Abstract

Abstract:

On Waikīkī Beach stand four large stones known as Kapaemahu (the row of mahu), which according to a traditional moolelo carry the living spirits of four individuals of dual male and female spirit who brought healing arts from Tahiti to Hawai'i. Although the stones have survived for centuries, they have often been mistreated, and their story has been altered to suppress the respected role of mahu. In this paper, we examine the history of the stones and their moolelo in the context of concurrent social, political, religious, and cultural developments in Hawai'i, including modern controversies over gender and sexuality. We also describe our own attempt to convey and transmit the moolelo of Kapaemahu through an animated film narrated in Olelo Ni'ihau. This type of multifactorial cultural and historical analysis is important for understanding the beliefs and values expressed by traditional moolelo, and it helps guide their future transmission and dissemination in a manner that reflects the concept of ea o moolelo, or story sovereignty: the intrinsic right of a story to its own unique contents, style, and purpose.

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