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Woman's History Wednesday: Spotlight: Princess Ruth

Princess Ruth Luka Keanolani Kauanahoahoa Keʻelikōlani was a strong supporter of Hawaiian language and traditional cultural practices. Born in 1826, Keʻelikōlani was a descendant of senior royal lines on both sides of her family. During a time when many Hawaiians were converting to Christianity, Keʻelikōlani retained many traditional Hawaiian religious practices even though it had been abolished in 1819. As a member of the royal family, Keʻelikōlani served as Royal Governor of the Island of Hawaii. Keʻelikōlani understood English, however, she insisted that she be addressed only in Hawaiian and required non-Hawaiian speakers to use translators if they wished to communicate with her. By the 1870s, Keʻelikōlani was the largest landowner in Hawaii. Despite the fact that she owned a Western-style house, Keʻelikōlani chose to live in a large, traditional grass home. When she died, Keʻelikōlani willed all 353,000 acres of land that she owned, 9% of the Hawaiian Islands, to her cousin Princess Bernice Pauahi and later it was put in a trust for the Kamehameha Schools.

Bio source : the National Women's History Museum

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