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Hawaiian Identity

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The Colonization of Hawaiian Identity The idea that identity can be measured, reduces the complexity of a person’s social identity to their biology and functions to shape race narratives in a way that leaves the indigenous people at a disadvantage. A continuous battle over sovereignty and claims to land continue today as many struggle with meeting the strict blood quantum regulations required. The attempt to define Hawaiian identity without having it come from the Native Hawaiians themselves, is rooted in settler colonialism and a misunderstanding of Hawaiian kinship that continues to be perpetuated by legislation. This strict colonial imposition onto the Native peoples of Hawaii has aided in the slow erasure of the Native Hawaiian peoples…show more content…
The Eurocentric views of whiteness being directly correlated to superiority and civilization was used a tool to exploit native peoples while legalizing entitlement to lands that have already been discovered (Miller, 2010, p.87). The process of land dispossession had a profound negative impact on Native peoples. Their identity became outlined by colonial institutions rather than from their own definition. The conflicting methods of defining identity is integral to Kauanui’s Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity. In her work, she describes how indigenous Hawaiians themselves have historically determined their identity through genealogy and a system of common descent. This inclusive and expansive method of determining identity established relationships and was the basis of social identity in their hierarchal class society (Kauanui, 2008, p.38) In contrast to this, the 1921 Hawaiian Homes and Commission Act imposed an arbitrary blood quantum in an effort to measure cultural orientation. In order to claim indigeneity, one had to have at least 50% blood “purity”. Although this 50% rule was viewed as more “scientific,” the blood quantum made assumptions about indigenous concepts of genealogy which undermined its fluidity and attempted to quantify race, a…show more content…
In light of the hostility towards the Asian community, the Chinese Exclusion Act was integral to the blood racialization of the Hawaiians through the Hawaiian Homes and Commission Act. By doing so, the US Government defined Hawaiians as US Citizens, therefore excluding Asian immigrants from land entitlement (Kaunuai, 2008, p.68) Through the HHCA, the US government limited those who qualified for the land provisions that was proposed by the Hawaiian rehabilitation plan. Hawaiians who fulfilled the 50 percent rule were deemed eligible for land leasing but could not gain title to those lands due because they were not viewed as capable enough. On the other hand, those with a blood quantum of less than 50% were assumed to be able to secure their own property and compete in the free-market economy therefore restricted from land leasing (Kaunuai, 2008, p.164). Because the restrictions and assumptions of Hawaiians were based on arbitrary measures of blood, the Hawaii rehabilitation plan failed in truly helping Hawaiians who were facing high rates of impoverishment and unemployment. This land distribution parallels the Dawes Act of 1887, which privatized land ownership and facilitated the Native Americans into Eurocentric culture. The act justified their land dispossession and reduced the amount of land they were entitles to over time (Sturm, 2014, p.592). Additionally, both acts
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