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March 2006

Pacific Northwest News

The Vision of Nainoa Thompson

by Rochelle delaCruz

Nainoa Thompson spent a weekend recently in the Pacific Northwest and I had the privilege of following him and his wife Kathy Muneno around Puget Sound. We were supposed to have an Nainoa Thompson and Kathy Muneno at the Toi Maori reception for Maori artists hosted by the Northwest Association of Pacific Americans.  Photo by NWHIT.interview after one of his presentations, but even though his talk ran nearly an hour over its scheduled time, we were sorry to see it end. Then after the presentation, most in the audience formed a line to greet him and I could see from the warm conversations that were taking place, (as well as his next event looming a few hours later) that our interview was not going to happen. But it seemed more important that he talk with those from the audience who didn’t want to leave and I understood how everyone was drawn to this very approachable icon. It was as if they all wanted to touch him, the same way he describes how the people of Tahiti came to touch the Hōkūle`a when it landed on their beach for the first time. It has to do with being in direct contact with something and someone who takes us to a place of pride. But I learned much about him just from listening to the story of the collective voyage back to traditional wayfaring, as well as his own personal journey. I also knew I would be hearing more that evening at the reception for the Maori whose exhibit had just opened at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington, and again the next day at the Kamehameha Schools Alumni gathering in remembrance of Princess Pauahi. In addition to being a navigator, Nainoa is also a trustee for the Kamehameha Schools, two roles which converge into one. Integrated into all of his stories is the message that our most important mission is the education and welfare of children. “We need to pull honor and dignity from the ancestors and give it back to the young children,” he said.

When Nainoa speaks of the challenges in recovering the art of Polynesian voyaging, it is as if he is telling it for the first time. But from his gratitude to the members of the UW-Tacoma Asian and Pacific Islander Association (APISU) who had to root around for an antique projector, to his old slides that he affectionately pokes fun at - acknowledging that others would be on PowerPoint but not him - you know he’s told this story many, many times. And yet because of his immersion in the mission, the emotional telling of the story may be a repeat, but it is sincere and unrehearsed.

Throughout all his talks, the recurrent theme is relationships and how the canoes are the bridge to building relationships: among the Hawaiians who are working to revive their culture; for the reestablishment of links with other Polynesians so that they can see they belong to the same family; with other indigenous groups such as the Haida and Tlingits of Alaska who gifted them with trees to build their canoe. Everywhere he went that weekend around Puget Sound , establishing and renewing relationships was what he was also doing on a personal level. He spent time with each person who came up to thank him at the Tacoma presentation, personally greeted each Maori artist whose work is featured in the exhibit at the Burke Museum, engaged and drew out the Kamehameha alumni at their meeting.

Nainoa speaks often and eloquently of how we need a vision in order to know where we’re going. “You must be able to see that island in your mind,” he says, “in order to find it,” and warns that those without a clear vision will be left dealing with someone else’s vision. When he and I finally found a few minutes to talk, I asked him what he thought the vision for Native Hawaiians was. He answered slowly and carefully, skillfully navigating the reefs and shoals of my question. His answer finally, was that Native Hawaiians have to collectively come to a vision and that he himself, could not nor should not speak for everyone. I also asked him about the Hui Mālama ho`oponopono mediation for which he was chosen to be kūpuna (see Northwest Hawai`i Times February 2006) and while he could tell me that the process had already begun, he would say no more, as they had agreed among themselves that everyone involved would not speak outside of the group about what was happening.

It is clear why Nainoa is chosen. What I heard him say is that Native Hawaiians with all of their differences, have to clarify their collective vision and come to some agreement about where they are going, and they need to find their way without being distracted by outside interference. This is of course, easier to say than to do, but maybe with navigators among them who know how to read the stars, everything is possible.


Nā Hōkū Controversy in the Pacific Northwest

By Gregg Porter

With the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards on the horizon (winners to be announced May 31), there has been a bit of controversy stirred up this year, regarding eligibility requirements. At the center of the storm is a Hawaiian musician now residing in the Pacific Northwest, Manny Kaialelepa Fernandez, of Aloha, Oregon.

The issue concerns the “definitions of eligibility” as set out by the organization presenting the awards, HARA: the Hawai`i Academy of Recording Arts (of which this author is a voting member.) HARA’s regulations state that, to be eligible for the General Categories (Album, Group, Male/Female Vocalist, Song, Compilation, Anthology, Most Promising Artist), the Technical Categories (Graphics, Liner Notes, Engineering), or the Adjudicated Categories (Hawaiian Language, Haku Mele), the nominee must be a Hawai`i state resident. Non-resident artists may be eligible in a Genre Category (Hawaiian, Contemporary Hawaiian, Contemporary, Instrumental, Jazz, Rock, Reggae, Religious, Christmas, Comedy) if the album was recorded in Hawai`i or is widely distributed in the state by a Hawai`i distributor.

HARA President Alan Yamamoto explains that the Awards are designed to honor recordings created by the recording industry of the Islands, not necessarily to celebrate “Hawaiian” music (Hawaiian-language lyrics or typical Hawaiian sounds, like slack key guitar, Hapa-Haole tunes, or `ukulele music.) He notes that some of the confusion regarding the Awards stems from the fact that, while non-Hawaiian releases outnumber the Hawaiian ones, sales figures are higher for traditional and contemporary Hawaiian material.

Though Fernandez, 75, is of Hawaiian blood and grew up as a performer, entertainer, singer and multi-instrumentalist in the Islands, he chose to retire to the Mainland, where he and his wife also run a Hawaiian gift store. When he submitted his most recent CD, “My Island Paradise,” to HARA for consideration as a potential nominee in several categories, he was informed that he would have to prove Island resident status in order to qualify for certain categories, such as “Album of the Year.”

Fernandez argues that HARA is biased against Mainland-based Hawaiians, in ways that other Hawaiian organizations (such as Kau Inoa, OHA, and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands) are not, as those groups do not require proof of residency (though they do require proof of indigenous Hawaiian bloodlines.) He also feels that the bias is discriminatory against his engineer, Bruce Robertson, graphic designer Barry Neufeld, and line annotator, wife Bettyjean Fernandez. He has circulated copies of his discussions with and responses from HARA’s Office Manager, Bonnie Ryder, via e-mail, where they have received wide circulation, along with responses from other members of the Hawaiian community, both in and away from the Islands.

One of the most impassioned pleas on his behalf came from legendary singer Melveen Leed, who has suggested that HARA create another category for musicians who reside away from the Islands. Other letters now circulating via the internet have come not only from Hawai`i and the Pacific Northwest, but from Hawaiians residing on the East Coast of the Mainland. Some people suggest that the state residency requirement be dropped altogether.

This has also become a topic of conversation on many internet bulletin-boards, amongst groups of people who discuss Hawaiian culture and music. One regular contributor to several of these boards is Maria Hickling, owner/operator of the popular Hawaiian music and CD-sales website, Mele.com, based on Kaua`i. “Auntie Maria” is a member of the Awards Selection Committee of HARA, and has been working to address concerns, answer questions, and correct misconceptions about the eligibility requirements. One common mistake is the assumption that HARA just recently added these guidelines, when in fact she says the policy has been in place since the inception of HARA. In one on-line posting, she states “the only thing ‘new’ this year is that those who are suspected of being non-Island residents must present proof of residency. In the past, the word of the musician could be accepted as true – but too many instances of blatant lying in the past few years, required the implementation of a more rigorous procedure.”

HARA President Yamamoto offered an official response to the community, most of which outlines the history of the Academy and the Awards, to provide some background on why the residency requirements are in place and the evolving challenges facing the award committees. Addressing the stronger enforcement of the residency requirements this year, Yamamoto believes it reflects the desires of the current Awards Selection Committee, with representatives of nearly all Hawai`i CD distributors, that “has elected to be more stringent in screening.” In his written statement, he reminds people that “the purpose of the awards are to honor Hawaii's recording industry and not specifically Hawaiian music,” while at the same time acknowledging that “Hawaiian music is the primary driver of the local recording industry,” He sums up the residency requirement issue by stating that it “might best be addressed at the time of submission of the nomination form since it is clearly stated on the form.” HARA’s Board of Governors has informed Fernandez that his album does meet the requirements to be eligible for consideration in the Contemporary Hawaiian Album of the Year category.

Whether this controversy will lead to any changes in categories or requirements for the Hōkū Awards is still uncertain, but it has caused a number of voices to call for improved communication between HARA’s Board and its members, many of whom feel distanced from the organization’s operations and decisions. If HARA addresses these issues, it may lead to some changes in the Awards. If HARA ignores member concerns, that too could have a noticeable effect on the Academy’s future.


Hawaiian Quilter in the Northwest

Compiled from Press Releases

Photo by Barb St. Hilaire

Award-winning quilter Patricia Lei Anderson Murray (Miss Hawaii 1962 and a finalist in the Miss America Pageant) will be presenting a Hawaiian Quilt exhibit at the La Conner Quilt Museum March 15 to May 14, 2006, in a show entitled “Hawaiian Quilt Inspirations,” a collection that combines both traditional and contemporary Hawaiian quilts.

Over the last three years, Patricia Lei has exhibited at the Mission House Museum and the Linekona Art Gallery at the Art Academy of Honolulu, the San Jose Museum of Textile and Arts, the Kokusai Art Exhibit in Japan and the Pan Pacific Quilt Expo in Honolulu and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Patricia Lei will be in La Conner for the opening of her show on March 15th at a reception from 11 to 1pm where she will be signing her book Hawaiian Quilt Inspirations: a Journal of Life. She will tell of the “life saving force” that quilting has had in her life and share excerpts from her book.

Also exhibiting at the La Conner Quilt Museum is Sarah Kaufman, formerly of Pūpūkea, O`ahu and presently residing in Bend, Oregon. Sarah will be exhibiting her award winning signature quilts entitled “Log Jam.” Both Patricia Lei and Sarah served on the Board of Directors of the Hawaii Quilt Guild where Patricia Lei is now the President.

The La Conner Quilt Museum is at 703 S. 2nd Street, LaConner, Washington. Hours are: Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 4pm . Sunday, noon – 4pm . For more information, call 360 466 4288 or email www.laconnerquilts.com.


Tom Coffman Speaks to Students

By Stephen Christopher Klise

Tom Coffman, writer of Nation Within and director of the PBS documentary, visited Bellevue Community College in Washington on Feb. 24th to host a seminar entitled “Hawai`i and its History.” Coffman discussed the history of Hawai`i from first contact with Europeans, the Kamehamehas’ rule, annexation, the issue of Japanese-American loyalty during World War II, and additionally gave a preview of his new film The First Battle.

Tom Coffman at Bellevue CC with (L-R) Kazue Nakashima (President of BCC's Hawaiian Club Hui Napua o` Polynesia), Alan Yabui (BCC Speech Department instructor and HNoP club advisor) and Kimiko Lahaela (VP of HNoP). Photo by Stephen Klise.

According to his Web site, Coffman is an independent researcher, writer and producer who has released documentaries and books concerning such topics as the early development of Hawai`i, the outcry against America’s annexation of Hawai`i, the Japanese community in Hawai`i during World War II and the development of Korean America.

Coffman was invited to speak at BCC by Alan Yabui, a Speech Department instructor and advisor for the Hui Napua o’ Polynesia, BCC’s Hawaiian club.

“Originally he came here to speak at the University of Washington for the ethnic department up there,” said Kimiko Lahaela, vice president of Hui Napua o’ Polynesia . “Our club advisor and professor Alan Yabui invited him to come speak at the BCC campus, which he accepted.”

Coffman said in the seminar that to those who live there, Hawai`i is the greatest place on earth. However, those who believe so must balance that image of paradise with the reality of how Hawai`i evolved, as both a state and a society.

Coffman began with British Captain James Cook’s discovery of the Hawaiian Islands in the 1700s and led into the effects of colonization and the eventual annexation by the United States. Coffman then discussed the effects of the United States’ occupation and the blooming sugar cane market, as well as the developing frequency of immigration from Asian countries, most notably Japan, and the large Japanese population up to the 1940s.

To continue the topic of the Japanese-American condition preceding the American involvement in World War II, Coffman showcased the opening of his new production, The First Battle.

The film opened with the growing concern in Hawai`i about the increasingly large number of Japanese immigrants of the time and how this became the United States’ major security concern in the Pacific.

Following the preview, Coffman brought the seminar to a close with the subject of increased awareness of patriotism by Japanese-Americans, the Japanese-American fighting units and the other topics to be discussed in the completed version of the film. The idea for The First Battle, Coffman said, had been germinating for a long time – about 35 years

When Coffman opened the floor for questions after his presentation, one member of the audience asked why the American government went along with relocating Japanese-Americans, despite increasing evidence of sympathy toward America? Coffman said that much of it grew from anti-Asian prejudice, particularly in California, and how that prejudice would allow such an act to happen. “People do what they want to do in the atmosphere that they can do it,” Coffman said.

Coffman concluded the seminar by stating his desire to protest the negative characterizations of Asian Americans today, and hopes that the indigenous peoples of Hawai`i will once again regain their sovereignty. He said that, after walking the perimeter of O`ahu and Moloka`i, and visiting each island from oldest to youngest, he came to see that “you can’t believe they were meant to be…an extension of the United States.”

The First Battle is scheduled for a nation-wide release on Dec. 7th through PBS when it will be previewed in both Hawai`i and Seattle in September. Please visit www.tomcoffman.com for more information about Tom Coffman and his work.

Stephen Klise is the managing editor for Bellevue Community College's weekly student newspaper The Jibsheet, and currently working on a transfer degree to Western Washington University where he plans to major in graphic design and minor in Japanese.



Punahou Graduate Hopes to Beat His Own
World Bench-Press Record

Tolan Shigeo Furusho, Punahou class of ’88, set the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters (WABDL) bench-press record in the 181 lb. weight class when he lifted 532.3 pounds in August 27, 2005 in a meet at Alki Beach in Seattle. On March 25, 2006, Honolulu-born and raised Furusho hopes to break his own record in a WABDL meet to be held at the Red Lion Inn in Pasco, Washington.

Tolan Furusho was a wrestler at Punahou but before that, began the study of Shotokan Karate when he was a youngster in Honolulu . He reached the level of yon dan or black belt when he was a student at Loyola-Marymount University in Los Angeles. After he graduated from LMU in 1992, he came to the Pacific Northwest to attend Seattle University School of Law and received his Juris Doctorate in 1995. He opened his law office in Bellevue, Washington and focuses on Securities law both in litigation and transactional work. In 1997, Furusho was retained to appeal a decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Taking on the SEC and five of their top attorneys, Furusho argued his client’s case in 1999 and the Court of Appeals ruled in his favor, reversing the findings of the SEC. At the time, he was the youngest lawyer to win a case at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Around the same time, Furusho was spotted at a gym by Mike Magruder, a veteran power lifter andTolan with his game face, ready to break his own world record. Franklin High School fitness instructor. He recognized Furusho’s potential by his size and relatively short arms, and Furusho has been training and winning ever since. In 1999, he won the Washington State title for bench-press and deadlift in the 165 lb weight class. In 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005, Tolan set Washington State bench-press records 181 lb. weight class before setting the World Record in August 2005.

Furusho says that even though he wasn’t introduced to the sport until he came to Washington, Hawai`i has a great tradition of power lifters and a large contingent from the Islands comes to all the meets. “Everyone says it’s the poi that makes us strong,” explains Tolan.

Tolan Furusho’s family still lives in Honolulu. His parents are Francis and Ruth Furusho, and older sisters are Cheryl and Jann.


Men (and Women) Who Ride Mountains

By Sonny Bristol

“Top to bottom, side to side, looking for the ultimate ride.”

Photo by Sonny BristolLyrics sung by the legendary Bruddah Iz, conjure memories of da hana bata days when countless hours were spent in the water enjoying the soul of the ocean. The connection to the water for those of us lucky enough to have grown up on the islands was the best way to free the soul for a few hours. So what do you do when you are no longer near an ocean that is warm enough to make that connection? For many of us transplants the answer lies in another form of water. Snow!

Snowboarding allows the rider to free their soul and to feel the heartbeat of the mountain. Older riders feel the youth of their soul as they express themselves in every turn while the younger riders enjoy the speed and the jumps. Surprisingly there are many island residents who plan vacations to the snowy hills and to their friends and families who now reside on the really big island (da mainland).

Opening day for many of the local ski areas was during late November and early December, the earliest it has been in 20 years. Great news for all of us snow surfers. The month of January was a record Photo by Sonny Bristolbreaking month for many of the ski areas in terms of total snow accumulation. Whistler/Blackcomb boasted a mere 15 feet of new snow, the largest amount of accumulation in a single month in over 25 years. Needless to say, the turns were fast and the snow was like buttah! Lots of face shots for every one.

Local ski areas; Stevens Pass, Mt. Baker and even Snoqualmie Pass currently have base accumulations over 100 inches. The conditions for catching that perfect wave are excellent. Bruddah Jeff and Gene from Honolulu got wind of the conditions and planned a weekend visit to get some boarding time in and to visit family. Folks drove from as far as Oregon to get some time in with Jeff and Gene. 8 bruddahs up on da hill and a good time was had by all. It was not hard to pick us out of the crowd as we were the ones riding the mountain like it was a wave and more than likely the ones making the most noise.

Photo by Sonny BristolWhile on a recent trip to Mount Baker, my cousin and I met a couple from Pearl City (B.J. and Jill) who were on vacation visiting friends (George, Braden and Ling) and getting some time up on da hill. They had been in the Seattle area for nearly a week and had gone boarding 4 days in a row and at 2 different mountains. When asked if the trip was an annual event for them, they told us that they just got back from the East Coast visiting their sister and they did some boarding while they were there. More than likely, there was more boarding than visiting.

The snowboarding season is on the downswing as the months of March and April are upon us. But recent cold snaps and moisture in the fronts continue to increase the snow accumulations in the hills. The spring season looks to be very promising with an excellent snowpack and sun-filled bluebird days. The quest for the perfect ride will continue until the end of April. Winter does not have to be about cold and rain; it can be a time for you to free your soul and allow it to become one with the mountain. Call your friends, wax up da boards, put on da sunscreen and make the connection with the water once again. Head for da hills and look for da snow surfahs!

Photo by Sonny Bristol

Sonny Bristol grew up on O`ahu and graduated from Damien HS and Gonzaga U. He’s a Realtor in Seattle and an avid snowboarder. For more info regarding snowboarding in the Northwest or Real Estate, contact Sonny at www.sonnybristol.com

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