Being Kanaka Maoli

The Hawaiian language is simple yet complex.  Originally an unwritten language, it was translated and put to letters by the early Christian missionary intruders about 200 years ago.  The alphabet was only one of a basketful of gifts which arrived with the first Bible-thumpers.  Those presents included a myriad of mainland diseases, a dress code, The Bible itself, and the wonders of capitalism.  Only a dozen letters were necessary.  All the vowels plus h,k,l,m,n,p, & w.  Vowel-intensive.  Many words have multiple and diverse meanings.

“Kanaka maoli” is a good example.  To those who consider themselves to be native Hawaiians it means:  Full-blooded Hawaiian person.  But kanaka maoli can also mean:  True person.  Since Hawaiians with untainted blood are rare these days I’m going with the second definition.  True person or true people.  Being a language without an ‘s’, there is no plural form.

I’ve lived in the Islands for long enough now to consider myself a Hawaiian.  There is a greeting in the Islands that you’ll see occasionally, although its use has diminished over time.  It is called honi.  Like many other Hawaiian words, this one has diverse meanings.  To kiss…to sniff…to touch.  Take your pick.  As a greeting it consists of looking the other kanaka in the eyes, touching foreheads and noses, and breathing  deeply.  Sharing the “ha” or breath of life.

Next to “aloha”, the most widely known Hawaiian word is “haole”.  At first glance most folks accuse me of being a haole.  The best-known meaning is:  White person, American, Caucasian, mainlander.  But likely the origins of the word can be found by breaking it down into its two base words:  “ha” meaning breath of life, and “ole” meaning without.  So haole is a derogatory term meaning without the breath of life.  It was meant to demean the odd custom held by the whitish-skinned intruders of greeting others by shaking hands.

Of course, I’m guilty of greeting friends with a handshake, but only so I won’t be accused of invading anyone’s personal space.  Haoles are touchy about personal space invasions.  I am not a haole.  I do suffer from an extreme case of pigment impairment, but like everyone else I’m a mixed-breed mongrel.  Nobody really knows who great grandma entertained in the haystack.  Genealogy is about as accurate as astrology.  My Grandma Hall told me that we Halls are direct descendants of Lyman Hall, whose signature graces The Declaration of Independence.  Grandma was a genealogist.  I recently did a 2 minute internet search and found that Lyman Hall fathered one child who died young and childless.  So now there’s no proof I’m descended from a slave owner.  Whew!

You might wonder by now where I’m going with this little Hawaiian language lesson.  Here’s my take on the human race.  People capable of decision making fall into either of two categories.  You’re either haole or kanaka maoli.  Regardless of skin color, ethnicity, country of origin, religion, or political affiliation you’re one or the other.

The original kanaka maoli of the Hawaiian Islands lived as one with the land.  They were no saints, for early on they routinely sacrificed the lesser people to appease the alii (royalty).  But soon these barbaric practices subsided and were discontinued, much to the delight of the makaainana (commoners).  What remained was a culture in harmony with the aina (Mother Earth).  Perfect weather, fertile soil, great seafood, a plethora of fruits and vegetables, the hula, and a social system that seemed to work well.  What could go wrong with this scenario?  How about a lot of ships full of haole?

With the haole intrusion into paradise came a whole new view of the role of humans in the scheme of things.  Kanaka maoli were unfamiliar with the idea of individual ownership.  Such concepts as hunger, homelessness,  murder, theft, and rape were nearly impossible for Hawaiians to imagine. The haole had big powerful firearms, and preached of a vengeful God who required that mankind subdue the aina, the fish, the birds, the animals, and the plants.  To the haole, the Islands smelled of money.  Almost immediately they began conning their way into the established order.  And like the mainland Native Americans, kanaka maoli traded their land and livelihood for a handful of colored glass beads.  They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.  They even built a couple of pink hotels.

Once the haole had sold their God and new ideas of social order to kanaka maoli, they went to work on their agenda.  Whales were slaughtered by the thousands.  Fragrant sandalwood forests were decimated and sold to a ready market in Asia.  Fertile land was ploughed up and planted in sugarcane, coffee, and pineapple for worldwide export.  Kanaka maoli made less than satisfactory employees in the fields, so shiploads of Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, and Portuguese workers were imported.  The haole allowed the Hawaiian Monarchy to remain in charge until the end of the 19th Century when the US Marines pulled the rug out from under Queen Liliuokalani, annexing the Hawaiian Islands in the name of the United States of America.

Shortly after Hawaii became the fiftieth star in the Stars & Stripes in 1959, James A. Michener released his epic novel “Hawaii”.  At 12 years of age I got ahold of a first edition of about 1100 pages, and devoured it.  I knew then that someday I’d make my way across that unfathomable stretch of blue Pacific waters to that beautiful and exotic place.  That wouldn’t happen for nearly 30 years.  When it did happen I was hooked.  Since then I have lived on Molokai, Kauai, and now Maui.  Maui has now become ground zero in what’s heating up to be an epic battle between kanaka maoli and the haole.

Kanaka maoli are a group with one strong common bond.  We understand that we are of the earth.  The aina is not here for us to abuse and deplete.  We do not defecate where we sleep.  That would not be pono (good, righteous, moral).

Here in the Islands, the haole have all the mana (power).  They own most of the aina, the media, 99% of the elected officials, and, of course, the local police.  The quintessential villain in Hawaii, the very face of those who have no understanding of the ha, the most egregious poisoner of the aina is Monsanto Corporation.  I won’t bore you here with the figures on how many acres Monsanto uses for their frankencrop GMO experimentation in the Islands.  I won’t try to figure out exactly how much of their carcinogenic glyphosate they spray on their many fields on Maui, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and The Big Island.  That information belongs to them and them alone.  They operate with complete impunity.   I won’t bore you with statistics on the increase in health problems which have occurred since Monsanto soiled the sacred soil of Hawaii with its ugly footprint.  Kanaka maoli  do not care about statistics.  We care only about right and wrong.

Kanaka maoli have marched in protest of the loko ‘ino (evil) of Monsanto on numerous occasions and on all the occupied Islands.  The marches have always been orderly.  No streets have been blocked.  We always do as we’re told by the usually massive police presence.  But Monsanto and its shill public officials must anticipate more enthusiastic demonstrations on the horizon.  Recently The Maui Police Department moved into its forty million dollar bullet-proof megaplex complete with an entry shared by the corporate offices of Monsanto.  Chief Yabuta procured for his SWAT Team a $280,000 Bearcat Tactical Armored Vehicle, and requested more bullet-proof vests, a tactical robot, and assault rifles.  Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa declared “This vehicle will help ensure the safety of our officers and the citizens of Maui County.”  Good-bye traditional lei greetings.  Hello police state.

There may be more important issues in the grand scheme of things.  The haole work night and day to mine the earth’s resources, to wage wars against the kanaka maoli of all nations who resist and protest their agenda of domination.  The haole are pushing us in the direction of another world war so the war industry can maintain its profit margins.  The haole mantra is privatization of all the resources of our fading blue planet.  The haole know that kanaka maoli are superfluous impediments to progress and have now become expendable liabilities.  To the haole we are eco-terrorists who seek to steal their fortunes.

I don’t believe that might makes right.  I own no weapons, nor do I intend to do so.  But I will do what is necessary to defend the aina against alien invading haole.  As John F. Kennedy said:  “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”  You’re either haole or kanaka maoli.  Your only other choice is a case of terminal insouciance.  Choose like your life depended on it.

John R. Hall: Meanderer, dreamer, mountaineer, restaurateur, military draft refusing felon, wannabe revolutionary, and citizen of Earth, observes the circus of life, and writes from wherever the north winds blow him. He can most likely be found somewhere in The Hawaiian Island Chain, in Mexico's Corazon, in The Sonoran Desert of Arizona, The Mohave Desert of Nevada, The high deserts of New Mexico, on a Teton glacier in Northwest Wyoming...or at halls245@msn.com. Read other articles by John Rohn.