Moving forward in the new year

16 01 2016

Good morning, studio fans! This is my belated new-year message for 2016. It usually takes a while to get my ʻōkole in gear after the holidays and the lovely celebrations for my birthday in early January. Yesterday I was most inspired by the Royal Hawaiian Band concert at the palace grounds, where I walked after lunching with a friend in downtown Honolulu.

ʻIolani Palace grounds during the Friday noontime performance by the Royal Hawaiian Band draws an appreciative public

ʻIolani Palace grounds during the Friday noontime performance by the Royal Hawaiian Band draws an appreciative audience.

The program featured the music of Liliʻuokalani in remembrance of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893. My friend Malia is the Band’s soloist, and I was glad to hear her sing. She is a phenomenal vocalist. What a gift she has. The entire program was very uplifting. I awoke this morning with the tunes in my head and a vow to keep music in my life; learn or practice something new every day. Reminder number one!

Reminder number two: Take time to socialize with others and make friends, especially as I grow older, to keep my attitude and perspective in check. Besides, it’s fun! Becky, the friend I lunched with (she is like a sister to me)  listened as I inventoried my current health issues (I go in for an annual physical around my birthday). I thought she was being sympathetic, but being younger, she said her interest was in learning what problems she might expect for herself in the future. Humph. We had a good laugh over that one!

Reminder number three plus: Be aware of teachable moments and be kind. In Hawaiʻi, Sovereignty Sunday (remembering the overthrow) coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Miss Marvelous, 6, is in first grade and reads now, lending to interesting conversations between grandparent and grandchild. For example, she reported that she is learning “mindfulness” in school. The other day she asked me, “Am I white?” to which I countered, “What do you mean?”

Big sigh. “You know, a long time ago, maybe the Russians and the Germans couldn’t marry. I’m talking about ancient history,” the child said. “And that King!” Clearly she wanted an answer, and I almost forgot the original question.

I’m drawn to her (my) confusion. King Kamehameha? King Kalākaua?

“Papa, help us out here.”

DH offers, “Martin Luther King?”
Ohhh… (lightbulb)…

“Well, Ayla, if you are asking about the color of your skin or descending from Caucasoids, then yes, you are White,” I said.

Judging the expression on her face, I detected it was a complicated issue in her mind, as she lost interest and ran off to play, as I hoped she would hear me say, “Peoples’ skins on the outside are different colors, but on the inside our hearts are the same.”

As I mused, if she is white, what am I: brown? yellow? beige?

(Copyright 2016 Rebekah Luke)

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,, 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

Movies on a rainy day – these filmmakers are Hawaiian

2 05 2010

More and more indigenous Hawaiians are finding not only their voices but their audiences. I find that exciting. The Oiwi Film Festival opens today at The Honolulu Academy of Arts Doris Duke Theatre. The festival features the collective voices of Native Hawaiian filmmakers and runs through May 26, different movies on different days. Tickets are affordable at $8 with a dollar off for students, seniors and military. If you’re a member of the Academy of Arts, five bucks gets you in. I posted more information on

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