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Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox
Carlos Andrade


Original air date: Tues., Nov. 25, 2008


Professor of Hawaiian Studies & Lifelong Learner


Kaua’i native Carlos Andrade is a lifelong learner. First, he learned lessons from his kupuna, his elders, living on the land. Then, he learned from professors at the University of Hawai’i. Today, he’s a teacher himself, sharing lessons with students and stories with Leslie Wilcox.


Long Story Short – Carlos AndradeGrowing up on Kaua’i, Carlos Andrade surfed, worked odd jobs and, with his wife Maile and their three children, lived “off the grid” in a house built using recycled materials. A master of the Hawaiian slack key guitar, Carlos also wrote beautiful songs, including, “Moonlight Lady,” and sailed aboard the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokule’a.


Then, at the age of 43, Carlos and his wife went through a major transition, leaving what he calls a “hippie” lifestyle and entering the halls of academia – both earning master’s degrees and Carlos a PhD. Today, Dr. Carlos Andrade is a professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.


What would lead a music-playing surfer to go back to school – in his 40s? To continue learning. And to teach what he’s learned – from his kupuna and his professors. Along the way, Kaua’i native Carlos Andrade believes he’s earned the credentials and the right to speak out. And that’s what he does on this week’s Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox.


Carlos Andrade Audio


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Aloha no kakou; and mahalo for joining me for another Long Story Short. I’m Leslie Wilcox of PBS Hawaii. On Kaua‘i, he surfed; he played music; he did odd jobs; he started a family and lived “off the grid” in a house hand-built with recycled materials. Then, in his 40s, he and his wife left their rural lifestyle and began anew. Dr. Carlos Andrade, next.


Dr. Carlos Andrade is an associate professor in Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He’s that, and more. For many years, Carlos the bachelor and then Carlos the family man lived in north Kauai, in a rustic house with no running water or electricity. He sailed aboard the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokule‘a. He played in a band, “Na Pali,” and he wrote beautiful songs, including “Moonlight Lady,” recorded by Bla Pahinui. At the age of 43, Carlos and Maile Andrade traded in their hand-to-mouth life in the country for the halls of academia. Both earned master’s degrees, and Carlos obtained his PhD. Every step of the way, Carlos Andrade has learned lessons that he now teaches his students in Honolulu.


You know, I graduated from high school, I had gone to junior college, and I thought I was, you know, fairly well educated. And then I went out to live with the people on the land, and I didn’t know how to do anything, except turn pages in a book and push pencil on a paper. And I met men could build houses, they could plant food, they could fish, they could farm, they could hunt, they could fix cars. Even though they didn’t have the car parts, they’d fix them with cannibalizing other cars. They could build boats; they could do all these things that we never got taught in school. And I realized how much I didn’t know. And so I began to—you know, even—that’s still a little bit late, but I began to try to learn to do those kinda things, to live and work on the land and with the land. Rather than in an office, or in some kind of a job that said you gotta be there eight hours a day, five days a week, that bought all your time. And so I would work for taro farmers, and work for ranchers, and work for fishermen. Because they always need help. But I told all of them that if I’m there, I’ll work, and if I don’t show up, there’s no strings tied. So whenever I needed a little bit of money, I’d go to work, and the rest of the time I went surfing, and played music, and did a lot of other things. Learned a lot about Hanalei and Ha’ena, and some of the—I spent a lot of time with—talking to the old folks. Because they were the ones that weren’t at the daily grind every day, when I was around. And I did that until I was thirty.


So you’re thirty years old, you’re living off the land by working for others.


M-hm. Then I get married and have children. [chuckle] And that’s a reality check, right? You have to start supporting your family. And so I began to work at different things, still kind of living that style. My wife and I actually raised our children, all three of our children and lived in homes that we built out of recycled materials, that didn’t have—were off the grid; no electricity, no running water. And we did that for about fifteen years, actually. But we also saw a lot of people coming to the island from other places, and they had much more resources behind them, money and family. And they were buying up the land, and prices were going up, and taking the good jobs. And I realized that, you know, having certification of some sort improves your ability to earn a living. When I first wanted to go back to school, all my friends said, You’re too old. Forty-three; you’re too old to go back to school. Why waste your time, you know. But that hasn’t been the case. The world that we live in, you know, it’s round, there’s no east and there’s no west. It’s just the world that we live in. But we cannot ignore the fact that we live in a system that we don’t necessarily have to agree with. But it exists. And within that system, you know, the market system and the system of government that we live in, when you have a PhD behind your name, it makes a difference in certain sectors. I mean, some sectors, like the guys that I surf with, you know, it’s like, piled higher and deeper, you know. Post hole digger is what they call it, a PhD. [chuckle] So you know, they keep you humble, as you should be. But when I go and testify in the Senate, in the Legislature, that the community of Ha‘ena wants to initiate a plan that is community managed fishery, it makes a difference that my name has a PhD behind it. And so I can advocate for things Hawaiian. It makes a difference in advocacy for, not only Hawaiian causes, because many of the things that are embedded in the life we live in, that come from our Hawaiian ancestors, like the right of all of us to go to the beach, beach access, are embedded in Hawaiian thinking. Not just in Hawaiian thinking, but in Hawaiian law. Because our ancestors and our leaders, King Kamehameha III, put on all of these big landowners who own land on the beach, their deeds say they own that land, subject to the rights of the people. Now, how far ahead was that guy thinking when he did that? And we all benefit, whether we’re Hawaiian, Haole, non-Hawaiian, that that’s in their deeds, and they can’t stop us from going to the beach. And if they’re gonna develop the land, they need to put a place for us to go to the beach in. Being a professor at the Center for Hawaiian Studies puts me into contact with the whole younger generation of young Hawaiian students and people that are interested in things Hawaiian, that are coming to the University. And that’s a privilege, to be able to work with them. It also puts me into contact with people who are, if not experts, the people that are doing the most research in the different areas of what we call Hawaiian Studies. But that’s only one facet of my life. Because I go home, and I work on the land, and I come into contact with the PhDs of the world of work and experience on the land and all that. So I have sort of the best of both worlds, in a way.


Carlos Andrade credits the kupuna on Kaua‘i for teaching him life lessons. He still learning, but he’s also teaching. He recently wrote this book, “Ha’ena: Through the Eyes of the Ancestors,” that reflects on the land and people in the ahupua‘a of Ha’ena on the northwestern side of Kaua‘i. A love of the land, the ocean and “things Hawaiian” also connected Carlos to the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokule‘a, as a crew member.


Any aha moments come out of that?


Oh, all kinds of ‘em. You know, whenev er we go to New Zealand or Aotearoa, as they call it, and Rarotonga, and the Cook Islands, and Aitutaki, and Mangaia, and Tahiti, and Moorea, and those places, we see ourselves. Because they look like us. But the thing that really astonished me especially on the first voyage, was the Maori people and how assertive they were about who they were. The thing that struck me I think the hardest was, they never refer to their ancestors as the Maoris. You know, they never said, Oh, yeah, the Maoris did this, and the Maoris did that. They always said, My ancestors did this. And I’ve reflected back on here in Hawaii; many Hawaiian people speak about our ancestors as if they were some distant people who they weren’t connected to in any way, like something in a museum. And you know, that it’s almost like, I think it reflects a kind of psychic disconnect in the different situations of it. But the newer generations, I think, of Hawaiian people that are our young—the students, and even older people, are becoming more and more assertive about their connection to the ancestors. And I kind of am optimistic about this strength that I perceive in the Maori people, and in other places in the Pacific with the other Polynesian people about their connection to the land and who they were as the first people of that land.


Do you feel a connection to your ancestors?


More so now than I did before I went on the voyages of the Hokule‘a.


Do you know who they are? You have an oral history?


Yeah. It’s more than an oral history. I actually have about three or four pages of a genealogy that was put together by Edith McKinzie, who is a famous genealogist, that connects our family all the way, you know, back to where I never even thought we were connected to. [chuckle] You know, it’s like, I don’t know, hundreds of generations back.


Wow. And the place you feel connected is?


Most personally connected, I feel connected to Kauai. Because that’s where I was born. And when I look at my ancestral, you know, the genealogy and the stories in my family, most of it happens on Kauai. But my great- grandfather moved to Molokai. And so we have connections on all the islands, but Kauai is the place that I feel most connected to.


And what connects you? I know in your book, Ha’ena, you talk about—there is a connection you have with landmarks and places that were used by people.


Well, you know, my father grew up in generation where his father was Portuguese, his mother was Hawaiian. But his mother died when he was eight years old. He was sent to live with his grandfather on Molokai, who brought him up in his early years. So he was kind of a man of conflict in a way. My father’s father used to talk about Hawaiians as, Oh, those kanakas; like it was something bad to be. But my father had this real sort of love for Hawaiian songs, and he worked as a cowboy, and the cowboys were Hawaiians, and he was a fisherman, and he learned a lot of the skills that were the skills of men in traditional times in Hawaii. He was a hunter, he was cowboy. And so I kinda picked that up from him. And when I went to live in Hanalei and Ha’ena, and in Waimea on the other side, I told you I kinda gravitated to the old people. They would tell me things that you couldn’t find in books. And those are things that I kinda treasure in a way. Like the old songs, and names of places. And after I went to school and learned to speak Hawaiian, whenever I had an opportunity to be with a person who spoke Hawaiian, I’d try to speak Hawaiian with them. And that opened up even more doors. Because they would talk about things like place names, and the thoughts behind the names, and the stories that connect to places. And those were the things that I liked, because I was a composer, and in composing, you’re always trying to tell stories. And so stories are important. And my father was a storyteller; he used to tell us stories about his friend Lum Lum Wissey, who he grew up with, you know. [chuckle] And all these—so I think that storytelling is—in the Hawaiian culture, it’s mo‘olelo and it’s haku mele. You tell stories through the tales that you tell and the songs that you compose and sing. And so all of those mean a lot to me. And you know, it’s still something that I do today, is I still think that place is very important, and the names, and the stories behind places. Because places is what human beings make out of spaces.


What are some of the compelling things that the kupuna told you in Ha’ena and Hanalei?


Well, you know, it’s life wisdom, yeah? Kupuna are the doctors of everyday life. You know, the PhDs of everyday life. And so you know, just simple things that you would think that are, you know, everybody would know—the so- called common sense of the world today that’s not very common. Like, you know, work when it’s cool in the morning. [chuckle] Go in the shade when it’s hot, and then go work again in the evening. Or, you know, you have to enjoy life. It’s not all work; you gotta enjoy every minute. You don’t know when, you know, it’s gonna end. Just little things like that. And then practical things, like just take enough to eat. Leave the rest there. If you take from some place, put something back. If you go in the mountains and you take taro, plant taro back there. You have this whole culture of accumulation, and extracting from the world as much as possible. And then, you know, sort of in between all of this is wisdom that sits with elders about, Oh, just take enough. Enough is plenty. Just take enough to eat. Those kinda things.


You also spoke with people who not only knew every inch of the land where they lived, but they knew every little eel hole in the reef and underwater.


Yeah; well, you know, the Hawaiian term for people who lived on the land was hoa‘aina. And hoa‘aina is a companion to the land. And I think that the relationship of the Hawaiian people to the land is one of companion to the land. And today, we have this discourse of stewardship of the land; everybody wants to be stewards of the land. And the Maoris have this unusual way of saying, No, no, no, we’re not stewards of the land; stewards take care of other people’s stuff. We’re ‘ohana, or we’re family to the land. So we’re taking care of our family when we take care of the land. And it’s a little bit different; you know, it’s a little bit different. And like here in Hawaii, people are beginning to use the term called ahupua‘a, which I talk about a little bit in my book. And they—you know, they have this sort of mainstream understanding of ahupua‘a is mountains to sea, and has all the ingredients for sustainability, which is another big word that’s going around these days. And everything within the ahupua‘a from the mountains to the sea, enough to sustain the population there. But when you really study the ahupua‘a, you find that many ahupua‘a did not go all the way to the sea. Some were landlocked. And many ahupua‘a didn’t have the resources necessary to sustain the people. It’s a myth, actually, of this independent little piece of land that could have everything and not survive with anybody else, not need anybody else to have sustainability. The reality of it is that there was that sort of—I call it the vertical dimension in the concept of the ahupua‘a from mountains to sea, and out into the sea in front of it. But there was also an equally important horizontal dimension. And it’s echoed in the sort of philosophy, unspoken philosophy that Hawaiian people have about aloha. It’s a reciprocal thing. Haunani-Kay Trask says it very, very explicitly when she says, Aloha is a two-way street. And when I began to study the language, the traditional greeting between Hawaiian people when they met each other was, aloha kaua, which means, the two of us. Not aloha oe; it’s aloha kaua. W hen we come together, because we have a reciprocal good relationship, an aloha is created because of our coming together.

So I think to apply that to the ahupua‘a and the concept that people like to study and would hope could exist in Hawaii today is this idea of reciprocity, where we need each other to survive. All ahupua‘a need their connections to other ahupua‘a.


You heard Dr. Carlos Andrade call kupuna the doctors of everyday life. He respects their wisdom, without any paperwork, any palapala, attesting to their knowledge. For himself, he went out and got a PhD, palapala, that’s a stamp of knowledge in a very different Hawaii. It gives him credentials as he advocates for Hawaiian thinking.


Theres an anger in your book about globalization, homogenization, mainland people coming in and deciding they’re gonna duplicate what they had where they’re from.


It’s not—I don’t see it as an anger, as much as a critique. You know, all of these things—I think that’s one of the sort of benefits or blessings, or whatever you want to call it, about being in a university. It’s because the university, of all this institutions in our country, is the place where ideas are meant to be voiced. As long as you can back it up with you know, research, you can voice your ideas and critique anything. And I think for Hawaii itself, the critique against people who come here and want to change this place into something that mirrors where they come from is a valid critique. Because you know, like say, for instance, language. This is the only place in the world where we have native speakers of the Hawaiian language. Like if you were Chinese and you wanted to learn, and you grew up in Hawaii, and you’re of Chinese ancestry, you could go to China and learn Chinese. But if you grew up as a Hawaiian here, where do you learn Hawaiian? There’s only one place in the world; here. And yet, every year, there’s less and less, and less native speakers. We’re not—they’re not protected. I mean, we protect the turtles [chuckle], but we don’t protect the Hawaiian people. We protect the trees, but we don’t protect the Hawaiian people. And you know, I think there’s a certain amount of calculatedness about that, is that there are—I know there are people in this world who would like to see the Hawaiian people disappear because it would mean that property would be different, it would mean that you know, now we’re all Hawaiian. Everybody wants to be Hawaiian. Not everybody. That’s you know, black and white, everybody. But so many people say, Oh, I’m Hawaiian at heart. Or, I’m Hawaiian. And it is a conflict, because the native people of the land have been treated unfairly. And you know, the President of the United States signed a bill that said, We did this, this and this, and it was wrong. And it’s kind of like somebody stealing your car, and says, I stole your car, and they drive by every day in your car and wave at you. [chuckle] You know. And I think that, you know, that point is gonna bother people for a long time; some people, more than others. But of course, the critique that I give in my book is kind of pointing to the fact that this is going on, it’s like the eight hundred pound gorilla that sits in the corner, but nobody wants to really deal with it in a fair way. They just want to see it keep going the way it’s going. I think it should be, you know, treated differently.


How do you want to see it treated? With, reparations, with what?


Well, impossible dreams, right? I mean, forty-three—


Separate nation?


–years old. Forty-three years old, you’re going back to school to get a PhD? Never happen; you’re too old. Impossible dream. Hawaii as an independent, neutral nation deciding its own fate, politically, economically and every other which way; impossible dream. But the great iron curtain, the wall in Germany was an impossible dream. The Nation of Israel was an impossible dream. There are many impossible dreams that can happen. But in our case, I think the only way it can happen is that people need to realize that aloha is a two-way street. They have to recognize what is going on, and try to work and agree to fix it. If people don’t agree to fix it, then it won’t get fixed. It’ll just get masked.


What does that separate nation look like to you?


Well, I can’t say what it would look like, but we could start where it was ended. And then from there, it goes. Because every nation evolves over time. The United States today looks very different than it did in 1776, when it was born. And it continues to change. So who’s to say what it’ll look like in another hundred years. Non- Hawaiians have been here for how many years; since 1778, Captain Cook came. 1898 is when the United States basically took away our independence as a nation.




So that’s little over a hundred years. If we gave people a hundred years to take care of their affairs, either to decide to be citizens of the Hawaiian Nation, an independent Hawaiian Nation, or to liquidate their assets and go to the nation wherever they wanted to be, or to live here as foreigners do, because foreign people live in the United States—it could happen. I mean, theoretically, it could happen.


And do you think that non-native Hawaiians could have a role in the Hawaiian Nation?


Well, the Nation of Hawaii was never a hundred percent ethnic Hawaiians. They were citizens—just like the citizens of the United States of every ethnic background say, I pledge allegiance to the United States of America. Basically they would have to say, I pledge allegiance to the Nation of Hawaii—whatever their ethnic background was.


So you’re saying, I’ll give you guys a hundred years head start, and then we’re having a Hawaiian nation again.


No, no, no. I’m saying that it’s possible to do something like that, given the time, so people don’t get rushed, and people don’t get things taken from them that shouldn’t be taken from them. That, if people would agree to it, they can choose to go where they wanted to be, and be citizens of the nation that they wanted to be. But you know, it’s up to people to do it. I don’t think anybody should force it. Given enough time, people can do it peacefully, but it needs a commitment. That you know, we’ve seen commitments before historically, as long as the grass will grow and the rivers shall flow, and many of the treaties between the independent nations of America and the government that we know as the United States of America. And if that commitment is made, we’ll find a way.


What will that take, though?


Aloha; genuine aloha. You know, two-way street. That’s what it’ll take.


Thats Dr. Carlos Andrade’s view. He’s making his voice heard in a long-running, important conversation that continues in Hawaii. Mahalo piha to Dr. Carlos Andrade, and you, for joining me for another Long Story Short. I’m Leslie Wilcox of PBS Hawaii. A hui hou kakou.