On being Hawaiian

9 01 2018

Hawaiians are gearing up for a ceremonial observance on January 17 of the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani 125 year’s ago. I am Hawaiian.

I won’t be marching from Mauna Ala down Nuuanu Avenue and King street to Iolani Palace as I did in 1993 for the 100th observance, but I will be near the Iolani Palace bandstand in an information booth set up by the Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi Political Action Committee. I am a citizen of Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi.

Last night I attended the first of several Mele Workshops taught by Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong to learn more about the songs of our nation. She entitled it “I Welo Mau Loa Kuʻu Hae Hawaiʻi / May my Hawaiian flag fly evermore…”

Kumu Hina

Kumu Hina wrote, “No matter the politics that divide us, let us unite through the bonds of our language, culture and our history.”

Mahalo e Kumu Hina.

I am compelled to encourage citizens to attend one of the remaining free workshops scheduled on Oahu. They are open to all. You will learn the songs, what the Hawaiian lyrics mean, and the tertiary kaona of the words. Kumu Hina’s manaʻo is inspiring and uplifting.

Schedule of Mele Workshops. Go!

125 years ago was not that long ago, Kumu Hina pointed out. When it was revealed at the workshop that I was the eldest person in the room, she said, “your grandparents’ generation.”

Yes, my maternal Chinese grandfather spoke Hawaiian, but his 15 children were forbidden to speak it in school. Unfortunately, I do not ʻōlelo either, but I love to sing Hawaiian songs.

ʻOnipaʻa kākou.

If you go ~ As I write this, the schedule of events for January 17, 2018, is flexible, except for the 10:45 a.m. raising of Hae Hawaiʻi at ʻIolani Palace, the exact time it was lowered and replaced by the American flag in 1893.

Mālama pono

2 07 2014

Conflicted, I wasn’t planning to submit a comment to the U. S. Department of Interior. But now I think I will. Based on something like this:

The most welcoming group of strangers I’ve met, the one that made me feel like I was coming home, were the card-carrying citizens of Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i, a name that translates to “the Hawaiian nation,” although for the time being this group is described as “a native initiative for sovereignty.”

I met them in January 1993, the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani and the Hawaiian monarchy, when my hanai father—RIP David A. Sinclair, MD, yes, the same who delivered Barack Obama—pointed out a small article in the Washington Post about a movement being led by Mililani Trask, then the kia‘āina (governor). “Isn’t this something you should be involved in?” Because I’m Hawaiian.

Some activity was taking place at ‘Iolani Palace for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I was drawn to a small tent identified with a banner reading “Ho‘omakaukau” — let’s get ready — on the lawn of the Library of Hawaii next door. Keali‘i Gora, a nokali (registrar) and the lukanela (lieutenant), enrolled me as a citizen of Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i. I took an oath. He and others gave out educational materials and information about the meeting, and it was the one organizing the peaceful march to the Palace.

That was the beginning of my involvement and the first of many meetings—district council meetings, island caucus meetings, legislative meetings, town hall meetings, constitutional conventions. I helped as a district officer and attended the legislative meetings, not as a delegate but out of interest and support.

I learned that Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i has a de facto government with a written constitution that was part of the educational materials for the people. Toward the end of Mililani Trask’s last term as kia‘āina (an elected position), at a church in Keaukaha, I witnessed her and Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa outline the Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i master plan document for sovereignty. It was a beautiful thing, entitled “Ho‘okupu a Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi” (respectful offering to all).

My active involvement that was a big chunk out of my life included almost a decade as the executive director of Hale Kūʻai Cooperative that marketed Native Hawaiian made products—a small but significant economic development effort for Hawaiians.

Life happens and time passes, and Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i became inactive. Now other political forces have caused us to gather again, because of the Department of Interior meetings. The day before yesterday a parallel discussion began: whether to reconvene the Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i mokuna (legislature). It is an opportunity for an initiative that had at one time a reportedly 22,000 citizens living in the Hawaiian Islands and elsewhere on its rolls. To those expressing “No” to the Department of Interior’s questions, what next? Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i is an option.

For now, Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i citizens are attaching their names at the bottom of comments to the questions currently being asked by the Department of Interior as posed in the Federal Register. They say “No,” but more importantly, Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi citizens are reminding the Department and all of us that it already has a Constitution, a Master Plan, and a platform on the Four Arenas of Sovereignty that further describes and defines four political arenas: native to native, native to nation/state, the international arena, and nation to nation.

I believe those documents will be attached and filed with the Department of Interior. They are very comprehensive and worth another read. The answer to “What do Hawaiians want?” is not as simple as the question, but the prior work of Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i ought not to be discounted, for there one can read some thoughtful answers.

When I first associated with Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i, I was embarrassed because I hadn’t learn much Hawaiian language (and still haven’t and I’m still embarrassed). I admitted, once as we were leaving an evening meeting, “I need to look the words up in the dictionary.” Two friendly young women said, “That’s okay!”

I asked, “How do you say goodbye? What is it that you are saying?”

They slowly pronounced every syllable for me. “A hui hou. Mālama pono!” Meaning, “See you again. Do the right thing.”

I personally want to do the right thing, but I don’t know what that is. I’ll at least point Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i citizens, honorary citizens, and would-be citizens to “Ho‘okupu a Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i” where we left off.

Copyright 2014 Rebekah Luke


Where I am in Hawaii today

24 06 2014

Every now and then we’re thrown a curve ball and need to perk up. So I left the studio and headed over to Ka Lahui Hawaii, a Native initiative for sovereignty, http://kalahuihawaii.wordpress.com, to offer some information to the Hawaiian community.

Representatives of U.S. Department of Interior were on island to listen to comments about whether and/or how there should be a government-to-government relationship between the U.S. and Native Hawaiian community.

I went to yesterday’s three-hour public meeting at the Hawaii State Capitol because I wanted to get up to speed about the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. I had the feeling the panel would be in for a surprise. The testimonies were emotional, for the most part saying the D.O.I.’s presence was inappropriate and unwelcome (I’m being kind here).

DOI panel 062314

The panel looked tired and sad after a while. Twenty such meetings are scheduled throughout the Islands and America. Two of my Hawaiian neighbors have asked me for a ride to Wednesday’s meeting in Kaneohe, closest to our homes. 

This morning I’m headed to Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden to create some cheerful collage art with hand-dyed tissue paper. The public is invited to watch the artists and see our exhibit in the Visitor Lecture Room showing daily, now until the end of June. The entrance is at the end of Luluku Road in Kaneohe.  This is my “Kalo.” Today I’m working on “Mango.”

"Kalo Collage," 15" x 30" hand-dyed paper on canvas. $385.

“Kalo Collage,” 15″ x 30″ hand-dyed paper on canvas.

 Copyright 2014 Rebekah Luke

Master plan for Hawaiian sovereignty

1 02 2010

A master plan for Hawaiian sovereignty exists. It is entitled “Hookupu a Ka Lahui Hawaii,” and I just installed it on http://kalahuihawaii.wordpress.com/. It was first published in 1995, 15 years ago. If you are interested in the manao (ideas) of Native Hawaiians concerning their homeland, do take a look.  Mahalo!

A Native Hawaiian initiative

5 12 2009

Some of my friends may know that I am a citizen of Ka Lahui Hawaii. I attended a working group meeting today to give a progress report on the new website http://kalahuihawaii.wordpress.com/ that I manage. It is even newer than Rebekah’s Studio.

For weeks we’ve been figuring how best to install certain documents for the public, and from the response of citizens at today’s meeting we uploaded the “Constitution of Ka Lahui Hawaii.” I am so happy! And there will be more information to come.

Looking back, quite a lot of nation building occurred in the 1990s. The citizens and honorary citizens were very active on all islands and on Moku Honu (North America). I remember attending legislative sessions throughout the islands: Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui and Hawaii. There was an extensive sovereignty education program and citizens took stands on issues often.

Many of our kupuna (Hawaiian elders) who guided the nation in the early years have passed over. Remembering the legacy they left us, we are now continuing to pick up the pieces and press onward.

I think people who are unaware or, and I say this kindly, ignorant of the Native Hawaiian situation—whether they are sympathetic to Native initiatives or not—will be surprised at how much work Ka Lahui Hawaii accomplished:

The Constitution, Master Plan, resolutions, work at the United Nations level, treaties with other nations, educational and economic programs, research—all done at a grassroots level. We met in churches, in parking lots, in parks, at community centers, at each others’ homes.

If you have an interest, please visit


Through the power of the internet, the Ka Lahui Hawaii working group is recording the nation’s efforts in cyberspace for current and future generations.

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

Let it snow!

2 12 2009

Where does a Hawaiian island girl go on vacation? To places where it is cold and snowy. To places where I can wear clothes! In a few days I’ll be on my way to central Europe to visit the Christmas markets where I know it will be very cold.  I am wishing for snow.

Somewhere along the river cruise route from Germany to Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary there might be some of that falling white fluffy stuff. Maybe in Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava, or Budapest? I’ve got my snow boots packed! In the meantime, our WordPress host is accommodating by snowing on Rebekah’s Studio. Cool, huh? (pun intended)

Here’s a picture of a picture of my very first snowman the year I declared, as an adult, that I wanted a winter vacation. It was the first time I deliberately traveled to a cold place. My visit to Anchorage, Alaska, coincided with the Fur Rendezvous festival in Anchorage.

Heather and Sean showed me how to build a snowman in Alaska

A couple of seasons before that, it snowed in the mountains on the San Francisco peninsula in California during the coldest winter since such-and-such year. I was working for Sunset magazine at the time. That winter I remember the first snowball thrown at me at Yosemite National Park where the waterfalls were frozen and the scenery was gorgeous-crisp and quiet.

Throughout our 25 years of marriage, DH and I often visited his parents, brother’s and sister’s families in Pennsylvania during the winter holiday, so often that my friends would ask if I ever went anywhere else besides Pennsylvania.

The last December we went to the East Coast, before this one, was to see his parents at their funerals within two weeks of each other. We huddled under the falling snow and placed orchid lei on the ground in the church’s memorial garden where we buried their ashes.

One weekend we took the train from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. We stayed at the Pen Arts building that is the headquarters for the National League of American Pen Women, the members’ clubhouse. The staff went home for the weekend, and the mansion was ours. To trek around in the snow the next morning, though, we first had to get out of the front door. Thank goodness DH remembered how to shovel the steps and to say, “Yes, thank you!” when a man came by to ask if he should salt the sidewalk.

If you have to live in wintry weather all the time, I’m sure it could be more tiresome than romantic. But if you are born and reared in Hawaii as I was, it’s a novelty.

When I was in Osaka, Japan, one February for the opening of the Oceania exhibit at Minpaku (the National Museum of Ethnology) at Senri Park, Professor Shimizu regretted to tell me, when I asked, that it probably would not snow. A few minutes into lunch, he was really surprised to see the white flakes falling outside the dining room window. But I wasn’t.

Here is the link to Minpaku. The photo you see is an exact replica of Hale Kuai Cooperative store with authentic Native Hawaiian made products in Hauula, Oahu, that I co-founded with Ka Lahui Hawaii. How it got there as the Hawaiian part of the permanent Oceania exhibit at the museum is an amazing story, a real memoir that I’ll share with you someday.

I say it’s fitting that WordPress bless this blog with snow. Please enjoy it warmly in front of your computer! I’m planning to send holiday posts while abroad.

Copyright 2009 Rebekah Luke

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