Saturday, May 10, 2008

That Hōkūle'a story I love...

Over at archy, the term "haole", came up in discussion, reminding me of my favorite story around the building and launching of the Hōkūle'a. Talking about jettisoning things from my almost-accepted journal paper reminded me of that story.

From my comment there (which I can't find at the moment :( ):

Back in 1975-6, efforts were underway in Hawai'i to build a traditional Polynesian canoe to recreate the voyage of the ancient Tahitians to discover Hawai'i: the "Hōkūle'a", or "star of joy" (Arcturus).

Naturally, in addition to the scientific, historical, and anthropological concerns, political, racial, and other human social frictions developed--there were efforts, like Heyerdahl's, that were perceived as denigrating though implying the Polynesians couldn't or wouldn't have made the journey; it was the Bicentennial, so a lot of self-congratulatory Anglo patriotic fervor was in the air--lots and lots of things like that led to cumnulative friction between the (mostly white) scientists and the native Hawai'ians on the project, and relations were at a nadir by the time they
set sail [typo in original corrected].

They ran into some bad weather partway out, and had to jettison some extra weight to stabilize the ship. One of the things they threw overboard were some of the shelters on the deck, modeled after traditional housing, or "hales" (pronounced hah-lehs). They radioed back to base that they were "throwing the hales overboard".

Bad transmission quality due to weather, plus the history of the relations among the crew through the course of the project, caused the crew at the base to hear that they were "throwing the haoles [white people] overboard". Much excitement ensued, until that particular misunderstanding was straightened out.

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