Friday, November 28, 2008

Musings: Driving Over the Remains

Friday morning finds me in America, or at least, roaming its periphery during a long layover at the Seattle airport, enroute to Denver. After enduring five and half hours of extreme body positions that approached torture, I arrived, bleary-eyed and dazed, in darkness that slowly gave way to a low-hanging gray that has barely brightened in the two hours I’ve been watching it.

I’m on my way to visit my Mom, who has been in the hospital for a week and hopefully will be released today. Reading Ian Lind’s post yesterday made me wonder how many families are dealing with similar situations.

He offered his take on it all, and I can only agree:

Bottom line: Treasure the time you have. You never really know when it’s going to end.

I think that's the lesson.


At least his Dad is on-island and not thousands of miles away in what feels like — and is — such a different world, one of coats and boots and people who don’t make eye contact.

No bird song greeted me this morning, just the din of CNN blaring from a big screen TV mounted in every concourse and 40-year-old rock and roll songs blasting from a speaker in the restaurant where I was reacquainted with the jolting effects of coffee — yowza — and threw away bacon that otherwise would have been shared with Koko.

Professor Tse, the kung fu grand master who gives me acupuncture and splits his time between Honolulu and Kauai, said that Kauai folks are healthier because the island is so much quieter. It’s hard on the nervous system, he said, to be exposed to constant noise, to have no opportunity to enjoy the peace of simple quiet.

A handful of people were holding sign outside the Waipouli Bay resort yesterday, trying to remind folks that iwi kupuna buried there before construction started still aren’t resting in peace. Apparently many of the burials remain in a storage container, even though the resort’s been open for what, a couple years now?

My friend Kaimi, who came to stay at my house and watch Koko, said he’d heard reports of doors slamming at the resort and windows opening and closing on their own.

That reminded me of an interview I had with Doug Sears, general manager of the Hyatt, and he was telling me that Stella Burgess, the resort’s director of Hawaiian and community affairs, is called upon to do a blessing or clearing somewhere on the resort grounds at least once a month to quell some sort of “spiritual disturbance.”

At least he and Stella are aware of what’s going on, and how to deal with it. What about all the clueless people who have bought homes or timeshares on similarly disrupted properties, and have no idea why things don’t feel quite right?

That made me think of a comment, left recently on a Nov. 6 post, that most readers probably missed:

Regarding iwi on Kaua'i, I wish that more awareness was given to the massive Kukui'ula project. There are "sites of historical significance" that are blocked off with orange safety nets. These certain areas are off-limits to all individuals and contain iwi and critically endangered species. The orange fences are easily viewed on the new Western Bypass road, going South, at the intersection of the old site road (where the fruit stand was.)

Unfortunately, these sites are only feet from busy roads and have had thousands of cars and heavy equipment zoom by.

On a thousand-plus acre site, I wonder how many iwi were not contained in a small preservation area. There is no doubt that an expansive ahupua'a would have remains littered throughout the numerous lava tubes and rock formations. So, the rich billionaire Bennett Dorrance of Arizona has hired companies to scoop up the rocks, grind them into a huge machine and make little rocks to pave roads and change elevation.

SO, when you are driving on the Western Bypass and golfing at the new golf course, the remains of Native Hawaiians litter the path below.


And it struck me that throughout the Islands we’re driving over the remains of Native Hawaiians both literally and figuratively as we continue to build on burials, continue to overwhelm the indigenous culture, continue to disregard native people and traditional practices that get in the way of a Western notion of progress, continue to store iwi in storage rooms and cargo containers, continue to pretend that the past — and the people who lived it — really don't matter.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

As mentioned before, everytime you travel Kuhio Hwy. through Kapa'a Town you are driving over remains.
Picnicing on the beach at Kealia probably taking place over remains.
You would have to shut down all the beaches to deal with the reality.

Anonymous said...

> You would have to shut down all the beaches to deal with the reality. <

That "we'd have to shut down everything, we can't do anything" approach is a strawman argument, and one of the oldest ones trotted out against consideration for native cultures.

From recreation developments to drilling permits to home subdivisions, "if you don't let us use parcel X for purpose Y, you'd have to close down all of Z" is the first thing heard at land use meetings in response to cultural concerns -- invariably voiced by the same crowd of real estate developers, governments, local businesspeople and tourism advocates, all of whom have little understand of, and less feeling for, cultural traditions other than their own.

Anonymous said...

If you like "we'd have to shut down all the beaches," you'll love this one: a key argument in the 1950's legal wrangling to allow uranium mining on sacred Black Hills land was that the area had already been devastated by a century of gold mining. (The "patient already has cancer, why try to save his gall bladder?" argument.)

Joan's column is dead on. When it comes to Western progress and the Almighty Dollar, "the past -- and the people who lived it -- really don't matter."

Anonymous said...

ghosts? right...

i trust it is still ok not to be superstitious (which is ridiculous)

as to kukuiula, i am curious whether this site will ever note the monies they quietly provided to many local groups and/or the lots they gave to the prince kuhio park guys, etc

Anonymous said...

> ghosts? right... <

Wrong. There are other people who have other ways of seeing it -- ways of ancient tradition that are as valid as yours.

The smug sneer of those who roll their eyes at "primitive religions" sailed to Hawaii by the shipload from American shores -- a permanent fixture on the faces of businessmen and missionaries alike. Their 19th century arrogance is alive and well today, dishing disrespect with every luxury home, tourist resort and shopping center that is built on sacred soil.

Anonymous said...

It's hardly a strawman to point out that for 1000+ years people were buried in the coastal sandy areas by the hundreds of thousands. It's a simple fact.

While you might not like development, arguing that it shouldn't take place because old bones are underground gets a bit silly when pushed this far. It approaches the extreme of fanning the ground as you walk to make sure you don't step on an ant. The dead are not more important than the living to most of us.

And none of your religions mean much to many of us. Whether you are shaking shells or clutching at beads don't demand the rest of us follow your beliefs/superstitions.

Sandhya said...

Dear Joan,
May you find moments of quietude with your mother and your family on your visit to America.

Anonymous said...

Another less known meaning of "pono" is balance. There has to be a balance between the spiritual practices of Kanaka Maoli and the rampent development that we see going on today that has no regard for indigenous burial practices. No respect. Enjoying a day at the beach at Kealia cannot be compared to the massive grading, digging and unearthing that has happened in Koloa. I do not recognize that aina anymore. On another note: savior your time with your mother Joan. Nothing really is more important than the relationships we have with loved ones.

Anonymous said...

> And none of your religions mean much to many of us. Whether you are shaking shells or clutching at beads don't demand the rest of us follow your beliefs/superstitions. <

Deal.

Of course, then, you won't have any problem if I build a vacation resort on the graves of, oh, say, 20 generations of your personal ancestors.

Will you.

Anonymous said...

"The smug sneer of those who roll their eyes at 'primitive religions' sailed to Hawaii by the shipload from American shores...Their 19th century arrogance is alive and well today"

on the faces of progressives who have taken the side of a minority of disgruntled Hawaiians, calling themselves something else, and claiming that truly ancient traditions be recognized as religion rather than culture. Now one place where that is a reality, among some Mayans in Guatemala, there is no controversy about whether it is real. Here, it is just posturing and pretension by those who made unsuccessful choices in their lives and desparately need bailing out by "sovereignty."
Joan may find a merry band of fellow travelers here; but, try some of that "empire" and "settler" and "sovereignty" cornpone out there in Denver and report back to us.

Anonymous said...

blessings to you and your mum. happy trails!

Anonymous said...

Of course, then, you won't have any problem if I build a vacation resort on the graves of, oh, say, 20 generations of your personal ancestors.

Will you.
=====

NO, I WON'T. I HOPE THE RESORT PROSPERS AND HAS A FINE RESTAURANT THAT I CAN FREQUENT.

Anonymous said...

"Of course, then, you won't have any problem if I build a vacation resort on the graves of, oh, say, 20 generations of your personal ancestors.

Will you."

not really. they're dead and gone.

Anonymous said...

primitive religions


now that's an oxymoron.

Anonymous said...

"NO, I WON'T. I HOPE THE RESORT PROSPERS AND HAS A FINE RESTAURANT THAT I CAN FREQUENT."

November 30, 2008 1:49 PM

This comment is a example of what the problem is here and the people making them.
1) On the mainland their ancestors (if they even bothered to know them) are buried in well protected graveyards.
2) It is only the American Indians on the mainland who do not have those protections.
3) I venture to guess this type of person has little or no family ties, being so self-centered, didnʻt respect them when they were alive...why bother now that their dead...unless of course thereʻs a will or property to fight over.

That is the schlock that is over here big shotting their mouths off about another nationʻs culture.

Most Americans HAVE NO culture, how they possibly be expected to understand sanctity.

Anonymous said...

"That is the schlock that is over here big shotting their mouths off about another nationʻs culture.
Most Americans HAVE NO culture, how they possibly be expected to understand sanctity."

I can tell by the incoherence that you're drinking and writing. Don't go out driving now; yahear?

Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with believing that belief in the sacred is bogus.

Belittling the believers as somehow less... less than yourself, less deserving of respect and fair treatment... now, that's very wrong.

That crap sailed west with Columbus and continues today in Kaua'i. It's a cultural supremacy thing, living like tapeworms in the bowels of proud, self-respecting people. It is sometimes wrapped in robes of religion, although commerce is its true cleric; but no matter the skin-deep disguise, it's kissing cousins to racism.

Not, of course, that its practitioners can hear the harmony between condos on graveyards and coal mines on sacred mesas. To them, native Hawaiians, Americans or Australians are all the same brown irritants -- buzzing bugs to be ignored, patronized, exploited or, when they get in our way of taking what we want from them, legislatively swatted down.

Anonymous said...

As for me, I was taught to preserve (for all) and revere (for the deserving ones) but worship for none, the MEMORY of dead relatives, loved or not.

Their physical remains, however, mean nothing...it's not "them" anymore but just material that will go back to the earth.

We don't need gravesites, memorial stones, etc to give honor to our dead. They live on in our memories, and that should be enough for all.

Beyond that, never let old bones get in the way of what the living want to do with the land.

Anonymous said...

PS - that's why cremation is the disposal method of choice us and everyone we know personally.

No "urn on the mantle" either...cast the ashes in the rose garden, over the sea, etc.

Then remember, and move on.

Anonymous said...

Mesas are not sacred. Mountains are not sacred. They are geological features of the planet.

Try to avoid disturbing them for their beauty or significant ecological value (not "save the endangered flea" stuff)...but not for any so-called "sacredness".

Anonymous said...

Belittling, rascist and sanctimonious foreigners in these islands. Attempting to impose their ʻlack of cultureʻ upon the host culture.
Regardless of how they huff and puff, the constitution of the defacto state of Hawaii has provisions and protections built in. No, they are not very strong and clear, but they are there.
So, if you donʻt like it, leave. Because it happens to be the law of this land. If these respects and obligations had not been acknowledged, you folks would not be squatting here in the Hawaiian Islands. There are many provisions in law that were mandated in order to allow statehood. It was a fragile task on its face considering statehood was so illegal.
So, count your blessings and try to drop the ugly amerikan visage. It has really worn thin.
No. I am not Kanaka but it pains and shames me on a daily basis to see humble Hawaiians tolerate this ugliness from people that have taken so much without so much as a thank you. But then again, if you said thank you it would be an admission.
By the way, your comments are so incredibly petty it is just reconfirming everything despisable about ʻmostʻ amerikans. And yes, we are SQUATTERS.

Anonymous said...

RESPECT

Anonymous said...

Hawaii is America. Get used to it. I suppose the Akaka Bill will pass, and then "natives" can enjoy their "prefered status" under the State Dept just like all the other pre-existing sub-cultures.

Like it or not (and I like it) the American culture is dominant in all its 50 states and that isn't about to change in the lifetimes of us, our children or grandchildren.

If you don't like it...leave. More for us.

Anonymous said...

and what's with this "amerika" shit anyway???

Damn far-left liberal wackos.

Get with the program...the Obama-rama leading to a new, improved, better-than-before (and just as unyielding) AMERICA!

I love it!

Anonymous said...

Amerika
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Amerika could refer to the following:

Amerika (Kafka novel), a novel by Franz Kafka
Amerika (song) by the German industrial band Rammstein
Amerika (TV miniseries), in North America
Amerika (Berg novel), by Sibylle Berg
Amerika (BAP album)
Amerika (TV-2 album)
Amerika (webcomic), daily strip
SS Celtic (1872), later the White Star liner Amerika
Amerika (band), a Norwegian band
Führersonderzug "Amerika", one name for the principal train used by Adolf Hitler
Amerika (album), an album by Bo Kaspers Orkester
Amerika (magazine),a glossy publication, modeled on Life Magazine, published in Russian by the State Department during the Cold War to inform the Soviet people about American life

Geographic names
Amerika, alternative political spelling applied to the United States of America, often used as a slur
Amerika, the spelling of America in German, Dutch, Romanized Japanese, North Germanic languages and many other languages written in the Latin alphabet
Amerika, Saxony, town in Germany
Amerika (Drenthe) in the Netherlands
Amerikka, the name of two villages in Northern (Vieremä) and Southern Savonia (Juva) in Finland; so named because Finns who planned to emigrate to the USA ended up settling in these villages
Amerika, Czech Republic, Located in the South Moravian Region, approximately 45km North of Brno
===============

Well, other than the slur or "Hitler train" application (you scum who use it that way!!), I'll "believe" that all of you are of current Eastern European decent and spell it the "old world" way.

As for the others, you gravy-sucking scum, grind your teeth to nubs fretting over the unchangable future of continuing within the friendly confines of the US of A.

Anonymous said...

> Mesas are not sacred. Mountains are not sacred. They are geological features of the planet. <

Says who? The science of geology? Certain religions? You? What kind of monumental arrogance entitles you to tell a people whose culture is more ancient than you can comprehend, what is and is not sacred?

Who are you? You're the priests who sailed with Columbus, paid by the church that funded the monarchy that floated his boats. You're the U.S. government, granting millions of acres of sacred land to anyone who claimed there was money to be made on it. You're a million mining companies, railroads, real estate developers and paid-off legislators, all fattening your pockets.

You're a half millennium of smugly righteous racism working in servitude to imperial capitalism -- without even the honesty to admit it, much less recognize the horror it has caused whole populations.

Anonymous said...

You haven't answered the question: why do you think inanimate objects such as mesas and mountains "sacred", i.e., embued with supernaturial power form a god-like source?

It's dirt and rocks.

Get a life!

Anonymous said...

The fact that something is held "sacred" by a group of people does not, in fact, make it so.

Unless the hand of God himself indicates in no uncertain terms that something is "off limits" to us mere humans, that it is all just geology, geography, rocks, dirt...real estate to whomever has the power to own it.

dumb-ass cultural practitioners

Anonymous said...

If you don't like it...leave. More for us.

"America, love it or leave it."

Ever the battle cry of Nixon, Agnew, Bush, Cheney and the other narrow-minded losers of American history.

Anonymous said...

What kind of monumental arrogance entitles you to tell a people whose culture is more ancient than you can comprehend, what is and is not sacred?

Wouldn't that apply equally to both groups: those who say it isn't sacred as well as those who insist it is? Why should those who think it is sacred be able to tell anyone what is and isn't sacred?

Anonymous said...

Because old, ancient or recent they / we are only humans trying to answer the question, What is this all about?

Anonymous said...

> Why should those who think it is sacred be able to tell anyone what is and isn't sacred? <

The difference is that indigenous cultures generally want to leave their sacred lands alone, not strip-mine them for all the gold, uranium, coal and diamonds they can get; and cover the prettier parts with condos and resorts; and leave their children to deal with the trashing of sights and souls that results.

The difference is that which can be satisfied by leaving a thing be, and that which is insatiable.

The difference is greed.

Anonymous said...

ahhh here it is: The "noble redskin" myth in all it's glory. You can't get more naive than
Anon 9:03.
Oh, and he throws in that word: Greed. That's the word he uses as people who have made something of their lives drive past his pathetic thumb sticking out.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joan,
Looks like they found your site. Itʻs kind of like the night crawlers after theyʻve devoured and slimed everywhere else, theyʻre still hungry and ended up here.
Whew. Iʻm out. They looked up Amerika and couldnʻt even find anything to make their case. Pitiful.
Thereʻs some vile crap out there. Who knows maybe they got kicked out of AMERIKA too.
They say seaports, resorts and islands attract people running from things, hiding out, fly by nights, hustlers, child molesters...just plain trash. Poor Hawaii. Itʻs sad.

Anonymous said...

> ghosts? right... <

"Wrong. There are other people who have other ways of seeing it -- ways of ancient tradition that are as valid as yours.

The smug sneer of those who roll their eyes at "primitive religions" sailed to Hawaii by the shipload from American shores[.]"


Wow. Well, firstly, I trust nobody is recommending any society should give large deference to and/or otherwise largely organize itself around items patently supernatural and superstitious. Secondly, myself and most other rational operators are suspect of those who are passively (but clinically) delusional or aggressively adhere to most any "religion"..."primitive" or otherwise. Lastly, should anybody care to compare the relative standards of living for your average person living in a primitive/pre-contact/stone-age society vs a post 1800 or 1900 AD western/modern society.....go right ahead (and please include objective metrics such as longevity, woman's rights, infant mortality, murder rate, habeas corpus, freedom of travel, speech etc etc).

Anonymous said...

"ahhh here it is: The "noble redskin" myth in all it's glory. You can't get more naive than
Anon 9:03.
Oh, and he throws in that word: Greed. That's the word he uses as people who have made something of their lives drive past his pathetic thumb sticking out."


Oops, looks like you wandered into the wrong blog, pal. You want http://www.sarah-palin.com/

Good hunting!

:)

Anonymous said...

Winners and losers. Losers always attempt to take the high ground by bemoaning "cultural heritage", etc, to keep old ways alive when they are in fact terminal.

Winners don't have to justify anything.

I love being in a world paradigm of winners and losers. It's exciting, enthralling and ever so satisfying winning.

And I love cashing in some of my winnings in my South Kona estate.

Reading these leftist blog funny papers and dispensing my mirth here merely adds to my enjoyment.

Now, once the natives finish washing my car and tending to my landscaping, I'm off to a wonderful dinner party with fellow winners.

Anonymous said...

Now, once the natives finish washing my car and tending to my landscaping, I'm off to a wonderful dinner party with fellow winners.

Great! First left to the pier, straight ahead to the SuperFerry, then NNE to Anchorage. You'll love it, the place is packed with your fellow carnivores.

Don't forget your fur-lined skivvies!

:D

Anonymous said...

They're all coming here! Don't you know the huge number of AK folks relocating here or buying second homes? Tons of 'em on the Big Island.

All those kill-em-and-eat-em folks are welcome here!

Anonymous said...

No one has adequately answered the "sacred lands" issue, other than to say that the people that were here first (and there are always people that have been there ahead of you) somehow have the right to impose their beliefs on those that follow.

Things change, the world moves on. Cultures are supplanted by other cultures. Disco died.

Move on. Learn to prosper in the new world rather they whine about the loss of the old.

That's what my recent ancesters did and became quite successful.

Don't drag your dead behind you like a ball and chain.

Anonymous said...

Apparently hippies are far more angry than one might have suspected.

Anonymous said...

Especially if you insinuate that those hippies aren't squatters on another culture's land and that not all physical reality in the natural world is sacred.

Anonymous said...

Got to start with 911 and to - Get Over It.

Anonymous said...

True Aloha is letting you advocate giving Hawaii back and not stomping you to pieces which is what would happen in LA if you suggested returning it to Mexico.