The ancestral grandmothers have spoken. ‘Iokepa Hanalei ‘Īmaikalani and I are on the edge of our seats with excitement. Huliau–the Return Voyage is about to shift into an entirely new direction. The goal remains the same. Within the authentic Native Hawaiian experience lies the answer for a contemporary world tormented by rage, greed, and war. It is ours to seize the ancients’ gifts – to return to that which all of us are born knowing. We carry it in our very bones, this memory of another way.
For more than sixteen years now, ‘Iokepa has assiduously responded to the direction of his ancestral grandmothers. When in doubt: he has asked; he has listened for the answers; he has recognized and then acceded to their guidance. Always, he has offered gratitude.
For the first ten years, ‘Iokepa and I were guided to live in tents upon Hawaiian ka ‘āina. In the manner of the ancients, we surrendered to a life of faith and subsisted without income. For the next six intense years, we traveled just 5,000 car miles shy of 100,000 around the American continent, speaking the knowledge we’d gleaned from the ancient Hawaiian culture, and sharing our personal story as well.
Now we are to embark on a third phase of this work. We are eagerly anticipating the new direction.
Some things never change. Our surrender is forever. Our walk of faith endures. Always, ‘Iokepa and I listen and heed the grandmothers’ guidance. They continue to direct our lives.
A Brief History
The Native Hawaiians spoke their lyrical family stories around the open fire. In this way, the community was solidified; the knowledge shared. In this way, the oral traditions remained alive and open to the need for change in a single breath. But for almost two hundred, very recent years powerfully restrictive laws silenced the Native Hawaiian stories entirely.
Around the Fire
In the almost two hundred silent years, there were always whispers. Behind closed doors and away from colonial ears, some families insisted on transmission of the truth and the rituals. And because the community stories were silent, each family held onto a different piece of their heritage. Each family had a sliver of the true history and culture – no one was able to embrace it all. Secrecy, of course, created distortion.
It is time to reclaim that which solidified culture, created harmony, and fostered shared responsibility. It’s time to speak the stories.
‘Iokepa and I will return home to Hawai’i this summer. We plan to foster the collective cultural sharing of family story that used to be told around the fire. We anticipate privately encouraging reticent story-holders to come forth. We anticipate locating venues that make full-disclosure culturally appropriate and safe. To this end, we expect to travel the Islands and locate those holders of a family story or two. And finally, we will encourage the public sharing – giving and receiving – in many Island locations over the next years.
The grandmothers have set the parameters. This will never be a means of airing political grievance or pointing fingers and declaring that “my” family stories are the right ones. The purpose of this, the grandmothers tell us, is:
*To claim fully and proudly the heritage that has been forced underground.
*To rebuild a community that has been systematically shamed, by revealing the hidden stories in a face-to-face, welcoming setting.
*To fulfill a 1000-year-old Hawaiian prophecy that foresaw gifting the authentic Native Hawaiian cultural experience to the waiting world.
It was the last Hawaiian King, David Kalakaua, who, under the onslaught of oppressive colonial occupation, dispatched hand-selected emissaries among his people to collect the diminishing stories, chants, and hulas. We intend to follow in that meaningful tradition. It’s time to share the flame.