This article examines texts by Prince Alexander Liholiho, Samuel Kamakau, King Kalākaua, and Queen Lili‘uokalani to trace a strand of nineteenth-century Kanaka Maoli literary nationalism which embraced figurative blackness as a means to combat settler colonial notions of physical, racial blackness as a trait that made Kānaka Maoli unfit for sovereignty. This essay intervenes in contemporary discussions of Black and Indigenous intersections, asking us to move beyond comparative understandings of the two and instead contemplate what we might gain by examining a particular context in which blackness is a constitutive, foundational element of Indigeneity.

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