13 March 2013

Teepee or Grass Shack

{*Not a post about us in Samoa, hahaha}

Culturally, my childhood was confusing at times. Ok, not so much confusing, but I was born with two separate cultural worlds. My siblings and I were raised in Laie, Hawaii all our lives. And the ONLY Hawaiian/Navajo's, for quite a while. In fact, most people didn't even know what a "Navajo" or "Native American" or "American Indian" was, especially if they were Polynesian. 

The Hawaiian comes from my Father's side, with a little part Chinese, German, etc. mixed in, raised in Papakolea. So you CAN'T argue he ain't Hawaiian. He meets the Hawaiian Homes blood quantity requirement, but us kids don't. THAT'S BECAUSE…my Mother is Navajo or "Dine", FULL BLOODED. From little Sawmill, Arizona. (Middle of Navajo Reservation) 

So this is just from my perspective & feelings, not sure how my siblings felt or feel. 

Anyways, I grew up in Hawaii, raised as a Hawaii kid with black rubbah slippahs, dancing hula, always at the beach. I KNEW I was Hawaiian because I felt Hawaiian. Of course I was also told I was Navajo too, and a few times a place called "the reservation" and "Window Rock, Arizona" where my Navajo Grandma Yazzie lived was mentioned a few times. And then every so often old albums were pulled out showing kodak portraits of red/orange deserts & canyons, recalling foggy memories of once-in-a-while trips we took to Dinehtah (Navajoland). 

Around our home I'd stare at exotic looking sand art tiles, southwestern pottery designs, and daydream as I secretly played with my mother's delicate turquoise jewelry. I always enjoyed my fish, poi & rice but was equally thrilled when Mom made fry bread or Navajo tortillas (don't know how to write the Navajo name). As a child "Navajo" seemed faraway. That changed as I grew up.

We made trips to the Navajo Reservation when we were older and I visited many other Native American reservations. I embraced its beauty with a mature mind, finally understanding all of my once foggy memories. Not replacing my Hawaiian childhood but adding to and thus completing my unique culture. My siblings and I are pretty unique. You can't get more 'NATIVE" than us. 

Just a few responses I've gotten from people trying to make sense of me saying I'm Hawaiian & Navajo:

Being Hawaiian:
-"Oh, there's still Hawaiians alive?"
-"Are you sure you're not Filipino?"
-"Soo, basically Asian?"
-"But if you can't speak your language, how are you Hawaiian?"
-"You're not really Hawaiian because King Kamehameha was Samoan"
-"Don't Hawaiians wear tons of gold bracelets?"
-"Why don't you surf?"

Being Navajo:
"What's a Navaho?"
-"Ohhhh, like Pocahontas?!!"
-stranger waves hand in circular motion and says in a deep voice 'Howww'
-"where's your feather?"
-"Do you guys always wear feathers?"
-"Oh, I'm a little part-Cherokee too"
-"Do you live in teepees?"
-"You must be rich off of casinos"
-"So you're like the bad Lamanites in the scriptures that were cursed."

People/family in Hawaii asked if people/my family in Arizona lived in teepees. People/family in Arizona asked if people/my family in Hawaii lived in grass huts. Go figure. 

Things to point out, because I can!
*Other Polynesian cultures always made fun of Hawaiian culture: chanting, hula, making up words, fighting for our land….AND YET these NON-Hawaiians are the ones giving their newborns HAWAIIAN middles names!!!! Wtf?! 

*The Pinterest/Hipster obsession of wearing a full-feathered headdress like they fashionable. No, you look dumb! Or stringing feathers in your hair & wearing tribal prints on Instagram, eeeh!

*Hallowen costumes: "Be a Hawaiian, wear a coconut bra & grass skirt kit" or "Be an indian, feather & facial paint kit". Ummm, you're turning someone's culture into a Party City costume.

*Kahuku High & their arm chops & hand over mouth "wah wah wah". I'm at fault for this too because I'm an alumni. But I was always like, my Mom, grandparent don't do this. Only "Indians" in Hollywood & Disney do. 

No, I'm not mad. lol. I'm not trying to be politically correct on anything, nor a marching sovereign-ist, activist, or negative Nancy. This was just my random blog thought for the day. Yes times have changed. Yes things have modernized. Yes even my own cultures are not perfect. Yes even people of my cultures are ignorant. Yes I'm gorgeous. hahaha, got you. 

So it's either hula girl or Pocahontas. Whatevs, I may not be fluent in any of my languages, or culturally knowledgable…but those before me were & remind me that I'm American. (Not getting so Patriotic).

Anyways, just think what my kids will go through. At least they will be greatly funded in college scholarships. And I'll randomly end with that. SHABOOYAH! 

FYI {There are over 4,000 Native American tribes; only 513 of which are still 'recognized' by the US Government. The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American tribe in the United States 300,000+ members, with also the largest owned land area.} ....someone asked


  1. Ok, can I just say how much I LOVE this post and how TRUE to every word it is?! First off, in a way I can relate. When my fam and I moved to kona (Haole side of the island) people were asking me if I was every ethnicity BUT Hawaiian. I'M 44% HAWAIIAN PEOPLE. more Hawaiian than most people you'll meet nowadays. AND THE ONES ASKING WE'RE WHITE WITH A HAWAIIAN NAME!!!! ok, enough of that. What I'm trying to say is that over the years, I've grown to embrace those that love our culture even though they may tease and mock it, yet name their non-Hawaiian child a Hawaiian name and put them in a charter school to learn Hawaiian. Thankfully, my hubby is also 44% Hawaiian which makes our daughter...44%. ANYWHOS, it's a good thing in the end we are all brothers and sisters in the gospel. And your children are beautiful with all their beautiful cultures. It's wonderful to know that our children will grow up knowing who they are and where they come from.

  2. Idk why I only saw this now. Isn't it crazy how culturall ignorant EVERY culture is? Growing up, I NEVER wanted to claim Samoan. I always thought of Samoans as big, different, and loud, especially since I grew up in asian/white Mililani. In high school, I hung out with the suga's in my class and yet I still didn't consider myself a lot Samoan mostly because I knew only Hawaiian things, went to a Hawaiian school, and was still raised in Mililani. Today, most of the people at Hawaiian Air know me for being Samoan, eveyrone here in La'ie knows I'm Samoan cuz my blingin' relatives or family. I HATE how plenty haoles wanna be hippie or retro or "cultural" so they name their kids "ocean" or "wave" or "sand" or "malia" or "kai" eeeeeehhhh get your own effing culture instead stop taking ours and making money from it!!

  3. lol...you are hilarious!!! thats all i have to say. thanks for the laughs!! :)