Ukwanshin’s Gakumun Kai presentation this past Monday had the honor of having guest speakers Kumu Hula Kaha`i Topolinski, and Hawaiian language specialist Kekoa Wong, both from Ka Pa Hula Hawai`i. They presented their ideas on perpetuating identity, culture and language, and problems Hawaiians are facing. It connected very well with our Okinawan situations as we could plug in Okinawan movements and problems to whatever they were talking about. We as Okinawans in Okinawa and abroad, face the same challenges as the Hawaiians, due to our reflection of history and culture. The panel discussion brought better understanding by our local Okinawans, to the plight of the Hawaiians, as well as having a clearer understanding of what we need to do to preserve and perpetuate our own. Everyone came away understanding that both the Hawaiians and Okinawans are “shimanchu”. There are many similarities and relations which almost make Okinawans distant cousins to the Hawaiians and other polynesians. We can clearly see this and the Hawaiians see it also. It draws a clear separation from the Japanese, and gives us a stronger basis to say we are and indigenous race whose history and culture is unique.
A question was called in by one of our live stream viewers, on the idea of evolution in culture. It was very interesting that Topolinski replied that evolution begins with a distinct culture and is continuously connected to it. Anything that looses the identity of it goes off tangent and becomes separated from that evolution. Basically, you can understand it as always having the foundation or roots to continue one’s identity and culture. The two hour discussion went so quickly that many in attendance wanted more time and wished they could discuss more. This was a milestone for the Okinawans in Hawai`i, as this was the first discussion and exchange with native Hawaiians, or any native people. Being able to understand other cultures brings easier understanding of our own, and sympathy for the struggles we are all facing as the world is thrown into a less grounded society.
For more photos and video clips on the presentation please copy an paste the following link to your browser. We apologize that due to technical problems, we do not have a full video of this presentation. Thank you Jamie for sharing your photos and video.