UC Law Constitutional Quarterly


Noelani Nasser


In 1778, England’s Captain Cook first landed on the Hawaiian Islands. Since then, the Native Hawaiians have struggled to maintain their indigenous identity as distinct from the outside world and indigenous to Hawai’i. In the one thousand years preceding this early invasion, Native Hawaiians established unique political structures and cultural identities that were not present in England or the newly independent United States. Following the United States’ overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, the United States quickly enacted legislation that severely impacted the Native Hawaiians. This paper will discuss historical events in Hawai’i from 1778 to the twenty-first century that demonstrate the atrocities and injustices of American imperialism that prevented the Native Hawaiians from profiting from the islands’ rich lands in a period of immense economic growth, stemming largely from agricultural developments. As a result of Americans seizing the Hawaiian lands for their own economic benefit and their subsequent disregard for the plight of an entire indigenous culture and people, Native Hawaiians are left by the wayside. American imperialism systematically disregarded the value of this native group’s culture and history and now only calls for remembering Native Hawaiians when it serves the interests of furthering their imperial agenda.