Hawaii Leaders Urge CEO to Cease Use of the Native Hawaiian Word Hula
In defense of the cultural practice and intellectual property of Native Hawaiians, two leading state organizations on Hawaiian affairs are asking the creator of an app that helps people get tested for STDs to stop using and branding the word “Hula.”
The app, which at one point used marketing phrases as “it helps you get lei’d,” connects users to various STD testing facilities and promotes itself as the new platform to have discussions about STD.
The letter, signed by members of the Hawaii State Senate Hawaiian Affairs Caucus and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), is addressed to the chief executive office of Qpid.me, Inc., Ramin Bastani, and identifies two key issues that are of concern:
- Hula is a sacred Native Hawaiian cultural expression and important cultural property;
- Naming a commercial product after a Native Hawaiian sacred cultural expression without meaningful consultation is inconsistent with state, international, and the Native Hawaiian people’s policies.
Although recognizing and appreciating the efforts of the company to support STD awareness and prevention, the letter also notes that the use of word “Hula” is hewa (or wrong) because it “represents a highly insensitive, tactless and inappropriate misappropriation of a culturally sacred and cherished practice.”
“It’s unfortunate some think that it’s okay to throw culturally-meaningful expressions around without thinking about the group of people it may affect. Hula is a sacred dance that Native Hawaiians cherish,” said Senator Malama Solomon. “As Hawaiians it is our kuleana (or responsibility) to protect our cultural traditions. We don’t want to see continued disrespectful and inappropriate commodification of our culture.”
According to the letter, hula remains an important medium for the perpetuation and preservation of Native Hawaiian history and culture, and continues to be vital for the mental, physical and spiritual health of individuals as well as the Native Hawaiian Community.
The Hawaii State Constitution recognizes and protects Native Hawaiian traditional and customary rights, including cultural expressions and practices such as hula. The state legislature has also affirmed “that the Native Hawaiian people are recognized as indigenous, traditional knowledge holders and they have collective intellectual property rights. Additionally, the United States supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UNDRIP”), which confers upon indigenous peoples the right to maintain and control traditional knowledge, cultural traditions and intellectual property relating to their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression and manifestations.
Senators who signed the letter include: Senators Malama Solomon, Committee on Water and Land; Brickwood Galuteria, Senate Majority Leader; Clayton Hee, Judiciary Committee; J. Kalani English, Transportation and International Affairs Chair; Maile Shimabukuro, Hawaiian Affairs Committee Chair; Gilbert Kahele, Tourism Committee Chair and Michelle Kidani; Ways and Means Committee Vice Chair.
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To read the full letter, click here: Hawaiian Affairs Caucus Letter to Qpid.me
Posted by Hawaii Senate Majority Caucus