Kanakas

Kanakas

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Kanaka was the term for a worker from various Pacific Islands
Pacific Islands
The Pacific Islands comprise 20,000 to 30,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. The islands are also sometimes collectively called Oceania, although Oceania is sometimes defined as also including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago....

 employed in British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 colonies, such as British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

 (Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

), Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

 and Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

 (Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

) in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They also worked in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 (see Easter Island
Easter Island
Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people...

 and Rapanui
Rapanui
The Rapa Nui or Rapanui are the native Polynesian inhabitants of Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, in the Pacific Ocean. The easternmost Polynesian culture, the Rapa Nui people make up 60% of Easter Island's population, with some living also in mainland Chile...

 people as related subjects).

The word "kanaka" originally referred only to native Hawaiians
Native Hawaiians
Native Hawaiians refers to the indigenous Polynesian people of the Hawaiian Islands or their descendants. Native Hawaiians trace their ancestry back to the original Polynesian settlers of Hawaii.According to the U.S...

, called kānaka ʻōiwi or kānaka maoli in the Hawaiian.Until 2009, several rough translations of the word "Kanak" were admitted : "man", " animal man ", " wild man " were the most used. In its resolution n°5195, the Academy of the Polynesian languages Pa ' umotu specified a definition more faithful to the primal Polynesian language Mamaka Kaïo of origin, that of " free man ".

Australia


According to the Macquarie Dictionary
Macquarie Dictionary
The Macquarie Dictionary is a dictionary of Australian English. It also pays considerable attention to New Zealand English. Originally it was a publishing project of Jacaranda Press, a Brisbane educational publisher, for which an editorial committee was formed, largely from the Linguistics...

, the word "kanaka", which was once widely used in Australia, is now regarded in Australian English
Australian English
Australian English is the name given to the group of dialects spoken in Australia that form a major variety of the English language....

 as an offensive term for a Pacific Islander. In part, this is because most "Kanakas" in Australia were people from Melanesia
Melanesia
Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region comprises most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia...

, rather than Polynesia
Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

, and included few Hawaiians. The descendants of 19th century immigrants to Australia from the Pacific Islands now generally refer to themselves as "South Sea Islander
South Sea Islander
The Australian label South Sea Islanders refers to the Australian descendants of people from the more than 80 islands in the Western Pacific including the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in Melanesia and the Loyalty Islands, Samoa, Kiribati, Rotuma and Tuvalu in Polynesia and Micronesia who were...

s", and this is also the term used in formal and official situations.

Most of the original labourers were recruited from the Solomon Islands and New Hebrides (Vanuatu), though others were taken from the Loyalty Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati and Tuvalu. Some were kidnapped ("blackbirded") or otherwise induced into long-term indentured service.

Reflecting European prejudices of the time, the men were generally referred to as "Kanakas" (boys). Islander descendants regard this term as a pejorative and insulting reminder of their ancestors' exploitation at the hands of white planters and their recruiters.
In Australia, South Sea Islanders were often unfree labour
Unfree labour
Unfree labour includes all forms of slavery as well as all other related institutions .-Payment for unfree labour:If payment occurs, it may be in one or more of the following forms:...

, of the specific form known as indentured labour
Indentured servant
Indentured servitude refers to the historical practice of contracting to work for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years, in exchange for transportation, food, clothing, lodging and other necessities during the term of indenture. Usually the father made the arrangements and signed...

. It is often alleged that their employment in Australia was a form of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, due to the belief that many people were recruited by "blackbirding
Blackbirding
Blackbirding is a term that refers to recruitment of people through trickery and kidnappings to work as labourers. From the 1860s blackbirding ships were engaged in seeking workers to mine the guano deposits on the Chincha Islands in Peru...

", as the enslavement of Pacific Islanders and indigenous Australians was known at the time.

Of the more than 60,000 Islanders recruited from 1863, the majority were to be "repatriated" (that is, deported) by the Australian Government between 1906-08 under the Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901
Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901
The Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901 was an Act of the Parliament of Australia which was designed to facilitate the mass deportation of nearly all the Pacific Islanders working in Australia. Along with the Immigration Restriction Act 1901, enacted six days later, it formed an important part of the...

legislation prompted by the White Australia policy
White Australia policy
The White Australia policy comprises various historical policies that intentionally restricted "non-white" immigration to Australia. From origins at Federation in 1901, the polices were progressively dismantled between 1949-1973....

. Some were exempted on various grounds, including marriage to Australians. These and others who escaped deportation remained in Australia and their descendants today form Australia's largest Melano-Polynesian ethnic group. Many Australian South Sea Islanders are also of mixed ancestry, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for whom they are often mistaken. In consequence, Australian South Sea Islanders have faced similar forms of discrimination meted out to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.
The Australian South Sea Islander Community was recognised as a unique minority group in 1994 following a report by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission found they had become more disavataged that the indigenous Australians.

However, one historian, Keith Windschuttle
Keith Windschuttle
Keith Windschuttle is an Australian writer, historian, and ABC board member, who has authored several books from the 1970s onwards. These include Unemployment, , which analysed the economic causes and social consequences of unemployment in Australia and advocated a socialist response; The Media: a...

 (in his book The White Australia Policy), disputes this, claiming all evidence of blackbirding is anecdotal. Another historian, Adrian Graves, in a ground-breaking 1983 article in Past & Present
Past & Present
Past & Present is a British historical academic journal, which was a leading force in the development of social history. It was founded in 1952 by a combination of Marxist and non-Marxist historians. The Marxist historians included members of the Communist Party Historians Group, including E. P...

(see reference list below), documented how some Pacific Islanders were paid truck wages
Payment in kind
Payment in kind refers to payment for goods or services with a medium other than legal tender ....

 and actively sought to work in Australia.

Canada


In Canada, many Kanaka men married First Nations women, and their descendants can still be found in British Columbia and neighbouring parts of Canada and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 (the states of Washington and Oregon). Canadian Kanakas were all Hawaiian in origin. Nearly all were contractees of the Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 although some had arrived in the area as ship's hands or, in some cases, migrated north from California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. There was no negative connotation to the use of Kanaka in British Columbian and Californian English of the time, and in its most usual sense today means someone of Hawaiian ethnic inheritance, without any derisive sense. Kanakas had been aboard the first exploration and trading ships to reach the Pacific Northwest Coast
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

 and there were cases of Kanakas living amongst various First Nations peoples after jumping ship as well as often along on the fur brigade
Fur brigade
The Fur brigade were convoys of Canadian Indian fur trappers who traveled between their home trading posts and a larger HBC post in order to supply the inland post with goods and supply the HBC post with furs. Travel was usually done on the rivers by canoe or, in certain prairie situations, by horse...

s and Express
York Factory Express
The York Factory Express, usually called "the Express" and also called the Columbia Express and the Communication, was a brigade operated by Hudson's Bay Company in the early 19th century connecting York Factory and Fort Vancouver. It was named "express" because it was not used only to transport...

 of the fur companies, as well as in the life of the fort. Kanaka Creek, British Columbia
Kanaka Creek, British Columbia
Kanaka Creek is an historic rural residential area located within the District of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada, along the banks of the creek of the same name just east of the district's main town and commercial core of Haney. Just east is Albion and immediately across the Fraser River is...

 was a community of mixed Hawaiian-First families established across the Fraser River
Fraser River
The Fraser River is the longest river within British Columbia, Canada, rising at Fraser Pass near Mount Robson in the Rocky Mountains and flowing for , into the Strait of Georgia at the city of Vancouver. It is the tenth longest river in Canada...

 from Fort Langley in the 1830s and remains on the map today. Kanakas were active in both the California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

 and in the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush
Fraser Canyon Gold Rush
The Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, began in 1858 after gold was discovered on the Thompson River in British Columbia at its confluence with the Nicoamen River. This was a few miles upstream from the Thompson's confluence with the Fraser River at present-day Lytton...

 and other rushes; Kanaka Bar, British Columbia
Kanaka Bar, British Columbia
Kanaka Bar is an unincorporated community and locality in the Fraser Canyon region of British Columbia, Canada, located near the town of Lytton. Named for a gold-bearing bar on the Fraser River below, which was mined by Hawaiians , Kanaka Bar is the home of the office and main rancherie of the...

 gets its name from claims staked and worked by Kanakas who had been previously working for the fur company (which today is a First Nations community of the Nlaka'pamux
Nlaka'pamux
The Nlaka'pamux , commonly called "the Thompson", and also Thompson River Salish, Thompson Salish, Thompson River Indians or Thompson River people) are an indigenous First Nations/Native American people of the Interior Salish language group in southern British Columbia...

 people).

Some linguists hold that canuck
Canuck
"Canuck" is a slang term for Canadians. Its origins are uncertain.-History:The term appears to have been coined in the 19th century, although its etymology is unclear, it usually referred to those who worked in a forest, usually cultivating wood....

, a nickname for Canadians, is derived from the Hawaiian Kanaka.

United States


Kanakas, as Native Hawaiian workers employed in agriculture and ranching, were present in the mainland United States (primarily in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 under Spanish colonial arrangement and later American company contracts) as early as 1850, but their migration peaked between 1900 and 1930. Most of their families present in the fields soon blended by intermarriage into the Chinese
Chinese American
Chinese Americans represent Americans of Chinese descent. Chinese Americans constitute one group of overseas Chinese and also a subgroup of East Asian Americans, which is further a subgroup of Asian Americans...

, Filipino
Filipino American
Filipino Americans are Americans of Filipino ancestry. Filipino Americans, often shortened to "Fil-Ams", or "Pinoy",Filipinos in what is now the United States were first documented in the 16th century, with small settlements beginning in the 18th century...

, and more numerous Mexican
Mexican American
Mexican Americans are Americans of Mexican descent. As of July 2009, Mexican Americans make up 10.3% of the United States' population with over 31,689,000 Americans listed as of Mexican ancestry. Mexican Americans comprise 66% of all Hispanics and Latinos in the United States...

 populations with whom they came in contact. Native Hawaiians harvested sugar beets and picked apples at one point in the states of Washington and Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

. There is also documentation of the presence of several hundred Native Hawaiian paniolos or cowboys across the Great Basin
Great Basin
The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America and is noted for its arid conditions and Basin and Range topography that varies from the North American low point at Badwater Basin to the highest point of the contiguous United States, less than away at the...

 of the Western US.

See also


  • Kanak: indigenous people of Kanaky
    New Caledonia
    New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

     (New Caledonia)
  • Kanake
    Kanake
    Kanake is a derogatory word used in German-speaking countries for immigrants and foreigners. Originally common as "Kanakermann" among 19th century mariners to refer to comrades from the South Pacific , and carrying a connotation of praise for their seafaring abilities, it was in the 1960s...

    : German racial epithet
  • Blackbirding
    Blackbirding
    Blackbirding is a term that refers to recruitment of people through trickery and kidnappings to work as labourers. From the 1860s blackbirding ships were engaged in seeking workers to mine the guano deposits on the Chincha Islands in Peru...

  • Haole
    Haole
    Haole , in the Hawaiian language, is generally used to refer to an individual that fits one of the following: "White person, American, Englishman, Caucasian; American, English; formerly, any foreigner; foreign, introduced, of foreign origin, as plants, pigs, chickens"...

  • Indentured servant
    Indentured servant
    Indentured servitude refers to the historical practice of contracting to work for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years, in exchange for transportation, food, clothing, lodging and other necessities during the term of indenture. Usually the father made the arrangements and signed...

  • Coolies
  • Slavery
    Slavery
    Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...


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