Hawaii’s Identity Is Powerful–and Endangered

A Strong Sense of Self Distinguishes the State, at Least for Now

America’s youngest state, Hawaii, isn’t known for making Texas-sized boasts about its greatness, or for aggressively pushing its brand on its neighbors, the way that, say, Florida and California do.

Yet Hawaii may have the strongest sense of identity of any U.S. state—a fierce cultural pride and feeling of exceptionalism that flow from its unique island heritage.

That was the premise of a Smithsonian/Zócalo “What It Means to Be American” panel discussion, supported by the Daniel K. Inouye Institute, before a packed audience at Artistry Honolulu. And when moderator Lee Cataluna, …

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