I began studying the Hawaiian Language after a prompt from my cousin P., that if I wanted to hula, I should learn the Hawaiian language so I would understand what I was dancing to. At this time I had retired from my career as a playfreshional contemporary dancer and had restructured my life to circle up around health and well-being. I began to take classes with a hālau a 45 minute drive from my home. After six months of study, I set the hula aside to dive into ʻōlelo Hawaii. I began to look first to teachers on YouTube, and then, when that did not seem to be of much support, I sought out support from oleloonline and began to invest in the language.
In the journey, I chose to say yes, or admit yes, that I am a Hawaiian, and given I had dedicated my life to the arts and healing, I was both a kanaka maoli artist and a mea lapa lāʻau independent on the quantum of islander koko flowing through my veins. In saying yes, I also said yes to processing the depths of grief associated with this lineage, which, at times, has been overwhelming.
I saying yes to the Hawaiian lineage, I choose to shed this identity and nod to the lands here in Santa Barbara County that have been my hānai ʻohana. Although there is this ancient lineage, in this life, the fact is, the land here calls me her own, just as the Hawaiian islands call me the same when I return there, and even how the lands of former Yugoslavia also embrace me when I visit there
It is true, the creativity is now flowing into the language, and beginning to flow into the visual arts, but to tell you the truth, I am scratching my head why, why am I doing this.
There is a haole saying that ignorance is bliss. Iʻd say, identifying as a haole was a lot easier than to embrace the truth of my fatherʻs lineage. With awareness has come things perhaps I would have preferred to remain buried.
Nobody in my family speaks the language, I am the first to return to it, and perhaps I will be the last.