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.