Preserve the historic name of Russian Fort Elizabeth in Hawaii
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Russian Fort Elizabeth was built on the Hawaiian island of Kauai in 1817 by the Russian-American Company as a result of an alliance with High Chief Kaumualiʻi, who was the island's last independent ruler. The fort was later recognized as a National Historic Landmark and became part of the Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park.
This monument represents one of Russia's many historical imprints on lands that today comprise the United States, but also an important reminder of the trust and people-to-people cooperation which existed between the natives of Kauai and representatives of the Russian-American Company in the early years of the 19th century.
Today, the fort's history and symbolism of cross-cultural engagement are being threatened by the efforts of individuals who are pushing to rename the fort to a native Hawaiian title of Paʻulaʻula o Hipo, arguing that it will help attract more visitors and raise interest among Hawaiians.
Renaming of the fort will erase the unique and vastly undiscovered history that connects Hawaiian-American and Russian-American communities. Moreover, it will result in a skewed understanding of the fort's origins.
To serve the interests of everyone involved in this debate, the most logical and conflict-free solution is to simply add the native name to the already existing historic one without dropping any parts of the original title.
Russian-American and Hawaiian-American communities should work together to promote this historic monument, attract new visitors, and expand Russian-Hawaiian cultural exchange well into the 21 century.
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