We must come together to become strong…Maoli Strong…
There is much to be said of how it is that an entire culture is laid flat for the world to see, for no other real reason than for others to pick it apart, call it their own, make it be anything other than what it really is.
Never mind that for a very long time, for generations, Hollywood and the media have made us out to either be too dumb to fight our way out of a wet paper sack, or perhaps have made it appear that we are savages.
We are not.
Every culture had its own savagery, its own means by which its early man chose his ways of being. Our ways of being were hampered upon arrival of the foreigners. Our ways of honoring who we are were made to be evil, and all because those who were ignorant to our truths were offering to be blind to who we were, who we still are. Those four people in the photograph are me, my cousin Anela, my baby sister Napua, and my lifelong friend, Lima Tofilau (Rest in Peace, my brother…I hear you shreddin’ metal on that guitar of yours…).
What you are seeing in this very poorly taken photograph is what I call strong – MAOLI STRONG, and why?
Because as one, we are far stronger than we can even begin to know is the truth, but if only we could stop those who think that we on this side of the ocean are somehow bad or wrong for wanting to be part of this …march towards wholeness…as a people. We cannot hope for that sort of energy if all we are doing is fighting with each other, NOT over our actual cultural identity, but, over land ownership. By this, I am not talking about people are fighting for the land that was handed down to them. By this I mean that there are actually those among us who are (foolishly) waiting to get their hands on free land, and I am sorry to tell anyone who believes that they might be one of the lucky land lottery winners – it is never going to happen.
Again, I will repeat it, in writing and otherwise – the land is NOT the only thing that is important. What is more important is our cultural identity. We are NOT meant to be Native in the American sense, but rather and only in the sense that is the very truth of us – we are to be called what we are, which is Native Hawai’ians.
We have gotta stop this nonsense of the “us over here versus you over there” stuff. It is hurtful, and all that happens with that much is that we over here become more and more curious as to how it is that anyone who will “satanize” us for being here versus there. It is not that we do not love it there. We do, but, the truth is that there are a lot of us who were born and raised here, and lots of people over there who are the same age that I am seem to have it in your heads that somehow, by right of my birthplace, I am lesser a Hawai’ian than you are. I repeat this every time I write this blog, specifically for the purpose of making it very dearly cemented in the minds of those who would otherwise forget about us over here, making it as though somehow, because you cannot physically see us, we do not exist.
I said it, so deal with it – there are a lot of people who are of our own ancestry who want to tell us who we are, and who we are to anyone is no one’s business. Who we are to the world is a bunch of mainland Hawai’ians. This does not make us any less Hawai’ian than anyone else. It makes it so that we have a different place that we call our ‘Aina. I dare anyone at all who has never actually known one of us “defectors” (whatevahs) and who has nothing good to say about us to challenge us on our Hawai’ian-ness. We are, no matter what anyone thinks, the same as you guys are. With that said…
…when the hell are we going to put it all together?
When are we going to stop this garbage of seeing only where each other lives and start believing that rather than being like we are, which is divided (if you want those who are in power to win, dividing us is what is making it happen, and it will be those who want to make us different than you over there who we can all thank). When we fight with each other over ridiculous things (such as believing that you are going to get anything free other than advice about how to get over being told NO, again), when in reality, if y’all could see where it is that we over here are all coming from, you might think differently.
If you thought differently, you might see that we are all wanting the same thing that all of you over there want – recognition as our indigenous selves. That is what this is truly about. I don’t own any real estate, but, I own me, and I own my own perceptions of our culture and I own my own thought about how it is that if we were, the very all of us, to see past what is not the same (which ain’t a lot) and see what is totally the same (I like poi and lomi and I can make broke da mout’ stew) and rather than making it seem like yours over there is mo’ bettah den ours ovah he’a, try stop and tink (there -is that Maoli enough for you ?)
Stop and think about how much more powerful we will be if we join together in this cause, and in that power, we each and all and in the singular manner become empowered, and it all happens because we chose to be the big Aloha Ohana that we are supposed to be, rather than a divided whole.
Stop and think about how much more help there is available when we are all included, and how many of us over here on this side can do things from this side, such as speaking with the Native American Nations, so that they can guide us back to our cultural selves. Stop and think, if you will, about the idea that with our help (rather than with all of this hindrance) not only are we LOTS stronger, but, our numbers are growing in size, and we here are doing all that we can to make it so that the rest of the mainland knows, for sure, that even as the ocean divides us geographically, we are all one heart beat, all one aloha soul, all One, period.
We cannot believe, not for one moment, that divided we are somehow stronger this way. We are not. We are weakened by the arrogance of some who want us here to prove who we are to them, and well, those guys can kiss my Royal Hawai’ian Okole (and yes, I am part of that bloodline, as well), yet, if we chose to look at our similarities, we would find out that there is strength in numbers, and that in those numbers, we are not only strong, but we are that thing called Maoli Strong.
In order to be Maoli Strong, we need the whole plantation, know what I mean? In order for us to discover the truths of our people, of our culture both at home in Hawai’i, as well as here on the mainland, we have to see what is the same about us, rather than only what is not. We all have big bambucha kine middle names that sound like someone’s auntie is going to be turned into stew. We all understand pidgin English, and most of us here are well-versed in speaking it with one another, and we even teach our non-Hawai’ian Hanai Ohana what our words mean, just so that they can understand us better. We know all of our myths, about all of our deities, and indeed, we know all about heebie-jeebies (that would be what a lot of Maoli people here call me…lovingly so – the Heebie Jeebie Auntie haha…yeah so I dabble in the Craft a bit…we all do…deal with it…read on, please…)
I guess my point is that if we were all one strong unit of Kanaka Maoli, not only in Hawai’i, but in the mainland and the world over, we would become a force to reckon with. At this time, we are not more than two groups of people, one group fighting for land, the other, for solidarity as a cultural whole. We have to stop this craziness, because our kids are watching us. We have to stop this madness, because all we are doing is making those who took away everything that was rightfully ours be right in that we are too stupid to see each other for who and what we really are, so why does it matter if the land is taken, and why does it matter that the culture is in need of a infusion of Aloha.
We could continue to struggle and fight with one another, or, we could do that thing that the rest of the planet is watching us do and hoping that we will do…
…they are hoping that the small group of people “against” us here in the mainland, will see the truth in all of this. The truth is that our numbers on the mainland are HUGE, and with that in mind, imagine all of the good we could do for this cause of being officially recognized as what we are, which is Native Hawai’ians.
Yet, we cannot have that if those few who demand all or none will not listen to reason and realize that we are not the enemy, but, to that thing called common sense, you sure are becoming just that.
Fight for each other, not with each other.
Watch how strong we get if it happens…
…Watch how Maoli Strong we become, if we tried….