Nhsc-v1-149

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nhsc-v1-149

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times. After selecting the choicest lands for his personal use, the king distributed the rest among his warrior chiefs, who had assisted in his conquests. These warrior chiefs, after retaining certain parcels of land for themselves, reallotted the remaining lands to the inferior chiefs, who in turn reallotted portions of their lands to their own followers. These reallotments of lands continued down the scale to the lowest tenants, the common farmers who actually tilled the soil.
All of these allotments of lands, from the warrior chiefs down to the commoners, were on a revocable basis. What the superior gave, he was able to take away at pleasure. Thus, there was no security of land ownership under the ancient Hawaiian land system. 22/

There is one significant difference between the Hawaiian land system and European feudal systems. The periodic upheavals that resulted in control of land passing to the conquering ali'i affected the latter much more than the commoners since: "the maka’ainana were the fixed residents of the land; the chiefs were the ones who moved from place to place." 23/ The maka’ainana could, if they were displeased with the way the chief treated them, move to the lands of another chief. They were bound to serve the chiefs, but not any particular chief. Malo reports that the "people made war against bad kings in old times" and overthrew chiefs who continually mistreated them. 24/

The Commission also received consents disputing the statement that the maka’ainana lived in an "intolerable" condition. 25/ Here again, authorities disagree. David Maio, a Hawaiian writing in the 1830's, was of the opinion that:

The condition of the common people was that of subjection to the chiefs, compelled to do their heavy tasks, burdened and oppressed, some even to death. The life of the people was one of patient endurance, of yielding to the chiefs to purchase their favor...It was the maka’ainana also who did all the work on the land; yet all they produced from the soil belonged to the chiefs. 26/

Liliuokalani (Hawaii's last monarch), on the other hand, had a very different view of the ancient system:

...it has been at times asserted by foreigners that the abundance of the chief was procured by the poverty of his followers. To any person at all familiar, either by experience or from trustworthy tradition, with the daily life of the Hawaiian people fifty years ago, nothing could be more incorrect than such assumption. The chief whose retainers were in poverty or want would have felt, not only their sufferings, but, further, his own disgrace. As was then customary with the Hawaiian chiefs, my father was surrounded by hundreds of his own people, all of whom looked to him, and never in vain, for sustenance. He lived in a large grass house surrounded by smaller ones, which were the homes of those the most closely connected with his service. There was food enough and to spare for every one. And this was equally true of all his people, however distant from his personal care. For the chief always appointed some man of ability as his agent or
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