What I love about Hawaiian Culture, and Hawaiian History. There are so many things about Hawaii that I love in very intense ways. But I think the best part about being in Hawaii is learning of the 2000+ year history of Hawaii, and the ancient Polynesian explorers. Its easy to remember what I love about Hawaii when I am away from her long enough to realize the things that I love so much.
I have been visiting Hawaii since long before I moved to Hawaii in 2018, always to look at a boat. After moving to Hawaii, and getting deeper into the culture, I have learned so many things about the Hawaiian culture.
I am grateful for all of the knowledge, and the personal stories that have been told to me. I hear a lot of different versions of the same history, even from families who have lived on the islands for centuries. But each version shows where that person or that family put their priorities, or where they were hurt the most and by whom.
I find the spirit of aloha to be beautiful and a vibrant way to express love and care for other human beings. However what aloha is shared in Hawaii now is shared cautiously. I am not sure if this is new, or if this goes back long before Captain Cook came to Hawaii, since it is a sore spot in Hawaiian history, that they had some brutal social practices such as slavery, capital punishment, torture and human sacrifice. The science and the oral history seems to indicate that when the Tahitians came to the Hawaiian Island chain 900 years ago (give or take some), that there was already an established civilization, called the “Mu people” or “Mu”, and when the Tahitians landed, they conquered, captured and enslaved these people of much smaller stature, which according to multiple sciences and peer reviewed works (see notations at the bottom) came from South East Asia. I will notate some sources that document the slave class in the Hawaiian caste system, long before Europeans ever landed in Hawaii, but you can search for yourself the “Kauwa“.
The point here being, that while there are certainly class and racial issues in Hawaii now, that does damper the aloha, or at least suppresses it a bit. People in Hawaii have been burned many times throughout history, and even Hawaii as a state gets a bad end of a law such as the Jones Act, which should have expired long ago, due to it being a war-time measure, not a peace time measure, and it is very costly to the islands that are within the protection/control/occupation of the USA. From Puerto Rico (for instance, when we were there for Hurricane Maria, and seeing how both Federal and most CERTAINLY local government responded to the aftermath), to USVI, to Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa. All of these areas of the USA has to submit to the costly regulations under the Jones Act. I will put a reference in the bottom of this article for information on the Jones Act incase you are unfamiliar.
So while these are tense issues, and sometimes painful issues. It does make for a deep and rich culture, with many many layers to the depths of the people and the various changes of power throughout millennia.
As a traveler, an explorer, and a navigator (of ships and airplanes), I respect the history of Hawaiian explorers and naked-eye navigators. I know how learning that is a real deep cultural knowledge and it not easy to attain that knowledge. It took Polynesian people thousands of years to perfect their amazing navigation skills. To be close to this is a real cultural benefit that you will not find anywhere else.
As a highly multi-cultural melting pot it gives people an understanding about both how little melanin truly means, underneath it all. But in cases of protests and revivals like what is going on with the Mauna Kea movement, it also sometimes reminds us how much culture and heritage does mean to humanity. Which has given us pause to appreciate the many blessings and the amazing amount of beauty, history, and knowledge that Hawaii has brought to the world.
I learn about new things in Hawaii that I gain a great appreciation for all of the time. From the aina, in such events as the 2018 Kilauea eruption that our home was literally a mile away from the main fisser. How powerful the land is, how powerful the air is, and how powerful the sea is. Hawaiians / Polynesians as of the last 900+ years are by in large a warrior culture. Which in a lot of ways, makes sense if you get to know how raw and powerful the environment is. This gives me a major appreciation for the team work and fierceness of/in this culture.
Growing up in very culturally closed areas of the world, such as Utah which I lived in for most of my childhood, along with California and Arizona, it opens my eyes to so many new human experiences being in Hawaii. I have dedicated myself to learning Japanese, which I practice learning on daily with Duolingo. This is partially inspired by the Japanese friends that I have met in Hawaii, and also from a recent visit to Japan that I was able to take because of my situation in Hawaii.
One thing that I realize about Mormonism in the Hawaiian community, and why the Mormon church seems so popular among Hawaiians, is that Hawaiians and Mormons have a lot of history in common. There may be legends on both sides, some that may be very true, or so that may be embellished. However, Mormonism and Polynesian history have many many parallels. I personally left the LDS church, and I believe most of their teachings to be legend or fiction, and I do not follow Mormonism. But growing up in Utah with an LDS family, and dating several Hawaiian girls growing up and having a couple of Hawaiian friends in school growing up. I always wondered “WHY would Hawaiians join a historically racist church”?? But, there is appeal in other areas of the Mormon/Hawaiian connection, such as genealogy, and the history that they teach.
This is another direction point of connection that I have in common with many Hawaiian friends. Despite not being either Hawaiian myself (not by birth), nor do I practice Mormonism any more. I would say that my dedication to family history ranks closely with devoted Mormonism, or culturally tuned in Hawaiians. I love family history, and I have spent a good portion of my life building a repository of photos, documents, and video of places that my family have visited where our family has history. I love talkin story with Mormons and Hawaiians both, based on similar interests and similar history.
The many many blessings that I enjoy in Hawaii could go on for a very long time. Most of it is common sense and obvious type of stuff, like sun, seas, beaches, fishing, etc. But there is so much to Hawaii that I can only understand by experience, and I have no verbal way to communicate it. Even the disagreements and political issues in Hawaii become a learning experience and therefore a blessing as well.
In the video below, I shared some of our sailing and exploration experiences around the world.
I always recommend that you do your own research! I am sharing only from my own personal observation and opinion.