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Showing posts from August, 2009

88 Shrines

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This morning we took a short trek up to Lawai to visit the International Peace Center's openhouse. It was so clear and bright that all the heavy cloud leis were gone from the mountains, and we could see their green rumpled skirts all around us. It's easy to forget to see them-- everything was bright today.

The center is back in a little residential neighborhood. A flock of pretty goats graze the grass out front, and a cheerful greeter in a straw hat and designer sandals showed us to some lawn chairs with a serene view and gave us some jasmine tea and Manju--Japanese pastries. We joked under our breath that the red dot on top was the mind altering drugs. Our greeter said to sit and enjoy the peaceful surroundings for a moment while the previous tour finished up the orientation.

The view from our lawnchairs was lovely--a long grassy mound in front of an imposing rock wall. Matt wondered, "oh no, the site of a heiau?" Sure enough, yes. A particularly powerful one, in the…

50 Years

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So as a basically uninformed observer, Happy 50 years of Statehood, Hawaii!

You were a chain of connected sisters in the family of Polynesia, and then you were discovered by the West, and everything changed almost instantly. Chiefs got gun-powder weapons, fought brutal battles. You became your own Kingdom-- you were a hub of the Pacific, with sudden wealth from whalers and traders and sudden death and misery from disease and consumer culture. Your people struggled and changed-- newcomers poured in to work, to live, to make gobs of money, to punish you for your sins, to learn your ways. Whalers got Hawaiian tattoos, Hawaiians wore missionary clothes and toppled their gods. Old taboos were discarded, new ones were stamped on your faces.

Hawaiians poured away from the islands and scattered across the world-- marrying Indians in the Northwest, educating freed slaves in the East, and criss-crossing the continents on whalers. Most changed, learned new languages, never came home, and left trac…