Monday, July 12, 2010

Hawaiian Fishing Traditions by Moke Manu and Others

In the same way that Americans have folk heroes like Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed,  the Hawaiians have heroes like Ku'ula-kai and his son 'Ai'ai. They fed their communities through their skill and prowess in the sea, and they exhibited supernatural strength to battle their adversaries. Through their actions, they taught the people about conservation, respect and generosity.

My thoughts:
On the most urban of the Hawaiian islands, Oahu, fishing may soon be banned for the non-commercial fishers who are just trying to feed their families. Through overfishing, pollution and a loss of cultural fishing knowledge, the stories of large hauls of fish capable of feeding the community become more legendary. These stories shared by Moke Manu in the 1900's are collections of essays on fishing techniques as well as stories that map the seas around the islands and merge myth and geography.

Many of these stories were orated in Hawaiian, so it's valuable to have a resource like this, and although many of these stories involve the supernatural, on these islands, it's not so difficult to be out on the ocean and feel the mana, the spiritual power that is still alive.

Perhaps the most important lessons from these stories are really abut the ncessity for conservation in order to maintain our lifestyle and independence. Also, in these stories, the three main heroes are adamant about not being greedy and sharing the abundance of fish. These lessons need to be heeded even in these modern times or we will lose the ability to have any kind of control over our waters.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Kalamaku Press/1992/ISBN 0-9623102-3-9

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