Thursday, April 16, 2009

Alter-Nations - Kingdom of Hawaii Part 2

So, as I said in the last post, I was going to be posting more about this idea. Now that I have had a chance to digest some of the things I've read, I am seeing that my initial responses to The Kingdom of Hawaii idea were way off base. Of course I am going based on what some quick research can determine and without a lot of in-depth knowledge, but it's clear that Hawaii didn't barely make it, but rather that they made it and then they were torn down.

One of the big things I can see that would need to be adjusted is that the dynasties of Hawaii would have had to have been a bit more savvy when dealing with foreign nations. I remember reading a bit about how at one point they considered who they should trade with and somehow ended up entering into an exclusive trade agreement with the United States. This was a mistake, because it made them dependent on the US for support and trade and hurt their relations with other nations that might have provided them with useful goods and trade routes for their own. This is especially bad when you consider they had been recognized as a sovereign nation by almost every major nation in Europe. Hawaii continued to trade with other nations but it really had hemmed itself in with its relationship with America, a relationship that ultimately led to its downfall at the hands of that very nation.

I suppose that in a way, what I am envisioning for Hawaii is a nation that did not lose so much of itself but managed to enter the world as a player just the same. The real world Kingdom of Hawaii was a Christianized nation that left most of its cultural identity in the past to make way for progress. As can see in the image accompanying this text, depicting the last king of Hawaii , Hawaiian nobility had pretty much adopted a very European mode of dress, including a chest full of questionable ribbons and medals.

The key to the version of Hawaii I would like to see for a game setting lies in a change on the route it took. At several points in Hawaiian history there were attempts to return to their cultural roots and to allow for the more Hawaiian version of Hawaii that I am looking for, perhaps it would be fitting to have one of these movements take off. Perhaps one of the various cultural overthrows succeeded and created a nation that managed to fuse both western and island cultures together.

The major issue in trying to re-invent Hawaii in a fictional form is how to maintain their viability and yet keep more of their cultural identity and invites several strong questions. Would Hawaii have been accepted by Europe and America if they had not taken on such a European way about them? Would Hawaii have been able to stay united if they had retained more of their tribal culture? How do you sidestep the plagues and epidemics that shaped the course of Hawaiian history? I am sure there are more, but these are those that pop into my mind.

There is much to consider when trying to develop an alternate version of a country. Most of what I want out of this project stems from mental imagery I have of a cool-looking fusion of Island and European styled dress. I mean, I could just say it's this way because I want it to be, but that wouldn't be my style.

Thanks for reading along,



  1. I don't know how helpful this will be but I will throw it out as food for thought.

    Many small to medium sized countries in the past were on the road to being vibrant and thriving economies, but the one thing that often lead them off track was American and European colonialism. I'm not just talking about the out right taking of a country, but also the aggressive greed driven trade policies of the larger nations. The larger countries often secured rights to the resources of smaller nations but did not really return much to the smaller nations. Thus the small countries never got a real chance to make it big.

    A modern case today is coffee. American companies, not all, try pay extremely low prices for the beans instead of a real world fair price. Look to any South American coffee producing nations to see what effect that has had.

    Now I am not a Hawaiian expert but my guess is that Hawaii probably fell victim to this as well in the past. So for Hawaii to be a power in a VSF setting I think they would have to be very business savvy and have a good military to protect what is theirs.


  2. Devon,

    Thanks for the input. The point you make here is a very valid one and does seem to have been something that Hawaii struggled with through its whole history and to the this day if you consider how little of Hawaii is actually owned by Hawaiians.

    If Hawaii would have been able to keep it huge military that had been built up under Kamehameha I under the warlord style of government, I think they would have been in a better position to fend off European exploitation.

    This military was torn down by the epidemics that ravaged the native population. This is a detail that is hard to get around.


  3. Have the epidemics hit earlier. Say, a Spanish expedition in the 1500s led by Andrés de Urdaneta. They stray into the islands, infect a bunch of people, mark the locations incorrectly (beastly inaccurate instruments, what!), and sail away.

    This gives the locals exposure to the diseases and time to recover somewhat from a serious plague before ol' James Cook shows up in the 1770s. So, the 1800s military is not decimated by virgin field epidemics.

  4. And Mr. Womack with the save!

    That is a great idea and completely plausible. We could even have it be an unnamed vessel that never returns or something. Heck, we could get really creative and have the Hawaiians get gunpowder tech earlier.

    Lots of good ideas.


  5. Here is link to book that talks about the epidemics in Hawaii. The idea of having them hit earlier might be the way to go as it reads like it got really rough in Hawaii.,M1

  6. I have decided that is the way to go. J. had suggested an earlier encounter with Spanish sailors and then I found an actual historical note noting just that very thing in 1627.

    The big thing now is to figure out how Hawaii can remain Hawaiian and not turn into a westernized/christianized nation. Nothing against Christianity, but it was so influencial in the shaping of Hawaii's historical past that I feel it would need to have been lessened or done away with for Hawaii to maintain more of its own cultural indentity.

    I am thinking that perhaps an uprising or even a civil war between christianized hawaiians and traditionalists might be the way to go.



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