May 13 2023
The Issue Is Kuleana
Back in 1998 I was in Rapid City which is at the edge of Paha Sapa, the famous Black Hills of South Dakota. I was visiting with my friend, Richard Twiss,* a descendant of the Lakota, the inhabitants and stewards of that land for numerous generations. In effect Richard said: When my people came to this area we saw Paha Sapa and immediately knew it was an awesome work of beauty by the Creator, a sacred place that should be protected and preserved just the way the Creator made it. Many years later, the white invaders came and saw the same magnificent mountains and said. “What a great place to carve giant faces of our great white leaders, and leave our mark on it forever!”
This perfectly illustrates the fundamental difference in how we view the world. It is at the heart of what original nations and indigenous peoples face living with a colonial system that has overrun and extended its greedy hold over most of the planet. How can we properly care for our part of the world when greedy foreigners come and forcibly take over, disregard our ways, carve up, desecrate and pollute the land?
Flatly put, the colonial world view is, that land and resources are there for the colonizers to generate and increase wealth and power for themselves. And that native inhabitants can either help, get trampled or get pushed out of the way.
We can tell by the actions and legacies of nā Mōʻī (our Kings and our Queen) that they all had a firm understanding of their kuleana (responibility, duty) to care for the people and the land.
Queen Liliʻuokalani, in her 1893 letter appealing to “honest Americans” likened Americaʻs taking of Hawaii to the Biblical account of evil King Ahabʻs treacherous taking of Nabothʻs little vineyard.**
Besides the obvious parallel, Queen Liliʻuokalani is referring to Naboth telling Ahab his vineyard is not just a piece of property to be bought and sold, but it is his inheritance, along with the responsibility to care for it — his kuleana — that he got from his father and is meant to be passed on to his descendants. The Queen is making the point that Hawaii is not just some piece of property to be bought and sold (or stolen). We do not own Hawaii. Hawaii is our inheritance — our sacred kuleana — to be handed on to the next generations...
What’s at stake in our efforts to free Hawaii is not simply superficial political or legal shifts or addressing grievances, it is changing the fundamental way we operate as a people and a nation. It requires returning to ola the life-giving kuleana as embodied in our core principles and Hawaiian Kingdom laws, and rejecting hewa, the oppressive, life-draining colonial system of America, and puppet State of Hawaii.
“Love of country is deep-seated in the breast of every Hawaiian, whatever his station.” — Queen Liliʻuokalani
* It has been 10 years now, since Richard Twiss walked on with his ancestors. A hui hou aku...
** 1 Kings 21:1-16
Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono. The sovereignty (life) of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.
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