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Voices of Fire

Reweaving the Literary Lei of Pele and Hiʻiaka

2014
Author:

ku’ualoha ho’omanawanui

Voices of Fire

Restoring the literature of Pele and Hi‘iaka to its rightful place in Native culture and identity

Stories of the volcano goddess Pele and her youngest sister Hi‘iaka, patron of hula, are most familiar as a form of literary colonialism—first translated by missionary descendants and others, then co-opted by Hollywood and the tourist industry. Voices of Fire recovers the lost and often-suppressed political significance of this literature, restoring it to its primary place in Hawaiian culture.

ku‘ualoha ho‘omanawanui artfully performs the cultural and intellectual labor of overturning dominant paradigms and creating new ways of seeing and being an Kanaka ‘Ōiwi (Indigenous Hawaiian) woman and member of the Lāhui (Nation) that draws inspiration from the volcano goddess Pele and her favored youngest sister Hi‘iaka, patron of hula. This is an important and exciting book.

Ty P. Kawika Tengan, author of Native Men Remade: Gender and Nation in Contemporary Hawai'i

Stories of the volcano goddess Pele and her youngest sister Hi‘iaka, patron of hula, are most familiar as a form of literary colonialism—first translated by missionary descendants and others, then co-opted by Hollywood and the tourist industry. But far from quaint tales for amusement, the Pele and Hi‘iaka literature published between the 1860s and 1930 carried coded political meaning for the Hawaiian people at a time of great upheaval. Voices of Fire recovers the lost and often-suppressed significance of this literature, restoring it to its primary place in Hawaiian culture.

Ku‘ualoha ho‘omanawanui takes up mo‘olelo (histories, stories, narratives), mele (poetry, songs), oli (chants), and hula (dances) as they were conveyed by dozens of authors over a tumultuous sixty-eight-year period characterized by population collapse, land alienation, economic exploitation, and military occupation. Her examination shows how the Pele and Hi‘iaka legends acted as a framework for a Native sense of community. Freeing the mo‘olelo and mele from colonial stereotypes and misappropriations, Voices of Fire establishes a literary mo‘okū‘auhau, or genealogy, that provides a view of the ancestral literature in its indigenous contexts.

The first book-length analysis of Pele and Hi‘iaka literature written by a Native Hawaiian scholar, Voices of Fire compellingly lays the groundwork for a larger conversation of Native American literary nationalism.

Awards

Honorable Mention: Modern Language Association’s Prize for Studies in Native American Literatures, Cultures, and Languages

Voices of Fire

ku‘ualoha ho‘omanawanui is associate professor of Hawaiian literature in the English department at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Voices of Fire

ku‘ualoha ho‘omanawanui artfully performs the cultural and intellectual labor of overturning dominant paradigms and creating new ways of seeing and being an Kanaka ‘Ōiwi (Indigenous Hawaiian) woman and member of the Lāhui (Nation) that draws inspiration from the volcano goddess Pele and her favored youngest sister Hi‘iaka, patron of hula. This is an important and exciting book.

Ty P. Kawika Tengan, author of Native Men Remade: Gender and Nation in Contemporary Hawai'i

An amazingly well-crafted, well-selected, and well-analyzed lei that is, in and of itself, an incredibly powerful narrative destined to become an integral component of the intellectual lei of Kanaka Maoli literature.

Native American and Indigenous Studies Journal

Voices of Fire

Papa Kuhikuhi / Table of Contents

Ka Pule Wehe / The Opening Prayer: Kūnihi ka Mauna (Steep Stands the Mountain)
Ka Pane / The Response
ʻŌlelo Haʻi Mua / Preface
Nā Mahalo / Acknowledgments

ʻŌlelo Mua / Introduction: Ke Haʻa lā Puna i ka Makani (Puna Dances in the Breeze)

Mokuna / Chapter 1. Mai Kahiki Mai ka Wahine ʻo Pele (From Kahiki Came the Woman, Pele): Historicizing the Pele and Hiʻiaka Moʻolelo
Mokuna / Chapter 2. ʻO nā Lehua wale i Ka‘ana (The Lehua Blossoms Alone at Kaʻana): Weaving the Moʻokūʻauhau of Oral and Literary Traditions
Mokuna / Chapter 3. Lele ʻana ʻo Kaʻena i ka Mālie (Kaʻena Soars Like a Bird in the Calm): Pele and Hiʻiaka Moʻolelo as Intellectual History
Mokuna / Chapter 4. Ke Lei maila ʻo Kaʻula i ke Kai ē (Kaʻula Is Wreathed by the Sea): Pele and Hiʻiaka Moʻolelo and Kanaka Maoli Culture
Mokuna / Chapter 5. ʻO ʻOe ia e Wailua Iki (It Is You, Wailua Iki): Mana Wahine in the Pele and Hiʻiaka Moʻolelo
Mokuna / Chapter 6. Hulihia Ka Mauna (The Mountain Is Overturned by Fire): Weaving a Literary Tradition: The Polytexts and Politics of the Pele and Hiʻiaka Moʻolelo
Mokuna / Chapter 7. Aloha Kīlauea, ka ʻĀina Aloha (Beloved Is Kīlauea, the Beloved Land): Remembering, Reclaiming, Recovering, and Retelling: Pele and Hi‘iaka Mo‘olelo as Hawaiian Literary Nationalism

Ka Pule Pani / The Closing Prayer
ʻŌlelo Wehewehe Hope / Notes
Papa Wehewehe ‘Ōlelo / Glossary
Papa Kuhikuhi o nā Mea Kūmole ʻia / Works Cited
Papa Kuhikuhi Hōʻike / Index