Nation or State: In Search of Hawaiian Identity

A glimpse of Hawaii from the sea

Red cliffs where we snorkeled first

Red cliffs where we snorkeled first

Spinner dolphins in Kealakekua Bay

Spinner dolphins in Kealakekua Bay

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Boat tour to Kealakekua

Today the group was privileged to experience a boat tour and day of snorkeling in the beautiful deep blue Kona waters. Of course, this trip served an academic purpose of allowing the class to encounter the island from another perspective, and ending up in Kealakekua Bay where Captain James Cook was killed upon his third visit to the island in 1768. The day started out earlier than most, with everyone meeting in the hotel lobby at 7:30 AM; we were eager to begin and learn what the boat tour had in store. We boarded the ship, and started our day with Frank, Terry, JC, and John as our guides. Frank was the main captain it seemed, as he was the driver and was very helpful in leading us to the right places to experience the best snorkeling the island waters have to offer, while also allowing us to hopefully see Humpback Whale breaches, addition to Spinner dolphins frolicking and jumping. Just as we were leaving the docks and inner bay, spinner dolphins greeted the group to the ocean, setting the bar for expectations of the rest of the boat tour rather high; as if taking this wonderful greeting as a cue, the rest of the trip certainly did not disappoint.

We continued the ride at a comfortable 17 knots, or 20 miles per hour, the group gasped in awe of the ocean as well as in admiration of the surfacing Humpback Whales, one group of three, it seemed a new baby, mother, and male “friend” serving as a chaperone, as is common. MVP was excited every time we saw a hint of a whale, as they are her favorite animals, and it is not hard to see why. These massive animals move majestically through the water, smoothly navigating their course and sometimes grace onlookers with the coveted “fluke up dive” view of the tail, or even, in some cases, an iconic whale breach. Frank informed the group that the Hawaiian term for Humpback whale is Kohola (pronounced-ko-ho-lah). It was nice to make the connection back to the course material, imagining ancient Hawaiians gazing in awe just as we did today, in an attempt to understand the grandness of these whales.

After we had seen a lot of whale activity and were sated for the moment, Frank pulled the boat into a bay area where we could all jump in and explore the ocean. While not all of us are fervent snorkelers, it seemed that everyone in the class was keen to partake in the activity. What could be found between the fingers of lava, where the lava formed island meets the ocean floor, was exciting. All of us were impressed by Frank’s ability to hold his breath underwater for minutes at a time to explore the coves and crannies of the rock beneath. Snorkeling allows one to form a new connection and respect for the ocean. One of the lessons we have learned while in Hawaii is the great respect ancient Hawaiians had and Hawaiians still have for all the animals that share the earth with us. Learning respect for those creatures we share our lives with, both on land as well as in the ocean, is easier once one gets a good look at what often seems to be a separate world. Soon, we all climbed back on to the boat, and Frank took us down south farther along the coastline, to Kealakekua Bay where spinner dolphins greeted the group once more. The group was excited to climb back into the waters and swim with this pod of about 9-12 dolphins and quietly jumped into the waters once more. On the second attempt, almost all of the class was lucky to see through their snorkeling goggles, the dolphins swim below them with only feet separating him or her from the dolphins. The group became quiet in this experience, with the occasional exclamation “this is awesome!” as the dolphin pod swam closely below.

In all the excitement, for a moment it was almost forgotten that the purpose of coming to this specific area was to see where Captain Cook had been killed in a physical misunderstanding between the Hawaiians and his own crew. Frank talked story about the version of the occurrence he is most familiar with where the Hawaiians borrowed nails from the British ships in order to create fishhooks. Imagine a world where there is no concept of stealing, but rather sharing and creating relationships of trust with one another. Frank pointed out that the Hawaiians probably believed that they were creating friendly ties with the British Colonizers by borrowing their tools to make something like a fishhook. The Hawaiians therefore saw no error in their ways as the Captain and his Crew did. According to Frank, this lead to the physical altercations between the Hawaiians and the crew where Captain Cook did loose his life. There is a single monument on a piece of land belonging to the British to commemorate the Captain, however, I noted, nothing to commemorate the many Hawaiians who lost their lives as well, especially since they did not share knowledge of the British weaponry. It was interesting to think back to what the Captain and his crew must have thought upon arrival in this bay, as the land on this part of the island is not exceptionally friendly looking nor particularly welcoming as compared to other areas.

There is a cliff overlooking the waters, where Frank informed me in the that ancient days, Hawaiians used to place the bones of their chiefs and royals—ali’i—since bones are thought to contain the most part of a person’s mana, or life force, these were buried in an area where no one else could find them. He said the ali’i bones were buried here by family members, who must have repelled down the cliff to place the bones in holes in the side of the cliff. This was interesting to consider how many ali’i were overlooking our activities that day and look upon the Captain Cook monument everyday. While the rest of the group continued to snorkel in the beautiful water, I tried to imagine the connections between the land and the traditional Hawaiian belief system. With this knowledge of the ali’i the mana of Kealakekua bay was easier to feel flowing like the lava into the ocean and out from the ali’i bones buried in the cliffs.

From this, we all gathered back on the boat, had the last pineapple, and headed back to shore. Frank truly had the “aloha spirit” we have also been hearing locals talk about, which made this experience much easier. After this day, it is safe to say that we all felt a new connection to the ocean and a respect for the sea animals that we were lucky enough to experience. It was easier for me to understand the idea of mana, having seen and reflected on the different life forces that share the earth with us, especially as we moved closer to the docks, a whale breached and splashed out in the distance; it seems cliché and almost sounds impossible, but it was a surreal experience for the whole group, including Frank, Terry, JC, and John who agreed it was a day to save in the long term memory bank.

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Exploring the Hilo Market

This morning we explored the farmers market and the shops in Hilo.  Since Hilo is not a large tourist destination, we were able to get a taste of local culture, customs, and produce.  The first thing I ventured to was the farmers market.  I was instantly struck by how busy the market was.  Most of the people that I saw there were locals, probably purchasing fresh produce for their meals that day.  Where I am from in New England, I am not used to seeing such a crowd at farmers markets.  There is a market very close to where I live every Sunday in the summer, but it is very sparsely populated and there are very few stands.  The fact that this market was bustling this late in the morning demonstrates the sense of community that envelops this area.  I observed people greeting each other on multiple occasions – I could hear lots of “howzits” being exchanged, telling me that the people talking were not tourists.  Despite my obvious and pungent haole aura, anywhere I stopped to make a purchase, the merchant and I would always share a friendly conversation.  These conversations seemed genuine as well, not just a ploy to get me to buy more stuff.  The friendliness of the Hawaiian community here in Hilo is truly unparalleled.

During my adventures at the market, I happened to get completely lost and by a stroke of luck ran into a vendor selling native Hawaiian shark tooth weaponry.  They consisted of a Koa wood handle with a groove along the side, and inside the groove shark teeth were fitted to produce a sharp edge.  I overheard the vendor talking about his Hawaiian ancestry.  He said that he was half native Hawaiian, and half Portuguese.  However, he was very proud of his native Hawaiian ancestry, and very forward about it as well.  He took great pride in the traditional craftsmanship of the blades, made out of hand carved Koa wood, natural cord binding and other natural materials, all hand crafted.  I thought back to our hula lesson the other day and how we learned about the importance of hand craftsmanship in the Hawaiian culture.  Each item that a hula dancer uses must be handmade, so it is imbued with their own mana, or energy.  The same goes for the weapons.  According to the vendor, crafting the weapons out of the native materials by hand connects the object to the land and its power.  Each weapon had a specific use as well.  Some of the smaller, single-tooth blades were common household tools.  However, the vendor said that the larger, battle blades made out of a bunch of teeth used to be used only by the ali’i for ceremonial purposes and for leading into battle.  They were imbued with a greater energy than that of the household items, and even the vendor seemed to hold a greater reverence for the ali’i weapons than he did for the common blades while holding them.

Both of my experiences at the market made me think about who is considered Hawaiian and who isn’t.  It was clear that the man selling the traditional weapons was, and he was really proud of it too.  At the same time, a lot of the people in the farmers market did not at all appear to be native Hawaiian.  I am not one to judge, but the people that I bought my apple bananas from looked like they could have showed up from New England three days ago.  However, they seemed like they spoke at least some pidgin, since I heard a few “howzit’s” and other language like that come from their booth.  They may not be natives, but they are definitely locals.  The man I bought a bracelet from was not a native Hawaiian either.  I talked to him briefly, enough to learn that his son was studying economics at the University of Alaska, and that he was from the mainland and had lived here for many years.  Even though he lived here, he did not fit in well, and did not at all have ties to the land.

In the article What Kine Hawaiian Are You? I read a lot about how to determine how someone is native or not.  There has been a lot of focus on blood quantum in the present and the past.  Some things, like the 1921 Hawaiian Home Act, require 50% or more blood quantum to be considered a native.  The man selling the weapons would just barely, if at all, be considered native.  However, he was more proud and connected to his ancestry than many people I have talked to.  And even though the two fruit vendors most probably do not have any ancestry to claim, they blended right into the culture, and I was taken aback by their appearance after hearing them speak.  Then there was the bracelet vendor, who was just some haole who ended up selling bracelets in Hawaii for some reason.  After I finished reading the article, I had a pretty good idea about who would be considered Hawaiian.  After visiting the market and seeing the local culture first hand, I understand the confusion.  There are so many people of so many backgrounds, I couldn’t quite tell who was from where and what their Hawaiian connection is.  The more I think about “what kine Hawaiian are they?” the more ambiguous the answer seems.

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Hale ‘olelo Hale Dedication Ceremony

This afternoon we were delighted to experience the dedication of the Hale ‘olelo building as the College of Hawaiian Language as part of the University of Hawai’i Hilo.  This building is not just a building.  It is a large step towards saving the Hawaiian language and culture.  Ever since the “Illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1896” (as one speaker put it today) the Hawaiian culture has been slowly eroded.  This started with the banning of the Hawaiian language in schools and government in 1898.  As the younger generations grew up they had very little knowledge of the Hawaiian language which in turn cut the Hawaiian culture at the knees.  Without knowing Hawaiian it is very hard to truly appreciate hula, chants, and most aspects of the Hawaiian culture.  In 1982 there were only 35 students who used Hawaiian as their first language.  Since then new law changes and new schools have led to a slow come back of the Hawaiian language.  Even though it is on the rise in 2001 the Native speaker of Hawaiian amounted to under 0.1% of the state’s population.

Throughout our journey here in Hawai’i I have rarely seen Hawaiian written anywhere.  It is not written on menus, road signs, etc.  Anywhere I have seen Hawaiian it came after English and sometimes even after Japanese.  Today at the dedication we were handed a program which was written in Hawaiian and then had an English translation underneath.  I found this interesting but not surprising.  The part that I did find surprising was how much of the ceremony was in Hawaiian.  Everything in the formal greeting part of the ceremony was in Hawaiian and even a few of the speeches made later on.  This made it extremely hard for me to understand exactly what was going on but I could still hear and fell the passion in the people’s voices every time they sang or spoke.  After the formal greeting we went inside to listen to the “Congratulatory Remarks” during these speeches there were two comments or lines that really stood out to me.  Both of these were lines describing the purpose of the College of Hawaiian Language the first declared that the school was “bringing Hawaiian language back from the brink of extinction”.  To me this perfectly summed up everything we have seen or read about the Hawaiian language.  It also shows exactly how extreme the loss of the Hawaiian language has been.  The next quote was that the school was “built for language, built by language, and will build language”, this was a very powerful speech that caused the room to explode in applause.  This response was the exciting part for me as it showed exactly how proud Hawaiians really are.

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The Beauty and Power of Pele

Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, is one of the Hawaiians most important deities. Through her explosive power of lava and fire she has created and destroyed many things on the islands. From the moment we arrived in Hawai’i we have been told countless times of the power of Pele. Most notably the story called Ka Mo’olelo’o Hi’iakaikapoli’o Pele, in which she sent her sister, Hi’iaka, to retrieve Pele’s lover on one condition, Pele was not to touch Hi’iaka’s fields that she loved so much. The journey took much longer than expected so Pele, fearing that Hi’iaka had run away with Pele’s lover, burned the fields. When Hi’iaka saw that her sister broke her promise she slept with Pele’s lover. The two sister’s ended up reconciling and let the lover choose. This story showcases Pele’s power and fiery temper. Unfortunately we were unable to actually see genuine lava from the volcano’s crater.

On the island of O’ahu, we actually got to see lava be made and poured at the Bishop Museum. In order to make the lava, rocks had to be heated up to over two thousand degrees fahrenheit over a period of three hours. When the lava was pour and cooled it became a sort of glass-like substance and we were told that it would be as fragile as glass. During the demonstration at the museum, we also got to see and touch the other forms of rock and glass that lava creates when it is released. A few of the forms of rock and glass that we saw at the museum were ‘A’a or rough rock, Pahoehoe or smooth rock, Pele’s tears, Pele’s hair, and olivine. Whilst looking around the rock piles in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, I was able to find each of these types of rock and glass. I felt very lucky to have found both Pele’s tears and Pele’s hair for the reason that they are very had to find. Pele’s tears are very small, smooth stones that are formed when lava shoots in the sky and is cooled on the way down by the air. Pele’s hair actually looks like strands of hair but in reality are sharp stands of glass that are formed when lava is shot into the air and are spun and formed into fibers by the wind. I actually found the bits of Pele’s hair in the crevice of another rock and only knew what it was when it glinted in the light. We had to be careful not to bring any of the rocks with us however because legend says that if you take a volcanic rock from Pele then you anger her and she curses you with bad luck until you return it. When we got back in the van to leave the park we all checked our shoes just to make sure no rocks had gotten caught in our shoes or in the groves of our soles.

The Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was extremely beautiful. Our first stop was to the Volcano House to have lunch. I was in awe when we got there and I looked out the window of the house and saw Mount Kilauea’s crater, Halemaʻumaʻu. White smoke was pouring out of the heart of this beast with volcanic rock surrounding the area of the crater. After a fantastic lunch we headed up to the small museum and, more importantly, the high vantage point that allowed you to see the crater within the crater. Though it is impossible to see the lava from the point we were told that if we came late at night we would be able to see a red glow emanating from the crater. I took about 20 photos from just this vantage point because it was so amazing. You could honestly feel the raw power of Pele beneath your feet.

After a quick trip to the gift shop we clamored back into the vans and headed down to the edge of the island where the rocks meet the waves. It was a spectacular sight. The waves smashing up against the volcanic cliff and the wind blowing us all around. We stood and stared at the wonder of the ocean and Pele’s stones. We could look behind us a the winding road we took down the mountain and we could see the path the lava had taken to reach the ocean. It was at this time that we were told about how when Kilauea had last erupted people went out in the ocean in canoes and kayaks to watch the lava flow down. What a sight that must have been to see the lava flow down the mountains and see the steam rising from the ocean. It was a spectacular adventure and it was truly something that everyone should experience when they come to Hawai’i.

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Hula with Hollis

Moving from Los Angeles at the age of 29 to the big island, Hollis had no intentions of learning the ways of the Hawaiian culture or being involved in Hula. But once her friend took her to an authentic hula performance and she saw the mana (or power) that the performer took in from above and then into her dance, she felt as if she had no other choice. Hollis was amazed by her talent and could see that the power and feeling the performer had achieved was something she desired to achieve as well. She found a woman called Auntie Edith that was famous throughout the islands for her teaching and performing of hula, and was able to take her classes at the university for free and quickly became one of her best students. Although Hollis was born in the mainland, it is clear that her personal identification with the Hawaiian culture and history is a strong one, something that links her to this island, and something that relates to her personally. Today, we were able to see Hollis as a woman who has mastered the art of traditional Hawaiian hula and chant, and who calls Hawaii her home. This morning she shared with us some very important things that she has done and made and that have made her into a true woman of Hawaiian identity.

While I had seen a great number of the things Hollis had to show us at the bishop museum: the gourd drum, the clothing, pieces of bamboo to decorate clothing, the rope and other materials used for instrument and accessories, I had not realized that people today were still making them in the traditional and laborious ways of the people before them. When she spoke of gathering the snail shells in the dark of morning, searching for correct tree to make her gras skirt (for lack of the proper hawaiian term) and bracelets, the many materials required for her shaker, or the ways in which bird feathers were collected in order to keep the birds alive and growing more feathers, all of these things were held as dear treasures to her because of all the hard work that she herself put into them. And she spoke of how her clothing, and really all of the items that she made, would not completely match that of the other people she danced with, that they all were a little different. She spoke of how these differences, that came from everyone making their own materials, and from the mana that each person out into their own treasures, gave each person an individual identity. This idea of individual identity and how that produces also a national or Hawaiian identity relates back to our time with John Osorio and also to some of our readings.

Osorio spoke to us and has also written about the importance of “talking story” in the way he teaches at the University but also in the way that the Hawaiian people should speak with their families and friends. This of course is in order to better understand the history and culture of the Hawaiian people and islands through the ancient stories of Hawaiian mythology. Osorio advocates this teaching style because he believes that within these stories lies the language, ancestry, genealogy, and history of the people and land; and that the knowledge of these things can bring a sense of belonging and identity to an individual that embraces these teachings. It is clear that the same concept can be used in the learning and performance of hula and chant, as hula illustrates through movement the stories of ancient Hawaii that are contained in the chants. From what I have learned about Hollis today: a woman who left the mainland unsure of where she really belonged, and finding her sense of belonging and identity in the Hawaiian islands and people through hula and chant. I must agree with Osorio’s theory and Hollis’ experience, and believe that the people of Hawaii will be able to identify with their individual identity through both talking story and the art of talking story through hula and chant.

Hollis describes the role of Pele in hula to the class

Hollis describes the role of Pele in hula to the class

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Ka’iu Kimura at Imiloa

Imiloa, the astronomy center of Hawaii, was a remarkable place filled with Hawaiian history and the science of astronomy. As I walked into the center, I noticed a large circular mosaic on the floor of the entryway. Professor Pugh then began to tell us about the mosaic and how it’s a symbol that stands for the bringing of the science community and the native community together. This statement struck my interest and made me wonder what type of museum I was entering. As I pushed onward through the exhibit, I came to a theater room where our class watched a short video of the kumolipo, which is the coming of life. I am a science major; therefore, I am aware of how life came and evolved on planet Earth. I thought this presentation was interesting how it was told from a Hawaiians perspective. We then continued to the astronomy section, which was an interactive area. Then I ventured to the voyage section, which displayed how the Hawaiians worked as a community to carry out these voyages. I immediately tried to think of the connection between astronomy and voyages and I thought of how the Hawaiian natives would use the stars to navigate their way through the pacific waters.

As a class, we then gathered in a room to hear the words of Ka’iu Kimura. She talked about her work of revitalizing the Hawaiian language through preschools. The goal of this work is to return the native language to the mouths of the babies. The reason for this work; as she mentioned, is because language structures identity. As I have studied, the identity of Hawaiians was lost when the Hawaiian language was banned from schools. Many Hawaiian children were seeking opportunity and schools led them there and the language of instruction was in English. The overall goal of this movement is to bring the Hawaiian language back to all of society on the islands. Ka’iu Kimura mentions that she didn’t expect this movement to grow rapidly; however, the movement has grown and she has optimism that the Hawaiian language will be restored. I think this is a powerful and incredible profession that she partakes in because language is such an important part of who we are and her generation clearly lost this.

Ka’iu Kimura tells us that the center was originally going to be a Hawaiian language center; however, the plan changed. There has been controversy between the Local Hawaiians and the science community about astronomy on the volcano, Mauna Kea. This volcano is the best location to view the stars, with clear skies and warm weather, scientists couldn’t resist. There are now 11 observatories on Mauna Kea and the natives dislike their presence. The summit of Mauna Kea is the piko to the natives and this means the center, which resembles their lifeline to Hawaiian identity. This volcano is sacred to the Hawaiians and they do not want outsiders tampering with it.

The battle between the science community and the Hawaiians due to the request for expansion on the volcano has caused community engagement around the island and forced the University of Hawaii to engage with the community as well. Also, scientists are using native lands and aren’t giving back to the community. For instance, the University of Hawaii only gives back 20 cents a year to the Hawaiian community.

After hearing Ka’iu Kimura talk about this issue, I learned that the center was indeed developed to bring science and Hawaiian culture together. The center is a place where these two groups and outsiders can share the specialness on Mauna Kea. This is a place to inspire young people and where people can come together, interact and develop more questions, inquiry and education. This place is not a research institution but a place for community.

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UH Manoa Hawaiian Studies

At UH Manoa

Jonathan Osorio performs a mele for the group

Jonathan Osorio performs a mele for the group

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Day four: University of Hawaii at Manoa with Jamaica Osorio

Today we visited the University of Hawaii at Mānoa to hear Professor Osorio and his daughter, Jamaica, speak about their perception of Hawaiian identity and the continuous struggle of the Kanaka Maoli to recover their culture since colonization took place in the 19th century. I think we all can agree that the Osorios were exceptional speakers who passionately demonstrated their devotion to rejuvenating Hawaiian culture through mele and oral presentations, which certainly made an impact on the way I view the Hawaiian identity in the 21st century.

 

The presentation began with a prayer sung by Jamaica and her father. I for one felt the silence in the room as Professor Osorio and his daughter sang in Hawaiian.  Being able to witness practices of a culture so foreign to the rest of the United States was not only intriguing to me, but I believe the entire room gained a profound respect for them as they were proudly willing to share their culture with us. From the beginning of the presentation their commitment to the resurgence of Hawaiian identity was evident from their facial expressions in their songs to the way they expressed the need to protect their beloved Hawaiian roots.

 

Jamaica Osorio grew up speaking Hawaiian but eventually learned English in grade school. She went on to attend some of the most prestigious universities in the country such as Stanford and NYU. There she studied how race and ethnicity play a role in national identity during the 21st century. At the beginning of her presentation she drew a timeline on the board of important events in the history of Hawaii that have sadly contributed to the extinguishing of Hawaiian culture such as the arrival of missionaries and the establishment of a western provisional government. She continued by discussing the renown presentation of Hawaii as a “paradise” when in reality Hawaiians today are still battling to recover their ancestors’ traditions and way of life.

 

The reading for today expressed that while western imperialism diminished the Hawaiian culture, the Hawaiian people wrote about their trials through mele (song). From the end of the kingdom to present day, mele has been utilized as resistance to foreign occupation and an expression for cultural recovery, becoming a powerful way to convey their identity struggle. Today we saw Jamaica perform several mele that she composed based on a Hawaiian mo‘olelo (story) and actual events her life. One such mo‘olelo was Hi’iakaikapoliopele, a story of family, love and revenge among Hawaiian goddesses. Jamaica points out that this mo‘olelo expresses Hawaiians as “productive and kind”, contrary to the colonizers’ negative opinions that Hawaiians are impotent and lazy. Another poem was based on when she discovered a tsunami was possibly headed for Hawaii. She related physically being underwater to the hardships of “brown bodies”, or the Hawaiian people, because they are not educated, recognizing that Hawaii is becoming more occupied by wealthy haole (foreigners) while opportunities to advance in society are slim for the native people.

Before our class came to Hawaii, we saw a video of Jamaica performing for President Obama. Seeing her in person was truly an honor as she expressed how the Hawaiian identity is suppressed in the 21st century. Many Hawaiians today are forgetting their genealogy and culture. The reading explains that mele is a way for people to reconnect with their past and keep their memories alive. Jamaica stated that the purpose of her mele are to encourage Hawaiians to reconstruct their “lāhui to be strong” and to rise above oppression. Her presentation was not filled with hatred for westerners, but with peaceful activism towards the recuperation of the Hawaiian spirit.

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Lecture with Professor Osorio

While today’s scheduled activities only lasted a few hours, the content Professor Osorio provided in his lecture was both thought provoking and inspirational. To help communicate his message he resorted to singing songs that described moments in Hawaii’s past. What was so unique was the fact that he wrote the majority of the songs. I want to talk about several of the songs and their correlation to his message as a whole.

One of the first songs he sang was in Hawaiian. He translated some of the lyrics including one line which said, “let the thought continue.” These few words do a fantastic job of explaining the perseverance the Kanaka Maoli people have had and continue to have as they try to reclaim their identity. I really appreciated an example Professor Osario gave explaining the way many native Hawaiians lost track of their cultures identity. For it was not until the 5th grade that professor Osorio learned anything about Hawaii in one of his history classes, and the only thing he was taught that year had to do with pearl harbor. It was as if Hawaii and the people that lived their did not exist before the Americans got involved. This was slightly upsetting to me. I was born and raised in Virginia and I remember learning all about Virginias long history in the 4th grade. What I cannot recall is whether or not the curriculum included the life of the Native Americans that inhabited that land before the Jamestown settlement. It will be interesting for me to think further about this as Professor Osorio’s words on his primary education certainly have had an impact on my opinion as to what must be included in an elementary social studies course.

Professor Osorio also provided us with a good understanding on how Hawaii got to where it is today. He sang a song about the royal band and how many years ago the entire band made a sacrifice for the queen and chose to resign in order to show their continued loyalty to the monarchy. I found this story to be quite inspiring. It also made me question whether the majority of people in the U.S. would make similar sacrifices for todays government. Yet another inspirational song he sang had to with the loss of one of his dear friends. His friend went missing after trying to help rescue two others who had disappeared on a desolate island and it was fascinating to see how much Professor Osorio has been through over the years. Anyone who has experienced lose could easily identify with his powerful and emotional lyrics. I was grateful he chose to share this personal story and song.

The thing that stuck with me most after both hearing professor Osorio speak and reading some of his material, was how important the ancestors are to the Natives and how the land is connected to everything. In his text Gazing back: Communing with our Ancestors, he does an excellent job of illustrating how he sees his ancestors in everything around him, specifically the land. He also claims, “I see them in love, betrayal and grief.” I have never had as much of an appreciation for the land as I do now. To see how something as petty as a taro plant meant so much to him, showed me how truly ungrateful I have been for the abundance of things the land has and continues to provide. I had no idea that I would leave this lecture with a greater appreciation for both the Hawaiian struggle and the environment.

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