The New Student's Reference Work/Kanakas
Kana'kas are the people who were found inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands when Cook discovered them in 1778. They are reddish brown in color, with black and straight hair, sometimes a little wavy, thin beards, the face broad, with a rather flat sideview or profile, the nose somewhat flattened and the lips thick. They are of only moderate height, except the chiefs and their families, who are remarkably tall and large. When discovered, they were given to barbarous customs, as the killing of superfluous infants, human sacrifices and the eating of the heart and liver of the conquered foe. Yet they naturally are good-tempered, light-hearted, fond of amusement and devoted to riding and swimming, especially to riding the heavy surf-breakers, in which they are remarkably expert. But the coming of the whites seems to have introduced habits of drunkenness and to have brought diseases against which their constitutions cannot stand. Cook thought there were 400,000 when he saw the islands first. In 1823 there were but 142,000; in 1872 42,000, and at present there are still fewer. The natives are giving way to Japanese and Portuguese laborers on the sugar-plantations.