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Ma Hope Ho'i Ma Mua

History of Health to 1893

Kekuni Blaisdell

length - 4:20

Capt. Cook and his colleagues on the Resolution and Discovery, the two ships that brought the first foreigners here in 1778, described our ancestors as above middle size, and lean, lithe, muscular.

They walk gracefully and run nimbly and are capable of great work.

The women were described also as having handsome faces, straight, white teeth.

These first foreigners also realized that these natives were healthier than they were. And they marveled, not only at their physique, but their beauty and their adaptation to their environment.

Whereas foreigners worked by the clock, the indigenous people here worked only to suit their own needs. And yet they constructed these vast taro fields, engineering feats, watering the lo‘i in order to feed the large population.

They marveled also at the fishponds and the inter-relationship between the taro lo‘i and the loko, the fishponds.

And of course Captain Cook was well aware that his men carried infectious diseases, and the most important being the venereal: the clap, gonorrhea and the pox, later identified as syphilis.

And he knew from previous experiences elsewhere that these sexually-transmitted diseases had wrought havoc on the native peoples elsewhere.

And so these diseases were introduced at that time, venereal diseases and probably also tuberculosis, highly virulent, indeed fatal diseases were introduced at that time to our people who, of course, had no natural resistance to them.

And so there was a rapid population decline, beginning with the arrival of Capt. Cook in 1778.

Subsequently, with the arrival of other foreign ships in native ports, other contagious, infectious illnesses were introduced, such as influenza and pneumonia and bronchitis.

So there are comments by the missionaries themselves, when they set about to take a census, that there are whole villages where there are no children any longer, because they had died in the epidemics, infectious epidemics at that time.

And then subsequently at least five epidemics of smallpox, mumps, measles, diphtheria.

Subsequently, of course, ma'i pake, leprosy, which was to take a heavy toll on our native people.

It is estimated that, at the time of the arrival of Cook, there may have been more than 800,000 people here, perhaps as many as one million.

Well, that population underwent a rapid decline. So that, about a hundred years later, 1893, at the time of the illegal armed invasion of our homeland by American naval forces, the total population, indigenous Kanaka Maoli population, was down to 40,000.

That's over 95% reduction in our population. A holocaust, by any definition.
Ma Hope Ho'i Ma Mua