Story by Kathy Collins | Illustration by Matt Foster
Listen to this column read aloud in pidgin:
Happy Birt’day to us! Was August 21, 1959, Congress wen’ make Hawai‘i da 50th State. Since den, da t’ird Friday in August is one official state holladay. Jus’ so happen dat dis year, da t’ird Friday is da exack same day, August 21st. Used to be, we wen’ call ‘em “Admission Day,” but dat wen confuse too much guys. Dey t’ought Admission Day was when you s’pose to sign up fo’ da nex’ school year. So now, evah since 2001, we call ‘em “Statehood Day.”
Funny kine, you know, only Kentucky, Tennessee, Nevada, Wes’ Virginia an’ us get one official statehood holladay. An’ yet, out of all da fifty states, we da only one get contra-versy ovah cela-brating statehood. Da pilikia (whatchoo call trouble or problem) wen’ start ovah hundred years ago, an’ still goin’ on to dis day. Dass ‘cause we da only state dat used to be run by real kine kings an’ queens.
Took him ovah fifteen years an’ plenny bloodshed, but in 1810, King Kamehameha da Firs’ wen make da Kingdom of Hawai‘i, aftah he wen’ take ovah all da islands from da oddah kings an’ chiefs. By da 1840s, undah King Kamehameha da T’ird, Hawai‘i had good kine dipla-matic ra-lations wit’ both da United States an’ Great Britain. Of course, both a dem wanted fo’ make us part a dem, but da Kingdom wen’ stay inda-pendent. We wen’ play hard fo’ get, an’ we wen’ play da field, make nice wit’ oddah countries too. In 1881, King Kalakaua t’ought would be good if we partnah up wit’ Japan, so he wen’ go visit Emprah Meiji, an’ he wen’ propose marriage ba-tween his niece, Princess Ka‘iulani, an’ da Japanee prince, Higashifushimi Yorihito. (An’ you t’ought Hawaiian names was hard fo’ pronounce.) Ho, jus’ t’ink, if Kalakaua had his way, we would be talkin’ Japanee now, insteada pidgin. But da emprah said no, maybe ‘cause Ka‘iulani was only six years old at da time.
Kalakaua wen’ make (die) in 1891 an’ his sistah, Lili‘uokalani, wen’ take ovah da t’rone. But in Jana-rary 1893, Lili‘uokalani, wen’ get ovah-t’rown by one group of businessmans an’ landownahs, mostly Americans, wit’ da help of da U.S. mila-tary. Dey wen’ put da queen undah house arrest an’ dey wen’ declare demselves da Provisional Government of Hawai‘i. Five years laydah, aftah plenny pa-liticoh pa‘apa‘a (argument), da U.S. wen’ annex da Republic of Hawai‘i.
By da 1950s, mos’ locals wen’ figgah full-fledge statehood would be mo’ betta dan jus’ being one terra-tory. Peepoh wen’ make postahs, buttons, even one record label company, calling Hawai‘i da 49th State. But Alaska wen’ beat us to da title. Dass OK, ‘cause who would watch one TV show called Hawai‘i Four-Nine? Fifty mo’ nifty.
Still yet, get some guys who say we not one American state, ‘cause da 1893 ovah-t’row was illegal. An’ dey get one point. When all dat was goin’ on, President Grovah Cleveland wen’ side wit’ da queen, but he no could do nottin’ fo’ change da situation. Hundred years laydah, President Bill Clinton wen’ sign one bill apologizing to da Hawaiians fo’ da ovah-t’row. He nevah give back da islands, dough.
So nowadays, even dough get couple Hawaiian groups who say we still da Kingdom of Hawai‘i, mos’ locals t’ink of demselves as Americans. But because we get ra-speck fo’ da native Hawaiians an’ all da pilikia dey wen’ suffah t’roo hist’ry, mos’ of us no make big deal about Statehood Day. In fack, da only guys who cela-brate is State an’ County workahs. Dass ‘cause dey get da day off, wit’ pay.