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Historic footage of Paniolo cowboys in Hawaii, ca. 1937

50 Free Credits for Aloha Dice


Most people don’t know that Mexican vaqueros,(cowboys), were instrumental in helping the Hawaiians manage cattle.

The first cattle in Hawaii were brought to the Big Island in 1793 as a gift from Captain George Vancouver to King Kamehameha I. Horses began arriving in Hawaii in 1803. In the early 1830’s it was clear that training was needed for the men that would be responsible for managing the Big Island’s cattle herd and three Mexican vaqueros, expert cowboys, moved to that island and taught the Hawaiians their various skills.

The Mexican vaqueros taught the “Paniolo’s” how to ride horses and how to rope the cattle, as well as valuable related crafts like leather working skills to make beautiful and functional saddles and braided lariats. You will see modern versions of these exquisitely tooled saddles when you visit any of the islands’ paniolo museums.

Given the Hawaiians love of music it is not surprising that when the vaqueros arrived with guitars in hand, the Hawaiians quickly learned to play the instruments and added their unique style. This was the beginning of a long tradition of Hawaiian paniolo music using both guitar and ukulele.

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