'Iokepa Hanalei 'Imaikalani has often instructed me. "European and American sugar cane barons laid claim, almost two hundred years ago now, to the land that my people stewarded for thirteen thousand years. They claimed ownership of a land that, we knew, only the Creator could own.
"In those years these malihini (our guests) burdened our fertile soil with the most destructive chemical pesticides and herbicides known to man. And when they left this land, just a few years ago (because it was no longer profitable to grow sugar cane), they left our soil so desecrated that it will grow nothing safely for another twenty years.
"They left another reminder of their ownership. They excavated deep pits across our land, and dumped their no-longer-useful tractors, bulldozers and thousands of used rubber tires into them--buried in our 'aina (land) for eternity.
"And then they went home."
But they continue to hold fast to their claim on the land. They continue, still, to plow the stone walls of the ancient Hawaiian temples--sacred sites of ritual, prayer and gratitude--into piles of rubble; and to unearth the ancestors bones.
In their place, they build their more profitable temples to tourism: Hotels, condominiums, pizza parlors, and t-shirt shops. They erect, still, their fences and gates--and allow the indigenous population passage, only to make beds, serve meals, and cut grass.
"When the sugar cane barons came, they had to teach the kanaka maoli (aboriginal people) to speak English," 'Iokepa said. "So that we could read the 'No Trespassing' signs."
This man, who is my husband, now travels the left, right, and middle of America, to raise consciousness of the wrongs that have been perpetrated on his ancient land and his aboriginal people--and to awaken within all of us the wisdom and gifts that his ancestors and his culture offer us--just for the asking.
When he travels, he is sometimes asked: "What gives you the right to claim the Islands."
He answers: "In America, when your parents die, you inherit the farm. Well, these are my ancestors. This is my farm. The Islands are my inheritance.
"And that does not mean you are not welcome to live with us," he says. "But you must recognize that the stewardship is our inheritance."
It doesn't seem too much to ask.