what race are hawaiians

What Race Are Hawaiians?

Known as the only state with a tropical rain forest, Hawaii comprises of 8 major islands, with Oahu being the largest. Based on the latest US census releases, the total population of Hawaii in 2018 is estimated to be 1.43 million people. That is a 5.2% increase in population since the 2010 population census and more people are settling into this beautiful state every day.

The largest Island in Hawaii (Oahu) boasts of a whopping population of about 953,207 people, while Hawaii itself comes second, with a total population of 186,738 people.  That is closely followed by Maui (pop 144,500) and Kauai (66,921), the only other islands with a sizable population. Other small islands include Kahoolawe (unpopulated), Lanai (3,225), Molokai (7,345) and Niihau (170).

Other than Honolulu, Hawaii has no other city with a population exceeding 50,000 people. Located in Oahu Island, Honolulu has an estimated population of 350,499 people and it’s followed by Perl City, with 47,698 people.


Native Hawaiians

Native Hawaiians are believed to be a group of Polynesians, a cross-breed between the South Asians and Melanesians. The first settlers of these beautiful islands are believed to have been voyagers, who came in two groups, one arriving in the fourth century from the Marquesas. The second group came from Tahiti in the 1300AD, conquering the original inhabitants and making Hawaii their home.

native hawaiiansSome people claim that the Tahitians were strongly built and they forced the other settlers into the remote valleys of Hawaii. The story is supported by the legends of Hawaiiloa and Paao, the first navigator priest. This proves that there were other people in these islands, before the settlement of the Hawaiians. However, some believe that these legends are just stories, stating that only a single group inhabited these Islands.

Native Hawaiians trace back their ancestry to three main Polynesian tribes, Hawai’i Maoli, Kanaka Oiwi and Kanaka maoli. However, most Hawaiians today only associate with the Kanaka maoli tribe, which is said to have had about 400,000 natives by 1778.


The Kanaka Maoli Tribe

In the Hawaiian language, the word Kanaka is used to refer to “a human being”. This word was borrowed into English in the late 18th century and used to refer to the native people of Hawaii or anybody with a Polynesian ancestry.  However, this word alone is perceived as derogatory, mostly when used by an outsider to refer to a Hawaiian native.

Kanaka Maoli hawaiian raceOn the other hand, Maoli translates to a “real person” or a “true human being”. The combination of the two words is used as a term of ethnic pride among the Hawaiian natives and is one of the most known native tribes in Hawaii.

The Kanaka Maoli were known to be skilled voyagers, who travelled by canoes, guided by marine life, winds, waves, night sky, birds and ocean currents. Even better, they had strong spiritual connections with nature and their ancestors. These connections led them through different islands in the Pacific, before finally settling in the Hawaii islands.


How Long Have the Kanaka Maoli Tribe Been Around?

The kanaka maoli tribe has inhabited Hawaii for more than 2000 years and they have a very long cultural heritage as migrant seafarers. Other sources reveal that the tribe we know today has only been around for about 800 years.  However, their cultural heritage was diluted by the arrival of explorers who forced them to radically change the societal and spiritual relationship.


The Kanaka Maoli Language

Today, English is the main language used in Hawaii. However, the Kanaka maoli tribe speaks Olelo, their official Polynesian language. The name comes from the word Hawaii, also known as the biggest island in the north Pacific archipelago. This language was developed in Hawaii and the first language-constitution established between 1839 and 1840 by King Kamahema III.

Samoans and Guamanians

According to the history of Hawaii, many people who live here today can trace their genealogy to Samoa, Guam, Fiji and other islands along the Pacific coast. This being the case, the Samoan language is very similar to the Hawaiian and they mostly spoke a common language in the 19th and 20th century. However, the Hawaiian language used today has gone through a series of modern evolution, due to interaction with people from Tahiti, France, and other surrounding islands.

Samoans and GuamaniansThough many people argue against this fact, it’s true that a huge number of Hawaiians today can trace the ancestry back to Samoa islands. The people of Samoa migrated to Hawaii in the late 19th and early 20th century, living the same life as the original Polynesians. More importantly, some mythical stories and legends told by the Hawaiians and Samoans are basically the same.

Some people also moved from Guam in the 20th century, adding to the population of Hawaii. This also contributed to the cultural heritage of the Hawaiians and it’s largely evident in their food, dancing, and other activities. However, it’s hard to tell the exact number of Guamanians or Samoans in Hawaii. That’s mainly because people from Hawaii, Guam, and Samoa are not subject to immigration controls.


Other Hawaiians

Today, Hawaii is among the top places in the world with a huge racial diversity. According to the 2015 census, 24.1% of the residents claimed mixed ethnic backgrounds, tracing two or more ethnic backgrounds. This is actually more than any other American state, standing right above Alaska with about 7.5%.

hawaiian people raceThe Hawaii population is a mixed plate of different communities and you can expect to find all kinds of ethnic groups. This population is made up of 38.6% Asians, 24.8% white, 10% natives and 8.9% Hispanic, while the rest is occupied by Alaska Natives, American Indians, and African Americans.

As home to different ethnic groups for more than 500 years, the local life has been influenced by different cultural practices. Various practices trace their origin back to the 19th and 20th century when different people came into this state to earn a living. The contemporary culture today is a nice mix of different cultures, borrowed from all the unique groups that inhabit Hawaii.