By: Kaleem Minor
In January 1778, James Cook of Britain made his first visit to the Hawaiian Islands. He was the first European to ever visit the island group, which he named the Sandwich Islands in honor of one of his patrons, John Montague, the Earl of Sandwich. The ships then made a brief stop at Ni'ihau, the seventh largest of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands, and headed north to look for the western end of a northwest passage from the North Atlantic to the Pacific. Almost one year later, Cook's two ships returned to the Hawaiian Islands and found a safe harbor in Hawaii's Kealakekua Bay. Cook's arrival coincided with a big festival and it is possible that he, without realizing, was acting out a Hawaiian legend - the return from the sea of their god Lono. Lono was the fertility god of Hawaii. He is also associated with agriculture, rainfall, and music. It is suspected that the Hawaiians attached religious significance to the first stay of the Europeans on their islands. In Cook's second visit, there was no question of this phenomenon. Kealakekua Bay was considered the sacred harbor of Lono, the fertility god of the Hawaiians, and at the time of Cook's arrival the locals were engaged in a festival dedicated to Lono. This was a large reason why the islanders welcomed him with great friendliness. Cook and his crew were welcomed by the Hawaiians, who were fascinated by the Europeans' ships and their use of iron. Cook provisioned his ships by trading the metal, and his sailors traded iron nails for sex. This led to venereal disease in Hawai’i, even though James Cook didn’t believe in engaging with Hawaiians. He was often seduced by Hawaiian women who were interested in his godlike qualities. Cook and his compatriots were welcomed as gods and for the next month exploited the Hawaiians' good will. After one of the crewmen died, exposing the Europeans as mere mortals, relations became strained. The native people no longer looked at the Europeans as gods,...
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