Broader view of ecology urged

Science could benefit from seeing the Earth from the traditional Hawaiian point of view, said Dr. Carlos Andrade, assistant professor of Hawaiian Studies at UH-Manoa. Speaking last night to a standing-room-only audience at the Waikiki Aquarium, Dr. Andrade said, “Resources don’t need management, people need management.”

The presentation, entitled “Seeing Through the Eyes of the Ancestors,” focused on the differences between Hawaiian ancestral and contemporary resources management practices.

To tell the story of resource management in terms limited to the language of ecology, environment or “hard” science is to attest to the death and total destruction of our home, Dr. Andrade explained.

He said the traditional Hawaiian relationship to the Earth is a familial one. Because land is a relative, people must take care of it. The Earth is like the elder sibling and humans rank below it as the younger sibling. This point of view differs greatly from hard science, Dr. Andrade said, which claims humans rank at the top.

“Hawaiian people think of the land as our companion,” Dr. Andrade said, and not as a resource to be used.

He explained the Kuleana Act of 1850, in which new land boundaries were drawn by “newcomers.” These new boundaries were not related to the shape of the land, as the boundaries laid down by the native Hawaiians were.

Dr. Andrade shared a photo of an ancient taro patch on Kaua`i to illustrate the different ways of perceiving the land. Native Hawaiians would see the ancient taro patch as the legacy of their ancestors, which could be restored, while the “newcomers” saw it, and designated it as a wilderness area.

Finding a balance between the imported values of the newcomers and the traditional ancestor values of the native Hawaiians is also important, Dr. Andrade said, adding that there is a need to eradicate alien species and ideas that are not appropriate for this place.

Dr. Andrade also called for more local control for the people. Decisions should be locally made, he said, not made in Honolulu.

He compared the difference between native Hawaiian values and the new value systems as an elephant in the corner that no one talks about. He said the idea of fair treatment has often meant that American interests come first, and Hawaiian interests come second.

And Dr. Andrade said Hawaiians need to learn about their ancestry. They were denied this by formal education for many years, but now there has been some improvement, he said.

Dr. Andrade is a Hui Konohiki Faculty member at the UH-Manoa School of Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Studies (SHAPS).

Last night’s lecture is the first in the 2003 Natural History Lecture Series “Wakea and Papa (Heaven and Earth): Resource Connections in Waikiki,” presented by the Waikiki Aquarium/UH Manoa and the Ala Wai Watershed Association.

The next lecture in the series will be “Water Movement Through the Ahupua`a,” presented by Dr. Ka’eo Duarte on Thursday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m. at the Waikiki Aquarium. Doors will open at 7 p.m., and the aquarium exhibits will be open for viewing before the lecture. For more information, contact the Waikiki Aquarium Education Department at 923-9741, ext. 8-107.

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