Kids, Lend Me Your Ears

It’s not easy to get the kids attention when giving tours at the museum. The minute we walk in there they gasp. “Is that a real whale?” some will ask while others immediately start to chatter about the size, his one great eye peering down like a proctor making sure you don’t cheat on your test.

Sperm Whale

“Yes he is real” I say. He has been here since the museum first opened. He is paper mache on one side so that you can see what he looked like alive and his skeleton is on the other side so that you can see what he looks like from the inside.” And just as they are veering off to another subject I jerk them back when I say, “He is a sperm whale and the only whale with a throat large enough to swallow a human being.”


Now there quiet, I have their attention and I start my tour. I take them over to the image of Ku. Again the kids start to whisper, shove and turn to other displays. It’s a constant game of wanting them to learn something without boring them. I’m always trying to incorporate something that will reel them in and yet be something they are familiar with. Now that I think of it I have to do it with adults to, such as connecting the appearances of all the American flags after 9/11 to the appearances of Hawaiian flag quilts after the Americans banned the flying of the Hawaiian Flag.

But this time the kids are kind of fascinated with the image of Ku but Ku competes with the display of a Heiau just to the front of the image. So I ask my question. “Who has seen the cartoon, Scooby Doo?” Heads spin towards me and their arms almost dislocate as they shoot up into the air affirming they have.

There is one segment of Scooby Doo where they use a “Tiki” as part of a curse. Of course the tiki’s modle was the image of Ku. All of the sudden the kids realize that the god they are looking at does look like the one seen in the cartoon.

“Can this Ku put a curse on you?” I ask as they all look at each other with worried faces. I explain to them that Ku was a very important god for the Hawaiian’s of old and that they looked to him for much. Good crops, government and laws among other things. I tell them that they now know the real truth about Ku. He is not cursed. He certainly was not part of a cartoon and that he was very important to the ancient Hawaiian people.

I want to instill this in to the children because many are Hawaiian and I want them to know the difference when their culture is being used in a wrong manner for entertainment. I want them to have a sense of pride at all of the accomplishments that their ancestors brought about. Ku seems to do this as the kids, especially the boys really enjoy that tying in of Scooby Doo and the “Cursed Tiki.”

So now the kids are calmed down, have become enthused about the artifacts and I finely feel I have their attention. So we stop in front of the Hale Pili or little grass hut.

Hale Pili a restored Hawaiian house made from Pili grass

“Now boys and girls, I want you each in turn to look inside of this hut (it contains a woven pillow, small lava rock lamps cut away, lit with kukui nut oil, and soft woven mats.) I tell them to look carefully at each thing and tell me what this hut was used for. “Remember the Hawaiians only used this hut for one thing as they had huts for each activity that you would normally have rooms for in your house.”

I always think this is a given. Come on a pillow, soft mats and low lighting? Just when I think they are finely paying attention, they answer, ” a kitchen.”

And so it goes. Everyday I must return to the old drawing board. Kids; no ears, no eyes, just a zest for life.

I Pledge Allegiance

Queen Liliuokalani Licensing

Image via Wikipedia

This is an old piece from my Holo Holo Hawaii Blog for those of you who might have read it already. But this is a piece that can explain a misconception a lot of people have about Hawaii becoming part of the United States.

Hawaiian Protest Quilt that hangs in Bishop Museum

On 9/11 our Nation was in distress. We had been attacked without even being aware that we were under siege. A total surprise. But our flag was still standing.

Hawaii awoke in the early morning to the news and like the rest of the world we watched as the events played out live on our televisions. As the week wore on Flags began to appear on the back windows of trucks, waving from antennas and pinned to clothing. Though the United States flag was not upside down our nation was, indeed, in distress.

I am reminded during Hawaii’s 50th statehood celebration of a time when Hawaiians too started to display their flag as a nation under siege. Store bought flags and little pins created to take advantage of ones patriotism during 9/11 were easy enough to attain. But I am not sure how many quilts were created in display of one’s love for their country.

The quilt that is shown above is one of the treasures of “The Bishop Museum.” It once belonged to Hawaii’s last Queen, Liliuokalani, who was dethroned by US big business. In the late 1800’s Hawaiians realized that their islands were slipping out of their hands. Quilts, such as the one above started to appear.

People started hanging quilts on four posters above beds so that they could say they  slept and awoke under their flag.

If you notice on the quilt, the four outer flags display an intact canton. But the inside flags show the canton upside down. This particular quilt was sewn during a time when the queen had been imprisoned and the Hawaiian flag was forbidden to fly by the Provisional Government that had taken over the islands.

Now if you were one of the flag waving Americans that appeared as the Towers went down you well know the feeling of someone trying to take away your country. This is exactly what the Hawaiian people felt as they stood powerless against a crafty, cunning and scheming group of men who had successfully managed to overthrow their Queen.

The Hawaiian people never wanted to be annexed but for the wishes of their Queen they did not rebel. They remained peaceful and ever hopeful that the islands would be returned back to their Queen. But President McKinley signed the Annexation Treaty and  although ordered to revert to her married name of Lydia Dominis, she was still the Queen to her people and together they protested the Annexation.

In this day of sound bites, and spinning the news, when you see people of Hawaii talking about the privilege  of becoming part of the United States,  ask yourself just who are these people and would the Hawaiians rather be pledging their allegiance to their own flag as  their quilts indicated or did they truly want to become Americans as the spin doctors of the provisional government contested?