Opinion: No Cause for Celebration


Miguel Dandan

Clarence T.C. Ching Hall, Chaminade University.

On its website, Chaminade University said it lives by the belief that “promoting justice and peace is everyone’s responsibility.”

But what exactly does the university mean by “justice and peace” as it celebrates a time of exploitation and enslavement – Discoverers’ Day.

Today’s holiday, which is considered a federal holiday under “Columbus Day,” is not a state holiday. It was removed as state holiday in 1988 to make room for Martin Luther King Jr. Day [L 1988, c 220, §4]. The University of Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific University, and Brigham Young University treat it as a regular work day. Public schools in Hawaii do take some time off for their fall break, but none officially observe the holiday.

Chaminade University, a private institution, is one of the few in Hawaii that observe the “discovery” of the islands.

As many students may know, and have probably learned in humanities classes taught at Chaminade, the so-called discovery of land has led to the oppression and suffering of the natives, and other races brought to the islands for financial gain.

Many to this day protest the annexation of Hawaii that occurred more than 125 years ago. A Hawaii News Now report from 2009 reported protests on the anniversary of Hawaii becoming a state. Hawaii’s history is a brutal past, and many are angered and saddened by it.

So why is Chaminade still behind?

For a university that boasts about its many Native Hawaiian partnerships and grants it offers students, it surprisingly fails to see the hypocrisy in observing Discoverers’ Day.

Earlier this semester, students and faculty received a letter from the administration saying it was “shocked, saddened, and confused” by a report that detailed a long history of sexual abuse occurring in the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania.

Was the administration not also shocked, saddened, and confused by how the native Hawaiian population also diminished due to diseases brought by foreigners?

How about the outcome of the Massie Trial? A sad account of when four Native Hawaiians were accused of raping a woman and were killed even though there was no concrete evidence tying them to the case?

It is disheartening to see that a university that bases itself on the virtues and principles of the Catholic faith choosing to either ignore or hide history.

In states like Minnesota, California, New York, and Washington, Columbus Day is celebrated as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which is a better substitute for the not-so-well-named Discoverers’ Day. The celebrations in these states consist of honoring Native Americans and their history, rather than burying it.

A Tulsa World article from 2008 reported that some counties in Oklahoma renamed Columbus Day to Native American Day or the name of a certain indigenous tribe.

As it shows, it took state legislation and feedback from thousands of constituents to make these changes. What many states and counties can do in years, Chaminade can do in a semester.

Rename it or remove it, Chaminade. Do the right thing.