Chapter 1, Section 1
In Progress

Missionaries Bring New Beliefs

The missionaries who sailed did not realize the significance of their timing. When they arrived at Kailua on the island of Hawai‘i, the Hawaiian young men with them were sent ashore first. They brought back news that the kapu system was gone; the images and temples of the Hawaiian gods had been destroyed. There was said to be no religious system in the islands, so the missionaries set forth to introduce a new one to the people of Hawai‘i.

Wherever the missionaries went, they caused island people to stare. The men looked very serious and were very quiet as compared to the loud and laughing whalers and traders who had come before them. The women wore long dresses along with bonnets. Because their dresses came up to cover even their necks, their faces were set so far into their hats, and their necks were so thin, islanders called the missionary women “longnecks.” In contrast to these newcomers, the Hawaiian people wore little. To the missionaries, Hawaiians seemed too free, and they hoped that Christianity would help them change their ways.

Missionaries especially frowned upon the hula. They did not approve of the movements or the attire. They wanted the dancers, along with everyone else, to be covered up. If the dancers wanted to dance, they had to put their leafed skirts over their Western clothing and wear tops. Eventually, hula was prohibited until the time of King Kalākaua.

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Femme dansant Iles Sandwich by Jacques Arago published 1840

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