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"Aloha 'Oe" (1878), Hawaii's Most Recognized Song, Written by Lili'uokalani (1838-1917)


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Lili'uokalani was the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii (1795-1893). This song is so hackneyed that it's embarrassing to write about, but I suspect the vast majority of people don't know who Lili'uokalani was, so I'm primarily writing this to pay her a tribute.

I'm not taking anything away from the song - it's beautiful - but it's just so overplayed that it's like someone from Mongolia meeting you over there and asking if you know Michael Jordan (don't laugh - a variation of this happened to me on the Moscow Metro).

Anyway, it's nearly 140-years-old, and more importantly, it was composed by the Kingdom of Hawaii's last monarch, which is really quite fascinating. Hopefully, this post will give the tune some of the respect that it deserves; I cannot say much more without sounding forced.

If this vacuous thread could spawn a lengthy discussion of Hawaii - its culture, its history, its music, its cuisine - I'd be a hapa guy (well, not technically, but at least in spirit).

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The history of Hawai'i is a very sad one (I encourage you to watch the movie Princess KaÊ»iulani). Hawai'i was a self-governing nation that was forced to be a Hawaiian territory. Their existing monarch, Queen LiliÊ»uokalani, was imprisoned in the upstairs room of 'Iolani Palace and abdicated her throne in exchange for the release and commutation of death sentences of her supporters.

Hawai'i never wanted to be part of the United States. This can be easily seen when Alaska and Hawai'i celebrated their 50 year anniversary of joining the USA. Alaska celebrated and Hawai'i ignored it. My grandmother remembers being in high school at the time that Hawai'i became a state. It came as an announcement over the PA system.

In '93 President Clinton signed the Apology Resolution:

 Although the histories of Native Hawaiians and Native Americans are significantly different, there is still a widely held perception that Native Hawaiians have received similar kinds of unfair treatment from the U.S. Government as Native Americans. The Apology Bill is thus seen as a means of acknowledging historical grievances that they believe are valid. Some also see it as a step towards identifying Native Hawaiians as an indigenous people to preserve for them specific legal rights based on ancestry; some also see it as the beginning of a process to provide compensation or reparation to native Hawaiians for alleged past injustices.

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