Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement & Political Manipulation at America's Largest Charitable Trust

Discussion Questions

  • Chapter 1: Princess for a New Hawaii:
    • In 1819 the ruling chief “gave up on the gods.”  What does that mean?  Would you have done the same thing if you were the chief?  Explain.
    • What is a princess?  Were there advantages or disadvantages to being a princess during Bernice Pauahi’s lifetime?  Explain.
    • According to the book, “Hawaiians never fought back against the aggressions of foreigners the way other Polynesians did.  Instead, Hawaiians relied upon diplomatic means—treaties and negotiations with foreign powers—in their effort to maintain independence.”  Why did Hawaiians choose to use diplomatic means?  What would have happened if Hawaiians had chosen to “fight back” instead of relying upon diplomacy?
    • During most of her childhood, Bernice Pauahi lived at the Royal School where haole adults were teachers and role models.  Her cousin Ruth Keelikolani never attended the Royal School.  How were the two cousins alike?  How were they different?  In what ways did Bernice Pauahi’s Western education influence her thinking and behavior?
    • Bernice Pauahi’s parents wanted her to marry an alii.  They were displeased when she did not do so.  They refused to attend her wedding when she married a haole.  Did Bernice Pauahi do something wrong?  Did her parents?  What would you have done under those circumstances?
    • Why did the king want Bernice Pauahi, and not Ruth Keelikolani, to be his successor?  Why did Bernice Pauahi not want to be queen? 
    • According to the book, Bernice Pauahi’s husband, Charles Reed Bishop, wanted a reciprocity treaty with the United States and later wanted annexation.  What is “reciprocity?”  What is “annexation?”  Why did Charles favor these?  Why did many Hawaiians not favor them?  What do you think was Bernice Pauahi’s thinking on these issues?  What would have been yours at that time?  Explain.
    • How did Bernice Pauahi come to own so much land?  Why did she decide to write a will?  If you owned valuable property, what would you want done with it at your death?  Explain.