BY KENNETH R. CONKLIN, PH.D. —  On November 22, 2011 Hawaii Reporter published an article entitled “3,000 Volunteers Needed to Bring Historical Hawaiian Language Newspapers to the Internet” http://www.hawaiireporter.com/?p=42668

The article solicited thousands of volunteers for a project to make available on the internet the text of Hawaiian language newspapers from the 1800s. The project seems very worthwhile indeed. History is important. Newspaper reports and commentary are valuable primary sources. Hawaiian is a beautiful language worthy of reviving and making accessible to everyone.

But this particular project has all the signs of being political rather than scholarly. It’s part of an effort to twist historical fact in support of a Hawaiian sovereignty agenda. It’s very sad that the revival of the beautiful Hawaiian language has increasingly been hijacked by sovereignty activists who use it as a political weapon. See the large and detailed webpage “Hawaiian Language as a Political Weapon” at http://tinyurl.com/668vqyz

Most of the history twisting in this new project, and an older project like it, is accomplished by carefully selecting which newspapers and articles to make available and which to ignore. During the 1880s, 1890s, and early 1900s there were royalist Hawaiian language newspapers but also anti-monarchy and annexationist Hawaiian language newspapers (as well as royalist and annexationist English-language newspapers) competing for readership and political loyalty. By choosing to make available only the royalist items, today’s sovereignty activists can provide a twisted impression that all native Hawaiians were staunchly royalist; or that Dole, Thurston, Kinney, et. al. were scoundrels. For example, see an analysis of how the book “Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism” used a one-sided selection of Hawaiian language newspapers to create the impression that native Hawaiians were all royalists: http://tinyurl.com/6877l

Just imagine a similar project 100 years from now delving into politics of the period 1990-2012 but focusing entirely on newspapers like Honolulu Weekly, Ka Wai Ola (OHA’s monthly rag), Civil Beat, Huffington Post, Peoples Weekly World, Al Jazeera, etc. The news release published November 22 explicitly said the newspaper project, if successful, will digitize only “half of the entire archive of Hawaiian-language newspapers published between 1834 to 1948.” Guess which half?

There’s good evidence that such history-twisting by omission is likely to be done, in view of a similar project at UH Manoa a decade ago. A grant was given for thousands of dollars to scan and transcribe the important documents related to the Hawaiian revolution of 1893 and annexation of 1898. The grant specified that the documents to be digitized included the Morgan Report. The project managed to complete its work for the pro-royalist Blount Report of 1893 and the anti-annexation petition of 1897, but somehow conveniently ran out of money before it got around to doing the Morgan Report of 1894, which it had also promised to do.

To be useful for researchers, text must be searchable so a computer can look across thousands of pages of documents to find the ones that use specific keywords. To make the text searchable it must be actual text, and not a photograph of an article. The usual way to accomplish that is to use a scanner to make a photo of an original newspaper page, and then to use an optical character reader (OCR) to “read” the text in the photo and convert it into “digitized” text (capable of being copy/pasted and capable of being searched for keywords). But anyone with an all-in-one printer/copier/scanner at home or office knows that OCRs make numerous errors. There are errors even with expensive professional OCRs, especially when old documents (like 19th Century newspapers or books) have fly specks or stains which get translated as letters or numerals, or when charts and tables with dividing lines are involved, or when font styles and print sizes change (as often happens in newspapers, even inside an individual page).

Since the UH project to scan and digitize documents related to the revolution and annexation intentionally failed to digitize the Morgan Report, two unpaid volunteers, Jere Krischel and Ken Conklin, did the job for them over a period of about half a year, without UH help and without any grant. We scanned the entire 808-page Morgan Report from an original published in 1894. Then we used an optical character reader (OCR) to convert the scanned photo into digitized text, proofread the text, and corrected OCR errors. Summaries were also written for some of the lengthy individual testimonies, and commentaries were written to compare various testimonies against each other or to highlight certain issues of special relevance today. The entire 808 pages (both photos and digitized text for each page), plus summaries and commentaries, are at http://morganreport.org

Although most of the history twisting for the newspaper project is likely to be done by selecting items favorable to the sovereignty agenda and ignoring items unfavorable to it, some twisting can also be accomplished by overlooking (i.e., removing) words or paragraphs that contradict the sovereignty agenda, or perhaps even inserting extra words which change the meaning of what was originally there.

The Morgan Report webpage places the text of each digitized page side by side with the scanned photo of the original page. The photo can be magnified by clicking on it more than once, thus allowing scholars or skeptical activists to verify the accuracy of the digitized version. For example, see pages 364-365 of the Morgan Report, where the text is accompanied by a photo of the original scanned pages (double-click on the thumbnail photo to enlarge it for easy reading).
http://morganreport.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=364-365
The full collection of all 808 individual pages is made available at
http://morganreport.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Main_Page#Individual_Pages
Failure to provide magnified photos of the original documents side by side with the transcribed text for the newspaper project (as was done with the Morgan Report) would make it very hard for neutral scholars to discover when politically zealous volunteers and editors might have tampered with what was originally there.

The new Hawaiian language newspaper digitization project asks thousands of volunteers to do the work of the OCR.  Down with machines!  Power to the people!  What a great way to build a loyal group of activists who feel a sense of ownership in Hawaiian language and Hawaiian history (as skewed by the project leaders).  A volunteer will put a reservation on whichever pages he wishes to re-type (so nobody else unknowingly does the same job), then download photos of those original newspaper pages, use his home computer to manually type the contents into new text documents, and send those new documents to the project supervisors who will check their correctness and then put the contents into the right places in a master database.  Voila!  The text in the photo has now been digitized, is on the internet, and is searchable.
The politically zealous volunteers so dedicated to the cause that they’re willing to spend hundreds of hours retyping documents, and their politically zealous supervisors, have plenty of opportunities to literally rewrite history by deletions and insertions as they transcribe photos into text.  Failure to provide magnified photos of the original documents side by side with the transcribed text for the newspaper project (as was done with the Morgan Report) would make it very hard for neutral scholars to discover when politically zealous volunteers and editors might have tampered with what was originally there.

The situation is made worse by the fact that very few people are sufficiently fluent in Hawaiian language to be capable of knowing what to look for; and nearly all who are capable obtained their fluency by spending years under the tutelage of people who are sovereignty activists in addition to their knowledge of the language. People who oppose the Hawaiian sovereignty agenda are “politically incorrect”, socially undesirable, and likely to be pushed out of academic programs in Hawaiian language, history, or culture. Hawaiian language scholars are also dragging their feet about creating a robot translator for Hawaiian language, as has been done for more than 50 languages including obscure ones such as Slovenian, Maltese, and Icelandic. One can go to Google to copy/paste any text document, or webpage, from any one of these languages to any other one. The robot does not always translate perfectly, but “close enough for government work”; i.e., accurate enough to capture the important concepts. Hawaiian language scholars apparently want to keep control of translation for themselves and the people they train, as a way of keeping financial and political control over Hawaiian history and culture. The Google translation robot is at
http://www.google.com/language_tools?hl=en

This Hawaiian language newspaper project is clearly motivated by the politics of Hawaiian sovereignty rather than by love for the language or historical scholarship. That fact is shown by the manner in which the news release was publicized and also by its contents.

The article in Hawaii Reporter appears to be a news release written by an unknown author, being distributed by “Bright Line Marketing” which describes itself as “a professional law firm website design & development company that employs attorneys, law students, website designers, CMS developers and programmers. We are based in Sacramento, California. We produce website designs and marketing strategies for law firms all across America. Bright Line Marketing was founded by a third year law student …” But the company’s webpage does not name who that person is. The webpage provides no address, phone, or other means of communication other than e-mail to “info@…”

The news release identifies Kaui Sai-Dudoit as the manager of the Hawaiian language newspaper project. Use Google to find out who is Kaui Sai-Dudoit and Kaui’s close working relationship with family member Keanu Sai, the infamous head of the “Perfect Title” real estate scam, the “World Court” sovereignty scam, and the new “Executive Agreements” history scam. http://tinyurl.com/3vdttyp

The news release identifies many “organizations and institutions [which] are jumping on board to assist with finances and resources” including some fairly obscure ones like Awaiaulu, and The Pūʻā Foundation (Google them); and others whose racialist agendas we’re all familiar with including OHA, Kamehameha Schools, the UH center for Hawaiian studies, etc.

Note also the dates chosen for beginning and ending the project: two holidays of the Kingdom of Hawaii revived in modern times for a contemporary secessionist political impact — Ka La Ku’oko’a (November 28, Independence Day) and Ka La Ho’iho’i Ea (July 31, Sovereignty Restoration Day). For information about those Kingdom holidays, and how the modern revival of them engages in ethnic cleansing to deliberately exclude Caucasian heroes of the Kingdom without whom those holidays would never have happened, see
http://tinyurl.com/3gqgm

Regarding the need to be skeptical whether the transcripts will be accurate copies of the originals: Hawaiian sovereignty activists routinely engage in history-twisting, falsely reporting historical fact, omitting important information, inserting falsehoods, etc. For example, see a webpage disproving the often-heard falsehood that Hawaiian language was made illegal http://tinyurl.com/6zrka and another webpage disproving the falsehood that President Grover Cleveland issued a proclamation declaring a holiday for prayer and repentance for the U.S. (alleged) role in overthrowing the Hawaiian monarchy http://tinyurl.com/k38tm

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