It was during the state boys basketball tournament that the war cry, basically the tomahawk chant, of Kahuku fans drew me into conversation with a former player and coach (OIA) about the politics of the whole thing.
It was during the state boys basketball tournament that the war cry, basically the tomahawk chant, of Kahuku fans drew me into conversation with a former player and coach (OIA) about the politics of the whole thing. After all, when fans on the mainland use the same chant, they're decried and ripped for being politically incorrect.
But Kahuku has done it for years. And in more recent years, I've started to wonder more and more about where that line rests between school history and sensitivity to Native American tribes. This is my theory.
Because the Mormon church is entrenched on the North Shore, particularly La'ie, doing the tomahawk chant isn't just something that goes along with Kahuku's longtime nickname, "Red Raiders." Though that name came by chance when 'Iolani donated uniforms to Kahuku decades ago (and has more recently dropped the "Red" from its nickname), I started to realize there's more to it.
See, for those of us (including myself), there's very little knowledge about what the history of the LDS is all about. Like any religion, there's good (lots) and bad (sad but true). When it comes to lineage, though, the Mormon church takes it to a really interesting, some say creative, new level. When I hear talk about a Western culture/faith deriving from a "lost tribe" of Israel, I think of Bob Marley, the Rasafarians and their insistence that former Ethiopian president Hallie Selassie was the descendant and king of that tribe, which eventually found its way to Jamaica, etc.
Well, the Church of Latter-Day Saints has used similar historical rewriting to say that Native Americans are descendants of the lost tribe, and from there, they migrated to Polynesia and South America. I don't hear it directly from friends who are Mormon, but it interests me to know more about migration and history, all the good and bad.
DNA in recent years has proven that South Americans descended from travelers who crossed from Siberia to Alaska -- NOT from Israel. There is no Hebrew DNA in Polynesians, either. For literalists of the LDS church, it has to be a stiff blow. But it doesn't really change my perspective of people and their chosen faith. Why?
I believe there's something within us that transcends the name of our religion and church. Being raised a certain way doesn't necessarily limit us to possibilities and realities. America was born out of religious tyranny, among other things, so the right to follow one's path was well-earned by our forefathers.
But I'm sure there are older Mormons who will never trust the technology that has changed our lives, just as I am content to use a freebie cellphone rather than buy a pricey iPhone, just as there are still some folks who refuse to use a computer, let alone e-mail. DNA has reversed the wrongful convictions of more than 200 people and freed them from prisons.
Trying to explain that Polynesians are not genetically linked to the lost tribe of Israel will fall on some deaf ears.
Does it matter? Depends on who you are. For me, I'm gotten old enough to get over literalism. I don't care if God created the universe in 7 days or 7 millennia or 7 seconds. When I meet someone, especially for the first time, it's that person and me talking and sharing a brief moment. There's an imprint left behind, and all I can hope is that the one I leave is positive.
My curiosity about migration will never cease, I guess. Cultures evolve and change, and so do religions. But those of us who would pound another person, culture or nation just because we "know" we're right and they're wrong ... I would implore you to remember how quickly we are all humbled by life. If the tomahawk chant irritates you, let it be solely for competitive reasons when your school is playing Kahuku.
If it makes you smile, know that I'm smiling along with you. There is a unity and spirit within and around Kahuku's athletic program that is unique. Special. I say chant forever, 'til kingdom come.