Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Chinese in Hawaii
The Chinese in Hawaii constitute about 4.7% of the state's population, most of whom (75%) have ancestors from Zhongshan in Guangdong. This number does not include people of mixed Chinese and Hawaiian descent. If all people with Chinese ancestry in Hawaii (including the Chinese-Hawaiians) are included, they form about 1/3 of Hawaii's entire population. Being U.S citizens, they are a group of Chinese Americans.
Historical records indicated that the earliest of the Chinese from Guangdong province, who came in three initial waves of immigration in 1778 Captain Cook's journey, in 1788 with Kaina, and in 1789 with an American trader settled in Hawaii in the late 18th century.
By 1790, a handful of them can be found in the island of O'ahu, including the 1789 group living together with the chief Kamehameha the great. Due to the fact that these Chinese men did not bring any Chinese women along with them, they took in Hawaiian wives instead, and frequently, adopting Chinese-Hawaiian surnames like Akaka, Ahina, etc, in which words of Chinese origin are pronounced with a soft Hawaiian tone. The practice of taking in Hawaiian women continued right into the 19th century, when Chinese women were still considered a rarity in Hawaii.
The largest number of Chinese immigrants, some 46,000, came to Hawai'i between 1850 and annexation of Hawai'i to the United States in 1898, most of them after 1875. Nearly all the Chinese immigrants came to Hawaii as landless villagers, thinking they would stay only long enough to make the fortune they wanted to take back home. Only by this time, the first Chinese women came to Hawaii. However, over half of the pre-annexation immigrants ultimately went back to live in China permanently.
Several thousand Chinese immigrants gradually changed from temporary sojourners to permanent settlers. Among them were some who had married or established common-law marriages with Hawaiian women, while the other men took in the first female Chinese settlers in Hawaii.
The Chinese boys were drawn into Christian missionary schools and later into the unsegregated public schools. Due to the fact that there were excellent employment opportunities in Hawaii, as well as the high value placed by Chinese on education, the Chinese parents encouraged their sons to get a formal education. As more and more Chinese convert to Christianity since the establishment of the first Chinese Church of Hawaii, they eventually abandoned their traditional indifference and even opposition towards giving formal education to their daughters, Chinese women were allowed to work in professional jobs, especially as school teachers. Many local Chinese were sent to the mainland United States for professional training before it was available in the islands, and hundreds of Hawaii-born Chinese still go to mainland universities for undergraduate or graduate education each year.
Although it is commonly thought that the present day Chinese in Hawaii are descendants of the pioneer sugar plantation contract laborers, this is something of a misconception. A larger proportion of island-born Chinese families are descended from rice plantation entrepreneurs, independent farmers, craftsmen, merchants, and a few professional men who found Hawaii a pleasant land of opportunity and made it home for themselves and their descendants, the descandants of the earliest pioneer groups could be well right into the seventh-generation.
Thus, as the Chinese in Hawaii secure their positions as business partners and leaders in Hawaii's multi-ethnic society, many of them look back towards their Chinese culture and traditions with pride and satisfaction.
Prior to the arrival of European Christian missionaries to Hawaii, the early Chinese settlers were worshippers of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, and even blending their beliefs with the traditional Hawaiian gods is also seen.
Today, due to the work of Christian missionaries in the late 19th century and the 20th century, the vast majority of the Chinese in Hawaii are adherents of Protestant and Roman Catholic Christianity. Still, about 100 Buddhist and ancestral Temples remain, and the loyal minorty who adhere to Traditional Chinese religions pay pilgrimage to their ancestors annually. However, no accurate statistics of adherents within the Chinese community in Hawaii is avaliable.
List of notable Chinese people from Hawaii
- Daniel K. Akaka
- Chang Apana
- Brian Ching
- William K.S. Chow
- Kam-Fong Chun
- Gordon Pai'ea Chung-Hoon
- Hiram L. Fong
- Clayton Hee
- Don Ho
- Hoku Ho
- Kelly Hu
- Jason Scott Lee
- Richard Loo
- Hong Tai
- Wong Tse Chun
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