Nhsc-v1-196

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nhsc-v1-196

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44) requiring debates in the legislature to be in English resulted in the need for interpreters and translators for the Territorial House and Senate (until 1907) just to conply with the law for those legislators not fluent in English. The laws were disseminated to the general electorate through the Hawaiian press, and ballots remained in Hawaiian until the 1960's. At the beginning of the territorial period, English speakers in government not fluent in Hawaiian were often closed out of political discussion.

While the Hawaiian language was still quite strong in public life in the early days of the Territory, the main loss of language came through the school system, which attacked the language at its most vulnerable and important point, the children from Hawaiian-speaking homes. During the Republic and Territory, Hawaiian was strictly forbidden anywhere within school yards or buildings, and physical punishment for using it could be harsh. Teachers who were native speakers of Hawaiian (many were in the first three decades of the Territory) were threatened with dismissal for using Hawaiian in school. Some were even a bit leery of using Hawaiian place names in class. Teachers were sent to Hawaiian-speaking homes to reprimand parents for speaking Hawaiian to their children. Most subtle of all, but most effective, was a psychological approach emphasizing a European view of precontact Hawai'i as a simple world that alternated between paradise and hell; a world whose original language had no relevance as a first language in modern or future Hawai'i. The reference to Hawaiian as an obsolete language is especically audacious in light of modern use of Hawaiian to conduct monarchical business, the legislature, and other Western activities.

This psychological approach stemmed from an ideological belief in the superiority of the American ethnic group and its culture by the administration of the Department of Education. This department was controlled, not by the popularly-elected legislature, but by the appointed governor, who was part of the Engish-speaking community. The administrative bias against Hawaiian language was so powerful that the Department of Education effectively ignored both the letter and spirit of laws emanating from the legislature tc ensure the survival of the Hawaiian language through the school system. The major laws referred to here are the act of 1919 requiring that Hawaiian be taught in high schools and teachers' colleges, and a 1935 provision requiring daily instruction in the language in schools serving Hawaiian Home areas. Both provisions were deleted from the law in 1968, but a new requirement was revived in the form of an amendment to the Hawai'i Constitution in 1978.

Resistance to English usage was steadfast in Hawaiian churches, where reading and writing Hawaiian language was incorporated into the Sunday school curriculum. It has only been in the past two decades that English services have predominated in many Hawaiian churches, and this has occurred primarily because most native-speaking Hawaiian ministers have died. While other Hawaiian churches go to considerable efforts to include Hawaiian readings, lessons, and hymns in the predominantly English services today, there are still congregations that conduct their services entirely in Hawaiian. Like the churches, Hawaiian benevolent organizations strictly maintain the Hawaiian language.

-p196-

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