Healing of the Nation…

Video Credit: Adam Palumbo @visionhorsemedia

Healing of the Nation: ‘Āina Ho‘opulapula ma Keaukaha
Pai‘ea Projects, Homesteady and Fitted honor Prince Kūhiō

Hilo County lifeguard and Alai‘a board builder, Brandon Ahuna, and his ‘ohana are the living the dream of Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole (March 26, 1871-January 7, 1922). In the early 1900s when Hawai‘i was still a U.S. Territory, it was the vision of Robert Wilcox and Prince Kūhiō to return the kanaka maoli back to the ‘āina with a land-based government program which we now commonly refer to as Hawaiian Homelands.

In the early 1900s, the Hawaiian population was in a massive decline due to Western diseases like cholera and displaced in their homeland. Many kanaka were living in squalor amongst the urban sprawl of Honolulu, residing in multi-family tenements with inadequate sewage systems and shared bathrooms and kitchens were the spread of disease ran rampant. Kūhiō observed his people's plight and it was his deep belief that the way to heal the lāhui was to allow the kanaka to become homeowners, work the ‘āina and provide for their ‘ohana in the process.

"The only method to rehabilitate the race is to place them back upon the soil," stated Kūhiō.

As the Congressional delegate from the Territory of Hawai‘i, the Prince worked tirelessly and accommodatingly to get the Hawaiian Homestead Commission Act passed. On July 9, 1921, with numerous concessions like the required 50% blood quantum, the U.S. Congress passed the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, allowing "any descendent of the not less than one-half part of the of the races inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands previous to 1778 [could acquire homestead leases for] one dollar year for a term on ninety-nine years."

Originally called the Kūhiō Settlement, Keaukaha on Hawai‘i Island, was the second Hawaiian Homestead project, behind Kalama‘ula on Moloka‘i. The significance of this ‘Āina Ho‘opulapula in Hilo was the success of the original homesteaders and how their ‘ohana was allowed to thrive on these lots with 99-year leases. Brandon Ahuna is one of their descendants, living on a homestead lot in Keaukaha with his two daughters, working the ‘āina with community leaders like Malani Alameda and protecting beach-goers as a lifeguard. Raising mana wahine and the practice of building traditional wooden, finless Hawaiian surfboards is proof that Kūhiō's dream is being realized today.

In appreciation of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, passed by Congress in 1921, Paiea Projects, Fitted Hawaii and Homesteady are releasing the "Kūhiō Collection" on Saturday, June 4 online and at the Fitted shop. This limited-edition release features a Homestead basketball jersey with #21, H Pride New Era snapback (including a PP pin) and a t-shirt with Kūhiō's trademark mustache.

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