Native Hawaiian culture is worth learning about

In Dean Sabado’s letter of Oct. 25 (“Why we should study Hawaiian history”), the description of the Native Hawaiian population 125 years ago needs correction. Hawaiians were not “hunter- gatherers,” which refers to subsistence lifestyles of people many thousands of years earlier (who did not live in Hawaii) who survived by finding edible plants and some hunting.

Instead, Native Hawaiians developed sophisticated agricultural techniques which included water management, fish farms (the only Polynesian culture with this feature), a variety of agriculture, and also raised animals.

They fished for food using sophisticated techniques and lures. The “mountain to the sea” of the ahupuaa land division was a brilliant idea because it ensured a supply of water from the rain in the mountains which could be diverted for irrigation of agriculture.

The communal lifestyle required all to work for the benefit of everyone and share what was grown and harvested. Fish farms kept a constant supply of food available. It was a far cry from the “hunter-gatherer” lifestyle. They developed brilliant ocean navigation techniques and sailed long distances out of sight of land long before the Europeans.

As to whether the Hawaiian history “doesn’t affect our everyday life,” that is a sad comment. The aloha spirit is a direct manifestation of the sense of communal well-being and sharing of the Native Hawaiian culture.

Native Hawaiians do continue to practice their culture (hula, paddling, language, taro agriculture, generosity, sharing, water rights, navigation, etc.) which enriches all our lives here and, of course, draws business through tourism.

If not for the Native Hawaiians, life here would be no different than Florida or Santa Barbara — just another warm place with palm trees.

Thank goodness for the Native Hawaiian culture! I suggest people learn about it by reading, attending hula, etc., and show the respect it deserves.

Yes, people do build lives around these traditions and values. So please open both eyes and hearts and learn about Native Hawaiians.


Judith Fernandez is a resident of Kapaa.

  1. gordon oswald October 29, 2018 3:36 am Reply

    What constitutes a “native” Hawaiian? Is it 50% or more blood quantum? Is it I/1,000th of one percent? Is it “how” I feel? I just want to know what we’re talking about?

  2. No get nutz October 29, 2018 11:24 am Reply

    Nice article. To bad DNLR to busy selling off all the prime native Hawaiian lands to the highest bidder. We all know todays native Hawaiians is not the highest bidder. Today’s native Hawaiian (myself included) has been brainwashed to think that having/needing money is the way to live.

  3. numilalocal October 29, 2018 5:09 pm Reply

    “Hawaiian” is anyone who can prove their ancestors lived in the islands prior to the first western/foreign contact.

    1. james October 30, 2018 8:20 am Reply

      What is proof? What constitutes legal proof? Documents, DNA tests, oral history? The problem with “proving” ancestry is that it is primarily junk science and not based on accepted scientific principles. For example, the folks who occupied Coco Palms and attempted to assert sovereignty over the land. All these claims are primarily hogwash and mostly impossible to prove with any certainty. Also, it’s still being investigated whether sailors from the Marquees Islands were actually the first settlers in Hawaii, sometimes referred to as the Menehune peoples. It’s possible that the Tahitians were not the first aboriginal peoples of Hawaii. Anyone who lives in Hawaii is Hawaiian in my opinion.

  4. No get nutz October 30, 2018 5:39 am Reply

    A Native Hawaiian is a person decendent of the original occupiers of Hawaiian islands before Captain Cooks arrival. And or even rarer bloodline of the menehune who occupied the islands before Kamehameha the great began his rule.

  5. Jose Bulatao October 30, 2018 11:48 am Reply

    There should be an all-out effort to provide opportunities to learn, discover, encourage, and embrace the values and traditions of the native Hawaiian, our host culture, here in Hawaii. Because of the emphasis on protecting and preserving the finite resources of our environmental integrity as being limited to the carrying capacities of being island dwellers, all of us who are here as residents and visitors need to KNOW the protocols of being “on the same boat together” and being in sync with the essence of aloha by taking care of this place, each other, and ourselves as a SHARED RESPONSIBILITY

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