Origins of Hawaii's
now call the state of Hawaii (Hawai'i) has several
names and nicknames. The origins of some of them are known,
while others can only be speculated. Here's what we've been
able to pull together, easiest first!
50th State - Hawaii was admitted as the 50th of the United
States of America on August 21, 1959. Alaska was admitted
in January of the same year, which sometimes causes confusion
as to which was admitted first.There are still some businesses
in the islands with 49th or 49th state in their
name, as Hawaii was expected to be admitted before Alaska.
Fact is, though, that Alaska is #49 and Hawaii is #50. Another
accident of timing is that although both were admitted in
the same year, new flags had to be commissioned for each,
because a new star was to be added on the 4th of July (Independence
Day) following admission of a new state. Hence the
the 49 star flag from July 4, 1959 to July 4, 1960, when the
50 star flag was adopted. More
on Hawaii Statehood.
Aloha State - this became Hawaii's official nickname upon
passage of the first code of laws after statehood in 1959:
State popular name. The name "The Aloha State" is adopted,
established, and designated as the official "popular" name
for the State, to be effective so long as the legislature
of the State does not otherwise provide. [L 1959, JR 1, §1;
Supp, §14-5.1; HRS §5-7] See:
HRS index of state symbols
no documentation to be found as to why this nickname was chosen,
and it's unlikely there was much debate about it! Most residents
would not question it or even consider something else to represent
us. Aloha is a way of life in the islands, though some say
it is disappearing. More: Spirit
of Aloha, It's the Law!
Islands - On his third voyage of discovery, Captain James
Cook of Great Britain visited the Hawaiian Islands and named
them the Sandwich Islands in honor of his friend and supporter,
John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich and first lord of
the Admiralty. Though Cook found Hawaii an excellent reprovisioning
stop, it's not likely this included "sandwiches".
More: Captain Cook.
- in places this name is defined as a Hawaiian word meaning
homeland. In reality, it is the spelling that Captain Cook
and other mariners wrote in their logs based on how their
ears heard what the natives of the islands called them. It
would later be written Hawaii. Since there was no written
language in ancient Hawaii, either or neither might be "correct".
Owhyhee is the name that is found on many drawings and paintings
of the first European visitors, and is also found in much
of the literature of the time. Owhyhee is the name of a region
covering parts of Idaho, Oregon and Nevada. History of the
name, Owyhee, comes from early fur trappers. In 1819, three
natives from Hawaii, part of Donald McKenzie's fur-trapping
expedition, were sent to trap a large stream that emptied
into the Snake River. When they did not return, McKenzie
investigated and found one man murdered in camp and no sign
of the others. The stream was named in their honor. "Owyhee"
is an early spelling for the word Hawaii.
- origins of this name seem to be controversial on their face,
but actually do not contradict each other, at least in figurative
be variations of the origin of the word Hawaii appear throughout
the Pacific on many of the islands settled by Polynesians.
The Maori of Aotearoa (New Zealand) refer to Hawaiki as their
place of origin, which may be an actual place or may be the
concept of origin, or both. It does not refer to the Hawaiian
Islands, but it is likely that Hawaiki and Hawai'i come from
the same word or concept. As Polynesians migrated throughout
the Pacific, many of the same place names were used, either
as a reference to where the first settlers came from or because
the new land had similarities to the former home. Which leads
to the other possible origin of Hawaii. One of the legends
credits a fisherman named Hawaiiloa with the discovery of
the Hawaiian Islands. See: Origin
of the word "Hawaii" discussion at the Hawaiian
Storyteller's site (Uncle Charlie) and Polynesian
Voyaging for more information.
to Hawaii School Reports Symbols