The Power of the Steel-tipped Pen: Reconstructing Native Hawaiian Intellectual History
Noenoe K. Silva is Professor of Indigenous Politics at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and author of Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism, also published by Duke University Press.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o is the author of numerous works of fiction, poetry, plays, and criticism, most recently, Birth of a Dream Weaver.
Moʻolelo Hawaiʻi Kahiko
In this chapter I analyze one of Poepoe’s most important works, “Moolelo Hawaii Kahiko” (Ancient Hawaiian history), serialized in 1906. The chapter demonstrates Poepoe’s commitment to teaching the younger generations of his own as well as our time. He presents the material, especially genealogies, so that they are more readily understandable than in the old chants themselves, and in his many explanations of place names and the deeper meanings (kaona) of words, sayings, and so forth. Poepoe engages moʻokūʻauhau as a recurring way of connecting to ancestors (kupuna) and descendants (mamo, moʻopuna); as a way of approaching the world; as a way of approaching study of our indigenous past; and as a stance that supports the whole project of (re)establishing Hawaiian political and intellectual history. In “Moolelo Hawaii Kahiko,” Poepoe thus simultaneously examines works of moʻokūʻauhau and demonstrates his moʻokūʻauhau consciousness