Entries Tagged as 'Arts and Culture'

Native American attractions in Honolulu

Don’t happen often enough! When it does, I always seem to miss it.

I have been very drawn to the Native American culture over the last five years or so.  Unfortunately, I always seem to be in the wrong place when they have an event.  I’ve never seen anything like it!

On my way home the other day I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  “That looks like… I think… it IS!  It’s a teepee!  They’re there!”  How fast can you cross three lanes of Beretania Street without killing yourself or getting a ticket?  Don’t ask, I just did.

Indian architecture that caught my attention.

I just had to!  I had to find out more, to know more about a culture that continues to elude me. Native Americans share heartaches that are not dissimilar to those of Native Hawaiians.

Brightly-colored, tradtional dress.

My heart goes out to them and seeing, learning, and sharing in the beauty of their culture means so much to me. Perhaps the fact that they are so geographically removed from Honolulu just adds to the mystique.

Ovwer the years they have assimilated quietly here and they have become part of our society’s makeup. I just want to “know” them.

Ring dance.

I had to understand what the above activity was all about so, I asked!  I was told that this is a healing dance done to help those who are ailing. Each ring respresents whatever ails you.

Youngster very skilled with the rings.

I was amazed at the agility and ability with which the rings can be handled and the spheres that the dancer above was able to create.


Anyone would feel better after watching this!

Feathers and beads make for some fascinating traditional dress!
Cultural fascinations in traditional dress.

I must admit, I did take a lot of pictures. It was hard to resist! Traditional dress is often very colorful and the feathers just make it all the more fascinating!

The little ones are dancers too!

The little ones get involved as well.

I couldn’t get enough of admiring the cultural dress and wishing I knew more aobut the meaning.

This afternoon was all about my desire to understand more of the culture and customs of our Native Americans.  The good part of this visit was that I got myself added to their notification list so, hopefully, I will know well ahead of time when these events are about to take place!

A flyer to tell you all about powwow etiquette!

What did I take away from this?  Pow wow etiquette!

Indian ornament.Little buffalo to bring good luck.

It would be a good thing to put together a list of questions for the next time I’m lucky enough to run into this!

Thank you in Cherokee.

Many thanks go out to the various participants for sharing their culture with everyone!  I’m looking forward to the next pow wow!

Honolulu Welcomes the Dragon!

Chinese dragonKung Hei Fat Choi!

Every year I wait for the sounds of those drums!  Whenever I hear them I follow the sound, grab my camera, and grab my wallet for dollar bills, or $5 bills if I am in a good mood and feeling the need for whatever prosperity the Chinese New Year will bring.

We are closing the year of the Rabbit and welcoming in the year of the Dragon.  I love dragons.  I’m more prone to the Old World dragons that guard castles and nest on piles of gold and jewels but, like I said to someone last week, a dragon is a dragon and I’ll take whatever I can get!

No, I am not superstitious and, no, I do not follow the teachings of the zodiac.  However, I have to admit that there is often some truth and accuracy to the things they say about our character traits.  Besides, it’s fun.  You can take it with a grain of salt but it is a heck of a lot of fun to see how things fit the people you know!

Chinese drums move down Fort Street in Downtown Honolulu

There is just something about the sound of those drums, when they are done right, that just triggers something.  Of all Asian art and culture, Chinese lion and dragon dances surpass it all for me.

Lions dance and spectators offer money for bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year.

The best part of Downtown Honolulu at this time of year is that it is so very close to China Town.  Businesses frequently enlist this rite to chase away evil spirits from their doorways.  Hopefully I will run into more of them this year than I did last.  I do not want to wait another year to hear those drums and watch this cultural marvel unfold.  Firecrackers included!

Bringing Hawai’i History Back to Life!

‘Ike K???ko?a
Liberating Knowledge, The Newspaper Type Scripting Project

Awaiaulu, Perpetuating Past to Present, or binding that part to the present securely, is hard at work at a project to restore 60,000 pages of long-forgotten newspapers.  I had no concept of just how much Hawaiian text there is out there!  You have GOT to watch this video!  There are pages and pages of Hawaiian newspapers to be put into searchable form! This is so exciting!

Typing Hawaiian newspapers and turning them into searchable text.

I am so very proud of the volunteers who have stepped up to devote some of their time to this project!  Will they eventually translate it all into English?  I don’t know, but we can hope.  Yes, I know, we should all learn to speak and understand the native tongue of our home but, I have to admit, it’s hard to teach old people like me a new language.  In time, maybe?  The main thing is it will assist in the recovery of lost history!

Pssst… if you’ve been caught throwing things out your car window, if you need to put in some time doing community service, this counts against your required community service hours!  I’m just saying.

Suddenly I feel the need to say, God bless ‘Aha P?nana Leo for what they have become and what they have accomplished over the years in keeping the language alive for all!  Those who are the products of the Hawaiian immersion schools will be able to read, and maybe even translate the recovery of this history.

If you can, please get involved!

Wordless Wednesday: Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace, draped

Honolulu Festival in full swing!

You’ve go to love a huge cultural exchange like this one!  If you can get in just a piece of it, it’s worth it!  I was lucky enough to catch just a bit of it yesterday at Ala Moana Center’s Center Stage.

Hula halau from Japan

Halau Hula O Moanikeala performs on Center Stage at Ala Moana Center yesterday afternoon.

Sharing different cultures and traditions

It was wonderful to watch the cultural exchange and the intensity with which the performers were into the task at hand!

Sharing a bit of Middle-Eastern culture

Then there was Habibi Hawaii Ensemble sharing Middle-Eastern dance.  Be still my heart!

Habibi Hawaii Ensemble

You don’t see this stuff everyday!  There’s more to the Honolulu Festival going on today so catch it if you can!

The Birthing of Hawaiian Royalty

I have wanted to get to this place for the longest time!  I rarely get out to Wahiawa or beyond so, after I got my safety-check sticker, I made sure to take full advantage of this rare and infrequent opportunity!

Over time, the writing of this blog has created a much greater sense of aloha for Hawaiian culture and it has ignited a thirst for knowledge about that culture’s history.  Up until now, Kukaniloko was known to me only as “the birthing stones.”   When I found my way there, I was lucky enough to find a rather interesting group of people.

Students from a University of Hawaii, Manoa Geology class

This was a class of Geology students from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.  Apparently, Kukaniloko “is the geographic center of O’ahu…” thus making it geologically important.  They were actually there with their geology professor!  Talk about a stroke of luck!

I tried to get closer so that I could eaves drop on part of what the professor was saying to the class.  I have to admit that I was a little taken aback listening to Dr. Scott Rowland as he told his students how an alii was birthed.  “They did what???” I was thinking to myself, relatively horrified.

I’m not going to get into it but, let’s put it this way, the State of Hawai’i’s flyer about Kukaniloko says, “The birth of a child at Kukaniloko was witnessed by 36 chiefs.”  This stunned me a bit because that is not the kind of birth-giving experience that I would care to deal with while bloody, sweating, and in pain.

Of course there are women today that have an audience during the birthing process.  The whole visual of the process being described by Dr. Rowland just caught me off guard, I think.  Of course, if you’re in that much physical distress, perhaps your only focus is on getting past that pain!  Mothers can weigh in on this.  Seriously, please do!

Dr. Rowland did remind everyone that, back then, this area did not look like it does now.  It used to be a forested area and hence much more secluded and private.  “Good point!”  That made it a little better.   Today, as you can see by the photos, it is wide open to the world!

The group of stones at Kukaniloko

I was quite impressed by how well-maintained this site has been kept after all these years!  Before the class departed for its next stop, Dr. Rowland was kind enough to share a copy of his handouts.  Part of the handout that had been put together for the class stated that Kukaniloko,

“is one of only two locations in Hawai’i where children of chiefs were born (the other was on Kaua’i).  Kukaniloko may have been established as a royal birthing place as long ago as the 12th century.  Fortunately, W.W. Goodale of the Waialua Sugar Plantation as well as the Daughters of Hawai’i made sure that this place was protected and not plowed over for agriculture.”

Thank goodness!  That would have been an archeological and culturally-historical disaster!

Well-kept grounds at Kukaniloko

As I surveyed the area I became curious about the slightly-elevated area pictured above.  Was it ever used for rituals or halau performances or something?  It sort of looked like a hula mound.  Anybody in the know can share your knowledge on this too!

Any woman living in those times would have appreciated the honor it was to actually be giving birth to a chief!  Hawaiians had a great deal of respect for the alii, as they do to this day.  The birth of a new ruler was certainly an event to be celebrated!

Heiau at Kukaniloko

It was really comforting to see how the grounds are so well kept.  I was very pleased but I wanted to know more about this heiau.  Again, anybody in the know on this is welcome to comment!

Close-up shot of the birthing stones

Dr. Rowland indicated that one of these stones was the main stone but I wasn’t close enough to the group to hear which one it was.  The one in the center of the picture above may have been the one but I’m honestly not sure.  I knelt down and touched the surface of the stones — they were unusually smooth and even soothing to the touch.

Kukaniloko sign

This sign posted by the DLNR shows that the land here is protected, as it should be.  The sign has taken a beating over time but the simple message it carries is essential — “Please respect this sacred area.”

I came away moved by the beauty and serenity of this simple site that is listed on both the National and State of Hawai’i Registers of Historic Places.  While feeling a little more educated about this little tidbit of our historic culture, I still remain overwhelmed by the very complex history of our State.  There is still so much to uncover and talk about.  And you thought you were going to get off easy!

5th Annual Hawai’i Book & Music Festival is Coming!

Here is another one of those events that I keep missing.  Coming up on us very quickly is the 5th Annual Hawai’i Book & Music Festival, a Celebration of Story and Song.

Douglas Corleone, AuthorThis year’s event comes with an added touch for those who are literary-minded.  We have an O’ahu resident whose book will debut at this event!  Douglas Corleone was an attorney in New York but he left the practice and moved to Hawaii.  Now Douglas is a beach-going writer who is enjoying life at a much slower pace than what he found in New York city!

This is great — we have a resident novelist among us!  His book, One Man’s Paradise, is an award-winning crime-drama/mystery using Honolulu as the back drop.  It will be  interesting to see, and fun to watch, how this young author will do with this novel and the novels that follow!  I’ve started reading it and the personality of Mr. Corvelli, the book’s protagonist, is already an interesting study.

Cover of One Man’s ParadiseThe book is now available at our local book stores and if you want to get a head start on One Man’s Paradise before the Festival, or if you can’t make it to the Festival, you can still get a copy and meet the author at:

     Barnes & Noble, Ala Moana on Saturday, May 1, 2010 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.


Borders, Waikele Center on Saturday, May 8, 2010 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m

Then there’s the Book & Music Festival where Douglas will be on May 16, 2010 at the Barnes & Noble Bookseller tent for signing at 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. followed by a reading and a Q&A at the Author’s Pavilion.

If you still don’t have a copy at that point, there is still June 5, 2010 at Barnes & Noble, Kahala Mall from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.

Mahalo to all of the sponsors and contributors to the 5th Annual Hawai’i Book & Music Festival!  Try to get there if you can!

Historic Events Repeating Themselves

King Lunalilo’s Tomb

King Lunalilo’s tomb was blessed with new kahili a few weeks ago as part of the King’s 175th birthday.  These kahili were beautiful new additions to replace the old ones that were not in the greatest of shape after all of these years.

Kamehameha Maertens

Apparently the making of the new kahili was orchestrated by Paulette Nohealani Kahalepuna which says to me that these kahili were not only crafted of feathers but that they were done correctly, carefully, and beautifully.

The gentleman pictured here on the left is Kamehameha Maertens.  He is quite familiar with the kahili in King Lunalilo’s tomb.  Back in 1938 an article in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin listed him as one of the kahili bearers back then. Mr. Maertens’ grandson took him to the new kahili event to celebrate Lunalilo’s 175th birthday on January 31st at the King’s tomb on the grounds of Kawaiaha’o Church.

That, in my opinion, is certainly something worth talking about — a man revisits a part of history that he himself was a part of.  I’m not sure how many of us will be around long enough to see history repeat itself or to say we actually had a hand in it!

In the Star-Bulletin article, Kamehameha Maertens was listed incorrectly as a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha.  His first name may have been the reason for the reporter’s confusion but he was certainly an important part of the royal procession paying tribute to the memory of a man who was once a very popular monarch.

After all of those years gone by, I can’t help but wonder if he ever dreamed that his own grandchild would push for the preservation of the Hawaiian culture through the protection, perpetuation, and restoration of its treasured language.  In case you can’t get into Facebook, here’s the meat of what’s on the other end of this link:

“After the unlawful overthrow of the Hawaiian government by white supremacists, four generations of Hawaiian people endured cultural genocide beginning in 1896 when the Hawaiian language was banned as a medium of public instruction. 30+ years have passed since the 1978 Hawai’i State Constitution nominally restored Hawaiian as an official language along with English, yet speakers of Hawaiian cannot vote using their language. Without public information readily available in Hawaiian, the current policy of English-only community services is indeed tantamount to ethnic cleansing! Will you please join with us to implement Hawai’i’s Official Languages Act to put this unfortunate era of cultural genocide against Hawaiian speaking people behind us for good?”

I’ve talked about this before and, while it is a touchy subject, most people will agree that it is a terrible thing to cut off a people from their own language.  It is a wretched behavior for a country claiming to be “civilized.”  Make no mistake about it, I’m an American and proud of it, but there are times when I just don’t know what we were thinking!  But I digress.

There are quite a few of us who missed the Hawaiian-language boat in school and are now trying to learn.  This is where Mr. Maertens’ grandson comes in.  Michael Malulani Odegaard is trying to help us do just that.  Some students are doing better than others.  I have to admit that life, as usual, gets in the way of that too.  Mahalo, Kumu, for all you do and for your infinite patience!

For those of you looking to learn ‘olelo Hawai’i or looking to brush up on your skills a little, there are small classes available on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00 PM and Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 7:00 PM.  Follow this link for more information about the Wednesday evening class and for contact information in case you have questions.

For those who try to call it a dead language, I’m very happy to let you know that you are sadly mistaken!  It’s alive and well and getting stronger every day!

Comments left on Facebook will be copied and shared here on Homespun Honolulu so everyone will be able to listen to your thoughts and input.

Big Business Creates the Best Stories!

WalMart store signIt always comes as such a surprise and I am  always quite moved when a corporation takes steps to assist the community where it does business, and/or takes steps to educate itself about that community.  Respect, preservation, and education is not always something taken on by corporate America’s larger brand names.

In the most unlikely of places, we found a little bit of cultural respect from Wal-Mart.  I’m not one to give a lot of credit to Wal-Mart since most of what we hear about them is anything but good news, but I’ll give them this one.

In Hawai’i, the finding of iwi (bones) is probably one of our most sensitive and touchy subjects.  Honolulu probably suffers from the largest number of incidents because it is constantly growing and there is always something being built.

The discovery of iwi during the construction of the Wal-Mart store on Ke’eaumoku Street was a finding taken very seriously.  The last I heard when this came to light was that there were 64 set of iwi that were about 150 years old.  While things were kept relatively low key, it was not an all-happy or non-confrontational event!  Findings such as these occur much more frequently than we would like them to and the parties involved had no problem sharing their views.

Memorial at Honolulu Wal-Mart

After reading through some of the articles, it seems to me that some of the “experts” hired to do a job were perhaps not the best choice to handle a matter so delicate and/or to handle the treasured bones themselves.  I know we have talked before about the importance of the iwi in Hawaiian culture.  These are not dinosaur bones from an archaeological dig!  They are family members!

Wal-Mart, and any other business for that matter, cannot always control the behavior of the people they hire to perform a service.  It is difficult to be at the mercy of those performing work that is outside one’s own line of business.  That’s why they hire specialists.  All of that aside, I think the completed memorial is actually very attractive and whoever was in charge of that, did a fine and respectful job!

Corner of Makaloa and Sheridan Streets

There are, as you can see, “Keep Out” and “Don’t Walk on Grass” signs all around this little monument.  It looks quite a bit like a heiau and it is surrounded by newly-planted indigenous plants, the kind often found in such places.  They originally said it would be landscaped and open to the public so perhaps they’re waiting for the plants to take root.  In case residents haven’t found it yet, the photo above shows you exactly where it is — on the corner of Makaloa and Sheridan Streets on the property shared by Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club.

Cultural preservation is on the upswing in Hawai’i and it’s not all being left only up to us.

Getting ready for work and listening with one ear to the news the other morning, I was stopped in my tracks and had to run to the TV and press rewind on the remote (thanks to Oceanic Time Warner Cable, we can do that!).  As I fumbled for the right button I muttered, “They’re doing what?!?  No way!”

I love this story and I’m sending a shout out to the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel for being a part of the community where they do business and for proactively reinforcing its culture!  KHON2 News did a nice little segment about a family whose son wanted a big tree on their property to be made into a canoe.  I hesitate because links like that one often become dead when the story gets moved so I’ll include the gist of it here just in case.

Their son passed away six years ago but his dream may still become a reality.  The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel asked the family to donate that same tree for them to turn into a canoe!  Based on a quote from the KHON2 News article, the father responded:

“The only thing we like out of this is to have the canoe named after my son cuz for a while he had already seen this being one canoe”

The hotel agreed, and named the canoe “Kaililaau.”

The canoe is being built as part of the hotel’s Pookela program which allows employees to learn aspects of the Hawaiian culture.

Building a canoe is certainly no easy task and for the hotel to have done this with the goal of perpetuating a piece of Hawaiian culture is nothing less than commendable!

Mahalo to KHON2 and kudos to the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel!

See how great it is when big business does the right thing?  🙂

Cable to Maintain Community Programming

As I was sitting listening to Haunani Apoliona talk about OHA’s role in the community, and as I watched the keiki at one of the ‘Aha Punana Leo schools talk about ethnic food dishes (using the Hawaiian language of course) I can’t help but feel a need to share some gratitude with Oceanic Time Warner Cable and the State of Hawaii’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) for their continued support of community programming!

Oceanic Cable Truck

We almost lost it, or at least a big chunk of it, or so we thought! The franchise contract was up for renewal and one of the articles I read seemed to have a very negative view of what the outcome would be.  The concern was largely focused on the availability of channels designated for various types of community programming.

No need to worry — there’s good news!  The conditions of the newly-restored, 20-year franchise include, aside from other things, the addition of more community channels!  Instead of the six (6) we had before, there will now be fourteen (14)!  We will have even more places to accommodate the PBS, ‘Olelo, and PEG (public, educational, and governmental) channels than ever before!

Mahalo to DCCA and Time Warner Cable for staying on top of the things deemed important to the viewers!