The Importance of Subsistence and the Need for a Community-Based Subsistence Management at Mo'omomi Bay, Moloka'i, Hawai'i

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Ili, Sarah
Polynesia - Hawaii
artifact description
Mo'omomi, located on the northwest side of the island of Moloka'i, is a bay that has been valued by the Hawaiians of Moloka'i for generations. The resources from that bay have provided subsistence for many families throughout Moloka'i since pre-contact times. There are families today that rely on subsistence, because of the island's economy. Economically, Moloka'i has the worst economy statewide and is the poorest of all the Hawaiian Islands. Since ancient times, among Hawaiians there has been an understanding and strong relationship between the Hawaiian gods, the land and humans. The Hawaiian gods are charged with the responsibility for maintaining the natural resources of different parts of the environment. Hawaiians have always believed that by taking care of the land and the sea, and by treating them with respect, the land and the sea will in exchange take care of all who practice such values. With that understanding and knowledge of the environment, Hawaiians knew that there was a need to respect and treat the land properly, otherwise, there was no way for humans to survive, generation after generation. They, the people, had to make it work. Such Hawaiian values, and many others that will be discussed in this research paper, have been passed down from generation to generation, and they still exist among many Hawaiians today. Traditional Hawaiian values are part of the daily lives of many Hawaiians, as well as those non-Hawaiians who are brought up among Hawaiians, from the time they were children. The typical ahupua'a was a 'self-sustaining' section of land that ran from the mountains to the sea so as to yield the varied food products of the mountains, the cultivated land, and the sea (Kosaki 1954:1). The Hawaiian fishing system was based, in part, on the traditional land system of Hawai’i. Fishing rights were associated with the ahupua'a and later known as the konohiki fishing rights during the Hawaiian monarchy. Fishing was always an important subsistence practice, and the harvesting of ocean resources was learned through several generations in a family and was a traditional way to secure seafood. The natives knew the habits and haunts of the fishes very well. With the understanding and knowledge of the lifecycles and lifestyles of a number of fish species, the people were able to catch and gather many marine resources. They devised a variety of methods and techniques for catching fish that were very efficient. " […]Today, the practical application of traditional knowledge, values and methods have become secondary, or no longer exist in the lives of countless Hawaiians. Fortunately, however, there are some Hawaiians today who have the knowledge of traditional Hawaiian cultural values, methods and techniques and use them in their daily lives as they were taught by their kupuna (see glossary). They are the people who need to be looked at and listened to for the perpetuation of traditional Hawaiian culture and values. Today, subsistence practitioners statewide continue to carryon the traditions of the past. They are connected to, or as they say, in tune with the land, because they live on it and are part of it. And the land is connected to the sea. In this research, I focus on the importance of subsistence, traditional fishing techniques and methods of a community based subsistence management group.

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