National Geographic : 2002 Dec
SABRA KAUKA SABRA KAUKA ISLAND OF KAUA'I ahalo. Respect. That's what Sabra Kauka teaches her Hawaiianstudies students. Respectfor the kipuna, or ancestors. Respectfor their ways, their songs, their bones. Especially their bones. Thejournalist-turned educator provides supportfor efforts to reinter ancient bones unearthed during a collecting frenzy in the early 1900s and more recently during housing construction and resort devel opment. "There's hardlyanyplace to build in the islands "OUR TRADITIONAL BELIEF ISTHAT THE MANA, OR SPIRITUAL POWER, OF A PERSON REMAINS IN THEIR BONES. THE CARE AND POSSESSION OF THOSE BONES WAS VERY IMPORTANT. IT STILL IS TODAY." where they will not disturb an ancient settlement or burial," says Kauka. "Ourtraditional way ofburial is to wrap the bones in kapa, or bark cloth [being made at lower right], and then to place them in baskets [above] we make from lauhala, pandanus leaves. We place the baskets in a protective mound of stones." It's easier said than done. Kapa once adorned Hawaiians from the cradle to the grave, but until nine years ago it hadn't been made on Kaua'ifor more than a century. Kauka andfriends had to recultivate the paper mulberry tree, make their own tools, and relearn the labor-intensive art.But that's all part of mahalo, as is singing an ancient chant of thanks to the Na Pali cliffs (above right) or cleaning up an old village site nearby. "It's a respect thing," says Kauka, "an acknowledg ment of all those who have gone before you. Treating each and every person with aloha, love, and respect is really what we have to offer the world."