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The Hawaiian Renaissance by George S. Kanahele
May 1979

So Brother Mossman was ahead of his time by three decades. Another individual initiative emerged in the 1950s when Malia Solomon developed her famous Ulu Mau Village, somewhat in the spirit and style of Lalani Village. Her interest and skills were in crafts such as tapa-making and weaving, and consequently she emphasized aspects of the culture that others had not. But Ulu Mau Village, which was first located in the midst of Ala Moana Park, and then later removed to Heeia-kea, eventually faded awa, not for lack of inspired leadership and commitment on the mart of Malia, but for lack of a responsive public.

The time was not ripe. Hawaii was preoccupied with the political, social and economic changes that followed the Second World War. The main groups that were involved were the BIg Five, the AJA's and the labor unions. The Hawaiians as a community were only on the perriphery of the power struggle. Consequently, matters such as Hawaiian cultural identity and preservation took a backseat to other priorities.

However, in the mean time, the mainland was in the throes of the black civil rights movement. With its demands for equality and self-determination, the movement inspired other minorities to press their grievances. The fight for civil rights ushered in the "Age of Ethnicity" whose main credo was that there was nothing wrong in maintaining one's ethnic identity and, certainly, nothing un-American about it. It challenged the old "melting pot" notion of everybody becoming one homogenized lump.

The movement also engendered a spirit of defiance and rebelliousness that was reflected in the great counter-culture of the '50s, rock 'n roll. Elvis, the Beatles, long hair, new clothes styles, drugs--in a way these were but expressions of independence against the established order. A new generation had arrived to create its own world.

Vietnam was an important part of this period, nourishing the nation-wide mood of questioning of authority and old myths through protests, demonstrations, draft-card burring, desertions and escapes to Sweden and Canada by young men who believed the war was wrong.

So this spirit of protest and all the values an activities it engendered, had an impact on American ethnic groups such as the Chicanos and Puerto Ricans--and the Hawaiians. It's impossible to measure it, but its effects were observable or at least felt in the 1960s when Hawaiians, as individuals and groups, showed an increasing concern for their political rights and grievances and their cultural identity. The seminal statement of this period was, perhaps, John Dominis Holt's "On Being Hawaiian" an emotional but powerful reaffirmation of the Hawaiian and his place in society. It was published in 1964. A rather significant event--looking back now because it wasn't considered so then--was probably the establishment of the State Council on Hawaiian Heritage because it was the first time the State of Hawaii officially recognized the value of perpetuating the culture in this manner. THis was done in 1969. There were other Hawaiian cultural happening such as the growth in the popularity of Hawaiian canoe paddling, the emerging comeback of the male hula, the formation of Hui Kukekuka and Hui Na Opio and similar cultural groups, all by the late 1960s. And finally, the first political demonstrations that began with Kalama Valley in early 1970 when protesters sought to prevent BIshop EState from ousting a pig farmer.

It was not until the early 1970s that the Hawaiian Renaissance really flowered and attained the influence it has today. So you can see that the events of this decade are the logical culmination of events and causes that happened before, including the efforts of many individuals and groups, such as King Kalakaua, Prince Jonah Kuhio, George Mossman, Malia Solomon and many others. History, after all, is a continuum with its own karma. but what makes the '70s different from any of these past events and efforts is the sheer size, intensity and numbers of people involved in the Renaissance.

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