Children's Playground, c. 1926 UHM Library Digital Image Collections, fil4038
Native Response

Teacher Experiences

Like Native students, Hawaiian educators expressed a range of thoughts and views that disputed the scope and effectiveness of the Americanization program as portrayed by white schoolmen. They understood and engaged their profession in ways that benefited them: personally (financial independence, adventure, advancement opportunities, professional career, respect), supported their families (economic security), and improved their community (role models, mentors, active volunteers, Native cultural and language arts practitioners).

Their objectives clashed with the univocal effort of the DPI to make Hawaiʻi American but did not openly challenge or defy their white superiors. Instead, Native educators sought ways to implement personal and cultural agendas inside and outside of their classrooms that disrupted assimilationist efforts. While their acts of defiance were neither demonstrative nor aggressive, their efforts were still critical for sustaining Hawaiian identity and promoting survival in a climate hostile to Native nationalism and cultural expression. Their exploits, however, remain largely absent from the history of the Territorial Period.