|Native American Stories and Songs
Charles Ka'Upu / Hawaiian from Maui, Hawaii
For some of us, dropping onto one of the Hawaiian Islands in January is truly like being dropped onto another planet. All around is the flowery, lush vegetation, warm seas, warm sand, and warm sun. For Charles Ka'upu, the island of Maui is home. He is a young, powerfully-built man who teaches at a local junior college and puts on traditional garb to perform in one of the hotel luau events every week. When we first meet him he is wearing a t-shirt that says, “the natives are restless.”
Be sure to sample the Mp3--the music will stir your blood.
Charles is a native of Hawaii and lives with a few other single guys on the northern part of the island in a small house. He is, well, smug. That is the word that best seems to describe his attitude. He doesn’t buy into a lot of myths and stereotypes that people have of island living. He says of the missionaries who came to convert the “heathen” Hawaiians that, “They judged our people as being lazy and unproductive. Do you think a lazy, unproductive culture would have been able to survive thousands of years isolated from what was perceived to be the culture which is the Anglo way? I don’t think so!”
Charles plays a common instrument of Hawaii called an ipu. The ipu is an instrument constructed of two gourds that are hollowed out and attached to each other. It is both played with the fingers and beat on the floor to produce sound. The sound is an incredible, resonant tone that Charles calls “the voice of God.” They also use a drum made of coconut and stretched with the stomach of a tiger shark. He graciously got us tickets to watch him perform in the luau one night. Toward the end of the incredible event, a slight, misty rain fell and Milt and I danced on the beach to the music.Hawaii is a chain of islands that rose out of the sea from the volcanic activity that, scientists claim happened about 30 million years ago. Traditional Hawaiian society was a sophisticated feudal system with royal bloodlines traced through the lineage. The islands were so isolated that they knew no other influence until Captain James Cook showed up on Hawaiian shores in 1778.
Listen to a sample of the show here.