Letters to the Editor

Voyagers, indeed

The role of Native Hawaiians in American wars goes back much further than the Civil War (MidWeek Kaua’i Feature Story, July 10).

The following four Hawaiians served in the U.S. Navy during the War of 1812 against Great Britain: Thomas Hopu, William Kanui, George Kaumuali’i and John Honoli’i.

Thomas Hopu was a POW for a time in the war.

William Kanui (1796-1864) was the last to pass away and is buried at Kawaiahao Church.

These four Hawaiians went to school with Heneri ‘Opukaha’ia (1787-1818) at Cornwall in Connecticut, and arrived in Hawaii with missionary Hiram Bingham in 1820. My M.A. thesis in Hawaiian studies at the University of Hawaii-Manoa discusses ‘Opukaha’ia and his colleagues.

As a Vietnam veteran myself, it surprised me to learn that there were Hawaiian vets in the War of 1812.

Even more astounding, there was one Hawaiian who served in the Revolutionary War.

Quoting from the thesis, which I submitted for publication in early July:

“Although there are records showing that long before Obookiah (‘Opukaha’ia) came to America in 1809 other young Hawaiians had been brought there by sea captains, none of them give a complete idea of their names; nor does more than one name the ship and captain who brought them …

“There is also a report that King Kamehameha had an interpreter who had ‘once dined with (George) Washington in New York … it is reliably reported, however, that by 1810 there were 60 Hawaiians ‘believed to be in America.'”

Wayne Hinano Brumaghim