Awareness of things Hawaiian

Honolulu Advertiser
Friday, February 20, 2004

By Charles Maxwell

Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. is a Hawaiian cultural specialist.

The incident pertaining to the Hawaiian skull being sold on eBay produced insensitivity in the newspaper and television coverage of the incident.

Mike Fisch, president and publisher of this newspaper, apologized for the insensitive gesture of placing the picture of the kupuna iwi in the Feb. 6 article. KITV also showed the skull of the kupuna on its 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts.

After those newscasts, I spoke with Mike Rosenberg, the CEO for KITV, who also apologized and canceled the segment from the 10 p.m. News. I informed him that I would speak to Todd Pritchard, the KITV News director, to educate him about Hawaiian spirituality and the sacredness that is associated with na iwi kupuna (the ancestor's bones). Mr. Pritchard said he understood the feelings of the kanaka maoli and their association to the ancestors' past.

Actually, both news media were trying to bring to the open the news about an insensitive person with such blatant disregard for Hawaiian culture and common decency for the dead. Overlooking this fact, the media showed the picture again and continued the degradation of the iwi.

Hawaiians are being attacked in the courts by non-Hawaiians, using the laws and the U.S. Constitution, who claim they want to see Hawai'i become "color-blind" and to do away with the Hawaiian Homes Act, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and other entitlements that were offered by America for stealing Hawai'i from the Hawaiian people.

The descendant of one of the criminals who stole the kingdom from Queen Lili'uokalani, Thurston Twigg-Smith, is one of the complainants.

With the separation of our precious land and lifestyle from our ancestors by Western society, we are suffering today, trying to hold on to our identity as kanaka maoli through our desire to practice our culture. People who come to Hawai'i to visit and to make their home must remember to respect our cultural beliefs.

The iwi of our ancestors contain a spiritual essence of the dead person, and the place they were buried is also sacred and sanctified by the process of the kanu (plant or interment). The spirit of aloha is hard to maintain when only taking occurs; it really is a two-way gesture.

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