We, as Native Hawaiians, must continue to unveil the knowledge of our ancestors. Let
us interpret for ourselves who our ancestors are, how they thought, and why they made
certain decisions. In the pro cess, we treat them with honor, dignity, love, and re spect.
pualani kanakaʻole kanahele
The main purpose of this book is to further the proj ect of mapping Kanaka
Hawaiʻi (Native Hawaiian) intellectual history. How can we know that our
ancestors were (are) intellectual beings, and know more specifically in whose
path we are now following? Fortunately, our ancestors took great pains to
write down our moʻolelo; lyric, epic, and other forms of poetry; po litical
and economic analyses of their times; interpretations of their ancestors’
philosophies, histories, and oral lit er a tures; and so on.
As we read what they wrote, which is overwhelmingly in their native
language, ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi, we inevitably gain an appreciation of the depth of
their thought and their artistic genius. As Pualani Kanahele articulates in
the epigraph, when we do this work of interpretation, we honor and re spect
our ancestors. We are also then able to consciously continue distinctive
Kanaka thought and intellectual production. This book, then, mainly con-
sists of reading the works of our ancestors, concentrating on the writing
careers of two men. The first, Joseph Hoʻonaʻauao Kānepuʻu, was a school-
teacher from Kalawao, Molokai, who lived his adult life on Oʻahu and con-
tributed a wide variety of writing to Hawaiian- language newspapers. He
was a strong advocate for the newspapers, the native language, and native
ontologies and epistemologies. He published between about 1856 and 1883.
The second is Joseph Mokuʻōhai Poepoe, who was an attorney, writer, edi-
tor, and politician from Kohala, Hawaiʻi, who also lived his adult life in the
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