Hawaiʻi:Recovering National Heroes

Hon. William Pūnohuʻaweoweoʻulaokalani White—Poʻe Aloha ʻĀina

One of the Hawaiian Kingdom's greatest patriots today lies in a grave in Honolulu without even a headstone while monuments to American heroes cover the Hawaiian landscape—like the 40ft bronze statue of William McKinley. Help us right this historical injustice by purchasing an honorific headstone for this nearly forgotten Poʻe Aloha ʻĀina Kanaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian Patriot) and educating the community about his, and other patriotsʻ lives. 

Aloha nō e kuʻu mau hoaloha (Aloha friends), My name is Ronald Williams Jr. Ph.D. and I work at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. My doctorate is in history of Hawaiʻi and I have taught and worked in this field for eleven years.  I was born in Chicago, Illinois and lived in the south and California until 1997 when I moved to Maui. I have never even forwarded a fundraising campaign to anyone much less launched one. I believe in them, I just don't ask for help very well. Today that changes. Today I am launching a historical project that I have a deep belief in, have worked more than a decade to bring to fruition, and was given the kuleana to fulfill by a loved kupuna who saw 9/10 of the journey, but has recently passed. This is about both righting an injustice and creating beauty from ugliness. It is about us all, collectively, creating something instead of simply critiquing. It is about changing landscapes, stories, and minds. I have worked closely with members of the Kanaka ʻŌiwi family that will be directly involved but I also knew that this should be a national project and give anyone and everyone who wanted to kōkua (help), to build, to be a part of Hawaiian History, that opportunity. This can truly be a kākou (an us) thing.

Following the 17 January 1893 coup de main that overthrew the constitutional monarchy of the Hawaiian Islands, “a flood of textual sources cascaded from the presses, launching a concerted effort to link Hawaiʻi to the United States in people’s minds and concurrently displace identities of Hawaiian nationality.” [Williams Jr. 2011]

“This narrative would later expand to take monumental form as one U.S. president or public icon after another—whether in image or name—began to dot the Hawaiian Islands’ landscape. In 1907, Honolulu High School on Oʻahu was renamed President William McKinley High in memoriam to the former U.S. leader. The next year, a U.S. military base named after Lieutenant General John Schofield was established on nearly 18,000 acres of land in Wahiawā, Oʻahu. The decades that followed saw the erection of Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Roosevelt schools on Hawaiian soil. All of these entities, and many more, claimed space, both on the physical landscape and in the minds of a new generation of Hawaiian youth. These young Hawaiian descendants of a nearly two-millennia presence on lands birthed by their ancestor, Papahānaumoku, would now memorize U.S. state capitols and lists of American presidents.” [Williams Jr. 2011]

Amidst this massive reshaping of the Hawaiian historical landscape, generations of Poʻe Aloha ʻĀina Kanaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian Patriots) and the history of their steadfast dedication to their nation was swept aside and nearly lost to future generations—often kept alive only in Hawaiian-language resources that historians were not accessing or families as oral histories.

This project seeks to help reverse the trend by platforming, through a community education day, both public and academic publications, and a physical “monument” to one of the most significant poʻe aloha ʻāina of the late-19th century; Hon. William Pūnohuʻāweoweoʻulaokalani White.

I am raising funds in a project directed by moʻopuna (descendants) of William, we have set aside the day of his birth 6 August, of this year, 2017, to honor this nearly forgotten man who Her Hawaiian Majesty Queen Liliʻuokalani described as having won “profound respect” and who “could never be induced to compromise principles.” For his “true patriotism and love of country” White, along with Iosepa Nāwahī, was decorated by the Queen with the order of Knight Commander of Kalākaua. [Liliuokalani 1898]. White offers one example, of many, that every person in Hawaiʻi should know of.

It is impossible to list here the numerous ways that William served his nation—an update to this campaign will do just that—but here are a few:

Descendant of Kaiakea of Molokai
Native Lawyer
Elected Hawaiian Kingdom Legislator from Lāhainā
Officer of Hui Kalaiʻāina
Nominated candidate to replace Joseph Nāwahī as President of Hui Aloha ʻĀina
Member of Mōʻī Kalākauaʻs Hale Nauā
Primary author of proposed 1893 Constitution
Awarded Knights Order of Kalākaua by Queen Liliʻuokalani
Elected Maui Sheriff
Editor of first nūpepa of Hui Kalaiʻāina in 1897
and much, much, more

On 6 August 2017, we will hold a free, open to all, education day/celebration of life for William at a public space. The day will have presentations, free educational handouts, sharing from historians and the ʻohana of William. Immediately following the education/celebration portion of the day, we will march in formal procession, led by descendant groups of the organizations William was a member of, to the cemetery where William is buried. There we will unveil a beautiful, honorific headstone that we intend to purchase and set for the occasion. The gathering at the cemetery will include formal protocol, a blessing, and words and other sharing from the White ʻOhana.

At the close of the campaign, I will withdraw the funds and begin the project: reserving the site, paying for the headstone, and designing and printing the educational materials.


Here is the budget:

Granite Headstone from Stonecrafters Hawaiʻi = $4500
Hall Rental for Education Day = $1650
Printing Free Educational Materials = $850

 Any additional funds raised past the $7000 goal will be used to support the education day and create curriculum and other educational materials about William for schools and the community. 

This is an opportunity for us all to be a part of history—for us all to help turn the tide. If you are able, please support this project by donating to the Go Fund Me Campaign linked below. 

And come join us in a beautiful day, a day long coming, a moment deferred: the honoring of a deserving Poʻe Aloha ʻĀina Kanaka ʻŌiwi.

I am asking for $1, $5, $20, $1,000, or simply your moral support....whatever you desire and can give. And support or not, you all always have my love and pledge to do my best to create a better community.

 Me ke aloha, Ronald Williams Jr.


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Ron Williams Jr 
Honolulu, HI

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