From Haunani Apoliona, Chairperson
Board of Trustees, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
We are now getting down to the wire on passage of the Akaka Bill. We need everyone’s collective energy to help get the bill passed.
In times of challenge and problem solving, our ancestors and `ohana practiced coming together and pooling our spiritual energies to focus on overcoming obstacles toward achieving a successful outcome. That traditional practice of “Kūkulu Kumuhana” is as powerful now as it was then. Please gather your `ohana and friends to participate in Kūkulu Kumuhana and direct your collective positive thoughts during the time this bill will be considered in the Senate. We ask that our collective Kūkulu Kumuhana be exercised June 5 through June 8 beginning at 8:00 a.m. Hawaii Time ( 2:00 p.m. EST ). This is the approximate time a cloture petition will need to be filed by Senator Frist, which sets into motion the very first step in a multi-set process that we expect to end with the final vote on the Bill. The filing of the cloture petition is the first specific and necessary step that must occur if the other steps to passage of the Bill are to follow.
Your support and positive thoughts are crucial for the livelihood and future of our Hawaiian people and all of Hawai`i nei. Mahalo nui loa.
No nā `ōiwi `ōlino
-Random thoughts, casual observations and other bits of fluff.-
by Roger Close
After last month’s saga of Waimea Valley on O`ahu, I want to tell you about another valley, Moloka`i’s Hālawa Valley. This beautiful, lush valley at the end of the road on Moloka`i’s northeast corner is fed by two waterfalls, Moa`ula and H ī puapua.
In the late 1960’s, archaeologists found the remains in Hālawa soil of possibly the oldest settlement in the Hawaiian Islands. By 650 A.D., the ancients had established a sustainable life with kalo (taro) and fish from the bay. The valley also holds two-thirds of Moloka`i’s luakini heiau (sacred temples).
As in all of Hawai`i, life in the valley began to change in the 1900’s. Sustainability in Hālawa Valley was changed drastically by a 1946 tsunami, a 1964 flood, the lure of modern conveniences pulling people away from the difficult work of taro farming, the aging of landowners, and the selling of kuleana (ancestral) lands to outsiders. As land in the valley was abandoned and/or sold, artifact hunters, squatters, marijuana growers, curious tourists, and uninformed islanders began to destroy this cultural, historical, and spiritual treasure.
Enter Lawrence Aki, who along with his older brother, Harry, was born and raised in the valley until the 1964 flood. Lawrence is leading other landowners of the Hālawa Valley Cooperative in the monumental task of reversing history and making the valley pono again. Lawrence is focused on preserving and restoring Hālawa Valley and its ancient traditions…ancestral lo`i are being cleared, the `auwai are running with clear water, kalo is being grown and harvested, and heiau are being restored. One man working against huge odds to ensure this valley not only does not suffer the same demise of other island sanctuaries, but also is restored and preserved.
It appears there is a standoff between Hui M ā lama I N ā Kūpuna o Hawai`i Nei and two other groups, Nā Lei Ali`i Kā wananakoa and the Royal Hawaiian Academy of Traditional Arts, after a four-month mediation between the two sides produced few results. The stalemate is over 83 priceless Hawaiian cultural objects. The objects were transferred by the Bishop Museum to Hui Mālama in late 2000. Rather than returning them to the museum, Hui M ā lama buried the objects in caves on the Big Island from where they were taken in 1905 by David Forbes and other Western explorers. Hui Mālama maintains the objects were funerary and were interred with Native Hawaiians in the cave.
The two groups on the other side contend, “The preponderance of evidence suggests that the items were not funerary. They were hidden away at the time of the abandonment of the traditional (Hawaiian) religion or shortly thereafter. They are cultural items of great importance.” The groups’ fear is these sacred objects (appraised at more than $10 million) are being destroyed and disintegrating in the caves as the battle goes on.
Hui Mālama claims they have yet to see documentation to back up the argument the cultural objects are not funerary.
The next step…the court will direct appointed engineers to determine whether the cave complex is structurally sound enough to enter to retrieve the objects. Hui Mālama maintains it is not safe.
Two sides, both with good intentions and with their respective versions of history, pursuing what they believe to be pono. I am afraid good intentions do not always yield good results. Who will the real losers be at the end of this struggle? Current and future generations of Hawaiians, again?
Until next time, mālama pono.
Click here for more Random thoughts, casual observations and other bits of fluff.
Roger Close is a semi-retired Oregon educator who currently lives in the San Juan Islands. He was born and raised in Kāne`ohe, O`ahu. At eighteen, Roger left the islands to attend Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon . Like so many, he ended up staying on the mainland, returning home for occasional visits.
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