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  • Only 4.2 percent of native Hawaiians over 25 have completed 4 or more years of college, a figure lower than that for any of the immigrant groups. (The 1977 figure is 4.6 percent; still lower than any other ethnic group.)


1778 to 1850

Early censuses tell us little about the changing modes of earning a living that were brought on by the introduction of trade during the first half of the nineteenth century. Lind notes that "an increasing number of the Islanders were living on the margins of the two competing economies, deriving most of their livelihood from the cultivation of their own kuleana but also earning some money for the purchase of trade goods from the sale of farm surplus or from an occasional day of work with the government." 39/

1850 to 1900

The census of 1866 collected occupation data for the first time. Although it may not be accurate, Lind notes that it provides a rough indication and, when taken with other census data, "suggests that well over half of the natives were still living under a predominantly subsistence economy." 40/

By 1896 the sugar plantations had emerged as the major factor in the Hawaiian economy. It appears likely that well over 90 percent of the gainfully- employed were engaged in occupations associated with plantations or in other fields in commerce and trade. Nearly two-thirds of a ll employed persons were unskilled laborers. 41/ (See Table 15 for occupation data for the years 1866 through 1896.)

Reliance of plantations on immigrant labor became necessary when the sugar industry began to expand rapidly, especially in the 1870's. Until then, one writer states:

Contrary to many reports, native Hawaiians did not leave the field work. As late as 1869, several plantations employed all native Hawaiian labor. By 1870, while the native population was declining, there was a tremendous expansion of sugar production from two million to 20 million pounds annually. The demand for increased production and labor had to come from outside the kingdom. This fact is demonstrated by a report in 1873; on the thirty-five plantations in existence at the time there were 3,786 employees.

Of this there were 2,627 men and 364 women who were native Hawaiians. This shows that more than 80% of the labor force was native Hawaiian up to that time. 42/

However, even after the importation of immigrant laborers for plantations began in earnest, native Hawaiians continued to play a minor but important role as luna (supervisors) and skilled workers. 43/

1900 to 1960

This period saw a marked decline in the number of plantation/agricultural workers, especially since 1930. In the 1940's, one can see the important influence of the war in terms of both new employment opportunities and numbers of military personnel. Expansion of the tourist industry brought further opportunities.

Throughout the entire period since 1896, part-Hawaiians have been much less represented in the ranks of unskilled labor than full-Hawaiians. It was not until 1950, however, that full-Hawaiians were significantly over-represented in this area. 44/


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