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Pacific NW News

The Kahai`ali`i Family Reunion in Washington

By Rochelle delaCruz

 

The Kahai`ali`i brothers from Maui sang together for the first time in twenty years in Edmonds, WA.
From left to right: John Nakulaimaikalani, Wilmont Kamaunu, Wade Kalanikumupa`a, Waylen Kauilani and "Willie K" Awihilima. Four of the brothers came from Maui to provide music for Wade Kalani and Cyndi Aiona Cook's
Hālau Hula o Moani Mokihana.
Photo by Susie Cook

The Kahai`ali`i family of Maui gathered together recently in Washington state for a reunion and we were all invited. It was a special time, the kind that spontaneously takes place at a beach or backyard in the Islands. And even though it was a chilly night in Puget Sound, inside the Edmonds Center for the Arts it felt like back home in Hawai`i. It was billed as “The Kahai`ali`i Brothers Reunion Concert: a Benefit for Halau Hula O Moani Mokihana” but it was much more. “This is`ohana,” said spokesman Wilmont Kahai`ali`i to the packed crowd, “that word you all learned in Lilo and Stitch,” referring to the popular Disney movie that helped mainstream the Hawaiian word and concept.

Halau Hula O Moani Mokihana performs in Edmonds, Washington with the Kahai`ali`i Brothers.

The concert was a fundraiser for Halau Hula O Moani Mokihana, but it was also the reunion of the five brothers that generated excitement. They grew up on Maui in a family of thirteen children, singing with their father Manu. Their mother is Ivy Kamano who still lives on Maui. All of them graduated from Lahainaluna except for John Nakulaimaikalani, the eldest and a Kamehameha School graduate. Most of the Kahai`ali`i still live in the Islands but Wade Kalanikumupa`a, the youngest of the Kahai`ali`i brothers moved to Washington where he and Cyndi Aiona Cook now direct Halau Hula O Moani Mokihana.

When they heard about the fundraiser, the older brothers decided to make the trip from Maui to Edmonds to help Kalani. It allowed them to see “how our younger brother has grown. And we say Mahalo to Washington for this,” said Wilmont Kamaunu. It was also the first time in twenty years that the five brothers sang together in concert.

The event opened with a protocol ceremony beginning with greetings exchanged between the Kahai`ali`i and representatives from the Duwamish and Snohomish tribes of the Northwest. Kamaunu explained, “We were taught by our kupuna that upon arriving at another person’s home, one should never arrive without some kind of offering for our host, and it is always proper to announce our arrival and ask permission to enter.  If permission is granted we are to offer our hookupu in the spirit of Aloha.  We are to be gracious and thankful that we have been granted permission to enter the home of our receiving host.  For this reason, we felt it was very important that we kahea the native people of the area, so that we could honor them and our kupuna in maintaining and exercising our cultural protocols…We were truly blessed to have the Duwamish and Snohomish nations present to receive our hookupu.  We are so thankful for the blessing of being able to enter their home and present our ohana, our culture and our aloha as a token of our appreciation.  The leaders of the Duwamish and Snohomish nation were given hookupu consisting of a kihei, leis and fruits from the island of Maui.  The kihei, lei and fruits were chosen for their symbolic significance.  The kihei was chosen for the breadfruit design.  In our ohana the "Ulu" or "Breadfruit" is symbolic of the tree of life.  Tying the kihei in a knot, on the left or right shoulder, suggests that our nations are bound by a common belief, a common bond, a common cause that our kuleana is to unite our experiences, gifts, knowledge and talents to nurture and strengthen one another.  The ti leaf leis, woven by the hands of our kupuna, suggests that our lives our woven together by the experiences, wisdom and love of our ancestors.  The offering of fruits is symbolic of our kuleana to nourish one another through the sharing of ideas, experiences, learning and practices that will continue to give growth and strength to our cultural heritage.  Perhaps those who witnessed this sacred event might feel inclined to incorporate such a protocol into their lives.  Before they enter someone’s home, church, office or emotional space, they will ask permission to enter. Once permission has been granted, they can enter and present an offering.  The offering can be anything from a lei, a hug, a concept, an idea, a solution, an apology, a Thank You and an I Love You.  We can learn so much from one another if we would share with each other the correct principles which have been handed down to us through our kupuna.  If we incorporate these pearls of wisdom into our lives we will all benefit and grow together.  And the world into which we have been born, will be a much more beautiful and better place when we leave.” 

The Duwamish and Snohomish welcomed them warmly and the protocol was the only formal moment in the entire evening which began at 6:30 and ended at 10pm. After the exchange of greetings, the brothers took to the stage and from that point, the music and dancing was non-stop.

There were moments when the brothers talked among themselves to decide what they were playing next, checked equipment and looked backstage to see if the dancers were ready to come on stage, all more kanikapila than concert which heightened anticipation. In fact, they often mentioned their lack of rehearsal, which was what gave the evening the feel of back home in the Islands. But their knowledge of and comfort with the music showed in the harmony of their voices and expertise with instruments. They sang a wide range of favorites such as Hi`ilawe, Green Rose Hula, Holoholo Ka`a, the Brudda Iz version of Over the Rainbow (danced by Willie’s daughter Lycettiana who was called to “come up and dance for your uncles.”) One of the Kahai`ali`i sisters, Donora Uilani also made the trip to Washington from Maui and joined the brothers onstage to dance Papalina Lahilahi.

Keiki of Halau Hula O Moani Mokihana

Halau Hula O Moani Mokihana was founded in 2002 as a way for Cyndi Aiona Cook to honor her late father John Elina Aiona Jr., first General of Hawaiian ancestry and commander-in-chief for the Hawai`i Air and National Guard. In 2004 when Kalani joined the hālau, he and Cyndi decided to take it in a different direction. “We have no desire to compete and we perform very little in public. We choose to look at hula as a way to live life. Hula is a vehicle for us to share our mana`o and to perpetuate our family stories and traditions.” Once a month, they fly Tuti Kanahele up from Hawai`i to learn `olelo (language, story.) “Kalani and I believe that in order to understand all things Hawaiian, including hula, it begins with the `olelo,” says Cyndi.

The Kahai`ali`i brothers are John Nakulaimaikalani, “Willie K” Awihilima, Wilmont Kamaunu, Waylen Kauilani and Wade Kalanikumupa`a. Everyone from the islands knows Willie K, gifted kīhō`alu artist, winner of numerous Nā Hōku Hanohano awards, producer of albums and now part of Barefoot Natives with Eric Gilliom. But that night, he was one of the Kahai`ali`i brothers, all talented musicians who came together in Edmonds, Washington, showing what `ohana really means.

 

New Hawaiian Civic Club in Washington

By Leilani `I-Lovell

Moku`aina a Wakinekona Hawaiian Civic Club was established July 8, 2006 and chartered by the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs in Honolulu, Hawai`i on October 25, 2006 as a non-profit corporation with Washington state.

Civic clubs take an active interest in the civic, economic, health and social welfare of our community, support programs of benefit to the people of Hawaiian ancestry; provide a forum for all full discussion of all matters of public interest; honor, fulfill, protect, preserve and cherish all sources, customs, rights and records of the Native Hawaiian ancient traditions, na`oli a me na mele, cemetery areas and the historic sites of Native Hawaiians.

Moku`aina a Wakinekona Hawaiian Civic Club joins the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, the oldest community-based grassroots Hawaiian organization in Hawai`i. In 1918, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana`ole, the then non-voting delegate to the United States Congress, established the Hawaiian Civic Clubs movement. Today the organization has increased its visibility in the Native Hawaiian community not only throughout the State of Hawai`i but also in Washington, Alaska, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Utah and Virginia, with others on the mainland soon to join.

Boasting 74 members, the Washington club has na lala (regular members), na lala pa`a mau (life member, honorary lifetime members), nalala hanohano (honorary members) and na lala pua (keiki members 1-17 years old). The club has sponsored two lei making projects, one just in time for Mother’s Day, and assisted with the presentation to the South Sound area of the Baibala Hemolele Project, which is putting the Hawaiian Bible online at the Baibala.org website.

The project was created to save and make available the historic and contemporary texts of the Hawaiian Bible for Hawaiian language students and people of faith. Help in its launching came from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, U. S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Administration for Native Americans and U. S. Department of Education under the Hawaiian Education Act as well as several other private foundations.

Recently, four members of Moku`aina a Wakinekona Hawaiian Civic Club attended the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs Convention held in Anchorage, Alaska. Wearing their new club shirts with the logo created by Kimo Kaili as a class project while enrolled at Pierce College taking Digital Graphics, they participated in sessions providing valuable information to resolutions currently being submitted to the Hawai`i legislators.

Looking forward to an exciting 2008 year are the Papa Alaka`i (Board members) Ben Baker, Pelekikena (President), Emma Sarono, Hope Pelekikena (Vice President), Angelina Sarono, Kakau `Olelo (Recording Secretary), Debra Joaquin, Hope Kakau `Olelo (Corresponding Secretary), Leilani `I-Lovell, Pu`uku (Treasurer), Edna Maile Baker, Lulu Awaa and DJ Mark are Na Kilo i`a (Members at Large). Contact (360) 459-0872 for more information on the club and membership.

Leilani `I-Lovell is the Pu`uku of Moku`aina a Wakinekona Hawaiian Civic Club.

New Hawaiian Civic Club from Washington at the 48th annual convention in Alaska: (l-r) Emma Sarono,
Edna Maile Baker, Leilani `I-Lovell and Benjamin Kaeha Baker.

 

Where in the NFL did that Hawaii guy go?

By Steve Kajihiro  

When I was a small kid growing up in Hawaii, my dad used to take me to Aloha Stadium to watch the University of Hawaii Football Team. Back then, UH was called the Rainbow Warriors but now they are just called the Warriors. I will never forget those days going to games with my dad and two brothers; it was fun. As a kid, I looked up to our Hawaii stars like the Noga brothers, Nuu Faaola, and Jesse Sapolu. After they left UH, I used to read the newspapers and watch the news, wondering which NFL team they ended up on and how they were doing.

Some of you islanders might remember watching the special on KHON-TV called the NFL Hawaiians. I remember that show, which updated all of us on the whereabouts of the ex-Hawaii stars who were current NFL athletes. We looked up to those guys because they were from Hawaii.

Now, there’s a section in one of the Hawaii papers called the NFL Islanders, which updates us weekly on the progress of Hawaii’s athletes. I really wish that section was there for me when I was a kid because it would have saved a lot of nights watching the news or searching the newspapers. But heck, since I didn’t like reading books, this got me to at least read something.

Today in the middle of the UH coach June Jones' era, we could be here for a long time naming ex-UH players in the NFL.  So for now, I will showcase several former UH stars now with the San Francisco 49ers who recently traveled to Seattle to play the Seattle Seahawks for Monday Night Football. 

Ashley Lelie
Jeff Ulbrich
Isaac Sopoaga

First of them is the 49ers wide receiver Ashley Lelie. Ashley is a 1998 graduate of Radford High School in Honolulu, Hawaii and became the first UH player to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. Lelie finished his UH playing career as the all time leader in receptions (194), receiving yards (3,341), and touchdown receptions (32).

There is Middle Linbacker Jeff Ulbrich from Morgan Hill, California. Ulbrich was drafted in the 3rd round in 2000 by the San Francisco 49ers. Ulbrich was a two year starter for the University of Hawaii and an All-WAC first team selection as a senior.

Next is defensive tackle, Isaac Sopoaga from Pago Pago, American Samoa. Sopoaga was at UH and a first team All Wac Selection in 2003. Sopoaga was drafted in the 4th round in 2004 by the San Francisco 49ers.

And we cannot forget retired 49er, Jesse Sapolu. Sapolu is a graduate of Farrington High School and the University of Hawaii. Sapolu was an offensive lineman for Hawaii from 1979 to 1982. While playing for Hawaii, he earned several All WAC honors. Sapolu was drafted in the 11 th round of the 1983 draft by the 49ers and is only one of six 49ers to own four Super Bowl Championship rings. Sapolu was selected to the NFL Pro Bowl twice in his career, is now retired and one of the 49ers alumni coordinators.

That’s it for now, but if you ever wondered what team your favorite Hawaii athlete ended up on or if you have any sports ideas, let us know and we will try to feature them. Send comments or ideas to Steve Kajihiro at www.northwesthawaiitimes.com

Steve Kajihiro is a 1989 graduate of Aiea High School and an alumni of UH. Steve not only contributes to the Northwest Hawai`i Times but also owns JAMK Photography in Everett, Washington.

 

Go for Broke Aloha Gala Dinner

by Karen Yoneda

Have you seen the 1951 movie,” Go For Broke.” starring Van Johnson? It is a tribute to the United States 442nd Regimental Combat Team, formed in 1943 of Japanese American volunteers. They rescued a U. S. Battalion, surrounded by Germans in France. A famous Hawaii member of this unit was Senator Daniel Inouye, who lost an arm in World War II.

“Democracy and freedom, that’s what we’re fighting for” was epitomized in the 442nd theme song in the movie and by the remaining dozen members of the group reunion at a recent gala banquet in Anaheim.

Currently there are several projects undertaken to honor the Nisei Veterans: Hawaii Nisei Veterans (see NWHT Nov’07.) in Honolulu, and Go For Broke National EducationCenter located in the cities of Torrance and Los Angeles, California.

Go For Broke National Education Center erected a monument in 1986 in Los Angeles “Little Tokyo” to educate the public, especially the children. To carry out this mission, the Hanashi Oral History Program or Hanashi 360, began interviewing veterans and now have 400 interviews which may be viewed on the www.goforbroke.org website. These oral histories have been expanded to include Hawaii, Pacific Northwest, Utah, Colorado, California and beyond. Stories shared and preserved for current and future generations depict true American patriotism, honor and courage, and provide inspiration for the future generations.

Both projects strive to perpetuate, honor and unite the Japanese Americans who served during World War II in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Battalion, Military Intelligence Service and other units.

The Go For Broke National Education Center recently held the “6th Annual Evening of Aloha Gala Dinner” in Anaheim, California. This special event honored all the above mentioned groups, as well as Nisei Veterans from Maui, Oahu, Chicago, Seattle, Colorado and Oregon. 1200 guests were treated to an evening of food from internationally renowned chefs, Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong. The keynote speaker was Lt. General Joseph Peterson, a native of Honolulu, who emphasized we must fight for freedom. Kumu Hula Keali`i O Nalani from California brought his halau to perform at this event. Completing this all-star ohana team for the evening was Hawai`i `ukulele artist Jake Shimabukuro, who strummed the National Anthem to a packed audience. The 28- year-old virtuoso played a wide repertoire, from “Sakura Sakura (Cherry Blossom) to songs by the Beatles, Franz Schulz, Ave Maria and John Phillip Souza’s Stars and Stripes, dedicated to all veterans, and received a standing ovation.

Indeed, it was a memorable evening of Aloha for all attendees.

Karen Yoneda is from Honolulu and a graduate of Roosevelt HS. Her husband John graduated from Farrington HS and his late uncle Mac Yazawa was a member of the 442nd. The Yonedas now live in Redmond, Washington.

 

Other Happenings Around Puget Sound...

Teine Ma Tama Samoan Dance Group perform at the Asian Pacific Cultural Center (APCC) lū`au in Tacoma, Washington. Photo from Phil Chang

Herb Ohta, Jr. (left) and Nathan Aweau (right) smile for the camera with Hokunani Nellenbach of Halau Hula `O Lono who performed with the `ukulele and kīhō`alu artists at their recent concert in Seattle. Photo by Momi.

 

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