Forward without Fear


Forward without Fear

Native Hawaiians and American Education in Territorial Hawai'i, 1900–1941

Derek Taira 

Studies in Pacific Worlds Series

236 pages
1 photograph, index


June 2024


$65.00 Pre-order

About the Book

During Hawai‘i’s territorial period (1900–1959), Native Hawaiians resisted assimilation by refusing to replace Native culture, identity, and history with those of the United States. By actively participating in U.S. public schools, Hawaiians resisted the suppression of their language and culture, subjection to a foreign curriculum, and denial of their cultural heritage and history, which was critical for Hawai‘i’s political evolution within the manifest destiny of the United States.

In Forward without Fear Derek Taira reveals that many Native Hawaiians in the first forty years of the territorial period neither subscribed nor succumbed to public schools’ aggressive efforts to assimilate and Americanize them but instead engaged with American education to envision and support an alternate future, one in which they could exclude themselves from settler society to maintain their cultural distinctiveness and protect their Indigenous identity. Taira thus places great emphasis on how they would have understood their actions—as flexible and productive steps for securing their cultural sovereignty and safeguarding their future as Native Hawaiians—and reshapes historical understanding of this era as one solely focused on settler colonial domination, oppression, and elimination to a more balanced and optimistic narrative that identifies and highlights Indigenous endurance, resistance, and hopefulness.

Author Bio

Derek Taira is an associate professor of educational administration at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.


Forward without Fear provides a critical examination of the role of public education in Hawaiʻi’s territorial period. By showing how settler-colonial ideologies were enacted through education policy, Taira also shows how Native Hawaiians were never mere victims of public education but actively engaged, challenged, or used settler forms of education for their own visions of the future. This book will be required reading in Hawaiian history, history of education, and Indigenous studies, among other fields.”—Maile Arvin, author of Possessing Polynesians: The Science of Settler Colonial Whiteness in Hawai‘i and Oceania

Forward without Fear offers new insights on the multiple ways populations receive, resist, and reimagine schools and schooling as sites of both liberation and oppression. By centering an intricate and much-needed conversation on settler colonialism within a discussion on education, this book is well positioned to be a must-read across fields.”—Mirelsie Velázquez, author of Puerto Rican Chicago: Schooling the City, 1940–1977

Table of Contents

Note on Language
1. Territorial Hawaiʻi: An American Colony
2. Making Hawaiʻi Safe for America: Schools and Americanization
3. Resistance, Resiliency, and Accommodation: Native Hawaiian Student Responses to Americanization
4. Seemingly Compliant but Quietly Defiant: Native Hawaiian Educators in Settler Hawaiʻi Schools
5. Native Sovereignty in “Unexpected Places”: Community Petitions and Pro-Hawaiian Legislation
Conclusion: Imua, Me Ka Hopo ʻOle

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