Nhsc-v1-184

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nhsc-v1-184

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arching at the approach of their ali'i, the people gained status along with that of their ali'i. The more extravagant the kapu, the greater the status for the whole group.

This is quite different from European culture, which sometimes described commoners and serfs as forced to grovel before royalty. In fact, when an ali'i misused his or her powers and kapu responsibilities, he or she was removed by the group and replaced with another, a practice for which there is ample evidence and moral support in Hawaiian traditions. For all the ferocity reported on Hawaiian kapu in English books, little or no mention is made of the fact that the greatest defense against the kapu was the physical person of the ali'i. The ali'i was a pu'uhonua or "place of refuge and sanctuary" for those who inadvertently failed to maintain the kapu of the lineage. This concept is preserved in ordinary Hawaiian language in the word 'opuali'i, meaning to have the heart of an ali'i or the ability to forgive some mistake.

Thus, the study of Hawaiian culture through the English language can be very damaging and just the two words, ali'i and maka'ainana, as interpreted through English-language Hawaiian culture textbooks, have caused problems for English-speaking Hawaiians. As mentioned earlier, the ali'i and maka'ainana are a single lineage with those descending from first-born children having higher status. Almost every Hawaiian has some connection to some first-born linkage in his background and thus every Hawaiian seems to have some ali'i "blood." There are two reactions to this within the context of the Enqlish connotations of the English term "king:" overbearing haughtiness, or shape in association with a repressive group, both in direct, conflict with the traditional Hawaiian view that the people are all one.

We see then that the replacement of Hawaiian with English can have (and has had) a tremendous negative impact on Hawaiian culture and thus the Hawaiian people:

  • First, any aesthetic culture divorced from its language cannot exist, and this is especially true for Hawaiian culture in which such qreat importance is placed upon the intricate and subtle use of language.
  • Second, although the base culture or the basic personality of the Hawaiian people can survive within the context of the replacement English language, that Hawaiian base culture becomes redefined as a subculture and historic development will move toward a definition of negatives that contrast with ideals of both the indigenous aesthetic culture and the imposed aesthetic culture.
  • Third, descriptions of the indigenous Hawaiian aesthetic culture and base culture through the medium of the imposed English language cannot absolutely transmit a full picture of Hawaiian culture. English inevitably implies Anglo-American culture in direct proportion to that part of Hawaiian culture that is lost in the description. This has a negative impact on Hawaiians, not only in the impressions gained by

outsiders, hut also in the self-impression gained by English-speaking Hawaiians using such descriptions.

-p184-

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