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August 2005

From the Editor...


Rochelle delaCruz

Aloha kākou from Kahului, where I’m among at least a dozen of us from Pacific Northwest hālau attending the hula conference. What excitement, where the days begin with hula practice at 7:15am (but with Keali`i, so who minds?) followed by field trips and workshops on every topic imaginable related to hula. Over the past decades, I’ve attended many conferences as a college teacher, and will say without hesitation that this is the best one because the manner of presentation follows the cultural practice. For example, I attended a workshop on Hawaiian newspapers and journals and the presenter, a Native Hawaiian PhD candidate in English, began her very informative session with a chant and ended it with a song. I went on an excursion to Hale Ki`i and Pihana heiau where the presenter introduced herself by chanting her genealogy, pointing out the places right around us where she grew up. But if you just came to dance, there are also workshops where you can spend the entire time dancing, perfecting your pahu or pu`ili. And every day ends with hula performances by various hālau. Add the hot Maui sun to this and of course, we are all happily wiped out by the end of the day. I’m learning many things, but one of the key points is that information about old Hawaiian culture is available. They’re in the chants and require a proficient knowledge of the Hawaiian language, which is deeply metaphorical and quite complicated. But it’s there. Congratulations to the planners, staff and volunteers who are providing us with a better understanding of Hawaiian culture through hula. I feel lucky to be attending.

Maui is also the birthplace of John Kalama, for whom the town of Kalama, Washington is named. James Ho’s story about the many Hawaiians, John Kalama among them, who made their way to the Northwest Territories in the 1800s, is a reminder that the migration from Hawai`i of which we are a part, began nearly 200 years ago.

August 21st is Admission Day, commemorating Hawai`i ’s entrance into the Union as the 50 th state. I was at Hilo Intermediate School in 1959 when statehood arrived. We were told that at the moment of the signing of the proclamation, we’d hear the wailing of the tsunami wave warning sirens and have the rest of the day off. When the loud blaring began, my friends and I all left the building in an orderly fashion and went bowling. Roy Alameida’s story captures the ambivalence that many feel regarding this historical occasion, and dovetails with the continuing saga of the Akaka Bill in Washington D.C.

This August 2005 also marks the end of World War II, another important event in Hawaiian history with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. World War II brought many soldiers to the Islands, who then returned to “the Mainland” to spread the word of those paradise islands in the middle of the Pacific. Walter Steiger’s account of his time on Kaua`i is a heartwarming memory of a dark time.

From Maui , a hui hou. ~RdC

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