of poor quality; a majority of them are very small; the good horses make up but a fraction these days. This is the reasons, 1 Because of the many inferior stallions roaming around; therefore the foals are bad. 2 Because mares which are inferior, small, and weak give birth. 3 Because the horses are ridden when they are very young. When the horses are two years old, they are run hard. This is bad. Those horses will age prematurely, and their strength and glory will disappear quickly. 4 Because people are used to riding the horses hard, therefore in no time the horses are no good.  

What should be done? This is what should be done, enact a strict law on stallions. 2 Enact a law on riding the horses hard, and restricting riding when they are very young.  

(Ka Elele Hawaii, September 23, 1852, p. 46) 

Image: “Iles Sandwich: Young, favori du Roi Tameameha,” engraving of John Young, advisor to the Kamehamehas. Detail from a larger engraving of three men: Kalanimoku, Young, and Kuakini. ca. 1819. Engraving by Roger after drawing by Pellion. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 126756. 

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On August 19, 1835, Rev. Hiram Bingham put out a call in the newspaper Ke Kumu Hawaii: “…All of you who are experts in the history of Hawaiʻi, answer those things which I have asked about the aliʻi of Hawaiʻi and their thoughts when doing the things they did, so that we see clearly…” His call was soon answered, and many people throughout the 115 years of the Hawaiian language newspapers contributed what they knew of the histories of Hawaiʻi.

— Post by Bishop Museum Library & Archives Staff

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