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King Kamehameha Statue

King Kamehameha the Great united the Hawai`ian Islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawai`i. He was raised in the royal court of his uncle and eventually gained control of the Big Island. With help from British and American traders who provided guns and ammunition, Kamehameha quickly conquered lightly defended Maui and Moloka`i. O`ahu provided greater resistance but ultimately fell. Only Kaua`i and Ni`ihau remained but eventually agreed to recognize Kamehameha's sovereignty.

As the first King of Hawai`i, Kamehameha unified the legal system and promoted trade with the United States and Europe. Non-Hawai`ians were not allowed to own land which helped the island kingdom retain its independence.

King Kamehameha ended human sacrifice but otherwise continued to follow the Hawai`ian religion and traditions. Even today he is much beloved and is honored with a holiday on June 11 when this status is festooned with hundreds of flower leis.

Photographer's note: This is more than just a sepia-toned version of a modern photograph. I have worked diligently to remove any traces of contemporary civilization — by eliminating cars, power lines, newer buildings, etc. The goal was to craft a photo that would be very similar to one taken more than 100 years ago. I love the look and I hope you do too.

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moloka‘i, molokai, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Church, Father Damien