I was forwarded your e-mail by Kim Birnie and am responding on behalf of my Grandmother, Catherine Leina'ala Wilson Gagnon, because she does not have e-mail and is currently in the hospital. She first moved to Puerto Rico in 1975 because my Step grandfather (her 2nd marriage) was transferred there by the Navy. Then, in 1977 they were transferred to San Diego and she's been there ever since.
Nothing was very difficult for her financially speaking. But, of course, being away from your family and Hawaii is very hard even if she was on the West Coast and not that far away. The most difficult situations for her were deaths in the family. First, her mother died… then her 2nd oldest sister, then her brother, then her oldest sister…slowly they all died and now there is only 2 of them left (out of 10)-herself and her sister right above her. They always gave her a hard time because she was the only one that married a "haole" and always accused her of being "haole" in her ways… so it was hard for her when they all passed without having a chance to ho'oponopono in regards to all that bad blood from the past (there was a WHOLE lot more- different subject though.)
She's always said that she never wanted to move back home to Hawaii and preferred to live in the Mainland because that way she would "…hear about all the family problems but didn't have to see and/or face them in person"…she would tell me this over and over when I used to live with her. On the other hand, the rest of the family feels that the REAL reason she doesn't wanna move back home is because she's an avid Bingo and Keno player and although there is Bingo here in Hawaii (on base), the jackpots here don't compare to the ones that can be won up there. So… You decide what story you wanna go with.
One story that I'll share with you is one from when my Grandma was married to my Grandpa (her first marriage). He was also in the military but worked in the Naval offices and for some reason was transferred to Vallejo. Well, my Grandma told me that they were going to a baseball game and by then she had met a couple of other local people from Hawaii that were also transferred there. She told me that back then, when people went to baseball games, it was like they were going to a "Ball" or something. The women would be dressed up in long dresses, hats, and gloves-their Sunday best!! The men too!! They wore suits and ties…Anyhow, she told me, "Not me!! I wore my mu'umu'u and that was it!!" Well, of course she got a lot of weird looks when she attended the game because she wasn't dressed "properly." But she told me that all the other Hawaiian women were dressed to the nines too!! She told me that she told them off!! These women had approached her about not being dressed properly and she asked them why they had dressed up. They told her that they were in "America" now and people in America dress up. She then told them, "Well, I'M HAWAIIAN!! And THIS is how Hawaiians dress. Just because I'm in the Haole's world that doesn't mean that I have to act haole - because I'm not!! And furthermore, you should be ashamed for not taking pride in your culture! These people know NOTHING about our culture and as Hawaiians it is our job to teach them."
After graduating from High school I moved to San Diego to live with my Grandma and that's how we became a lot closer. I found out that people always assumed I was some preppy Mexican chicana that never knew how to speak Spanish. They would be yacking away in Spanish to me and I would tell them, "No Habla Espanol," and then they would give that look like I was some pathetic Mexican chick that had forsaken my culture. Then I would tell them , "Hawaiiana" and they would say "Oooohh, tu es Hawaiian" you should see the BIG smiles!! Anyways, I guess the moral of the story is to never forsake your culture because it's a gift - -a portable gift, that you can take with you where ever you go in the world. And, yes, it IS our job to share it with people near AND far.
The greatest difficulties was in not growing up with other kanaka maoli, especially our ohana on the islands… those of us that have lived away from home have not been considered as "Hawaiian" as those that live at home. Of course, I don't agree with this perspective…. But it has been said many times. There are many kanaka maoli children that have never even been to the islands… they know of our culture from their families, but have never experienced the island first hand. I was fortunate to have been born on the islands and lived there when I was young…. Then I went to the South Pacific until I was a teenager, so in a way I grew up with other Pacific cultures.
If I had a choice, I would move home to Hawaii because I always consider that my home…. But when families have jobs already away from home and other family members here, it is not an easy thing to do…. If our culture is focused on the family, then I could not easily leave my own extended family here…. We are kanaka maoli, we live the values of being kanaka maoli, but we live on a different land that is all. We have canoe clubs, we have halaus, we have community gatherings…. They are just in another place.
The cost of living is very high, there are no jobs for all my familiy, and housing would be beyond what most could afford in our family…. Most of the family would love to return home if it were possible and there was a place for us.
I have always felt sad that some kanaka maoli almost reject us if we live abroad use terms like, "you chose to leave"…. We share the same sun, we share the same moon, our aumakua do not reject us because we live elsewhere… we are still connected and in some ways have an even greater passion and love of our culture and understand who we are.
Changes, difficulties- there have been many so of them so little. Things like access to local food etc. always create a problem. Not being able to access the music and culture so my children can learn what it means to be Hawaiian... being mistaken for a Hispanic or Indian or some other "exotic". The lack of knowledge and understanding of what is a Hawaiian beyond the Hollywood stereo-type.
If I had the choice- I would move back but not without careful planning and thought. The cost-of-living vs the salaries is always a big concern. But as always- with my entire family there and most of my friends...it would be difficult not to return. Hawaii lives inside of us and to deny that part of your essence is impossible for me.
I'm not sure what else you would want so please let me know and I will try to answer your questions.
You should know that many of my cousins left home for college, and then stayed away because there was no decent work for decent pay. Or there was no work, period.
They greatest physical change was adapting to a very metropolitan, materialistic-consumer society, as is life on the mainland. I was originally from a town that if one were to put the three of them together, you might have gotten around 9000 souls back in the late '60's. It was difficult to understand racism in terms of actual racial characteristics, as opposed to haole-mainlander vs. local. Racial and ethnic differences are perceived differently in the islands as compared to the mainland. While I may perceive them as differences, as one who orders his world in "Hawaiian" way, I don't tend to categorize these within any hierarchical structure as to their value: i.e., Chinese better than Negroes, but not as good as Caucasians…etc. That was hard to learn, and worse to accept as part of my "new life". The American model, not unlike the European one, is a hierarchy of classes and ethno/racial categories which distinguished themselves in two ways: - firstly, their acquisition power and generation of capital, which inevitably leads to the second - consumption of goods and services (resources), and the resulting ostentatiousness of lifestyle. Needless to say, most Hawaiians would not order their world in this fashion.
Other difficulties of living away from home probably the same as all the rest of the kanaka maoli diaspora; one misses the foods, music and daily rhythms of Hawai'i. Family grows apart and distant, one misses the connectivity of family, and the greater sense of community… here on the mainland there comes a time when one learns to fit, but you know you don't really belong.
There is mana in Hawai'i that fills me, and gives me peace when I'm home. A stasis of well being comes to mind and body. I would definitely live back home in Hawai'i, among family and building a community with those around me… as is the Hawaiian way of ordering the world.
This is indeed my situation. My heart says go home, the brain says stay here. There are many reasons… I work as a Spanish Language Interpreter for the courts, both federal and California State, and my wife is a full-time… making a career … teacher. My third child was born autistic, and even though people treated him and us so very well when I returned home for a visit with all the keiki kane (I have three from 12 to 7), the reality is that the best services for his condition are here on the mainland, and precisely where I am now in the Southern California region. With whatever I'd be able to make in Hawai'i, and I'm figuring that it would be teaching Spanish (I do have an M.A. degree), I would barely be able to provide for my family; and certainly would not be able to purchase any home, or even condo.
Also, Hawai'i is not the same in many ways. I see the Euro-US model taking over and wreaking havoc with the land (ka 'aina o Hawai'i) and our people. In the gatherings and halau recitals here on the mainland, I see and meet as many of us as I would meet back home. My hometown is now divided between rich mainland haoles and those few of us who couldn't or wouldn't move out. I barely remember fences in my hometown… it was a community …. Now there are guard dogs and high cinderblock walls. Both our people, and our way of life is becoming diluted to so many parts per million…
Just so this isn't so melancholy, I'd like to sing the praises of the Hawaiian Renaissance. When I was recently back home, about a year ago, I went to a Kamehameha Schools Song Competition (my father is a graduate of 1949?) and was absolutely enthralled with the talent and beauty of the up and coming generations. They chanted pule so righteously that it brought me to gentle tears down my cheek. All of the children of my cousins who stayed in Hawaii now know more about the history, the overthrow, and 'olelo o Hawai'i than I could ever hope for. What I struggle with insofar as language, they all speak as matter of daily course. I learned in linguistics that language shapes culture and culture shapes language; it is a perfect symbiosis. If this is true, then Hawaiian culture is alive and well and may very well make a resurgence soon.
Mike Ka na'i aupuni Ferreira
My move to the mainland was because of the military. I was stationed here at Nellis AFB, outside Las Vegas, NV from 1971-74. I met my future wife here while attending church to which we both belonged to. We married in 1972 and after being stationed at Hickam AFB from 1975-77, I got out and decided to move back to Las Vegas for a variety of reasons. They are:
1. my father in law passed away in early 1977, and my mother in law wanted to go on a mission for our church ( The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). We decided to move back and take care of her place while she was gone for 18 months.
2. the cost of living in Hawaii even then was more then we thought we could handle.
3. I had been promised a civil service job at Nellis AFB upon my return, but while processing in, the job was eliminated........cut backs and budget restraints.
I get asked very often what I missed about Hawaii. At the time there were only two things that I missed..........my Mother and the food. Well, as time went on, more people moved here and with that.........a lot of the ethnic foods came with them. Two years ago, my step dad passed away and now my Mother lives with us. While it gets very hot here, except for those 4 months, it's not too bad weather wise. Don't get me wrong, it is gorgeous in Hawaii, but between the type of weather you live in and how much money you have to spend to enjoy that weather, I'd spend less money and put up with the climate!!!!
I don't think I could stay in Hawaii very long without feeling a need to move around. While the "Aloha Spirit" would be more prevalent there, I think that that spirit comes from within and if shared, would be given back...........even here in the mainland. The main reason for being here is the cost of living, I get more "bang" for the buck. Most of my immediate family live here throughout the mainland, so the "lure" to return is not so great!
One should recognize that even in Hawaii, the melting pot of the Pacific, there are problems there too! For my wife, being haole, it was the subtle discrimination. I could see it there from her perspective too! While I'm sure we would have lived and worked through it, it was a concern.
--Richard G. Wong
My name is Joni Leinaala Floyd. I moved away from home to join the army, I had no job and could not afford to go to school. I have encountered many changes since leaving from the food to the people. The rice consumption is not like at home and they do not eat the same kind of rice that we do. The only place that I can find diamond g rice is at the military commissary. The people do not have the aloha in their hearts as us islanders do and that has taken awhile to get used to. I experienced prejudice because people are not sure who to group me with black or white. If I had a choice it would be Hawaii-no doubt. I miss the island life where the ocean is as beautiful as the people. I am no married and have a 2 year old child, I want them to experience the beauty of Hawaii. I am not able to live at home now because I am going to school. I am persuing an associates degree in computer electronics technology majoring in telecommunications. I would like to move back home after I graduate next summer, depending on if I can afford it. Mahalo
Aloha- I left Hawai'i for finish my education at the University of Buffalo and worked several years there until I moved to Boston, Massachussetts in 95. One of the reasons for continuing my education outside of Hawai'i was the University of Hawai'i's reputation and that the job market was limited.
Some of the initial difficulties was the cultural shock of being in an area where there are few Asians or Polynesians but learned to use my ethnicity to further my career. Moving to Boston was smoother as there are many people from Hawai'i there and you can get almost everything like in Hawai'i. I left the east coast because the snow was starting to get to me.
I wanted a warmer place but was not ready for Hawai'i. Their economy was doing badly and the cost of living too high, so I chose AZ (not CA due to the earthquakes) I plan to move back to Hawai'i, hopefully, in the next five years but that is dependent on its economy.
If given a choice to have the same lifestyle I have had over the years in any city in the world, I would pick Hawai'i. There is still no other place like it on earth and there are no people in the world that can compare to the Hawaiian way of life.
I have a lot to share and have many experiences in New York, Mass., and Arizona and how my Hawaiian background has actually helped me along in my career. Mahalo and Good Luck.
I left Hawai'i in 1956 to attend college. One of the major changes for me was I got married and started a family, so that changed my life, becoming a wife and mother, I was fortunate to have the family support of my in-laws.
I would live here, because my children and grandchildren are here, my home is here. I would not be able to do so (move back to Hawai'i) now for economic reasons, things are too expensive if you are moving there, I would need a place to live that was affordable, are there any such places for someone with fixed income basically that would be my reason.
When I left Hawai'i, there was nothing on the horizon that suggested that or Hawaiian culture would be alive in twenty years. We were being westernized and assimilated into the haole world. Our hula was being popularized by the motion picture industry.
In the mied nineteen seventies, I heard beautful Hawaiian music with Hawaiian words and saw the kane dancing hula, I felt a resurgence of our culture. This was a re-awakening of the Hawaiian in me. So I joined the movement here in San Diego to actively pepetuate the Hawaiian culture. I am a founding member of 'Ahahui Kiwila Hawai'i O San Diego, the Hawaiian Civic Club of San Diego in 1993. All sources of information was now open to me and those interested in what was happening in Hawai'i.
Dolly Keahiolalo Crawford
I am a 69 year old Kanaka Maoli living here in S. California for more than 35 years. In your request, my answers to your questions are as follows:
- I moved from Hawai'i due to school first, college, and then my committment to the United States mandatory military service of the time. I spent 20 years in the Marines, purchased a home here in the mainland while still in the service and retired to the civilian work place.
- The changes as you might imagine was not traumatic for me, as I acclimated to the situations here very quickly. Having lived away from Hawai'i for such a long period, my basic living home is here.
- The choice of better living in Hawai'i or here is purely selfishness on my part, as I have the best of both worlds. Hawai'i by air is ony a few hours away from me and it takes less time to go to Hawai'i than for me to drive to Las Vegas. Being Kanaka from the era of my childhood, our home is on hallowed ground and here is a part of Hawai'i nei. There is more reason for me to remain here than there is for me to return to the islands. It is more economical for me to live here.
Please be advised, that the answers you will be receiving from those living here will vary so much and your compilations and results may boggle your po'o. As the time goes by, I have lived in three different worlds, as identified by the different wars we have engaged in. World War II, Korean War, Vietnam and the Desert Wars....so I have much experience of the living during these times. I would enjoy communicating with you if so choose...because I have an older brother living in Kaimuki that has travelled the world but still will not move away from Hawai'i.
My name is Allan Kalanui Wakinekona.
I was born in Hawai'i in 1946. My father was Jack Rycroft, 3rd generation haole transplant, my mother was Ethelwynne Chung-Hoon, a Chinese Hawaiian native. Her mother was pure Hawaiian, Kaui Kanaka'ole.
Tom has recently moved to the Washington D.C. area
I was born and raised on Oahu and moved from Hawaii when I was twelve with my parents to the mainland. I am 31 years old right now and moved up to Alaska after graduating from college in the Midwest. My parents and I moved from Hawaii to the mainland so that we could travel, better education opportunities, change in weather, and Oahu being too crowded. We traveled by motorhome full-time throughout North America during my teen years, so it was a drastic change from living on an island. My mother is kanaka maoli and my father is haole.
My husband S Kane Kalua( from Wahiawa )and I (Kihei ) met and married at young age.1960..no jobs, so enlisted in air force..at end of enlistment,ready to go home to Hawai'i...little thing called Bay of Pigs....and Pres Kennedy extended all of us..next was Viet Nam, and being lucky I guess, he survived three tours....by then..enough time in military .... went for career,
During the 28 yrs, was stationed from Greece to Thailand and all points in between. Had six children and managed to get to Hawai'i about every 4 years to see ohana.
At military retirement the job situation at home, was still so bad, ( and mind you...we were used to enlisted military pay) both of us would have had to work full time jobs just to survive, never mind a mortgage and 3 of the kids still at home...so we settled in 3 times the size of home , in Florida, we would have been able to purchase there.