Future Search The Method

Printer FriendlySpeaking with the Ancients

An Endangered Species

An understanding of why renewal of ancient values is so crucial to building a healthy community in Ko'olau Loa - and what it has to do with modern healthcare requires a brief look at Hawaiian history. For centuries, the Hawaiian Islands, relatively isolated from the rest of the world, maintained their traditional way of life. But during the 19th century, life for the islanders changed drastically.

Early in the century, missionaries and traders brought foreign diseases to which the islanders had no immunity. Hawaiians died in staggering numbers. By mid-century the native population had fallen 90 percent, from an estimated 500,000 to about 50,000.

"Western values of competion, individualism, and power clashed with Hawaiian values of harmony and mutual support."

To save her people from extinction, Queen Emma, along with her husband King Kamehameha IV, started The Queen s Medical Center, now Hawaii's largest health facility. When Queen Emma died in 1885, she left vast land holdings to support healthcare of Hawaii's people.

Exotic diseases were not all the missionaries and other outsiders brought. The Hawaiian way of life altered dramatically with the influx of new religious, social, and business practices. Western values of competition, individualism, and power clashed with Hawaiian values of harmony and mutual support.

Soon outside markets, not local need, drove the Hawaiian economy. Much of Oahu was redistricted into sugar and pineapple plantations. As society stratified along economic lines, native Hawaiians became an economic underclass, with attendant physical and social calamities.

Now, more than a century later, the legacy of Westernization is evident in continuing social and medical problems. According to October 1995 statistics from The Queen Emma Foundation, ethnic Hawaiians, 12.5 percent of the state's population, account for 50 percent of teen pregnancies and 44 percent of asthmatics under age 18. They have the highest diabetes rate for those 35 years and older (44 percent); 42 percent are overweight; and 40 percent are acute or chronic drinkers.

Their young people have a juvenile arrest rate 33 percent higher than other citizens.





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