Palapala Po'okela Awards, Hawaii Book Publishers Association
Family Secrets and Cartographic Silences
Chatty Maps and Memory
"For memory to function well, it needs constant practice."Milan Kundera
Land, body, and memory all inform one another. The land, extending out and into the ocean, holds the practical and epistemological memories of encounters. The body is the agent, the participant in the environment, and the container of memories. For Hawaiians in the past, vital information was relayed through the environment, and this memory of ka ʻāina (the land; that which feeds) affected close interpersonal relationships and societal structures. Vestiges of that connection to kaʻāina still exist in places and still hold valuable information about who we are. The dynamics and evolution of land, body, and memory can be glimpsed in the land tenure documents and in the personal stories that accompanied the exchanges of private property. I search and wonder at the connections, then and now, of land and ocean, body, and memory.
I found the following narrative about the Lele of Hamohamo at the Hawaiʻi State Archives eight years ago. I was there researching my last name, and when I found this handwritten chapter by my great-great-grandfather, Curtis Piehu Iaukea, I had only a glimmer of a clue as to what he was talking about. I had only just recently found the map to this property at the Bureau of Conveyances in Honolulu, but had not yet uncovered the Kalanianaʻole suit he refers to from the Circuit Court (Oʻahu First Circuit). This narrative and others like it helped me piece together and gain insight into the larger story of the political transfer of land in general from Hawaiian Kingdom sovereign territory to the Territory of Hawaiʻi, the story of Curtis Piehu Iaukea, and finally my own personal narrative. The three stories collide but intimately inform one another, and they do so because of my great-great-grandfather's recorded memory of land-how it was transferred, who transferred it, and what the continuing consequences of these transactions are a century later. Memory fills in the moʻo kūʻauhau (genealogy) in practical and more fundamental ways. The Lele of Hamohamo starts and ends this book because it is a microcosm of how I have come to understand myself, my kūpuna (ancestors), and my community.
The "Lele of Hamohamo" and the Attempt to Deprive Of It
Whilst the Kalanianaole suit was still pending and to my surprise and astonishment, Mr. W.O. Smith showed me a letter which the Queen had sent him a day or two before. The letter was dated February 13, 1912, and read as follows:
"I find I have devised to Mr. C.P. Iaukea a certain lot in Hamohamo, to his heirs and assigns forever. It was not my intention that he should have the benefit of it forever, and as you know I have devised my other beneficiaries their portions for their life and their heirs, failing which the property should revert back to my trustees. It is now my purpose to revoke that and revert the property back to the trust."
Having all the earmarks of one whom I had good reason to believe had written the letter, whose name I'd rather not mention, I had no hesitation in saying so, when asked by my colleagues on the board of trustees what I thought of the Queen's proposition. Convinced as I was that it was not the Queen's wish, I said to them that if they wanted to consent to the request by an amendment to the deed of trust, they could do so, but that I would not be a party to it. It would be a sign of weakness, I said, and might affect our side of the case when the Kalanianaole suit comes up for trial, as showing that the Queen was mentally unsound at the time she signed the deed of trust.
I further called Mr. Smith and Mr. Damon's attention to the fact that, on the two occasions when the draft of the trust deed and the deed itself were read to the Queen, the difference in tenure between the other beneficiaries and mine was referred to; the Queen distinctly saying in the presence of those who were then there with her at the time, myself included, "I wish it so; Mr. Iaukea has done a great deal for me."
What I said impressed them. I heard nothing further in the matter until a day or two later when Mr. Smith reported that, he had interviewed the Queen on two separate occasions; when the Queen said to him, "We will consider it further; put it off." And on the next visit, "Oh, let that go, We won't follow that any further." Mr. Smith leaving her with the impression that she wished nothing further done about the matter.
Closing another chapter of the many intricacies and machinations that surround court life which I have experienced in the course of a lifetime, Liliuokalani's being no exception to the rule.
Speaking of the tract of land in question, Queen Liliuokalani devised to me, known as the "Lele of Hamohamo," situate at Waikiki waena, a quarter of a mile away from the main tract known as the "Ili of Hamohamo," it contained some seven acres, a little more or less. Rice land, and under lease at $200 a year rental. I did not come into possession of the land until eight years had passed with the Queen's death in September of 1917 and when I did it was encumbered by a lease to a Mr. H.A. Heen for some years to run at the same rental of $200 per annum, the prevailing rental for rice lands in those days, of between $25.00 and $30.00 per acre. So that, it wasn't the magnificent gift as many have erroneously claimed, when the services I had rendered the grantor is taken into consideration. It wasn't very long after I had obtained the fee to the land under the provisions of the trust deed, when I turned the whole tract over to my wife, who owned in her own right some fifteen acres adjoining the "Lele of Hamohamo" on the Diamond Head side and next (to) the fair Grounds.
The Lele of Hamohamo. Lele translates as "jump" in Hawaiian land tenure discourse. It is a section of land in a different part of the ahupuaʻa (land division with districts running from the mountains to the sea) that contains either taro or forestland for that ahupuaʻa. As for the phrase "the Attempt to Deprive of It" in the title, it strongly resonated with me. I readied myself for the story about to unfold.
I know that name Lele-it's what I once called my sister when we were younger, because "Lesley" was too hard to say. I may have always known that Lele was part and parcel of my family, of our interfamilial interactions, and of our larger social histories. I was impressed when I first saw the map of this property. Almost eight acres, and in such a prominent location: right there in the middle of what was once the larger Waikīkī area, surrounded by and containing duck ponds, loʻi (taro) and rice fields. Lēʻahi (Diamond Head) stood on one side, and the ocean was off to the other. Two rivers ran alongside, and two ahupuaʻa (mountain to the sea land division) converge in that place. So much history here. So much mana (power) in the landscape.
The mana remains but is buried under schools, homes, and parking lots and is layered over with multiple social articulations-the result of the last one hundred years of history in Hawaiʻi. Pulling away some of these layers uncovers parts of my family's history and reveals the larger consequences of capitalism, land dispossession, secrecy, and manipulation both then and now.
My great-great-grandfather describes a contest over this property early on in our family's and Hawaiʻi's modern history. But no one ever told me about the Lele of Hamohamo. The intrigue surrounding the title to this property first appeared to me in the unpublished chapters of my great-great-grandfather's writings, which I read with curiosity driven by some deep, personal anxiety. Other family members know about this property, and the connecting property Hoʻoʻulu, intimately. Some in the family are completely aware of these properties-in fact, they have profited greatly from this land, providing themselves with house lots, mansions, and private-school educations. But how much do they really know? And how much did they really profit? I was about to learn more.
I needed to pinpoint exactly where the Lele of Hamohamo was located. Then would come the more difficult tasks of deciphering how this specific land deed figured in the larger mystery of the Queen Liliʻuokalani's deed of trust proceedings in 1909, of understanding the suit brought against her in 1915 by Prince Kūhiō with the "insanity trials," and of tracking the government's condemnation of this property into the 1930s. My kupuna (ancestor) wrote about all of these land deals. His memory reveals how private property law in Hawaiʻi was used to disenfranchise and disassociate us individually and collectively from land, from our moʻo kūʻauhau (genealogy), and from our ʻohana (family). Territorial land laws in Hawaiʻi a century ago privileged and disempowered practical land ownership. They also undermined native connectivity through ʻāina, moʻo kūʻauhau, and ʻohana. We live with the consequences of these legal maneuverings today.
Searching through these documents took me on a journey into a mystery. I pulled on the threads of entanglements that never seemed to loosen. I looked for the virtual keys to this property, but each new discovery led me to more locked doors that needed to be opened. Along the way, familial and political relationships, some Machiavellian, were revealed to me. But at first, simply the land ownership itself sparked my interest and fed my desire to know. Who owned it? Who sold it? How did a Waikīkī fortune, if only a small piece of it, slip away from my mother, my little sister, and me?
I grew up on Maui without property. After my parents divorced, my father sold our farm in upcountry Maui. Most of our share of the proceeds, along with any child and spousal support, never materialized, and so my mother always worked a minimum of three jobs to provide for our survival. For the three of us, something in the social system became unhinged, and we lived landless. Growing up without legal title to land not only disconnected us from ka ʻāina, but also forced us into the low-income housing apartments in central Maui known as Harbor Lights. We lived in marginal and unsafe surroundings. I both questioned the fairness of this social reality, and later wondered about my own identity as a Hawaiian.
If as Hawaiians we know ourselves through our connection to ka ʻāina, what happens when this connection is broken, and never allowed to flourish? Who am I without this? How did this dispossession not only affect my practical needs, but also alienate me from deeper understandings of self, genealogy, and community? And finally, once this loss of self, experienced as loss of land, is recognized, how do I fill the void? Luckily ke kai, the ocean, was close by and free. We spent most of our lives swimming, paddling canoe, and surfing, and this welcoming expanse still provides me with a constant means of escape and a source of solace.
The severing of immediate family connections also served to disassociate me from my larger ʻohana and its narratives. I didn't know who the first Curtis Piehu Iaukea was. Our only glimpse of family history came from periodic ventures to Waikīkī on the island of Oʻahu, where we would look at the giant oil painting of Colonel Curtis Piehu Iaukea next to the escalators on the second floor at the Queen Kapiʻolani Hotel. We decided he must have done something important to deserve a full-size portrait of himself in a hotel in Waikīkī, but we didn't know what. Some years later, at the University of Hawaiʻi, I enrolled in a class on nineteenth-century Hawaiian history. The assigned reading included two books by and about Curtis P. Iaukea. Now my interest was piqued, because what I knew about both the man and the era amounted to almost nothing. Information about my father's side of the family had been nonexistent. Or had it been withheld?
Someone suggested that I research my last name. This intrigued me because I had thought that I knew all I needed to know about my family. For me, family consisted solely of my small nuclear family. The larger Iaukea family wasn't encountered or discussed much except when the holidays rolled around, and we were painfully reminded of them by their silent absence.
So I started by researching my last name at the Bureau of Conveyances-where the land tenure records of Hawaiʻi are kept. Within a very short time, what my research uncovered truly shocked me. My great-great-grandfather came to life-instead of simply appearing in an oil painting on a hotel wall, he appeared before me as a foreign diplomat of both the Hawaiian Kingdom and the Territory of Hawaiʻi, as an integral member of Hawaiian governance for more than seventy years, and as a property owner on almost every main island in the Hawaiian archipelago.
Questions of native subjectivity, especially with regard to land and private property, soon were driving my academic work, because the history of dispossession and social dislocation in Hawaiʻi is my own immediate family's history. I grew up landless, marginalized, and without a place or a voice in the contemporary world, but my great-great-grandfather held over forty appointed and elected positions during his career as a public servant in Hawaiʻi in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
He also clearly wanted the history of his times preserved. Toward the end of his life, Curtis P. Iaukea was a member of the Hawaiʻi State Archives Commission and a founding member of the Hawaiian Historical Society. The territorial government commissioned him as the "chief historian" of the islands, and in 1939 he wrote weekly columns for the Honolulu Advertiser about everything from his memories of growing up on Hawaiʻi Island and being called to Oʻahu to serve Nā Aliʻi to his official trips abroad as the representative of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Throughout his career, he was both a repository for and creator of state discourse, representing Hawaiʻi internationally, and later preserving Hawaiian memory after the islands had become socially and politically occupied and reconfigured as a territory of the United States.
My great-great-grandmother, Charlotte Kahaloipua Hanks Iaukea, was an akamai (knowledgeable) landowner and prominent social figure in her own right. From her ancestral line of Kahaloipua and Hanks, she inherited most of what is today Date Street, located off of Kapahulu Avenue in Waikīkī. Her paternal line through Frederick Leslie Hanks links her to the same family as Abraham Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks. Her maternal line, Kahaloipua, stems from Kekualaula and Keawaaua, high chiefs on the islands of Hawaiʻi and Oʻahu. Akini Wahinekapuokaahumanu was her mother. Charlotte also served as a lady-in-waiting, commissioned as a Knight Companion of the Royal Order of Kapiʻolani, to Queen Kapiʻolani and was a friend of Queen Liliʻuokalani.
This was all new to me, and this Curtis P. Iaukea seemed to be a strong, enigmatic, worldly, and all-knowing figure. But so many questions still came to mind, and I had my doubts about his integrity. My experience with others of his name did much to instill trepidation and caution, since these descendants are now living on acreages or benefiting from trusts passed down from Curtis and Charlotte Iaukea, and have also knowingly cut us out of the familial loop, because my mother divorced my father due to his infidelity with someone who later became his fourth wife, one who could never bear to see us communicating in any sort of way with our father, and who would ultimately make sure that we were not allowed to attend his funeral. The interfamilial dynamics are still full of strife and emotional pain. The management of inheritance, land titles, and wealth is hidden. Knowledge is jealously guarded.
Private property continues to be a cause for division among family members today. My mother, my sister, and I were not invited to my grandfather's funeral, for what we can only guess had to do with the hiding of his assets. And make no mistake about it-attendance at a family funeral is by invitation only. My grandfather's wife, whom he married after my grandmother died and whom I have never met, kept the location of his funeral services a secret from us. The mortuary told us that we must check with the "family" to find out when the services would occur, but my grandfather's wife never returned our calls. My father and uncles also kept the location of the services secret. They inherited and now with my half brother closely control most of the remaining property that passed down from Charlotte and Curtis P. Iaukea.
The death of my father proved even more emotionally violent. My stepmother filed court papers to forbid my mother, my sister, and me to see our father on his deathbed. We fought these papers in court and won. However, by the time the court issues were settled, my father had died, which we found out about with everyone else on the evening news. My stepmother then hastily held my father's funeral service in private. We were deprived of saying our last good-byes, as were the legions of friends and wrestling fans who wanted to grieve this loss. Only a few family members were present, including a couple of half sisters, a half brother, along with a few stepmothers. How they justify their actions to themselves is a mystery to me, but ultimately, all that mattered is that we were on good terms with my father just before his death-regardless of the shadow that private property had cast over his life, and the chaotic relations that ran rampant up until his death.
This paranoia regarding geography continues to splinter my own genealogy by disrupting its continuity. Such a separation-driven by western notions of property and inheritance-is nonsensical in Hawaiian epistemology. This is a form of insanity, is it not? Kanaka maoli (Hawaiian people) are directly descended from ka ʻāina, and so forced separation from this entity represents a level of cultural violence that is unrecognizable within Hawaiian thought practices. Becoming cut off from ka ʻāina is more then a physical separation. Layers of connectivity are severed.
On the island of Oʻahu, Curtis and Charlotte Iaukea owned land in Waikīkī, Kalihi Valley, Waialua, and Nuʻuanu, totaling more than five hundred acres. By 1900, over four hundred acres of this land in Kamanaiki Valley, Kalihi, had simply disappeared from the land title books. Even though a Royal Patent in 1887 gave Curtis P. Iaukea fee-simple ownership to this land, nothing in his reminiscences even hints at his ownership. The transfer of title from his name does not appear in the official ledgers, and the land title folders that would hold such information are literally empty. This is one cartographic silence that remains in that empty folder. What I did find, however, was a large number of papers documenting the social relationships that affected the land held in fee simple by Curtis and Charlotte Iaukea in Waikīkī. And in this process, their agency as landowners became apparent.
By 1920, Curtis, with my great-great-grandmother Charlotte, owned over twenty-three acres in Waikīkī, including those eight acres referred to as the Lele of Hamohamo. Written in 1909 and upheld through court proceedings in 1915 and 1918, Queen Liliʻuokalani's trust deed speaks of this land as follows:
Upon the death of the Grantor, the Trustees shall make, execute and deliver to Curtis P. Iaukea, of Honolulu, a deed conveying to him, absolutely and forever, (subject only to said mortgage if the same be not then discharged with respect thereto) all of the land and improvements thereon known as the Lele of Hamohamo, at Waikīkī, adjoining his wife's land at Kaluaolohe, containing eight acres a little more or less.
The map of the Lele of Hamohamo shows how this property was connected to Hoʻoʻulu. Also known as Kaluaolohe, it is recorded as Land Grant 2615 and was owned by my great-great-grandmother, Charlotte K. Iaukea. Another two-acre parcel, known as Lei Hoʻoʻulu and granted to Akini, Charlotte Iaukea's mother, was also granted to Charlotte Iaukea and sits below Hoʻoʻulu.
In the 1930s and 1940s, large portions of this area, once known as the Iaukea Estate Land and containing more than fifteen acres at the time of Charlotte Iaukea's death, were rapidly sold off by her trust company, the Bishop Trust Co. Some of the acreage was also condemned in accordance with the Waikīkī Reclamation Act for the building of the Ala Wai Canal. The Lele of Hamohamo was condemned in its entirety by the territorial government, resold, and became known as the Hamohamo Tract. In addition to this land condemnation, the beneficiaries of the Charlotte Kahaloipua Iaukea trust; Lorna, her daughter; and my grandfather Curtis P. Iaukea II and his brother Frederick were the benefactors of numerous land deeds and became the landlords of the remainder of the land not sold. My father, his son, and my father's brothers then sold and bought more land and today hold title to property across the state. As a descendant, I am both saddened by the condemnation, and overwhelmed that members of my own family would sell virtually an entire subdivision, while still keeping secret both the ownership of this land and all of the monetary proceeds. Upon this land today sit low-rise apartment buildings, schools, and more people crammed into these spaces than imaginable. [Place map 1 near here.]
None of the architectural and personal intricacies appear on the map. This map, and others like it, represent and track the contractual arrangements of land title transfers. They do not record the reasons for property exchanges and ownerships, for geographic gains and losses, or for the actions of people involved in the legal transfers of land. These deeper readings are beyond the scope of the map, and therefore are systematically silent and even silenced by these maps.
A search of the handwritten and typed land title entries at the Bureau of Conveyances in Honolulu documents the transfer of the Lele of Hamohamo to other grantor books. One entry records that almost immediately after he received title, Curtis P. Iaukea transferred this land out of his name to someone named William Woon for $1. Woon then immediately transferred this title to my great-great-grandmother, Charlotte Iaukea, for $1.
Ah, this looks familiar! He's hiding the title to the land under his wife's name. My family still does this today; so now I know this trick goes back a few generations. But why would my great-great-grandfather want to hide this property? The subtext to these maps remained silent, not about to give anything away. I then discovered that this property was sanctioned for "eminent domain" and condemned by the territorial government almost immediately after these quick transfers of title. Now, I was truly confused, because Curtis P. Iaukea worked for the territorial government.
Soon after leaving the Bureau of Conveyances in downtown Honolulu, I took my thoughts to the ocean. Surfing-my sanctuary, my escape. Luckily, I had the waves just off Diamond Head all to myself that day. I remember catching wave after wave while wondering not only about the Lele of Hamohamo, but also the Iaukea Estate Land, and the whopping four hundred plus acres of land titled to Curtis Piehu Iaukea before 1900.
As I sat waiting for waves, I began a conversation out loud with my kupuna (great-great-grandfather): "What is going on here? I don't understand what the land title sheets are saying. What happened to our ownership of Kamanaiki Valley? Why did the territorial government condemn the Waikīkī land when you worked for the territory? How much of this land is still in the family? What is going on?" And finally, "If you want me to do this work, then you are going to have to HELP ME." I was sitting in the ocean, shedding tears of frustration and completely confused. Pleading for clarity.
Three or four days later, my mother called and told me that she had just found boxes and boxes of information in an "Iaukea Collection" at the Hawaiʻi State Archives. She was helping me research. The breadth and depth to be discovered was too much for just one person, so we worked as a team, trying to unearth as much as we could about the family history. It was there in the archives that the maps began to speak, that memories began to inform the landscape. The stories documented throughout this book share what the maps alone simply cannot.
Stories of people and communities are largely absent from the land tenure documents, because bureaucratic ledgers were deliberately employed to replace detailed social interactions, as part of the homogenization of people and place in Hawaiʻi. The result was a giant matrix of land title transfers that performs admirably for the purposes of state bureaucracy but reveals little of the social and personal relationships that condition land as site, land as private property, and land as capitalist, race-based social currency in Hawaiʻi.
This is not to say that Hawaiians never striated space prior to the introduction of textual maps. According to George Kanahele, Hawaiians had a "deep-seated feeling of Territoriality." Every part of the ʻāina had a name and function, and in addition to constructing detailed descriptions of space to connote place, Hawaiians also had what Kanahele calls a "vertical perception" of space, as exemplified in the mauka and makai orientation to spatial understanding. Directions are all given upward "towards the mountain" or downward "toward the ocean."
Understanding Hawaiian geography requires repositioning the physical and mental landscape along vertical lines of knowledge, because the terrain is literally alive and dynamic with its forests, hillsides, beaches, land, and sea that reach up, out, and down. The stories and experiences of the people in these places also enliven the land, making the place itself recognizable as an important extension of community. Mary Pukui and Samuel Elbert point out that "Hawaiians named taro patches, rocks and trees that represented deities and ancestors, sites of houses and heiau (sacred site), canoe landings, fishing stations in the sea, resting places in the forests, and the tiniest spots where miraculous or interesting events are believed to have taken place." This dynamism is squashed down in contemporary maps.
The ahupuaʻa system of viewing and employing the land recognized this flow between geographic features that created both natural and social boundaries in the process. The ahupuaʻa was a land division that contained within it various boundaries in its stretch from the mountains down to the sea. Approximately six hundred years ago, the people divided Hawaiian land into palena (boundaries) that included moku (district) and ahupuaʻa (subdivision). Each island was divided into several moku. The konohiki (land agent) then collected land taxes for the Mōʻī (king) from the people living in the various ahupuaʻa within a moku. Or as the surveyor general described it in 1882, "The typical Ahupuaʻa is a long narrow strip, extending from the sea to the mountain, so that its chief may have his share of all the various products of the uka or mountain region, the cultivated land, and the kai or sea."
This dynamic understanding of land cannot be accurately represented on western maps. Property, landscaping, and surveying are all western products that take into account the purely visual aspects of space, the production of that space with regard to capital gains, and the need for cartographic representation of that space to set boundaries and borders for the contemporary nation-state. Within this epistemology, property is that which can be mapped, and the map itself serves as a general history of communication about space, and in these contexts, about capital.
Not only visual representations of epistemology, western maps also served as expressions of secular power, dividing space into finite jurisdictions-that is, townships, states, territories, and properties-as early as the 1600s. This conceptual leap from land to demarcated property also nurtured a spatial understanding of land as capital. "The classical view of property is premised on the notion that property rights identify a private owner who has title to a set of valued resources with a presumption of full power over those resources," Joseph Singer writes. "The image underlying ownership is absolute power of the owner within rigidly defined spatial boundaries."
In Hawaiʻi, Kamehameha I first divided conquered lands when he was a paramount chief in 1782, after the battle of Mokuʻōhai. He divided the remainder of the archipelago except for Kauaʻi after 1795, when he conquered Oʻahu. These lands were divided out to the chiefs, who divided the lands again and again. Kamehameha I also kept a portion of the lands for himself. The land taxes collected from them were "rent" and "went to the King as his private income or revenue."
The notion of the contemporary nation-state entered Hawaiʻi's consciousness early and became codified in the first Hawaiian Kingdom Constitution of 1840. Thereafter, failure to pay taxes resulted in a forfeiture of lands to the Moʻi. The Legislative Council approved the "Principles adopted by the Board of Commissioners to quiet land titles" on October 26, 1846. This act set out the mechanisms confirming the land titles as personal property to native tenants, which made the subsequent Māhele (land division) in 1848 possible. The Māhele ultimately "allowed for large-scale privatization of lands in the Hawaiian Kingdom."
Land mapping occurs early in Hawaiʻi's national history. Kamanamaikalani Beamer and Kaeo Duarte have recognized and evaluated the native agency involved in Hawaiʻs's first maps. In the early 1800s, the maps produced by Hawaiians represented the traditional land boundaries. For example, the surveyor Kalama's Hawaiʻi nei map of 1839 shows the moku divisions and ahupuaʻa in color codes. Not only did it reproduce native land epistemology in a western medium, but it also alerted other nation-states to Hawaiian Kingdom sovereign territory. Or as Beamer and Duarte put it,
Kalama seems to have adapted the Western mode of mapping to create a product that reflects a distinctively ʻŌiwi (native) approach or view of place and boundaries. Effectively this conveyed the message that the Hawaiian Kingdom was not empty of inhabitants who have claim to the land, and that the land was, in fact, ordered under a complex Hawaiian system of knowledge.
But even then, a western regime of truth forces maps into well-placed silences. In Hawaiʻi, as land transitioned from ʻāina to private property, the map itself enacted a parallel recasting of geography and citizenry. Even the early native maps demanded erasures in the landscape. There was simply no space, no language, no preserving the personal relationships and the social persona of the community as a whole. These, like the land, became sharply divided. And yet, though unintelligible at first as a social index, when read in conjunction with other documents, codes to the maps can be broken. When reunited with the voices of their various actors, maps speak volumes.
Stories and personal agendas suffuse the transfers of land title in Hawaiʻi. As Curtis P. Iaukea's personal and professional papers demonstrate, a lot happened in the private realm that directly affected land ownership. After I read his manuscript chapters, the once-silent maps suddenly became very chatty, as the community of actors involved at the time came into clearer focus. It's like the Balinese "metaphysical shadow line" that bars outsiders from ways of knowing. Once admitted into the insider culture in Hawaiʻi, "you are at least regarded as a human being rather than a cloud or a gust of wind." Admittance here is gained by recognizing and affiliating yourself with stories about family and community. Or put more methodologically, the researcher must analyze the discourse surrounding property in order to understand how property is viewed not just by this discourse, but because of it.
From my genealogically and temporally distant, yet exceedingly close personal observation point of my ancestors through maps and land title abstracts, I can conclude that my ancestors managed to make the epistemic leap from ʻāina to private property quite well. In both their political and their personal capacities, each understood and participated knowingly in western landscaping and mapping agendas. Their names are consistently displayed through the grantor/grantee books of a century ago to be found at the Bureau of Conveyances in Honolulu. As far as mapping property was concerned, my kūpuna (great-great-grandparents) definitely understood both the meta- and mininarratives of the state. Curtis and Charlotte Iaukea, like many other Hawaiian Kingdom subjects, kept clear in their minds the distinctions between ʻāina, land, and landscape and were not confused about the legal titling of these entities.
But when and how did the passing down of family history and land, also known broadly as genealogy, get stuck? Who did the sticking, and why? All meetings and departures between our larger and smaller histories are completely interconnected, and the consequences of what happened then still affect how we relate to one another as family and how we participate, or don't participate, in these contractual exchanges today. For me, the titling of land is very personal.
For Jamaica Kincaid, these particular questions and circumstances are not really that surprising. Such dislocations from the familial, the political, and the geographic can generally be expected for those people caught in the imperial agendas of nation-states. In The Autobiography of My Mother, Kincaid points out that drawing distinctions between "man" and "people" is important, because the particular and different realities of each can be predetermined by their pasts: "For one of them came off the boat as part of a horde, already demonized, mind blank to everything but human suffering, each face the same as the one next to it; the other came off the boat of his own volition, seeking to fulfill a destiny, a vision of himself he carried in his mind's eye."
But, those people in Hawaiʻi, including my own ancestors, did not undergo transport through slavery or suffer the usual colonial markings of modernity. In 1843, Hawaiʻi was recognized internationally as a sovereign state, and Hawaiians were regarded as an independent people well within the framework of the forthcoming family of nations. Throughout the nineteenth century, the aliʻi (kings and queens) made great strides in solidifying Hawaiʻi's sovereign status in the international arena. So something else, added, lost, or perhaps erased from our collective memories, occurred in Hawaiʻi that would manage to sustain colonial-like relations by constantly confusing Jamaica Kincaid's those people with "we the people" under a U.S. jurisprudence. The rewriting of our historical and physical landscape ultimately constructed a territorial citizen and landmass-both shaped by U.S. ideology.
Curtis P. Iaukea not only embodied these changes but was directly implicated in this process as a permanent figure in the government of both the Hawaiian Kingdom and the Territory of Hawaiʻi. Toward the end of his life, he was celebrated as one Hawaiian who made the leap to American citizenry successfully. His obituary in the March 7 issue of Hawaiʻi Hochi draws the moral of his story:
He proved the possibility of perfect adaptation to historic changes and the progress of the times. Few men have been able to do that. Yet if a man can do it successfully it can be done by a race. The Hawaiians have been pitied as a dying race, but they need not suffer extinction if they learn the lesson taught by the lives of such members of their race as Col. Iaukea.
Another newspaper article a few years before his death makes this transition seamless:
A distinguished survivor of the monarchial era in Hawaii, Col. Iaukea for many years was chamberlain of the royal Hawaiian household and special representative of the kings and queens of Hawaii in all parts of the world.
For more than a score of years prior to the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893, Colonel Iaukea served the royal families of Hawaii in various capacities, having been chief secretary to the department of foreign affairs and special envoy of the Hawaiian Monarchy at the coronation of the last Czar of Russia, in addition to acting as chamberlain of the royal household. Following his visit to St. Petersburg for the Russian coronation, Col. Iaukea visited all the royal courts of Europe on behalf of the Hawaiian monarchy, subsequently going to Japan and India to negotiate labor treaties. His role resulted in the importation of the first Japanese laborers to come to Hawaii.
In 1887, while chamberlain, Col. Iaukea had charge of arrangements for the Hawaiian royal party that attended Queen Victoria's jubilee. The members included Queen Kapiolani, Princess Liliuokalani, Governor Dominis and others. En route to London the party visited President and Mrs. Cleveland at Washington. In 1897 Col. Iaukea accompanied the embassy of the Republic of Hawaii to London to the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The next year he accompanied President and Mrs. Dole to Washington as secretary and military attaché.
These articles note that Curtis P. Iaukea served government to the best of his ability. My great-aunt, Lorna K. Iaukea Watson, makes the same point about her father:
My father lived long-he died at the age of eighty-four on March 5, 1940. Men have lived longer and have seen extraordinary changes which are inevitable in such a span, but few Hawaiians, if any, have had such dramatic and colorful experiences as my father did, first, under a monarchy; second, under a provisional form of government; third, under a republic; and finally, under a territory governed by the United States of America. And he was honored for public service in all four.
Finally, a "Ripley's Believe It or Not" feature from the 1930s presented him to the world as the remarkable "Secretary to 5 Kings of Hawaiʻi and to 2 Presidents." It read:
Col. C. P. Iaukea, born in 1855, was taken from his parents and adopted by an uncle in accordance with a Hawaiian custom. He is now the most decorated citizen of Hawaii, having served in secretarial capacities to five royal rulers, Kamehameha IV, Kamehameha V, Lunalilo, Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani. After Hawaii became a republic, Mr. Iaukea continued as secretary to President Dole. Another President, Woodrow Wilson of the United States, appointed Mr. Iaukea as secretary of the U.S. territory of Hawaii.
Curtis P. Iaukea was celebrated as a Hawaiian who survived the monarchy and lived to tell about it. He was also regarded as representing all that was apparently good about becoming American, even though until the end of his life the photos of my great-great-grandfather show him proudly wearing the uniforms and medals that accompanied his trips to faraway places as a diplomat for the Hawaiian Kingdom. He was never pictured wearing his uniforms, after the fact, for the Republic of Hawaiʻi as its official diplomat. Even so, the territorial government regularly drew on his memories to close the gap between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the territory and in order to legitimize its own existence in the process. It needed to insert its inevitability into the historical narrative, and used my great-great-grandfather's public memories to represent its "evidence of inheritance." But I wonder if the transitions for him were as seamless as we are led to believe.
A search of my great-great-grandfather's recorded memories often uncovers unrecorded emotions. In the Hawaiian word moʻolelo, memory and history are interchangeable concepts. I explore the more private moʻolelo in later chapters. Here, though, is an example of the more public moʻolelo. In 1937, Colonel Iaukea was approached to give a live radio broadcast in Hawaiʻi and England after radio executives heard him speaking about "monarchical days in Hawaiʻi" at a luncheon of the Visitors' Club. This speech commemorated the fifty-year anniversary of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.
E. W. Miller pitched the broadcast to John Balch, president of the Mutual Telephone Company, this way:
The attention of the world has of late been focused on the British throne. King George will be coronated May 12th, exactly one hundred years later than the coronation of his grandmother Queen Victoria.
In Hawaii today lives a man who was present in an official capacity at the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887 and also at her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. As King Kalakaua's Chamberlain, he acted as interpreter between Queen Kapiolani and Queen Victoria in London and met all the European ruling monarchs present at that time. At the 1897 Jubilee he was in London as an official of the Republic of Hawaii.
A broadcast direct from the ONLY THRONE ROOM in the United States by Colonel Curtis P. Iaukea, who, with Queen Kapiolani and Liliuokalani (who later became Queen of Hawaii-the last one), was present at London fifty years ago on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, with a description of the highlights of the celebration and mentioning the prominent people he came in contact with at the time, in his capacity of Chamberlain to Kalakaua (The Last King of Hawaii). The broadcast could end with the singing, by one of the better vocalists in the Islands (Mrs. A. G. M. Robertson for instance) of the songs composed in London by Liliuokalani at the time in honor of the occasion.
The broadcast itself was as follows:
May 7, 1937
As our announcer has told you, I promised to relate some of the colorful and interesting things about two jubilee celebrations of her Majesty, Queen Victoria, Great Grandmother of the Duke of York soon to be crowned King of England. I first had the honor of representing my country at the Court of St. James in 1883. Hawaii was an independent kingdom with its own sovereign, government and royal family, its own elaborate and ritualistic court life modeled after that of England. On the occasion of this visit, I had returned from the pleasant duty of representing Hawaii at the coronation of Czar Nicholas of Russia, father of the last royal ruler of that country. A delightful experience on this same mission was when an informal audience was granted me by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward and grandfather of the present king. I was received at Marlborough House, and there presented mementoes and gifts from my sovereign to members of the Royal family. The Prince of Wales graciously presented me with a diamond ring in remembrance of the visit and it is among my most cherished possessions.
My second visit to the Court of St. James was on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887. I accompanied Queen Kapiolani, Consort of King Kalakaua, in the capacity of Court Chamberlain. Also in our party was the Princess Liliuokalani, then heir apparent and later Queen of Hawaii.
Enroute to England and via the United States we had many happy experiences. Among the most interesting was our reception and entertainment in Washington by President and Mrs. Cleveland. The official dinners and receptions were magnificent affairs.
Finally, the great objective of our journey was reached. London, historic old London. Here we were the guests of Her Majesty Queen Victoria at the old Alexandra Hotel. Our Fellow Guests were members of Royalty representing many countries. Among them, Prince Komatzu of Japan, the Prince of Siam and the Prince of Persia. It was indeed an awe inspiring and glittering aggregation of royal personages.
It was not until June 20 when Queen Victoria made her official entry into London from Scotland where she had been resting, that the festivities really began. On that day our party was summoned to an audience in Buckingham Palace.
Her Majesty was seated on a sofa, this with two chairs comprised the only furniture in the room. In attendance on her Majesty were their Royal Highnesses the Duke of Connaught and the Prince and Princess of Battenberg. As the Hawaiian Queen entered the room Queen Victoria rose and graciously taking the visitor's hands in hers kissed her on both cheeks. The Princess Liliuokalani was greeted with affection, Her Majesty Victoria kissing her on the forehead. The conversation between the two queens was friendly and animated. I acted as interpreter for Kapiolani as she did not speak English. The visit of King Kalakaua to England some years previous was recalled with much pleasure by Queen Victoria, who spoke of him with warm friendliness. After some minutes of general conversation, we took our leave.
On the following day we attended the service at Westminster Abbey. We were accorded the unusual honor of an escort drawn from the famous Life Guards of Queen Victoria to accompany our carriage in the line of march. The carriage, by the way, was one of the Queen's personal conveyances.
Thru a cheering crowd said to number several millions, we passed in orderly array to be greeted at the door of the Abbey by Lord Lathom and Sir Henry Ponsonby and by them to be escorted to seats reserved for royalty. In the center of this great historic edifice a platform or dais had been placed.
Seated upon it were royal guests, the grandchildren of the Queen and members of the Royal Household. It was on this dais that Queen Kapiolani and Liliuokalani were presented. The focal point of all eyes was an elaborately carved arm chair standing in the exact center of the dais. In this chair have been crowned all the sovereigns of Britain, save two, since 1308. The Queen entered, dressed simply in black. She advanced and seated herself on this great chair. It will be in this same chair that King George will be crowned.
The Archbishop of Canterbury opened the ceremonies with prayer. Then followed the Te Deum, the great choir filled the lofty edifice with their anthems. When the ceremonies were concluded, the procession formed to leave the Abbey. We arrived at Buckingham Palace for luncheon, driving thru the streets where the crowds had waited the return procession. At the palace a great table had been spread the length of the main hall and it was assigned to the use of visiting kings and members of royalty.
In passing let me say that England's hospitality knew no bounds. In 1897 I again had the honor of visiting England, the occasion was Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. I attended as Secretary and Aid to the Honorable S. M. Damon who was the Special Envoy from Hawaii. The ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the Good Queen's reign were even more elaborate than those of the Golden Jubilee.
We of Hawaii fell very close to the British people on this historic occasion for the friendship of the two people dates back to 1847 [sic)]when England was the first world power to recognize Hawaii as a sister nation and to guarantee the independence of this island kingdom. And so, on behalf of the people of Hawaii I respectfully extend to Their Majestys King George and Queen Elizabeth hearty greetings and best wishes for a long peaceful reign. Long live the King.
Recognizing the importance of dates, Curtis P. Iaukea sums up his experiences with a reference to Hawaiʻi's close relationship with England, and England's early recognition of Hawaiʻi as a sister nation. What neither he nor Miller supplies is any reference to the sequence of events that turned Hawaiʻi into an occupied U.S. outpost at the turn of the twentieth century. Also not mentioned are the sister nation privileges that made Hawaiʻi the first non-European state to be recognized as sovereign.
Milan Kundera once wrote: "Like blows from an ax, important dates cut deep gashes into Europe's twentieth century." Replacing emotional impulses or responses, the historical date marks rites of passage for both states and individuals. The injunction to recall important dates reinforces specific historical interpretations that themselves help to legitimize the markers of the date as the true authors of historical realities. By dating events, placing them in sequence, we are assured of the state's continuity. We can have faith in a settled, given registered past, and stand in anticipation of an authorized future. Within this linear continuum of dates, the more anterior the date the better, because it not only extends the narrative of the community in question but affirms that community's unrevisable, "natural" continuity.
In this way, history and memory become divided and separate discursive entities; in fact, history seeks to eradicate memory. In contrast, Pierre Nora recognizes true memory as genealogy, or as a force that "installs remembrance within the sacred." Ingrained in natural cycles, and celebrating the larger patterns of existence, true memory involves many more actors, more agency, and more complications in its construction. Nonlinear and generational, this form of knowing the past demands that we track ourselves through the narrative itself as opposed to the representation of that narrative. This is a far more complicated and chaotic task, and history is a strategy for placing true memory into a grid of intelligibility authored and legitimated by the state. History is a suggestion of past experiences-a representation of occurrences and specific relationships.
How then might we know ourselves generationally, and through true memories? This is a frightful proposition-to seek to know myself as my father and mother know themselves, my grandfather and grandmother knew themselves, and back to Curtis and Charlotte Iaukea and before. "Frightful," because to do this, I would have to accept that their complete stories make up who I am. And I already know some of their stories are darker in composition than I would want to acknowledge-including generational alcoholism, drug abuse, infidelity, neglect, and violence, violence, violence-all on my paternal side in recent memory. It's all here-I know it's here in me. The emotions attached to past deeds and events are written into my hereditary code and resonate in my DNA, and I am often strongly drawn to people who remind me of these tendencies. The distance between "them" and myself closes through this genetic memory, and I want some of these memories to lose their subconscious power to manipulate and control.
And so I turned to the early diaries of Curtis P. Iaukea to make further sense of the darker sides as well. I looked for hints, for premonitions of what was to come politically and personally for him, but didn't see any. I still see someone intent on representing Hawaiʻi to the best of his abilities, and who was committed to preserving those interactions on paper. Later memories covered in other chapters undress the emotional aspects and point to some of the emotional difficulties he experienced. But these earlier recorded memories are straightforward and uncomplicated.
I read the diary my kupuna wrote in 1883 when he was circumnavigating the globe on official business, representing the Hawaiian Kingdom at some historical international events, such as the coronation of Czar Alexander III of Russia in 1883. The diary begins on Monday, April 8, 1883: "Appointed H.H.M's Special Envoy to Russia, Spain, Servia. Bearer of dispatches to H.M. the Queen Great Britain and Ireland." On Tuesday, April 10, he "made formal calls on Royal Family and Friends," and on April 11, "left Honolulu for Australia at 12 o'clock noon. Friends went off to bid us God speed and return in the King's boat. Weather a little threatening-sea boisterous. Towards night very rough."
And the voyage is begun. As I read, I could not believe that I held the personal record of my ancestor as he traveled through Australia, the United States, Russia, Budapest, Vienna, Paris, England, and Italy. Amazing. His attention to detail allows the reader to voyage with him, as I came to know very well.
Here, for example, is an entry on a dinner he attended with the king of Servia:
Thursday 28th June.
Passed a splendid night. Woke at 10 AM breakfasted and dressed for Reception by the King. At 11:45 the State Carriage arrived with the King's Aide de Camp. I rode with him and Henry with our Attache in another carriage. A Marshal mounted, preceded us. On arrival at the Palace I was received at the entrance by the Court Marshal. Guard of honor, Salutings, and Band playing national anthem. In the corridor stood on each side the Kings Aids de camps, about 20 in number. At the entrance to the Reception room a guard. I was then ushered in the reception room where they Received me. The Emperor entered shortly after. I addressed his Majesty in Hawaiian. After addresses and presenting of decoration he invited me to a seat by him and conversed. Our conversation being interpreted by Foreign Office. After 15 minutes the Emperor retired to the Queen's reception room where I was then ushered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. After presenting decoration she invited me to a seat and had a pleasant interview. After 15 minutes retired. A.M. reception throughout was of the most pleasant and friendly character. Both the Emperor and Empress were charming. The Empress spoke excellent English.
Another entry describes some of his activities while in Russia for the coronation of Alexander III:
Wednesday 30th June.
9AM Received notice from grand master Ceremonies regarding reception by Emperor Empress. 10:30AM Went to the Palace and was received by the Emperor Empress. Reception Room crowded with Ladies Gentlemen of rank waiting to be presented. Returned to Hotel 11:30AM. Changed went out to pay visits to the British Embassy, United States Spanish. Left cards at the Embassies. Took dinner at the Slovensky Bar and returned to Hotel. 2PM called on Mr. Madrin. Found on return to hotel invitation cards from Master Ceremonies to the Emperors Theatre for tonight. No one admitted but invited guests. 7:30PM went to Theatre in uniform. Emperor Empress Ihito arrived 8PM. Magnificent sight. The whole of the banquette was one mass of uniforms, all officers. The boxes were lined with Diplomatic officials suites on each side of the Emperor's box. My box was the 2nd to the right of the Emperor's-about 20 feet off. The play was some ancient piece of Moscow artists. The performers lasted until 10:30PM. After the performance I went out with Madriz to the Yard to supper returned 4AM.
In these records of daily experience, there is no great distance in the tone, precision, or content between the public events and the private recording. My own recorded memories are haphazard, seemingly more chaotic, and definitely not as well articulated. A look at my old diaries, if and when I ever wrote in anything resembling a diary, reveals nothing like the steadily unfolding and coherent narration that my great-great-grandfather recorded. Messy, both in content and in emotional response, is how I would describe my own intermittent recordings of the past.
As I read, I feel both connected to and disconnected from this illustrious life. Where's his pain, his grief, his confusion? This particular diary seems almost to expect to be read by someone else. Did he guess that portions of his diary would one day be made public? Or do these words of my great-great-grandfather in fact completely represent and gauge his exciting life and wondrous experiences? Perhaps because Curtis P. Iaukea frequently served as the official spokesperson for all things monarchial, maybe even his private thoughts came to be disciplined by his diplomatic correctness.
A later memory, however, immediately stands apart from the rest. After the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen Liliʻuokalani asked Curtis P. Iaukea to remain in office to "watch" the Crown Lands revenues. A page from Curtis P. Iaukea's unpublished chapter describes how Queen Liliʻuokalani set forth his kuleana:
It is my belief that at this time those behind the Provisional Government expected immediate annexation by the United States for contained in the announcement of their seizure of power was this interesting sentence "to exist until terms of Union with the United States of America have been negotiated and agreed upon." But five long years, brought with bitterness and intrigue, were to pass before this ambition was realized.
The next time I saw Queen Liliuokalani to speak to was on the morning of the day she was vacating the Palace after surrendering her authority to the Provisional Government, January 18, 1893 at 11am. She was seated at the breakfast table, just about finishing. I walked in to see if she had any request to make of me before going to take up her home at Washington Place.
Sitting at table with her was Mrs. C. B. Wilson (the wife of the late Marshal of the Kingdom who had resisted surrendering the Police Station and arms under his control until compelled to do so by orders of the Queen's Cabinet) the Queen's most intimate friend and companion since early day, and two others of her personal retainers. I could see that they were all disheartened, almost overcome to see the Queen leaving the Palace. The Queen put her hands up to her forehead and leaned over for quite a little while without speaking to anyone, she was overcome with grief, which of course we could not relieve.
On seeing me at the doorway the Queen said "mai." A familiar expression amongst Hawaiians bidding one to come and be welcome. As she gave me her hand when I reached the head of the table where she was sitting, I felt a slight tremor as I bent to kiss it. Her eyes were filled with tears. She motioned to me to sit beside her, which I did and it was as much as I could to restrain my own tears and emotion. All of us were feeling too depressed to speak or say much.
My object in going to see the Queen before she left the Palace was, as I said, to offer my personal services to her as I felt it my duty, and to inform that the Provisional Government had asked me to remain in office as Crown Land Agent, an office that I had held under her brother Kalakaua and to which she had reappointed me when she came to the throne in 1891.
After some intense moments of silence I told her what I had come for. She then said, "No, I'll not need your service as there will be nothing for you to do at Washington Place. Stay where you are until I come back. You will keep account of the Crown Land revenues for they belong to the reigning sovereign. I know my rights as Queen and constitutional monarch of Hawaii which I have been wrongly deprived of through the connivance and perfidy of the United States Minister Resident in Hawaii, will be restored to me when the people and government of the United States have been fully informed as to the way the fall of the monarchy was accomplished."
Then recovering herself somewhat, she added, "Yes, come and see me sometimes and keep me informed of what is going with the Provisional Government."
Acting with her full knowledge and approval, I left the breakfast table after bidding the Queen and her company good-bye with the expression of hope that she would soon be restored to her own.
I am proud of my kupuna, and I am relieved that Queen Liliʻuokalani was the one who asked him to stay in order to watch over the Crown Lands revenues. Like many Hawaiians who had served the Hawaiian Kingdom, Curtis P. Iaukea continued to work under the new regimes, to such an extent that the territorial government is often said to have consisted of white elites and Hawaiian aliʻi. The results of these relationships were varied, and often emotionally charged when they intertwined. Yet, even as the ongoing social construction that the territorial government had embarked upon occurred, nostalgia for the Hawaiian Kingdom was often a mainstay for the new wave of politics and politicians.
The files give more away. The key question is, How exactly did the public discourse change so rapidly in this era, so as to produce American citizenry and commodified space? The methods were numerous and occurred rapidly, and for territorial representatives, the chance to remake the past was often very welcome, because a re-represented past then becomes "true," since it's the only past being represented.
Incoming governments often legitimize themselves by incorporating themselves into the past. Memories are "purified," and the law itself is used to appropriate issues of inheritance and "rights" in a tumultuous political climate. Whether in the case of the American Indians, or in shaping the emerging American consciousness in Hawaiʻi, "Americans attempted to come to terms with the restless ghosts of the national past, the legacy of a history of conquest and revolution that threatened the moral foundations of nationhood."
The insistent and ultimately violent political forces that sought to destroy Hawaiʻi's independent status not only produced social dislocation but also advocated a collective memory around safe ground. And yet, while such nostalgia might be offered more obviously for consumption by traveling and settled immigrants, and by those without a homeland, even though this social dislocation did not occur as a result of a complete geographic separation, for Hawaiians living in Hawaiʻi the need and desire to constantly evoke those memories proved just as pressing-and still continues to inform a limited historiography of place and space.
This, I believe, is why my great-great-grandfather publicly recalled his memories so often, and also why the public was interested. Memory itself is an important social organizer in Hawaiian epistemology. So why would either the public or my great-great-grandfather have wanted to forget? In the form of genealogy (moʻo kūʻauhau), memory tells the Hawaiian population who we are, where we are, and why we are. It also provides the baseline for how place is understood by Hawaiians and by other native people.
In Hawaiʻi, a story of creation is told by the Kumulipo, a primary genealogy chant containing sixteen wā (eras) and two thousand lines. Composed by the court historians of King Keaweikahialiʻiokamoku on the island of Hawaiʻi in 1700 to honor his first son, Kalaninuiiamamao, "the Kumulipo belongs to a category of sacred chants known as pule hoʻōlaʻa aliʻi, 'prayer to sanctify the chief,' which was recited to honor a new-born chief." In addition to commemorating the birth of Kalaninuiiamamao, the Kumulipo traces the genealogical descent of both the aliʻi and the makaʻāinana (commoners) from the gods, and in particular Papahanaumoku and Wākea, who establish the direct genealogical connection of Hawaiians to the land, the ocean, and the sky.
In practical terms, "genealogy played a very important role in deciding precedence and rights to claims of senior and junior lines of families in Hawaiʻi," and this creation chant served as the social organizer of an entire population. It confirmed the right to exist individually and collectively in spatial and temporal reality. According to Rubellite Kawena Johnson, the Kumulipo "combines both a linear sense of temporal development with the richness of one particular moment in time. It justifies the social and political organization of this particular moment against the background of the more universal natural order, and in so doing, naturalizes the prevailing social values." The Kumulipo declares the power relations of every entity in the cosmos, and thereby explains the mana (power) of certain individuals over others. The result is a comprehensive and coherent understanding of the world: "The whole development of the Kumulipo is based upon the idea of blood descent from a single stock established from the beginning of the race and derived from primary gods."
The Kumulipo is a remembrance text for native Hawaiians. Originally, a feat of memory was necessary to preserve this genealogy, since this oli (chant) was not written down. The Kumulipo was first translated into English and published in 1889 by Queen Liliʻuokalani, who among other things wanted to show both her and her brother Kalākaua's right to claim to be Aliʻi Nui (high chief), since they are descended from Keaweikeikahialiʻiokamolu on their father's side of the genealogy and Keaweaheulu on their mother's (Keohokalole) side.
At the Hawaiʻi State Archives, I found a book that lists my own moʻo kū ʻauhau. The book is handwritten and lists the names of ancestors in pairs; both aliʻi and akua (gods) are recorded. My own genealogy records that I am the sixty-fourth generation from Papanuihanaumoku and Wākea-Earth Mother and Sky Father. Piʻikea and Umi-a-Liloa are fifteen generations separated from myself. Kamehameha I's first wife, Kaneikopolei, had a daughter named Kahiwakaneikopolei. Iaukea is descended from her marriage to high chief Namiki of the Paʻao Order, their daughter Puahaunapuoko, and her daughter Hanamuahaleonaihe. But Iaukea is also descended from Kamehameha I's mother, and Lapaha, Curtis P. Iaukea's mother, is the daughter of Nalanipo, a Big Island Aliʻi. It was because of this genealogy that my great-great-grandfather was taken at age six by his uncle Kahihupaʻa to "begin the task of becoming a kahu or retainer of royalty." The Kumulipo is a primary source on my great-great-grandmother's side as well, and the Kahaloipua genealogy is also listed and referenced alongside the larger genealogy of the Hawaiian people. She had more mana than her husband because of her more direct genealogical link to aliʻi and akua.
I am overwhelmed when I read this genealogy, and I wonder if I will ever really understand the contents. However, I cannot read the lines and lines of ancestors without feeling my own senses awaken. I am they, and they are me. And even though this true memory was stricken from my own history, I nevertheless feel more connected to this large and unfolding past that celebrates connections to all that is and all that was. For me, this genealogy connects me to a memory impervious to my own immediate family's trials and tribulations. It echoes understandings of something more. Thanks to such longevity, I do not feel so alone. And I realize that I have never been alone.
In Hawaiʻi, moʻo kūʻauhau was, and to some extent still is, an important tool for knowing self, environment, and cosmology. Place is obviously important for social identity anywhere, but how we know ourselves as Hawaiians rests on how well we know both our geographic and our social place(s). So perhaps my great-great-grandfather, like Queen Liliʻuokalani, recalled his past through numerous forms of social media during his era, because it was simply his kuleana to do so. The profound shift from oral memory to memory in media might have informed his actions and others of his time. The key was to record and remember whatever possible.
As a Hawaiian navigating between many social dimensions, remembering the past for his contemporaries and for his moʻopuna (future generations) might have not only influenced which memories my great-great-grandfather recalled, but also caused his need to record these memories. My task now is to pull up some of his recorded memories that have thus far escaped public review, and also to determine the reasons for the apparent social amnesia. These submerged memories will also reveal the union of land/body/memory, and our individual place(s) within this historical context.
Returning to the narrative of my own family, I feel a sense of community and camaraderie with others who face similar challenges. The Lele of Hamohamo, and my great-great-grandfather's memory of it, have come to represent all of these complicated familial and contractual relationships for me. Private property contains emotional currency. It's a tool used to privilege and disenfranchise. It's the source of decades-long-and-beyond squabbles within and outside of the family unit. Many Hawaiians have encountered such turmoil. I speak from this perspective, knowing that it is important to uncover and declare whatever we can from our own narratives, not just so we may understand and participate in the geographic and legal realms, but so we can then collectively operate with a more complete understanding of self and community.
My family is not the only example of fighting provoked by rewritten codes of conduct, written in accordance with American capitalist interpretations of ka ʻāina. Land is a commonly contested arena for Hawaiians, and I know of other stories of dispossession that also include inheritance, secrecy, and the consumption of land for strictly material means. These intimate and combative experiences often remain untold and hidden, as if this will somehow negate the actual practical and painful ramifications. Experience tells us not to recognize and validate the darker sides of our personal and political histories.
When and how did this disconnect occur between land/body/memory for many Hawaiians? When did it occur for my own family? Both occurred gradually over time, and today the connect and the disconnect are written into the same hereditary code.
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