Can Tourists and Indigenous Communities Be Coexisting? : A Case Study on A Hawaiian Indigenous Community

Hayato Yamanaka, Ph.d.

Professor, Tokyo Keizai University

1. Defining the Problem

The remarkable expansion of Japanese overseas investments in the last half of the 1980s had serious socio-economic impacts on the Pacific Regions including the United States, South-East Asia, and Oceanic and Pacific island countries. Especially in the United States, the overpresence of the Japanese capital energetically purchasing real estates and corporations in the American market caused a serious socio -cultural friction between the United States and Japan. Hawaii was one of the regions such Japanese investments were concentrated into and exposed to more critical socio-economic influences compared with the Mainland. From 1970 to 1989, foreign investment in Hawaii amounted to $8.4 billion of which Japanese investment had $6.8 billion. This was the highest amont among forign investments in the period. (Aoude, I.G., 1991)

Japan have had a long history to invest in business opprtunities in Hawaii since the prewar period. The Japanese investment of the prewar period was mainly focussed on Japanese immigrants and their communities, therefore it was relatively small in size and scale. Compared to this, the investment of the 80s showed the highest possible size and scale directly reflected enlargement of today's Japanese economy. Particularly tourism developments, for example developments of resort hotels and golf courses, accounted for the largest proportion of such Japanese investments.

Table 1. Japanese Investment in Real Estate of the Unites States, 1989.

Such tourism developments by Japanese companies, on the other hand, caused a rise of the land price of Hawaii, especially Oahu Island. It not only gave a bad influence to the general public in Hawaii but also seriously damaged indigenous Hawaiians as socio-economic minorities on their housing and living environment. A considerable number of poor Hawaiians fell into a homeless situation and lost their environmental bases to keep their lifestyle and traditional culture because of the destruction of their life environments. Moreover, tourism has been and is changing the structure of Hawaii's economy. Today Hawaii's economy more strongly depends on tourism industries compared with the 1950s. This tendency caused various problems in Hawai's society, for example environmental pollution, unstableness on employment, crime, and moral corruption.

However, almost all Japanese tourists as well as investors completely lacked any awareness of their critical impacts on Hawaiian society. Furthermore, majorities of Japanese tourists tent to have a discriminatory attitude toward Hawaiians because of stereotyped preconceptions such as "dangerous", "violent" and "poor". These preconceptions were given through travel journalism and tourist agencies in Japan and Hawaii. An eventual issue symbolically implying the existence of these problem took place in 1989.

Table 2. Proposed Oahu Golf Courses, 1989.

One of the main purposes of Mr. Eric Enos's visit to Japan was to claim apology and recall of all copies of a tourist guidebook titled "Freedom Hawaii" against Japan Travel Bureau (JTB), the largest travel agency in Japan. Enos was a leader of indigenous Hawaiian movement in Oahu Island mentioned later and invited at the time by a Japanese citizen's group. The guidebook contained a discriminatory article as a form of reader's letter against Hawaiians and their area of residence.

How Dangerous is Nanakuli?

I seemed to remember that K's(*) from Nanakuli. I had no doubt about it after visiting there. Nearly everyone I saw in Nanakuli was truly humangous. Some of the men were even bigger than K. Some guide books say you should not go to Oahu's West Coast, especially to Nanakuli, because it's too dangerous. It only takes one visit to see what they are talking about. The shopping/residential area that runs along Farrington Highway is clearly on the poor side. I instinctively hesitated to get out of my car. The beach, however is very beautiful. When I went to Pokai Bay Beach, a life guard was on duty, so I thought it would be safe to sunbathe next to his chair. But several local guys who looked like K quickly spotted me as a tourist and came over. I realized that lifeguards are not policemen, so you can't count on them to protect you. I moved on to Makaha Beach, where the Sheraton Hotel is located, and felt safer there since there were a lot of hotel guests. This beach, covered with white sand, is as beautiful as Waikiki. The life guard there told me that Makaha is the safest of the West Oahu Beach. He said that people in Nanakuli and Pokai Bay are kind of shy and close-knit -- in other words, they tend to be hostile to outsiders, which sometimes can lead to trouble.

(* K is a famous sumo wrestler from Hawaii)

Responding to Enos's claim, JTB finally realized their error and sent the letter of apology to the Hawaiian indigenous community through Eric Enos, and at the same time decided to withdraw the books from circulation. The process of this JTB case was briefly reported by the Asahi Shimbun, so that some of the readers of this report may remember this fact.

A negative stereotype that Japanese tourists show against Hawaiian communities of the west coast of Oahu, why they are dangerous because local Polynesians are concentrated to live there, is a reflection of a ethnic stereotype that Japanese and American tourist industries implicitly hold. In the sense, this JTB case symbolically indicated the double structured discrimination which has been oppressing indigenous Hawaiians in Modern Hawaii where its economy is heavily based upon tourism.

Indigenous Hawaiians have not only been exploited their traditional culture by tourist industries but also been excluded by tourists from beaches and lands which have originally been their living environment. Most of tourists have never been aware of this fact. Here we should look for a problem to argue when we concern with tourism and community development, especially the development of indigenous communities.

2. Tourism Development and Indigenous Culture: A Historical Perspective

On considering the modern history of Hawaiian Islands, tourism is one of the most critical factors. The full-scale tourism development of Hawaii started from the beginning of this century. In 1893 American sugar planters who had practically controlled Hawaiian Islands finally overthrew the Hawaiian Monarchy by the coup and in 1898 accomplished to make the United States annexed the Hawaiian Islands to its territory. After the annexation, they started a campaign project to attract rich American tourists to Hawaii and to promote Hawaii as a tourist resort in the only Polynesian Territory of the United States. It was necessary for achieving the goal to prepare a container large enough to accommodate mass tourists.

Waikiki was regarded to possess the most favorable conditions to fulfill the necessity. At the time, many swamps were spread here and there in Waikiki. These swamps were used for planting taro or breeding fish, on the other hand, these swamps grew lots of mosquitos suspected carrying contagious disease. (Nakamura, B. 1979) In order to create a resort area in Waikiki, Act 61 was passed by the 1896 Legislature of the Republic of Hawaii. The official title of this act 61 was: An Act to Provide for the Improvement of Land in the District of Honolulu Deleterious to Public Health, and for the Creation and Foreclosure of Liens to Secure the Payment of the Expense So Incurred. In accordance with the law, a reclamation project was proposed and conducted under the pretext of doing sanitation. This project aimed to dig a canal (Alawai Canal of today) in the center of Waikiki and reclaim all these swamps by earth and sand dug out from the construction of the canal. The new land created through the project was provided for the tourist company controlled by the major sugar plantation company called "Big Five" for developing luxurious resort hotels. (Brown, D. 1985) At the same time, they put a luxury liner into service between Los Angels and Honolulu for attracting tourists.

Table 3. Production of Taro and Sugarcane, Hawaii 1900-1974.

It could be found that the process of Waikiki development had a quite similar structure as today's tourist resort developments conducted at every part of the world. At first, political and economic majorities ingeniously take away farmers and fishermen their lands in conspiracy with the administration. And then they monopolize any profit obtained through the development. On the other side, the environmental deterioration mercilessly damages the agriculture and coastal fishery around the area and crashes the will of farmers and fishermen to continue their business. Finally, the completed resort areas are occupied by the urban rich and exclude local people, especially indigenous groups. In this sense, Waikiki development was foretelling the today's problems on resort developments breaking out all over the world.

Tourists form the Mainland discovered indigenous people idling their time away, of course, those were stereotyped images the tourists made up. American planters at first planned to mobilize indigenous Hawaiians toward their sugar plantations as labours. However, this idea was soon frustrated because most of Hawaiians were not interested in working for planting cash crops such as sugar canes but quite enthusiastic to grow substantial foods such as taros, breadfruits and coconut palms. At last, the planters decided to introduce immigrants from China, Japan, and the Philippines. (Daws, G. 1968) On the other side, they forced Hawaiians to play a role of "idle and cheerful barbarians" as an indispensable element of the paradise. For instance, Hawaiian traditional performing arts like hula were made show of as pagan and indecent customs.

The cultural style well-known today as Hawaiian style were primarily created and arranged for suiting the tastes of tourists from the Mainland. Mass media in the Mainland at the dawning stage of their growth were also mobilized into this process, and they produced new kinds of "Hawaiian culture" and diffused and popularized them into all over the country. (Brown, D. 1982) A number of Hawaiian music were composed by American song writers and recorded in New York. Such Hawaiian music could be identified as a typical example of this hybrid culture. Hawaiian people called such Hawaiian music "Hapa Haole" or half-white music. Haole is a despised expression of Caucasians. (Tatar, E. 1987)

Half-naked Hawaiian girls dancing hula, as a matter of fact, were also the products of Hollywood film industry of the 1930s. In the 1930s Hollywood film makers were exposed to the attack by Christian moral majority requesting to restrict the expression of sexuality in the movies. (Atkins, T. 1975) The situation that half-naked indigenous women dance hula was an perfect excuse for evading the voluntary film code for the expression of sexuality. In such movies, often the skirts worn by hila girls were made of cellophane in various bright colors. Many of the hula girls were not acted by indigenous but elegant blond starlets. In the scene they danced, those hula girls were lighted from behind to make their legs show through the cellophane. (Hopkins, J. 1982) Despite Christianity had strictly been imposing a moral to restrict the exposure of bare skin on Hawaiian people, Hollywood film makers were creating such a sexually stimulating image of indigenous Hawaiian women.

However, from the historical viewpoint, Hawaiian people could not help accepting such a process of acculturation. Because of an extreme reduction of native population caused by the inflow of epidemic disease and political and economic domination by Americans there was no way but accepting such a cultural change for indigenous Hawaiians. Moreover, an image as an inferior race reducing in the process of natural selection was added to indigenous Hawaiians.

In spite of these environments, Hawaiians could survived as an independent ethnic group. Because of the increase of intermarriage of Hawaiian with Caucasians or Asian, racially mixed Hawaiians population called Part Hawaiians grew since the beginning of this century. Of the total population of Hawaii State, 1,100,000 today, approximately one of every five has any ethnic background as Hawaiian. Although racially pure Hawaiians are decreasing in number, Part Hawaiians show a high birthrate and high socio-cultural developments. They will keep this trend of growth as one of the major ethnic groups in Hawaii. (Nordyke, E. 1989)

Based upon these demographic and socio-economic conditions, Hawaiian ethnic awareness has rapidly proceed. Since the dynamic change of the 60s in the civil rights contexts, the consciousness revolution of ethnic minorities was also erupted in Hawaii as Hawaiian Renaissance Movements. Since then, the movement has achieved a certain success in terms of human rights and political conditions. For example, the State Government established Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) in 1978 and started several projects for improving Hawaiian social issues.

Under this historical stream, Hawaiian tourism is demanded to change itself from the old figure depending on negative stereotype against indigenous Hawaiians.

Table 4. Residents Population by Ethnicity, Hawaii 1778-1980.

3. Alternative Community Development for Hawaiians: Activities of WCCADC and Hoa Aina O Makaha

What is defined as a community development for indigenous people?

Here I take up an example of community development activities conducted by an indigenous Hawaiian group in Waianae Coast community in the west edge of Oahu Island. Through this necessary conditions will be discussed in order to progress the development of indigenous communities.

The west coast of Oahu island including Waianae and Nanakuli is economically neglected communities compared with the east side of Oahu Island such as Waikiki, Hawaii Kai and Kahara which are very popular as high class residential areas. More than 50 percent of population living in the west coast of Oahu are indigenous Hawaiians and other Polynesian immigrants. This proportion of Polynesian population in the community is significantly higher than ten percent as its average rate of Oahu Island.

This community includes many agricultural sites here and there and exceptionally less tourist facility compared to other districts of Oahu. Despite this community has the only beautiful natural beach and coral reefs, it has been saved from any large scale development for tourists.

There are several reasons why this community has been kept from such development. Because, this community is located at the dead end of Oahu Island having no convenience in public transportation. In addition to this, less public or private capital has been invested into this community because of high proportion of indigenous populations.

The average income per resident is relatively low. On the contrary unemployment rate is significantly high. An administrative data shows that one third of households of this community can be classified as an unemployed category. Housing conditions are not good, it is not unusual to see the situation that two or three families live together in a same house.

In this community a community base organization, Waianae Coast Community Alternative Development Corporation (WCCADC) has been conducting social development activities for the indigenous Hawaiian community. By reviewing over their activities, I would like to discuss the development for indigenous communities in Hawaii.

This WCCADC is led by Heiden and Puanani Burgess, who are very famous activists for indigenous Hawaiian rights. The activities of this organization consist of various small scale projects in the community. For example, Opelu Project is aiming at reviving traditional Hawaiian fisheries and at the same time establishing self-sufficient means of livelihood by them. Opelu is a name of popular fish which traditionally used to be eaten by Hawaiians. Kaala Farm Project is pursuing the possibility for alternative agriculture by means of planting taro or other traditional Hawaiian crops. As a part of this project, Cultural Learning Center was established in 1979 and sreated taro paddy fields and traditional Hawaiian houses for educational activities to share traditional Hawaiian lifestyles and daily life skills with their young generations. In this sense, taro plantation in Kaara Farm has an important role to preserve Hawaiian culture.

Besides, some unique organizations involving indigenous people are acting in the community. These organizations are loosely allied and networked with WCCADC and keep cooperative relations with it.

Hoa Aina O Makaha, Makaha Farm, is a typical example of these organizations. The forerunner of this farm was RAP Center which was established in 1979 as a social service agency under the financial support by both Sacred Heart Church and the State of Hawaii. RAP Center rent 2.5 ha of farmland from the Roman Catholic Church for the young Hawaiians in the community. At first, the objectives of the project was to give young Hawaiians a self-confidence and appropriate daily life skills through a agricultural practice at the farm. This project also had an importance for young Hawaiians in Waianae who lacked any sufficient educational opportunity or financial support and were closely tied to social problems such as juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, family collapse, and so on. Today, four or six workers/perticipants including Gigi, a representative of the farm, are working for the farm.

Projects and programs Hoa Aina O Makaha are now conducting are as follows:

Hawaiian Garden Project aims to preserve traditional Hawaiian culture by planting native Hawaiian plants and crops including taro;

Youth Prevention Program facilitates social rehabilitation of delinquent students by participating in farming;

Family Garden Program provides small farmlands with Hawaiian families and assists them to plant vegetables for themselves; and

Na Keiki O Ka Aina or Children of the Land Program is a comprehensive educational program in which school children can learn how to plant and cook vegetables and the mechanism of the natural environment in collaboration with a local elementary school near the farm.

Regarding the total space of the farmland of the Hoa Aina O Makaha, Demonstration Garden is the most significant program, where sweet corns, herbs, soybeans, various vegetables, fruits, and tapioca or starch extracted from roots of cassava are grown and shipped to the market in cooperation with adolescents and elderlies in the community and consequently supports a part of the finances of the farm.

Since 1983 the concept of organic farming has been applied to the agriculture in the farm. Moreover, the utilization of solar heat was implemented for drying herbs. A common goal of these activities is to establish independence and autonomy of the community by means of organic agriculture.

Since 1988 the farm has been continuously conducting an alternative tourism program in collaboration with a volunteer organization in Japan. Through the program various Japanese grass-root groups visited Waianae community, experienced home-stay in Hawaiian families and had opportunities to touch traditional Hawaiian culture and to learn their present lives and problems. Based on the participants of the program, in 1991 Toroimo Kikin, a fund raising organization, was formed in Japan and have been conducting activities to support the community development programs in Waianae. As a result of this an accommodation facility named Peace Center will be constructed at Hoa Aina O Makaha in 1995.

4. Building a Concept for Alternative Community Development: Developing Culture and Identity

There is a common slogan in Hawaiian language shared by the people participating in the programs:

Aloha 'aina. (Love the land)

E malama pono i ka 'aina, nana mai ke ola. (Take good care of the land, it grant you life.)

Aloha means "love", and 'aina means "land". Malaka is equivalent for "to bring up" or "to take care" in English. Consequently this Hawaiian slogan expresses "to love the land and take care of the land". The notion included in the slogan is also observed and recognized in other movements of indigenous Hawaiians.

According to indigenous Hawaiian value system, water is an important element to mediate between the land and human beings. Taro is also a critical element to symbolize the connection between the land and human beings. Through the dialogue with Eric Enos, a Hawaiian activist working for Kaara Farm Project, I would like to describe a Hawaiian spiritual world formed by the Land, water, taro as a traditional crop. The cosmos drown by a Hawaiian activist is as follows:

The living environment of Hawaiians consisted of the following elements: Mauka or mountains, Awawa or valley, kai or ocean and kahawai or stream combining the three elements each other. Standing beside the stream running from the mountain to the ocean, you may realize that you are surrounded by the two ridges of the valley and the ocean shining opposite to the mountain. This space is the universe of Hawaiians. In ancient times Hawaiians formed their autonomous community in each valley. They were engaged in fishery at the ocean and planting taro in the valley. Water is called wai in Hawaiian language, as you know this word is contained in the word of "Waikiki", which means the place water is gushing out. Wai or water is a symbol of productiveness. For instance, a repetition of this word like as "waiwai" is used for expressing "rich" or "wealthy". Thus water was critical in traditional Hawaiian culture, so that sufficient water assured the prosperity of the community.

In the traditional Hawaiian community before Europeans came to, It was not prohibited to monopolize the water. This was not because the traditional Hawaiian society had not yet developed the private ownership system. The traditional Hawaiian society had established a highly evolved class system appearing in Kahuna system or a seniority system. This fact clearly indicates that Hawaiians have been attaching greater importance to the water as a public property. Even today water is not merely a material but a symbol to integrate the Hawaiian spiritual world.

As well as water, another important concept in Hawaiian culture is aina or the land. Aina consists of the two words: ai and na. Ai means "foods". Na means "belonging to something" and sometimes indicates "someone taking care of" or "parents". Thus aina is something to take care of foods, Hawaiians recognized aina or the land like as their parents who take care of of them. Taro cannot grow without wai and aina.*

Therefore, taro is a sacred plant which has inherited the holiness of both wai and aina. A main root of taro is called makua. Makua also means "parents" in Hawaiian. Makua-kane is "male parent" or "father"; makua-wahine is "female parent" or "mother". Small root nodules derived from the main root are called keiki which mean "children". These small root nodules are also called oha. The concept of human family or ohana was stemmed from this oha. Thus the ecology of taro symbolizes the human families, so that the growth of human being is understood by analogy with the growth of taro. For example, ha or a stem of taro means "human breathing" and piko or the center of a single leaf attached at the top of a stem means "the navel" or "the umbilical cord". Taro and the land are tightly combined each other by piko in the metaphor of reproduction.

Strong consciousness for land, water and traditional crops is universally realized not only among indigenous Hawaiians but also among any other movements of indigenous people in the Pacific and Oceanic Regions, for example, Maoris in Aote Aloa or New Zealand and Aborigines in Australia. It is clearly indicated that their political concerns in their rights for land, water and traditional crops is tightly connected with their traditional values which has a strong back ground on their lifestyle.

Actually indigenous Hawaiian movements are split into more than fifty groups because of differences of the political goal of each group. Despite such differences on their political interests, there is a similarity on the attitude which they tend to form a strong attachment for their land, water and traditional crops. It should be remarked that Hawaiians are progressing their movements to revive their traditional culture and to build up their ethnic identity as an indigenous nation by consciousness-raising to their land, water and traditional crops.

A type of agriculture based on such indigenous values will be a powerful and effective mean to improve self-determined community developments by indigenous subjects, at the same time, it will be tightly linked with alternative lifestyles and counter cultures harmonized with traditional and ecological values of indigenous people in the near future. The urgent task facing us is how we should evaluate such a style of developments conducted by indigenous people. The viewpoint of economic efficiency and productivity may conclude such a type of agricultural development by indigenous people as a sentimentalism or anachronism which emotionally misses traditional agriculture in the good old days. However, this viewpoint has on longer been persuasive, once we face up to reality. If we carefully review such a type of agriculture, we should naturally reach an hypothesis: It is not a simple conventional agriculture producing agricultural products, but it is possibly a new type of information industry producing not any material or materialistic value but providing a traditional ethnic value and educational opportunity to experience ecological lifestyles with both indigenous people and the general public.

5. A Provisional Conclusion

In this sense, it can be presented a new type of alternative tourism as a part of such indigenous community developments based on their traditional agriculture and ethnic value. It must be, of course, no longer a conventional resort development. However, its idea will be slightly different from the concept of eco-tourism recently attracted considerable attention.

Such the alternative tourism, at least, contains the following necessary conditions:

a. To respect traditional values and lifestyles of indigenous community. In addition, to secure equal and reciprocal opportunities to understand and exchange culture between visitors and indigenous populations in accordance with such indigenous values and lifestyles. This means that the tourist program is responsible for providing indigenous people with any opportunity to visit communities of tourists who have stayed in the indigenous community.

b. To control the size of tour group and tourist activities appropriate to sustain the natural and cultural environment and the economic life of indigenous community. This can keep the indigenous community from economically depending on tourist industries.

c. To secure the priority to share profits from tourist developments for indigenous community. This can empower the indigenous community to make decision by themselves on future of their community.

At the present there is no evidence to show the existence of such the alternative tourism meeting the necessary conditions mentioned above. Does this fact imply that tourism is essentially incompatible with the concept of sustainable development for indigenous community? Or if in the future we can create such the alternative tourism satisfacting the conditions, does it indicate any possibility to utilize even tourism for the sustainable development of indigenous community?

At any rate, the answer to the question is still brown in the wind like as sung in a famous folk song of the sixties.


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