One of the most important and generous offerings that the kiaʻi have shared with people around the world is the opportunity to see that world differently. To realize that there is another way to move through the world. One in which we are in pilina, or relationship, with both the land and each other.
We as Hawaiians have always revered those who have come before us, our ancestors, our kūpuna, our elder sibling who is the land and sea itself. This speech from Kahoʻokahi Kanuha gives us an important opportunity to see our own world differently. He invites us to remember that we are already kūpuna. Within us are both our ancestors and our descendants. As he says, we do not become kūpuna when we reach a certain age; we are born that way.
It is a reminder that those who come after us, those who come from us, will look to the way we carry ourselves in the world right now and base their actions on what they see. If they see that we allowed money and private interests to desecrate our beloved ʻāina, then that will become a cultural value, because to do so is to do as their kūpuna have done.
But if we show them that the land truly is our family member and that we stood against insurmountable odds, with only kapu aloha and our naʻau, then they will be reassured that to stand for ʻāina and to stand for justice as their kūpuna have always done.
Despite the cultural and linguistic revivals we have had over the last several decades, our ʻike and our ʻōlelo is truly only one choice away from being lost. Imagine what we would be today if our kūpuna had not chosen to stand up for what was vital to them. Imagine what we would be tomorrow if we kūpuna do not choose to stand up for what makes us who we are.
We are lucky, because so many of our people are choosing the kind of kūpuna they will be. Dozens of kumu hula have raised their voices and sounded their pahu in support of the mauna. Hundreds of educators, many many, many of whom have advanced degrees, have sown seeds of ʻike inside and outside of their classrooms. Thousands of haumāna, many who come from ʻāina, ʻōlelo, or culture based schools, are exemplifying the way forward. And tens of thousands of kānaka are doing everything they can, sometimes without any recognition, to show the world the kind of kūpuna that we will be.
So when the question is put to you, when you must choose between money, false notions of progress, and private interests or the ʻāina, lāhui, and kānaka, what will you do? What example will you set for the next generation? What kind of kupuna will you be?