November 17, 2017
Great People Doing Great Things: Hawaiian Hale Mua Reconnecting Men to Their Culture
“Historically, the hale mua is the first educational institution that a Hawaiian male enters into,” Nakanelua tells me. In modern days, however, the hale mua serves a more expansive purpose. “This is where the males figure out what they want to do [regarding Hawaiian activities], and then begin the planning process to go and do it,” Nakanelua says. “If there are at least five Hawaiian men that gather and discuss and plan a Hawaiian activity, that’s a mua—that’s a men’s house.”
Deep within a Maui industrial park lies the cultural center Hale Nanea, an unassuming one-story building with a dirt parking lot and an ocean view. Winds gust violently and men chant their pule (prayer) louder. Here is where the hale mua meets. Inside the complex, I sit with elders Ted Awana and Kawika Kualii. Awana, who’s been with the hale mua for more than a decade, explains to me its current mission. “We’re currently involved in a project called kane makua, the male parent,” Awana says.
Programs such as these are a fundamental aspect of the hale mua, which has undertaken a number of projects over the years. Which path to follow is decided by the group. “We train and we do these things because we like them,” Kualii says. “We like to learn, we like the knowledge and the intellectual, physical [and] spiritual pursuit of everything.”
Garden Initiative Restores Ancient Knowledge to Navajo
Nothing about the climate of northern Arizona screams agriculture. Sandstone, alkaline soil, 114-degree Fahrenheit temperatures, high winds and lack of rain all combine to create a very unfavorable climate for growing produce.
And yet, that’s exactly what the Church’s Native American Garden Initiative has brought to members of the Navajo and Hopi Nations: a chance to grow their own garden.
Anciently, the Navajo people have always grown crops like corn, but somewhere along the line, the knowledge of how to cultivate produce in the harsh climate was lost. When today’s generation learns how to grow their own garden, they are simply returning to an age-old knowledge, restoring the traditions of their ancestors.
For Melvin Mike of the Window Rock Ward, Chinle Arizona Stake, participation in the garden project restored a knowledge that he had cultivated as a young boy. Growing up in Many Farms, Arizona, about 70 miles north of Window Rock where he currently lives, Mike remembers planting a garden every year with his family. But as he says, “I had forgotten all about that garden until four years ago,” when he and his wife, Evelyn Mike, heard about the Church’s provident living classes.
Victoria, Canada, Could House the First Indigenous Walk of Fame
A Victoria-based filmmaker wants the city to establish an Indigenous Walk of Fame to acknowledge Aboriginal storytellers and actors in the industry.
Steve Sxwithul'txw has been part of the film and television industry for about 10 years. In that time, Sxwithul'txw has produced two Leo Award-winning programs: Warrior Games and the latest Tribal Police Files.
While traveling the continent, Sxwithul'txw was shocked to see the lack of acknowledgement of Indigenous people in film. But he sees the landscape changing.
His project started with the objective of discovering which Aboriginal names held a space on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
The results were discouraging.
Jay Silverheels, a Mohawk Canadian who played Tonto in the Lone Ranger TV series, was the only name he found.
With the Indigenous Walk of Fame, Sxwithul'txw hopes to do more than just lay a star in the ground. His goal is to encourage future generations, including his children, to feel comfortable embracing their culture and sharing it with the world.
Also of interest:
How Indigenous and black artists are using science fiction to imagine a better future
We Know Less About Thanksgiving Than You Think
For all of the fanfare around Thanksgiving in America — between the turkey dinners, Black Friday sales, and the semi-mythical 17th-century feast that pilgrims and Native Americans shared to “give thanks” — there is almost no historical record about the First Thanksgiving, a so-called historic meal that became the basis of a national holiday.
It’s not that there wasn’t any meal at all. Experts now say that perhaps more than 100 people were at the first Thanksgiving-like meal at Plymouth, and that the feast may have even lasted for a few days, given how long it took to travel anywhere back then. But there are only two primary sources that talk about that first feast, which is thought to have occurred at some point in the fall of 1621.
Now stuff yourself with this Thanksgiving knowledge:
You may have known it's Native American Heritage Month, but do you know what the day after Thanksgiving is called?
Also, November 13th was "Rock your Mocs" Day.
Don't worry if you missed it, you can wear your mocassins all month and use them as a way to spread the word about Native American Heritage Month and Lutheran Indian Ministries!