AUGUST 12, 1937

NATIVE HAWAIIAN FOOTBALL PLAYER AND POLITICIAN JOHN HENRY WISE DIED

Born July 19, 1869, on the Island of Hawai‘i, Wise, while at Oberlin College in 1891 on an evangelical mission, became the 1ST Native Hawaiian to play college football in America.  His religious future changed in 1893 when Queen Lili‘uokalani was overthrown.  Returning to Hawai’i, Wise helped plan an 1895 coup to restore her throne for which he served 3 years at hard labor.  By 1900, he entered politics to protect the rights of native people.  In 1919, he and Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana‘ole lobbied the U.S. Congress to pass the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1921 which set aside 200,000 acres for homesteading.  While the Hawaiian Home Lands remain vital to Native Hawaiians, it required major concessions to business interests.  The Act also defined a Hawaiian by “blood quantum,” which still divides Hawaiians.  In 1926, to preserve Hawaiian culture, Wise headed Kamehameha Schools’ Hawaiian-language department and taught Hawaiian at the University of Hawai‘i.  He died on Oahu.  

Source:  Ronald Williams, Ronald, Jr., "The People's Champion," Wayback Machine:  Hana Hou!, Issue 15.5, October-November 2012.  Retrieved 7/10/2019, https://web.archive.org/web/20161228195301/https://hanahou.slickage.com/articles/1833
Photo:  Oberlin College, circa 1892.  Oberlin College Archives.  Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less.

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