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E. PRESENT-DAY SEARCH FOR TRADITIONAL VALUES
In 1979, the Humanities Conference addressed these issues of concern and need among Hawaiians in a panel discussion on: "Can the Humanities Help the Search for Traditional Hawaiian Values?" Since then the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has become a reality, but at that time the community was groping for answers to some of these questions:
- Do humanities scholars know what values motivated ancient Hawaiian society and to what extent they are now present in the contemporary Hawaiian society? Moreover, if they do know what they were and are, are such values proper for present-day Hawaiian society with its multi-ethnic composition? Or, rather, if they are worth recovering, should they be applied to present-day social aims to promote inter-ethnic understanding or to be strictly applied toward the Hawaiian Renaissance? If so, how shall they be applied and who shall determine the effective means of implementation?
- Let us assume that traditional Hawaiian values are worth knowing by humanities scholars and worth recovering by both the general public and the Hawaiian people themselves. What questions would then be posed? If it should be assumed that the people of Hawaii and the Hawaiians in particular wish to recover certain traditional values, does this imply that they genuinely feel something of tremendous value has been lost to all of society that was formerly unique to the aboriginal group? What then do they wish to recover for the sake of all and also what, in more specific terms, ought to be recovered for the sake of the Hawaiian people? Whose responsibility would it then be to determine those differences in value choices and under what conditions? Would it be largely a question for an open society to contemplate or is it one in which the role of the Hawaiian group may assert priority in basic decision-making? If the latter, in what role would the humanities scholars then find themselves if they have not yet ascertained what their present state of actual knowledge of Hawaiian values is, and if it is sufficiently reliable enough when used to augment or to modify any determination effected chiefly through the means of political, rather than intellectual or economic process? 12/
Since the Humanities Conference of 1979, when these questions were first offered for consideration, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) has been mandated by the State Constitution, with full community support and legislative backing, precisely to give Hawaiians priority in decision-making on issues directly affecting their lives now and in the approaching future.
The need for research into the area of indigenous Hawaiian cultural values, including those of ethics and religion, has become a primary requirement in OHA's program for cultural recovery. Most Hawaiians are unsure of what the true, dependable, and trustworthy models are and if they are suited to their present needs and conditions, while some feel they need to be simply recognized, esteemed, and respected not just for what they are but who they are, the last living remnant of the original inhabitants of this place. What can others learn about cultural extinction as it
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