A Cairn of Stories: Establishing a Foundation of Hawaiian Literature

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ISSN: 2381-2478

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hoʻomanawanui, kuʻualoha
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article description
“What is moʻolelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian literature)?” This essay seeks to answer this and related questions. It articulates a foundation of moʻolelo Hawaiʻi in the twenty-first century as constructed from a long, rich history of oral tradition, performance, and writing, in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language), ʻōlelo Pelekānia (English), and ʻōlelo paʻiʻai (Hawaiʻi Creole English, HCE, or “pidgin”). This essay maps the moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy) of moʻolelo Hawaiʻi in its current form as a contemporized (post-eighteenth century) cultural practice resulting from the longer-standing tradition of haku (composing, including strictly oral compositions) and kākau (imprinting, writing). Beginning in the 1830s, kākau and paʻi (printing) were composed from ʻike Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian knowledge) passed down mai ka pō mai (from the ancient past), reflecting innovations in the recording and transmission of ʻike Hawaiʻi, including moʻolelo (narratives, stories, histories).