Kamehameha vs. David Oakerhater

The Saintly Sixteen continues with a Hawaiian king vs. the first Native American saint. Kamehameha takes on David Oakerhater as a man passionate about the medical care of his people faces a man whose Cheyenne name is translated "Making Medicine." Regardless of the outcome, one thing is certain: one of Neva Rae Fox's saints will advance to the next round.

In yesterday's first battle of the Saintly Sixteen, Brendan the Navigator finally lost his way, losing to Thecla 62% to 38%. Thecla becomes the first saint of Lent Madness 2015 to advance to the Elate Eight where she'll face the winner of Francis of Assisi vs. Cecilia.

After today's vote is decided, Lent Madness will resume first thing Monday morning as Cuthbert takes on Molly Brant. Stay tuned for more saintly action!


Kamehameha is renowned for his many ministries – from introducing Anglicanism to the Hawaiian Islands to translating the Book of Common Prayer into the local vernacular. Another of his lasting legacies throughout Hawaii was the pioneering steps he instigated for the betterment of the health and welfare of his people.

Kamehameha IV was born Alexander Iolani Liholiho on February 9, 1834 and was crowned King just shy of his 21st birthday.

With his wife and partner in reform, Queen Emma, Kamehameha set forth to transform the Hawaiian Islands by offering his people new, modern ways of life. He was devoted to introducing modern healthcare methods and facilities. Perhaps his drive was based on the healthcare issues that touched him and his family.

From the time of his birth to his ascension to the throne, Kamehameha witnessed much sadness over the health of his people. There was an effort in 1839 to vaccinate the population, which had been prompted by a smallpox outbreak. In 1848, measles, brought to the islands by foreign ships, killed one-third of the residents. Other epidemics in 1848-1849 -- whooping cough, influenza and the ever-threatening smallpox -- killed one in ten of the Hawaiian population. In 1853 another smallpox epidemic killed 5,000 to 6,000 more Hawaiians.

In response to these ongoing tragedies, the King designed a plan to build hospitals for the sick and dying, and homes for the elderly. When the government legislature refused to support his plans, he and Queen Emma raised private funds – enough not only for a hospital but for a much-needed leprosy clinic as well. In 1859 The Queen’s Hospital – named for Emma and still in operation as The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu -- opened in temporary quarters.

In laying the cornerstone, Kamehameha said, "There is something wholesome in being called upon from time to time to acknowledge, however strong our own health may be, and however prosperous our fortunes, that after all, the sick are our brothers and sisters."

On the home front, Kamehameha and Emma had a son, Albert who died in 1863. It is told that Kamehameha felt responsible for the death of Prince Albert. The four-year-old prince was seriously ill, burning with fever, possibly with spinal meningitis. Kamehameha gave the boy a cold shower to cool him off. However, Albert’s health deteriorated, and the youngster died in August 1862.

Heartbroken, grief stricken, and with his own health failing him as he suffered with nerve disorders and asthma, Kamehameha died the next year. Some believe he died of grief. He was only 29 years old.

Kamehameha had a short life, but in his time, he made a lasting impact on the lives of his people and on the generations to come in many ways, from Anglicanism and prayers to healthcare and hospitals.

Neva Rae Fox

200px-Making_medicine.portraitDavid Oakerhater

David Pendleton Oakerhater, an Episcopal deacon and the first Native American saint, was an accomplished artist and a leader in an art style known as Ledger art.

A Cheyenne Indian of Oklahoma, Oakerhater was imprisoned by the United States Army in Florida beginning in 1875. During this imprisonment, an education was provided for all the Native American prisoners that included language, Christianity and art.

Furnished with some instructions and art supplies like pencils, ink, paints, crayons, and paper, Oakerhater delved into art as his new form of expression. Using pens, he and the other prisoners drew in ledger books, hence the name of the art form.

Ledger art is defined as a Native American drawing or painting on paper or cloth. Historians report that Ledger art was popular from the Civil War through World War I. The term Ledger art is rooted from the accounting ledger books that were used for paper. Ledger art has been described as an abstract style illustrating the everyday life of Native Americans, such as dances, hunts, tribal events and self-portraits.

The artwork that emerged from the Florida prison differed from the traditional Plains Indian art in that the prisoners began to focus less upon themselves and their actions, and more upon things.

Oakerhater excelled at this art form and, even now, he is deemed as one of the foundations of modern Native American artists, particularly for the Ledger art. He and the other Native American prisoners helped Ledger art to evolve to become a distinctly Native American art form.

Oakerhater signed some of his works with the English translation of his Cheyenne name, which was "Making Medicine.” Sometimes he signed with a glyph depicting a dancer in a sun dance.

It was through his art that Oakerhater’s patron, Mrs. Alice Key Pendleton first noticed him. This connection eventually assisted in Oakerhater’s release from the Florida prison. After his release, Oakerhater devoted his time to his diaconal duties, his Church responsibilities, and his ministry to his fellow Native Americans.

There are no reports of Oakerhater, or Making Medicine, continuing his art work after his departure from prison. Perhaps it was because he had a new passion. When he returned to his people in 1881 he preached in a sermon, "You remember when I led you out to war I went first, and what I told you was true. Now I have been away to the East and I have learned about another captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is my leader. He goes first, and all He tells me is true. I come back to my people to tell you to go with me now in this new road, a war that makes all for peace."

Neva Rae Fox


Kamehameha vs. David Oakerhater

  • Kamehameha (61%, 3,607 Votes)
  • David Oakerhater (39%, 2,283 Votes)

Total Voters: 5,890

Loading ... Loading ...


* indicates required

Recent Posts



142 comments on “Kamehameha vs. David Oakerhater”

  1. My vote is for Kamechamcha. I found his work to improve the health of his people inspiring. I love that he raised the money himself for hospitals, etc. when the government would not provide it. This quote sums up his noble intentions....."There is something wholesome in being called upon from time to time to acknowledge, however strong our own health may be, and however prosperous our fortunes, that after all, the sick are our brothers and sisters.”

    1. I voted for Kamehameha for the sole reason of his quote, which is needed today in support of current U.S. healthcare more than ever!

      ”There is something wholesome in being called upon from time to time to acknowledge, however strong our own health may be, and however prosperous our fortunes, that after all, the sick are our brothers and sisters.”

      We NEED WHOLESOMENESS today and every day going forward in the world!!

  2. A difficult choice again this morning.........with a flip of the proverbial coin, it's David Oakerhater.

  3. BEFORE you cast your vote, please read the previous bio of David Pendleton Oakerhater at https://www.lentmadness.org/2015/02/teresa-of-avila-vs-david-oakerhater-2/#more-4437
    Otherwise one is lead to believe Oakerhater's main merit is his artwork. Both brought the Christian faith to their people; one service his people by building hospitals; the other through schools.
    "Oakerhater’s ministry blossomed in Oklahoma with the launching of schools and the founding of missions; this was often without the support of the Church and with resistance by the U.S. government. He was tireless in his ministry"
    HEALTH vs EDUCATION? Both missions are worthy.
    Let's also be consistent
    "He [ Oakerhater,] was tireless in his ministry, never stopping until his death on August 31, 1931. He also continued in his art and is considered one of the founders of modern Native American art."

    1. Both of the saints today would be called "First People," and both of them are fantastic individuals. Kamehameha IV and Emma also worked for the education of their people, in setting up schools. They established the Priory School for Girls, next to the Cathedral in Honolulu, for the education of girls had been neglected. This prestigious school is still educating girls to become strong, independent contributors to the world. Many of the students receive assistance to participate in these invaluable opportunities.

      1. I totally agree that both are fantastic "real" people. It seems easier for Lent Madness voters to accept those who are closer to us in time and whose deeds are well documented.

    2. Yes, I absolutely agreed. I voted for David Oakerhater in the first round, and after reading the offerings today I wondered why. When I went back and re-read the original biographies, I had the exact same reaction. I value art, but that wasn't all there was to Oakerhater's ministry and mission.

    3. Thanks for pointing that out, Patricia - the most important contributions of Oakerhater were left out of this information - giving the Hawaiian king a decidedly biased push toward saintdom.

      1. The primary bios are never rehashed in subsequent rounds. Actually, I was surprised at how wordy the statements today were. Wait till we get toward the end and things start getting _really_ whimsical!

    4. I'm another one who is thankful for the link back to Oakerhater's earlier, more informative biography, but even so, in a more than usually difficult choice between two native Americans who worked for their people, I'm siding with Kamehamea because of his work with hospitals and healthcare.

      1. Interesting comparison. Though in terms of power, Kamehamea had some, he was the King. David Oakerhater did all of is work without the power and support of the government or the power and support of the church. He is an example of what one Christian can do in the world. My vote is for Oakerhater.

        1. Actually, the king had very little power then. The white settlers, descendents of white missionaries, had the power. This is evident in the bio which states that the king's project was not approved He had to raise his own monies for the project. Sounds to me like he had the title only.

    5. of course today's stories seem incomplete. The whole deal with Lent Madness is that each round contains NEW information that builds on the old, and often every round's info becomes more and more obscure (or maybe what some of us would call "less important"?). It's why the Celebrity Bloggers have such a hard job--trying to lobby for their saint while still holding some stuff for later rounds. It's OUR job as readers/voters to refresh our memories with their previous work, not the CB's job to re-write it all in every round. And Neva Rae Fox has a double hard job--to lobby for two saints in the same matchup, without repeating all the info she wrote before! Very impressive.

      If you think this round doesn't have enough "important contributions" info, wait for the Saintly Kitsch round...

    6. I agree that the writeup on Oakerhater was particularly weak today. It made it sound like he hadn't really done anything that would compare with Kamehameha when in reality these 2 are very closely related in service to their people. Yet Oakerhater overcame more difficult opposition to accomplish his mission. Perhaps this is the first case of a fixing an outcome by a celebrity blogger? Oh the scandal!!!!!!

      1. Kim, I think you may have a point about scandal! On the other hand, voters should have long enough memory to remember something they read just one round ago. On a third hand, this is America. Scandals are part of our culture!

      2. Well said, Ann. Thank you.
        Maybe also an example of the holiness of wholeness in their marriage -- united in their commitment and diligence, as well as in their faith.

      3. Right, one would think that if Christianity was forced upon David he would not have spent much of his life planting Christian missions "often without the support of the Church" nor been "tireless in his ministry, never stopping until his death on August 31, 1931"

      4. I think it is a scandal in how the church, who is to be a model of equality responded to both Kamehameha who had power and Oakerhater who did not have power and did the ministry he was called to do without support of the Church. As we lift up Oakerhater, we are faced with the neglect by the Church for his ministry with native peoples--doing so is somewhat uncomfortable for us; it is much easier for us to celebrate Kamehameha.

  4. Both were extraordinary saints. But I am swayed by the way Oakerhater opposed injustice and accomplished his missionary work despite official lack of either church or government support.

    1. I agree that this is a tough matchup, both have extraordinary accomplishments and did so much for their people. I had to ultimately go with Oakerhater though.

  5. I voted Making Medicine. He was an Indian and he rides a horse and found Jesus and told everybody and he looks cool.

  6. As an artist married to a physician I have emotional pulls in both directions. This one is very difficult for me, and a thank you to Patricia for adding more background. That said, I reluctantly made a choice (can't vote for both?). It is Kamehameha for me.

  7. I'm with Patricia, above. These bios alone can leave the impression that one saint was concerned with health care, the other primarily with the arts. I love knowing more about Deacon David's art, but that's not why he's on the Calendar of Saints. Even taking into account the fullness of his ministry, it's a tough call: two saints of indigenous American peoples (if one counts Hawaii as American) who, inspired by Christ, sought to improve the lives of their communities in significant ways. Because I have some family connections with other midwestern Native American Episcopalians, my vote goes to Oakerhater.

  8. Please do not forget that Kamehameha IV invited the Episcopal Church to the Hawaiian Islands, but insisted that the people retain their culture and customs. The Episcopal Church agreed. Many other missionaries had infiltrated the islands, and demanded that the Hawaiians convert to all of their ways, and turn their backs on the Hawaiian way of life. The Episcopal Church was accepting of all, even back then. My daughter, Aggy, sings in the cathedral choir, and reads the lessons in Hawaiian at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Honolulu, and teaches at the Priory Girl's School, next to St. Andrew's. Aggy teaches the Hawaiian language and Hawaiian culture and history. This cathedral and girls's school was established by King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. Emma was vigilant in establishing education for girls to become strong, independent leaders in Hawai'i. The education of girls had been neglected for quite a while. Many of the girls attending the prestigious private school both then and now are on scholarships, to offer opportunities and advancement to all, just as the King and Queen had wanted. I'm going with King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma all the way. Here you get two Saints for the price of one! The stained glass window of Saints Kamehameha and Emma is exquisite. When Agg was married in St Andrew's, we placed special Hawaiian flowers, which had been collected on the nearby hills, beneath their window; very spiritual and holy spot in the church. Mahalo, h+

    1. Thank you, Helene, for helping me decide. It's hard for a retired hospital chaplain to vote for anyone who wasn't involved in health care, but that isn't the issue here--after all St. David's Indian name translates as "Making Medicine". But I have to go with K. and Emma this time--partly because of the healthcare, partly because of the translation of the BCP into the Hawaiian language, partly because the institutions they founded are still functioning brilliantly, partly because of the emphasis on the education of women...

    2. Yes, remembering that a vote for Kamehameha IV is a vote for Emma, he gets my vote. Emma was the true power behind the throne, but the king was wise enough to listen! I like the thought 0f Kamehameha & Emma embracing the holiness of wholeness--in body (establishing the hospital), mind (the school) and spirit (St Andrew's Cathedral). And isn't it wonderful that all three institutions are still thriving today.

    3. Back in the 70's I had the honor of working for Mollie Tong in Grand Rapids, Mi. She was from Hawaii. I'm pretty sure from what I can remember of what she told me of her early life that she had gone to one of the school's established by Queen Emma. And so I thank Queen Emma for giving Mollie the education that eventually brought our lives together and provided me with a great boss, mentor and friend. When Queen Emma ran in Lent Madness I was in awe of all she did and voted for her to win the Golden Halo. Mollie and I lost touch after we both moved out of Michigan and eventually I learned that she had died. I became an Episcopalian after leaving Michigan. I so so wish I knowing what I know now of the King and Queen thanks to Lent Madness that I could talk to Mollie to learn more of all of their histories for her perspective.

  9. Both saints bucked institutions, both taught with authority, both advanced civilization, both incarnated the best in Anglican tradition. In the end I went with Kamehameha after a session of LECTIO DIVINA: "after all,the sick are our brothers and sisters" was the phrase that spoke to me throughout my discernment process.

  10. Really tough choice. Had voted for both these men in their original rounds. Wanted to vote for both again. Alas, no can do. Finally went with Oakerhater.

  11. Also for Kamehameha. Compassionate, practical action despite privileged position. His wife's partnership reinforced his capacity for loving relationships grounded in belief. Not an easy decision

  12. What a tough choice! I voted for Kamehameha because I think of his hospital as fulfilling Jesus' command to heal the sick.

  13. Heavenly Father,
    It saddens our hearts to learn about the sins of our fathers and the suffering of native people from European contact. Thank you for the inspiring examples of these men who, instead of spending their days seeking recompense, devoted their lives to the healing of bodies and souls through medical care, art, education, and sharing the good news of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

    1. At least it's the more singable of the two names, but is that enough for me to base a choice on? It certainly didn't help win converts yesterday to Brendan over Thecla.

  14. Again, a tough one. I was ready to vote for David. (After all, I am a deacon.) They both did amazing things for their people; but Kamehameha managed to find a way around a recalcitrant legislature to bring health care to the population, his "brothers and sisters".
    Should we but have a Kamehameha around now! He has my vote.

  15. What a difficult choice. I am going with Making Medicine because I live in a state with a large native American population, many of whom are Episcopalian. Their history is fraught with suffering, and yet they maintain a wonderful spirituality, and I know some of the artists personally.

  16. I voted for Oakerhater before but now that he has come up against Kamehameha
    I had to vote for the later. Both did much for their peoples.

  17. I would have been inclined to vote for Queen Emma, but chose David Oakerhater over King Kamehameha. The Florida connection got to me and the change from warrior to artist, deacon and peacemaker.

  18. I went with Oakerhater, a healer, an artist, a war leader who turned away from war (we need more of these right now)...but really, who can choose between the two?

  19. Being on the losing side is not always bad. Wining is definitely not the only thing. Great King. Go David!

  20. Oh, today's choice is for the first time between two that I voted for in the first round. This is hard.

    1. I am in the same spot. Ended up going with Kamehmeha because of the health care and his cultural sensitivity, but only by a hair. TOUGH!!!!!

  21. Wow! What a choice - between two equally accomplished saints - They are saints for a reason; they both endured much (although one more privileged) and moved beyond that to assist their people! My vote is not for the best or who did the most because they truly seem to be matched- my vote is for Kamehameha, as we in the US are in a health care crisis and could use the practical good sense and ideas for funding that he represents.

  22. This last sentence lost my vote for David "a war that makes all for peace." We don't need war for peace! Granted, Kamehameha's son died in both 1862 and 1863 - typo?

    1. If he died and then had to come back to die again I hope at least he took advantage of Dionysius' two baptisms.

    2. Thomas,
      When David referred to "a war that makes all for peace" he wasn't speaking of violent, military war. He meant being a Soldier for Christ, spreading the Gospel, doing good to all people, and loving God. In fact, it was that same last sentence that won my vote for David.

  23. The artist and dancer in me wants to vote again for Making Medicine--what an incredible man! But I've just recently returned from Hawaii, and when my daughter was injured during our stay, we were grateful for the kindness and assistance we received from the local clinic and hospital there.
    Another wonderful thing about the Hawaiians is that they have been able to retain a good bit of their culture despite the intrusion of us haole.
    And there were three Episcopal churches on the island we visited! Kamehameha for me!