I propose to present the Hawaiian community as a Cultural Nation (while waiting for recognition as a Political Nation) by launching the nation as an on-line digital place that houses all the components that make up the fundamentals of a nation—-its customs, traditions, people, places, practices, and more.
Since the mid-1970s, Hawaiian culture has experienced spectacular growth both in the perpetuation of traditions as well as in the evolution of new cultural expressions of ancient themes. Hawaiians by the thousands practice every traditional discipline. The Hawaiian community has emerged in an unprecedented celebration of itself in profound manifestations of a cultural identity unique in the world. We are living our culture as a way of saying, “This is who we are!”
The communications revolution of the internet presents a historic opportunity for the Hawaiian community to roll itself out to, first, ourselves, and second, a global audience, as a vibrant cultural nation. Let us build a Hawaiian Cultural Nation in cyberspace. A digital nation will showcase our culture by presenting our institutions, organizations, cultural leadership structure, art forms, societal networks, authors, scholars, poets, painters, composers, performers, cultural disciplines, our values, even our political ideas if presented through a cultural prism. Launching a Hawaiian Cultural Nation is a profound notion and a kuleana (responsibility) by which we can claim the high ground and rise above the din of Hawaiian political discord churning in a sea of competing political agendas that serve as the window through which we are viewed and judged.
Launching a Hawaiian Cultural Nation would be a powerful statement that we already exist as a nation. We do not need anyone’s permission to exist as a Cultural Nation. We don’t need legislative bodies debating whether or not we are entitled to nationhood status. We are a nation. We have been here for hundreds of years and we will be here for as long as there is a Hawaiian living the culture. While we continue to work toward socio-economic self-determination and political recognition, we continue to exist as a cultural nation. Further, the Hawaiian Cultural Nation is experiencing dramatic global growth. The words Hawai‘i and aloha are recognized in the most remote places on earth. Hawaiian culture deserves its own stage, its own light, its own prism to the world.
To be clear the digital nation must be more than a simple indexing of art forms, chants, cultural leaders, intellectual properties, learning centers, publications, events, and so forth. The nation or lāhui springs from the ‘āina (land) itself beginning with the Kumulipo – the Hawaiian creation chant. The cultural nation is spiritually based and has its origins in the gods, in the sacred places, and in the mo‘olelo (story chants). It is from this spiritual wellspring that the drama of the cultural nation would rumble forth as a wave that tumbles through time, connecting past to future, in a dazzling mixed-media matrix of sights, sounds, images, and people. This cultural nation is inclusive of cultural leadership open to all, ethnic Hawaiian or not, as long as the cultural contributions of the individuals are verifiable as upholding the spiritual and cultural integrity of the discipline from which it springs, is presented with dignity, and creates value. Beyond these broad strokes, the emergence of the Hawaiian Cultural Nation will come out of the process.
I believe we stand on the brink of world leadership. The opportunity is before us. My hope is that some institution or benefactor will step forward and take leadership of this initiative. The culture of aloha, of peace, of tolerance, of human values, of beauty, of compassion, of respect for all things, of personal honor, of the notion that we are what the rest of the world would like to be. Our opportunity is here. We have only but to seize it.