Monday, September 23, 2013

Indigenous manifestos in song

This week, we read and talked about Indigenous manifestos. What is a manifesto? A systematic declaration of purpose. A call to action. A critical analysis of systems of power. A declaration of resistance. A call for recovery and renewal. An expression of what is important to a particular community, spoken from a particular positionality. A commentary on crucial, pressing issues in accessible language. These are a few of ways we are understanding manifestos as a form of Indigenous theory and action.

To kick off our posts on this topic, we share two songs that we can be seen as manifestos. The first is a musical piece by a hardcore band from Guam called, Minatatnga (bravery, fearlessness, valorous), with vocals by our own seminar participant, Kenneth Gofigan Kuper. He writes: “I like to think that the song is a strong declaration of our views and also fits our band name because we attack the taking of our youth into the united states military. We may consider it as one song in album that will become the Minatatnga manifesto. A musical form of resistance.”

Listen to the song here!:

False Liberation
Native Decimation
This foreign flag
Tries to strip our culture
Dreams of money, dreams of military
Shoved down our throat, so damn holy

False Liberation
Native Decimation

Children of Guåhan
Die for foreign cause
When they should stay
Protecting this place
Defending our people
Defending our home

False Liberation
Native Decimation

Chamoru, We will stand, We will stand for this land”

We also share a Hawaiian song known by several names, “Mele ʻAi Pohaku” (Stone-eating Song), “Mele Aloha ʻĀina (the Patriot's Song), or “Kaulana Nā Pua” (Famous are the flowers/descendants).  Like Kenneth, our seminar participant, Kuʻulei Bezilla, urges to see this song as a sort of manifesto. Written January 1893 and published in 1895, this song opposes the annexation of Hawaiʻi to the United States. Moreover, some of our seminar participants have pointed out the ways the manifesto, as a genre and an enunciatory practice, is often gendered masculine. Thus it is important to underscore that this song was written by Ellen Kekoaohiwaikalani Wright Prendergast, a wahine (woman) loyal to the Hawaiian Kingdom and to Queen Liliʻuokalani. As Kuʻulei puts it, “Many people (and I have been subject to this) do not recognize the story and manaʻo to this mele, and therefore do not sing, or proclaim this song with the intentions of what it’s purpose was. It is our duty to perpetuate the ʻike of our kūpuna so that others may share in their experience.” More information on this mele can be found in a short, online essay by Kīhei and Mapuana DeSilva, who argue that this song should not only be sung but also danced with a fierce understanding of its historical context and message.

Kaulana nā Pua

Kaulana nā pua a‘o Hawai‘i           
Kūpa‘a ma hope o ka ‘āina           
Hiki mai ka ‘elele o ka loko ‘ino       
Palapala ‘anunu me ka pākaha.       

Pane mai Hawai‘i Moku o Keawe       
Kōkua Nā Hono a‘o Pi‘ilani.           
Kāko‘o mai Kaua‘i o Mano           
Pa‘a pū me ke one o Kākuhihewa.       

‘A‘ole a‘e kau i ka pūlima         
Ma luna o ka pepa o ka ‘enemi       
Ho‘ohui ‘āina kū‘ai hewa           
I ka pono sivila a‘o ke kanaka.       

‘A‘ole mākou a‘e minamina           
I ka pu‘u kālā o ke aupuni.           
Ua lawa mākou i ka pōhaku            
I ka ‘ai kamaha‘o o ka ‘āina.           

Ma hope mākou o Lili‘ulani           
A loa‘a e ka pono o ka ‘āina.           
(A kau hou ‘ia e ke kalaunu)      
Ha‘ina ‘ia mai ana ka puana           
Ka po‘e i aloha i ka ‘āina.           

Famous are the children of Hawai‘i
Ever loyal to the land
When the evil-hearted messenger comes
With his greedy document of extortion.

Hawai‘i Island of Keawe answers
The Pi‘ilani Bays of Maui give their help.
Kaua‘i of Manokalanipō lends support
As do the sands of Kākuhihewa.

No one will add his signature
To the paper of the enemy
With its sin of annexation
And sale of native civil rights.

We do not value
The government’s hill of dollars.
We are satisfied with the stones,
Astonishing food of the land.

We support Lili‘ulani
So that the land will again be pono.
(She will be crowned once more)
Tell the story
Of the people who love their land. 

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