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There is a certain inevitability that plays into Kamehameha’s life. Legends, hard to verify, begin when his mother, a high-ranking chiefess is pregnant. They end with the date of his death in question. Born in the middle of the 18th century, half his life would be lived with no knowledge of the world beyond Hawai‘i’s horizons. He lived a privileged life as an ali‘i (chief) of high rank. The second half of his life would present a totally unimagined eality, as foreigners arrived and the certainties of the past were dramatically overturned. Trained as a warrior in the court of his uncle, Ruling Chief Kalaniopu‘u, by his teens he was already renowned for his imposing presence, battlefield skills and command ability that would continue throughout thirteen years of war. He would seek to preserve his legacy, yet within three generations, the last of his royal heirs was gone and others would rule the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. More feared and respected than loved, he has come to be a revered symbol of Hawaiian resolve, strength, capability and independence. He was a violent, unforgiving warrior and the consummate chief, the fulfillment of centuries of warfare that ended only after all his competitors had all been vanquished, he and his dynasty destined for greatness and tragedy.
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