Our day at Northwest Folklife 2018 was so full of life, love, and connectedness, that we didn't have a moment to take a proper group photo! I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to meet so many bright (and then sweaty) faces as we danced it out under the sun in the early morning session for children at the outdoor Seattle Center Discovery Zone; and then, again, as we danced indoors at the Armory Loft Room 3 later in the afternoon. At the Discovery Zone, I fortunately welcomed a young Alaka'i (leader) to the stage who joined me for the entire workshop. She asked poignant questions related to Disney's recent Moana. "Are you Moana? You look like Moana."
To this I always answer with a smile. "Moana looks like me."
It's true. Our people, Polynesians, settled in the islands of the Pacific as early as the 3rd Century, over 1,800 years ago. The directors of Moana visited our islands and asked our elders to share our stories. My Alaka'i preceded to ask me then about the legends in Moana - Maui? Teka? And so, I told the legends I learned as a child, the legend of Maui and how he snared the sun atop Haleakalā, the house of the sun. Of Teka, I told her the legend of Pele who sailed from Tahiti with her brother Kamohoali'i leading the way; Pele, whose volcanic powers were in full force on Hawai'i island, today. Mahalo nui loa, e young Alaka'i, for your inspiration and for guiding me back to the stories of my people.
In the second workshop, the Armory room filled with over 60 participants, mostly adults, and many who were a part of our islander and hula-dancing community in Seattle. It was such a pleasure to see so many familiar faces and so many new. We discussed the Hawaiian heart or na'au, of speaking with truth; brief lessons of Hawaiian history and language; and my kuleana or responsibility to continue learning and sharing the practice of my people, an opportunity not afforded to my own Native Hawaiian mother due to the affects of colonization and intolerance. So, today we dance. We also looked over the language and story of Ho'opuka E Ka Lā Ma Ka Hikina, a hula ka'i whose powers summon for the blessings of the gods to connect with us on this land. Mahalo nui loa for all the hula 'olapa and the nā haumāna hou who joined us this day. I hope to dance together again, soon! A hui hou.