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The Big Island of Hawaii was the first Hawaiian island to be settled. It’s believed that the first Polynesians showed up here in the year 600 A.D. or so. Historians think they chose this island because it was so large. The first settlers were from Tahiti and noticed how much larger the Big Island was. They thought they had found heaven! Nevermind the fact that there were active volcanoes on the island. That didn’t seem to phase them a bit.
Captain Cook arrived on the island in the late 1770s. He was eventually killed on the island at Kealakekua Bay. Cook had discovered many of the other Hawaiian islands for white men. It was in Hawaii where Captain Vancouver, and Englishman, brought the white man’s way of life first to Hawaii. Vancouver told the leaders of the Big Island about different things like grapes, cows, sheep, oranges, and religion.
The main leader of Hawaii during this key point in its history was Kamehameha. He was born in the Kohala area of the island in 1753. He was born during an odd time. He was the son of two island leaders and was proclaimed to be the "killer of chiefs" even before he was born. Many people were out to kill the baby right after he was born. His mother ordered that the baby be hid constantly and he was raised in the mountains. Also oddly enough, Kamehameha did come to be known as a man who liked to pick fights. He was known as a soldier and warrior of sorts. He ended up ruling all the islands until he died in 1819. That’s when a period of extensive change began here. Many people wanted to get away from the Big Island and the tight strings they felt that had bound them there. Most of these people fled to Oahu and Honolulu. That’s when that city and island started to grow. The Big Island might have been the biggest, but it wasn’t the one where most people wanted to be any longer.