05 September 2021

Hawaiian Royalty in Utah

King David Kalakaua.
Image from wikimedia.
Hawaiian royalty stopped in Utah to check on how their Native Hawaiian subjects were adjusting to life in SLC.

The Mormons started missionary work on the Hawaiian Islands in the 1850s and established a sugar plantation at Laie on the island of O’ahu (remember my honeybee post where Brigham Young wanted better access to sugar).

Before the 1893 overthrow of the last monarch of Hawaii, each Hawaiian needed permission from the monarch to leave the islands. Consequently, only a few Mormon converts arrived in Utah from the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1893 (refer to previous posts about Kiha Nebeker and the Hawaiian neighborhood near Warm Springs).

The first Hawaiian monarch to visit Utah was King David Kalakaua. In Dec 1874, he was on his way to Washington DC to negotiate a treaty when his eastern bound train passed through Ogden without a stop, despite several SLC dignitaries waiting in Ogden hoping to meet with him.

Kalakaua did stop in Ogden in Jan 1875 during his return trip west and briefly met with several officials from SLC and spoke with 13-year-old Kiha Ka’awa Nebecker, at the time Kiha was the only Native Hawaiian living in SLC (one other similar aged boy named Kahana was living in Central Utah). King Kalakaua was pleased that young Kiha had not forgotten his native language.

In April 1887, Kalakaua's wife, Queen Kapi’olani, and his sister Princess Lili’uokalani (who later became Queen Lili’uokalani, the last sovereign of Hawaii), traveled through Ogden, SLC, and Provo on their way to Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. A group of SLC and Mormon church dignitaries and about 20 Native Hawaiians Salt Lakers boarded their special train in Ogden and rode with them back to SLC.

Queen Kapi’olani seemed to recognize one of the Native Hawaiian Salt Lakers, a woman by the name of Kapukini, and the two of them sat together for some time speaking in Native Hawaiian for nearly the entire trip from Ogden to SLC. The Queen asked about her Hawaiian subjects living in SLC and whether they were happy and how they were occupied.

The royal train stopped in SLC to a crowd of a thousand people and music from Held’s Band. Many Salt Lakers greeted the two royals in their native language, to the surprise of Queen Kapi’olani. The royal train soon departed resuming their travels east.

Lili’uokala and Kapi’olani at the Golden Jubilee, 1887.

No comments:

Post a Comment