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Discovery Hawaiian Aliis Tikis Maneki Neko

Russians discover Hawaii

(for Japanese text click here)

Russians arrived in Hawaii in 1804 on ships associated with the Russian-American Fur Trading Company stationed at what is now Sitka, Alaska, to obtain fruit, vegetables and meat from their Hawaiian neighbors in exchange for sea otter skins.

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Captain Yury Lisyansky, commander of the ship Neva, and his German emissary Dr. Georg Anton Scheffer, considered colonizing Hawaii on behalf of Czar Alexander I (without the Czar's knowledge or permission) by assisting Kaumaualii, ruler of Kauai, overthrow King Kamehameha I who had just united the Hawaiian islands five years earlier. They established a friendship with Kaumaualii in 1815 and built settlements including Fort Alexander and the substantial Fort Elisabeth (see pic), in honor of the Czarina. On Oahu, they met with Kamehameha I who granted them permission to build a storehouse near Honolulu Harbor but instead they began building a fort and raised the Russian flag. Kamehameha's trusted friend and counselor, Englishman John Young, recognized the intrigue and Kamehameha confiscated and then completed the fort for himself. Today's Fort Street in downtown Honolulu is named after this fort.

Eventually, the Russian settlements on Kauai were also closed down by Kaumaualii so as not to offend Kamehameha. The ruins of one of these forts still survive on Kauai today. Czar Alexander I later instructed his Russian representatives in Hawaii to limit their work to peaceful commercial relations with the island kingdom. In 1897, approximately 2,000 Russians and Ukrainians were recruited to work on sugar plantations in Hawaii but only a few remained after their contracts. Their presence did, however, bring a little of the Russian culture to these islands.

Today, there is a Russian community in Hawaii of about 300.

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