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Reviewed by:
  • I Ulu I Ke Kumu ed. by Puakea Nogelmeier
  • Kirsten Kamaile and Noelani Mawyer
I Ulu I Ke Kumu, edited by Puakea Nogelmeier. 2011 The Hawai‘inuiākea Monograph Series 1. Honolulu: The University of Hawai‘i Press. isbn 978-0-9845666-0-0. Illustrations, references. Paper, us$16.00.

The inaugural volume of the Hawai‘inuiākea Monograph Series, edited by Puakea Nogelmeier, explores the [End Page 587] multiplicity of Hawaiian knowledge and how its tendrils weave into the fabric of the Hawaiian (Kanaka ‘Ōiwi) community. This striking collection of essays, covering a range of contexts and issues, highlights the fact that indigenous knowledge persists across time in oral and written stories, memory, and lived experience. It is bound in newspapers, language, frameworks, collectives, and individuals. It grows through stories, conversations, research, reflection, practice, and teaching. These interconnected multimodal sites of knowledge taken together give voice to the title of this volume—I Ulu I Ke Kumu—which robustly might be translated as “emergence, growth, and inspiration are outcomes resulting from one’s origin, foundation, purpose, and guidance” (ix).

“The Poetry of Kamehameha I: Jewels in the Dust,” by Nogelmeier, artfully tells the story of how Hawaiian-language papers evolved in purpose over the course of more than a century (1834–1948). Of particular interest is how these newspapers provided an arena for making available traditionally private knowledge, such as mele inoa (name chants) written by Kamehameha I in 1813 and passed through oral memory by small groups of skilled individuals, to an increasingly literate national audience in 1861. Nogelmeier suggests that the mele inoa recorded in written form are jewels that reflect changing relationships toward the preservation and transmission of traditional Hawaiian knowledge. His piece also captures the contributors’ urgency to encourage readers to view these cultural artifacts with a critical eye and to participate in a dynamic community that is drawing on the rich knowledge passed down through generations. This urgency resonates with the objectives of this monograph series to engage Kānaka ‘Ōiwi in critical discourse and simultaneously add to the repository of traditional knowledge with contemporary perspectives.

In “Acts of Beauty: Here and Abroad,” Nahua Patrinos transports the story of “Hi‘iakaikapoliopele: Ka wahine i ka lā, ka u‘i palekoki uila o Halema‘uma‘u” from the Islands to California as a site for exploring identity as grounded in a culture. Patrinos challenges her students to use this indigenous narrative as a transformative theoretical tool that reaches beyond introducing Hawaiian culture to unlocking indigenous epistemology for the purpose of self-understanding and informed participation in the global community. Patrinos’s course on indigenous knowledge raises the question, “How do we transfer the knowledge of culture from one group of people to another?” (23). In the context of this volume, it also raises the question of what it means to share cultural knowledge within the Hawaiian community, especially because proximity to place does not necessarily indicate access to rooted and potent information.

Similarly, the issue of accessibility of cultural knowledge is visible in Kau‘i Sai-Dudoit’s essay, “Kahu i ke Ahi: Tending Fires.” In it she chronicles how struggling with and making sense of dissonant lived experiences that assigned to cultural knowledge and history differing values—from dismissive to empowering—prompted her sometimes tacitly and sometimes [End Page 588] explicitly to prioritize sociocultural choices about how to live, work, nurture, and grow information benefiting the Hawaiian community. The puzzle pieces of Sai-Dudoit’s personal narrative as an individual, a mother, and a scholar solidly position her, to borrow from her metaphoric framing, as a keeper of essential Hawaiian knowledge that can light the way for others negotiating their way to a place at the fire.

It is clear that Robert Uluwehiona-puaikawēkiuokalani Cazimero, like Sai-Dudoit, is a keeper of the fire. The subtitle of his article, “Simple Truths, Profound Gratitude,” is “I won’t ever embarrass my kumu.” Cazimero’s pathway from ka pua no‘eau (the gifted learner) to kumu hula (hula teacher) illustrates how touch points of shared experience with his own kumu hula apprenticed him into his responsibility of teacher. At the heart of this...


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pp. 587-590
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