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LETTER: Hawaiian Language Never Illegal or Banned in Schools

March 29, 2019, 10:03 AM HST (Updated March 29, 2019, 10:03 AM)
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PBS “Insights” show said Hawaiian language was “forbidden in schools.” Hawaiian grievance industry often repeats that falsehood, seeking sympathy and reparations. It stirs racial hostility toward “haoles.”

Hawaiian language nearly died because native leaders and parents saw English was the path to success. UH professors John Reinecke and Albert Schutz proved that, in 1892, before the monarchy was overthrown, English was already the language in 95% of public schools, which nearly all native kids attended.

Japanese and Chinese languages predominated in private plantation schools. To give future generations of all ethnicities one language they all could speak, an 1896 law said English must be used in every child’s main school, but other languages were OK in after-school or weekend academies. Japanese created hundreds of such academies but Hawaiians chose not to.

Wealthy, powerful Princess Pauahi founded Kamehameha Schools 1883-87, freely choosing English language and subjects. Hawaiian language newspapers published continuously with diminishing readership until 1948.

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Letters, commentaries and opinion pieces are not edited by Big Island Now.

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