Law of the Splintered Paddle


Earlier in the semester, we explored some elements of spoken word and how it is executed in front of an audience. This particular poem by Ke`ala Morrell and Noa Helela performed in 2011 intrigued me because of the general message they were getting across. The piece reminded me of our section on indigenous culture but showing more serious content than what was covered when we briefly touched upon Native Hawaiian history. They spoke from the perspective of how difficult it has become for people of Hawai`i in modern times. Many of the people who live on the streets and on the beaches are of Native Hawaiian descent. In most cases, these people are “houseless” as opposed to homeless and because of this are consistently displaced by the state and on some accounts arrested by the Honolulu Police Department. In many ways this is contradictory because of the fact that Hawaiians have a right to land, but it is under the infrastructure of state taxes that outlaws the right for them to call a chunk of land their home, especially without a house over their heads.

Overall, this spoken word piece genuinely made me appreciate their pride for being Hawaiian and expressing the harsh realities of what has become of their culture, land, and home. The use of actually speaking the Hawaiian language emphasized the importance of oral tradition and being able to keep a culture alive through the act of speaking; Before Western contact, there was no such thing as a writing system. Native Hawaiians used chants and hula in place of the system that was brought by missionaries.


Law of the Splintered Paddle:


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