by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu - Oct. 30, 2013:
The debate over marriage equality in Hawaii has created much tension and division in our communities. It is time for Hawaiians who have been silent for so long on this issue to raise our voices against the parasitic capitalization of our culture, history, language and philosophy by those who continue to compromise, convolute and decimate us even beyond what has already been accomplished at the hands of the colonizers.
Kanaka Maoli have been conditioned for so long to think and act like foreigners that we have allowed the meaning and intent of our words, traditions and philosophies to be replaced by neo-Christian beliefs and used to further a Western political agenda on our islands.
This has become evident over the past weeks as many of my fellow Kanaka Maoli wave signs on the streets or speak on TV to insist on “traditional marriage” as a way to protect “ohana values.” In truth, pre-contact Hawaiians would have scoffed at the simplistic view of marriage as “the union of one man and one woman,” and their family arrangements often included and even depended upon relatives in same-sex relationships.
In pre-contact times, ohana was far more extensive than the Western nuclear family. They included kupuna and their siblings and cousins, makua and their siblings and cousins, children and grandchildren and all other cousins and distant and hanai relations. Our people lived in a format employing kauhale, where multigenerational and latitudinal families gathered together. Western missionaries thought us barbaric and labeled us heathens, but our extended families took care of the whole ohana.
Our people also embraced mahu (those who embody both kane and wahine ability, insight, feeling and spirit all rolled up into one body), aikane (those involved with intimate relations of the same sex), punalua (those men and women who had multiple partners of the opposite sex), and, of course, poolua children (a child with more than one father figure and the ability to claim more than one genealogy). Such people and relationships were not just “tolerated,” as in the current neo-Christian dogma, they were an intrinsic part of the social fabric.
In these challenging times, convoluted views of our native culture are being appropriated for other purposes. Hawaiians need to be consistent. Choose your water source and stay there. If you would like to drink the holy water from the Christian chalice, then that is your choice. If you would like to drink from the punawai of the wai a kane, then that, too, is yours to pursue. The problem occurs when Hawaiians want to have it both ways, drawing water from the wai a kane to further the goals of Christianity, enabling its proselytizers to continue perpetuating the wrongs of the past.
Wake up, kanaka maoli! If you support the Westernized Christian view of marriage, then so be it — but please don’t pretend that your choice has anything to do with Hawaiian thought or values. You have joined the ranks of the ones without a culture, without a language and without a soul, those our ancestors called haole. You require your soul’s mana to come from a completely outside source and have no wherewithal to find that source of life within. You would relegate our people to nothing but mere shells along the seashore, damaged by those who trample upon their fragile beauty because they want to walk in paradise.
I speak on behalf of mahu and those in aikane relationships who are too afraid, too shy or unable to articulate their profound connection to the true native concept of Hawaii — an inclusive society that unconditionally accepts, respects and loves all people, and that values the full and wondrous diversity of our relationships and families.