A Complex of Seas : Passages between Pacific Histories
Los Angeles, CA
By 1889, Salt Lake City had embarked on its rocky career as the eastern hub of Oceania. The Mormons had first landed in Hawai'i in the 1850s, reaching across the Pacific from their missions to California's mining camps. They failed among Euro-Americans in the Islands, and turned their attention to Native Hawaiians, learning their language, converting leaders and establishing plantation settlements enabled by new laws allowing foreign land ownership. For Native Hawaiians, Mormon faith and agricultural settlements aided the preservation of communal beliefs and practices in the context of rapid, dislocating change, including those brought by Mormon newcomers themselves. In the absence of a temple in the Pacific, converts crossed the ocean and traveled overland to Utah, settling in the Warm Springs area of North Salt Lake City. In doing so, they fulfilled the Mormon aspiration to "gather" at the center of the Kingdom of God in what they called Mauna Pohaku (Rocky Mountains); their journeys were also continuous with historically deep Hawaiian journeys of discovery, trade, and labor that spanned the Pacific, including the western edges of the imperial United States.