Hä, Mana, Leo (Breath, Spirit, Voice) Kanaka Maoli Empowerment through Literature ku'ualoha ho'omanawanui In order to understand how our literature is empowering to us, na ¯ Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian people), one must first look to our 'olelo ¯ ¯ makuahine, our Indigenous language base, and the mana'o (thoughts) expressed within its embrace. A traditional 'olelo no' eau (proverb), i ka ¯ 'olelo ke ola, i ka 'olelo ka make, "in the language is life, in the language is ¯ ¯ death," speaks to the power of language, as words have the ability to heal ¯ or destroy.1 'Olelo is "language, speech, word, utterance; to speak, say, ¯ tell; oral communication.2 'Olelo is the root of our word for stories oral or written, mo'olelo. Mo'olelo is formed from two words: 'olelo, language, ¯ and mo'o, a "succession [or] series"; thus mo'o 'olelo is "a succession of ¯ talk, as all stories were oral, not written," although today the term also encompasses written literature.3 Until American Calvinist missionaries created a Hawaiian alphabet and writing system after their arrival to the Hawaiian islands in 1819, all Kanaka Maoli literature was oral. By inventing a Hawaiian alphabet, the missionaries were able
The American Indian Quarterly – University of Nebraska Press
Published: May 1, 2004
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