[Illustration: Captain Cook]
Captain Cook lived to sail the world’s oceans and discover new lands. While searching for the elusive “
Captain Cook was born in
Navigator and Explorer
British navigator and explorer, James Cook is considered one of the world’s greatest explorers. He sailed around the world twice, commanding three major Pacific exploratory expeditions for
Cook made many discoveries during his expeditions, collecting a great deal of information about native people as well as native flora and fauna.
The crews of Captain Cook’s two ships, the HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery, first sighted the Hawaiian Islands of O‘ahu and Kaua‘i in the dawn hours of January 18, 1778. Conditions kept them at bay until the next day, by which time they had also sighted Ni‘ihau.
When Cook’s ships approached Kaua‘i’s southeast coast on the afternoon of
This first encounter with the Hawaiians took place in the waters near Kīpū Kai. The Hawaiians traded fish and sweet potatoes for pieces of iron and brass, which were lowered down from the larger ships to the Hawaiians canoes.
Cook sailed along Kaua‘i’s southeastern coast searching for a suitable anchorage. Cook’s ships remained offshore, but Cook allowed a few Hawaiians to come on board on the morning of January 20 before continuing on in search of safe anchorage.
On the afternoon of January 20, Cook anchored his ships near the mouth of the
Cook went ashore three times that day, walking inland where he saw Hawaiian hale (houses), heiau (sacred places of worship), and agriculture. Cook’s crew continued to trade iron and other items to the natives, receiving in return the various food items mentioned above as well as chickens and taro corms.
Though some speculative evidence (including a Hawaiian legend) exists that Spanish ships visited the
At this time the total population of the eight main
Cook Leaves and Returns
After a fruitless journey north in search of a
Cook was unaware that he was visiting the Islands during the during the ancient Hawaiian harvest festival known as Makahiki, which began with the first appearance of the crescent moon following the new moon after the appearance of the constellation Makali‘i (Pleiades) rising in the east after sunset (around the middle of October), and lasting several months.
During the Makahiki, time is taken away from work for feasts, sports games, and other events in honor of Lono, the god of agricultural fertility.
When Cook arrived on the
While accounts vary on whether Cook was indeed thought by the natives to be the god Lono, it is clear that Cook was given preferential treatment. Cook was brought to Hikiau Heiau, a sacred temple where kāhuna (native priests) put sacred red kapa cloth on him and offered sacred chants.
On the evening of February 13, one of Cook’s boats (a cutter, the Discovery’s largest boat) was stolen. The next morning Cook went ashore with nine of his men to retrieve the boat. Cook planned to find the ruler of the island, Kalani‘ōpu‘u, and take him hostage in order to demand the return of the boat for the return of the chief.
Cook and his men went ashore and awakened Kalani‘ōpu‘u, and compelled him to come to the ship. Meanwhile, members of Cook’s crew had blockaded the harbor so no one could escape.
When a canoe attempted to pass the blockade, Cook’s crew fired on the natives, killing a chief. Learning that one of their chiefs had been killed, the natives gathered in a large crowd near shore. Just then, Cook’s group, including Kalani‘ōpu‘u, reached shore to take their small boat out to the main ship.
In an encounter with the angry native Hawaiians on the shore, Cook and his men fired upon the natives. When Cook’s men paused to reload they were attacked. Cook yelled for his men to “take to the boats!,” but it was too late—Cook was stabbed in the neck and killed, and floated face down in the water. At least four of Cook’s men were also killed.
The rest of Cook’s group escaped in their boat that was near the shore. Cook’s men retreated to the main ship, leaving Cook behind along with the other members of his crew that had been killed.
Four marines and an unknown number of native Hawaiians died in the fighting during the following days as hostilities escalated. A stalemate existed over the return of Cook’s remains, which had been taken inland.
Eventually Cook’s remains were returned by a procession of Hawaiians bearing white flags and beating drums. The remains were wrapped in kapa barkcloth, and covered by a feather cloak.
Within the kapa, however, were only some of Cook’s remains, the rest still being in the possession of native chiefs. Cook’s hands and feet had been preserved with pa‘akai (sea salt), and the rest of his flesh had been stripped from his bones and burned. [Historians have noted that this treatment was normally reserved for ali‘i nui (high chiefs).]
Cook’s crew then held a naval burial service. The ship’s cannons were fired in salute, and Cook’s remains were lowered into
After Cook’s crew left the
[Photograph: HMS Discovery or HMS Resolution]