The Spreading of the Hawaiian Identity

Subject: Culture
Pages: 10
Words: 9617
Reading time:
33 min
Study level: Undergraduate


It was October 13th 2018, the Lewis & Clark College football team took a trip to McMinnville, Oregon to take on the Linfield Wildcats. Randy is a 6’0” 205 pound Native Hawaiian male. Randy has straight long hair reaching down to his shoulders, stands out with a pop from his Herbal Essence shampoo that he uses every day. His hair glistens from the sunlight when it beams down on his head. His eyebrows are perfect on both sides from getting them done every week.

His eyes are the color of hazelnuts and reflect his Native Hawaiian heritage. His lips are a thin neutral line. He hardly smiles but when he does, it must be because you have made him laugh or are someone special. His teeth are straight and white but he hardly shows them. His upper body is muscular and toned out because of the hard work he puts in every day working out to be healthy and stay in shape for football. He loves wearing black cotton Hawaii Finest t-shirts and Hawaii Finest board shorts that go down to the middle of his kneecap.

He wears a black and gold G Shock watch with Oakley polarized sunglasses above his forehead. His name is Randy Manewa from Nanakuli, Hawai’i and he is a junior playing on the Lewis & Clark College Football team. Randy and I grew up in Nanakuli which is a small town on the Westside of Oahu. Our hometown has a bad reputation for drugs, alcohol, broken families, high school dropouts and teen pregnancies… Nanakuli is also known for our low high school graduation percentage and low acceptance rate into a college.

Our head coach Jay Locey coached at Linfield for many years, racking up a dozen wins and one NWC Championship. In the three years Randy and I have been at Lewis & Clark, our teams have not come close to beating the Wildcats but this year we felt strong going into this game. When we got to Linfield, we grabbed our gear bags and walked from the bus to the locker room so we could start to change and get ready. Randy and I always walk together but this time a change of tide happened.

While walking, we were approached by a guy wearing a Linfield football t-shirt. He approached us and said “Are you guys from Hawai’i?” Randy and I both looked at each other first and responded “Yes!” The guy went on and asked us “How do you think you guys will do today?” I responded with “ It is going to be a great game. We both have really explosive offenses and it’s going to come down to the last play or a defensive stop.” The guy took a moment to say anything but ended up saying “I know Lewis & Clark has many boys from Hawai’i, and I want to ask you how do you guys make an impact on this team.”

I took a look at Randy and I had to ask the guy for a few minutes so I could think of what I was going to say. I responded with “Well, Hawai’i boys are different from the boys on the mainland. We are born into this sport and we live our life through this sport. We eat, breathe, and sleep football day in and day out. Our dad is our coach throughout our childhood. We have an advantage because we have so much drive and passion for this sport. 99.9% of Hawai’i boys that play college football will say that they used football to get off of the islands. We know that we can’t score high on the SAT and ACT.

We also may not have the highest GPA so we turn to something that we are good at, and that is football. Most of us grow up with broken families and and families where we are barely making ends meet and we always tell ourselves that we don’t want to live like that for the rest of our lives. We always make promises to our parents that we will make a better life for you. We will allow you guys to retire and live free without having to think how things are going to get paid and how food is going to be put on the table.

Hawai’i boys that play college football have way more deep drives and goals that they want to accomplish with football. Knowing what the goals are, we also know that we must put in 100% of hard work, dedication, sacrifices that will only pay off in the future. So to answer your question, the Hawai’i boys on this team will leave everything on that field and they will literally die for their brother to the right of him and to the left. We will fight until the final whistle is blown and we will not give up no matter what the scoreboard shows. Win or lose, Hawai’i boys will never walk off of that field with any regret because we will leave every single ounce of effort on that field.”

The guy took about 45 seconds to process everything and said “This is why I love Hawai’i boys, you guys have a certain identity that no one else has. You guys play not only for your brothers but for your state and your hometown.” I said “Thank you sir.” The guy shook our hands and continued walking away towards the field.

Come to find out, that guy was doing a pre game report on the Hawai’i boys from each team. He wanted to compare and contrast the Hawai’i boys in each NWC schools and found a correlation in what we all said. He found that Hawai’i boys all play differently compared to boys from the mainland. He also said that Hawai’i boys bring their Hawaiian identity all the way from home and they wear it proudly and brightly so that everyone knows where they come from and how they are as people.


In this paper, I wanted to find out how native societies maintain their identity away from their home place. Specifically I wanted to find out how the Hawaiian identity has made it across the thousands of miles of ocean to the mainland. I wanted to see how the Hawaiian boys on the Lewis & Clark College football team create and maintain the Hawaiian identity being away from home. Being on a sports team, I believe, makes creating and maintaining an identity much easier compared to someone who is not.

The setting of my paper is going to be three places. The first place is football fields. I am on the football team so I see all of the Hawaiian boys on the football field four hours a day six days a week for three whole months. The second setting is in our football locker room. The locker room is a place where a lot of the interactions happen. The locker room is where we go to get away from the coaches and a place where we go if we need a quiet place to do homework or study.

The locker room also serves as a place where we grow our brotherhood with each other. A lot of tears, laughter, and steam goes off in the locker room and that what helps with coming together as a family. The last place is the dorm rooms. The dorm room is a great place because this is a place that we love to hang out and cook Hawaiian food when we miss home. The people that I interviewed were some of my football team players from Hawai’i and some of my friends from Hawai’i that don’t play football.

My ethnography talks about the Hawaiian identity and how the Hawai’i boys here at Lewis and Clark that play on the football team creates that Hawaiian identity in the mainland being away from home. One of the positive things about this ethnography is that I am Native Hawaiian, I lived in Hawaii my whole life growing up, and I play football on the Lewis and Clark College team. I am apart of this ethnography just as much as the participants.

I couldn’t find any academic sources that matches my themes and the idea of my project came from me. I always wanted to do research on the Hawaiian identity. You will read a lot of dialogue and those were conversations that I had with the participants. This ethnography has a lot of information that I believe is important and it shows how the Hawaiian identity is carried out here by people from Hawaii in the mainland being away from home.

Connections Back To Hawaii

Hawaiian Flags

“Bye Mom, Bye Dad. Love you guys, see you during Christmas break.” These are the last things you would say to your parents before standing in the long TSA line at the airport. Many college students experience this for the first time and they have mixed emotions no matter where their home is. Many students would be crying and wishing they didn’t have to go and there are others where they are excited and happy to finally leave home and start their college journey.

Students bring the essentials like clothes, shoes, pictures, and other personal items but for Hawaiians, we love to bring more than just the essentials. The Hawaiian flag is an important item that we bring when going to a new place because we feel like it is apart of us and it helps us to show where we come from and it helps to get us through when we get homesick. The Hawaiian flag is the first thing that you put up when you move into your dorm room. We want everyone to see the Hawaiian flag because we want everyone to know where we come from and that we are proud to be from our home.

The Hawaiian flag is a true staple of Hawai’i and it means so much to the people from Hawaii. The canton of the flag of Hawaii contains the Union Flag of the United Kingdom, prominent over the top quarter closest to the flag mast. The field of the flag is composed of eight horizontal stripes, symbolizing the eight major islands (Hawaiʻi, Maui, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, and Niʻihau).

Other versions of the flag have only seven stripes, probably representing the islands with the exception of Kahoʻolawe or Niʻihau. The color of the stripes, from the top down, follows the sequence: white, red, blue, white, red, blue, white, red. In 1990, Governor of Hawaii John Waihee proclaimed July 31 to be Ka Hae Hawaii Day, the Hawaiian Flag Day. It has been celebrated each year since then.

It is the same date as Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Sovereignty Restoration Day, a holiday of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi that is celebrated by proponents of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. “King Kamehameha flew a British flag throughout his kingdom in the late 18th century, given to him as a token of friendship from fellow ruler King George III. However, during the War of 1812, an American flag was raised over Kamehameha’s home to placate American interests.

It was soon removed after British officers in Kamehameha’s court opposed to it. Instead, Kamehameha commissioned a new flag—one that incorporated elements of both nations. The result is the flag we are familiar with today: the Union Jack of the British Empire sits in the top left corner, while the body reflects the stripes of America’s Old Glory. The flag’s eight stripes represent the major Islands. Historians credit its design to an officer of the Royal Navy, who based it on a British naval flag.”(Meghan 2015)


Another flag that means so much to Hawaiians and that we bring up is the Kanaka Maoli flag. “The Kanaka Maoli—or “native Hawaiian” flag is said to have been Kamehameha’s personal flag long before the modern Hawaiian flag. British navy Captain Lord George Paulet destroyed it when he took control of Hawaii for five months in 1843. At the flag’s center is a green shield bearing a coat of arms, which include a kahili, the original Hawaiian royal standard, and two paddles, meant to represent the voyaging tradition of the Native Hawaiians.

The flag’s color scheme is red, yellow and green, meant to represent different groups within Hawaiian society. The yellow is symbolic of the alii, the powerful royal class. Red represents the konohiki, the landed caste that served the alii. Green signifies the makaainana, or commoners.You may have noticed the Kanaka Maoli flag on recent trips to the Islands. It has become popular in the community in recent years and can be found on everything from t-shirts to bumper stickers.”(Meghan 2015)


Taking a step back and looking at these two flags, you can clearly see that they are different but there are many similarities. Both of these flags represent the State of Hawaii and the Native people of Hawaii. The flag is used to connect the Hawaii boys to home. We look at the flag when we are homesick and it is a reminder of why we are here. We are here to get a great education while playing the sport that we all love.


The cuisine of Hawaii incorporates the five distinct styles of food that reflects the diverse food history of immigration in the Hawaiian Islands. In the pre-contact period of Ancient Hawaii, Polynesian voyagers brought plants and animals that could fit on the canoe and things that they knew could sustain life when they found land.

As Native Hawaiians settled in Hawaii, they fished, and raised taro which was is a staple of the Native Hawaiian diet. Taro is a root vegetable and the primary ingredient for poi. The Hawaiians believed that the taro plant was the original ancestor of the Hawaiian people. Poi which is taro mashed up with water is an important and sacred aspect of the daily Hawaiian life. Poi has a paste-like texture and a dainty flavor, with a pale purple color that comes from the taro plant itself. The flavor of poi changes.

The flavor of poi when it is first made is sweet and edible that can be eaten by itself but each day after, the poi loses its sweetness and starts to turn sour from fermentation. Most people are not able to eat fresh poi so when they do eat it, the poi is most likely a day or two old which has already started turning sour. Native Hawaiians also planted coconuts, sugarcane, sweet potatoes, and yams. Native Hawaiians cooked their foods in an underground oven called an imu.

The imu is an underground oven that uses hot lava rocks as the source of heat. The lava rocks are heated up and used as the foundation for the food. You place the food on top of the lava rocks and you cover the whole thing with banana leaves and potato sacks that have been soaked in water. This is used to keep the heat in and it creates steam to keep the foods moist.

Hawaiian food

My freshman year of college here at Lewis and Clark, my family flew up to watch our last home game of the season. The day before they flew up, my mom called me and asked is there anything else that you would want. I couldn’t think of anything at first but I said “YES! Can you bring some poi up here for me.” I asked my mom to bring up a lot so I could have some of my friends taste it.

After my game, my family and I went out to dinner and when we came back I texted a few of my teammates who were not from Hawaii and told them to come over so they could try poi. Surprisingly all of them came over and the first thing that they all said was “What the hell is poi?” I said that “Poi is like a starch for the Hawaiians. It is like potatoes or hashbrowns up here in the mainland.” When I brought out the bag, their faces dropped and they had a confused and disgusted look.

They all looked at each other and I could tell by their faces that they were second guessing themselves and didn’t want to try it. I hurried to my cabinet to grab spoons before they all try to run away. I opened the bag and allowed them to smell it. They all said that it smelled good and it smelled sweet. I said that “It smells sweet because it is fresh poi and that it smells sweet when it is fresh but each day after, it starts to smell sour from fermentation.” I scooped out some on each spoon and handed it to them one by one.

They all again smelled it and I said “okay on three. One, two, three.” They all put it in their mouths and slowly pulled the spoon out. It took about ten seconds for a response and two of my friends said “this is so nasty, I can’t eat this again.” Another two said “This isn’t that bad. I actually like it.” I explained to them that poi is a Native Hawaiian starch that is eaten with everything. It tastes really good with dried fish or something salty because poi helps it to balance it out. We eat this everyday and it is apart of us. It is what our ancestors ate and so this is what we ate growing up.


The Hormel company’s canned meat called Spam has been highly popular in Hawaii. Spam was originally brought to Hawaii by the American servicemen in their rations. Spam became an important source of protein for locals after fishing around the Hawaiian islands was prohibited during World War II. Spam is used in local dishes in a variety of ways. The most commonly way that Spam is cooked is for breakfast. Usually it is fried and served with fried eggs and rice.

Spam is also used as a condiment to ramen or incorporated in macaroni and cheese. The number one way that spam is served in Hawaii is on top of rice wrapped with seaweed called spam musubi. Spam musubi is a fusion of Japanese sushi that uses fried spam instead of the typical raw fish in traditional sushi.

A few Sundays ago, I got up and wanted Spam, eggs, and rice so I invited my friends Randy and Ramonne over. Randy and Ramonne came over when I just started to cook the rice. Ramonne who has never eaten or seen rice being made, came up to the side and asked if he could watch.

He asked what I was doing and I had to explain to him that this is rice. Rice is starch and it is like a baked potato for you. I said that rice is a staple back home in Hawaii and it is a must to eat it up here also. We can’t go very long without eating rice. I grabbed the canned Spam from the food pantry and brought it down to the counter. I rinsed the top part of it before I opened it. I opened the can of Spam and shook the can on the cutting board and a pink meaty block came sliding out of the can.

Ramonne said “Bro that looks so gross. It looks like pink slime.” I replied with “Shut up! It is good tasting pink slime.” I sliced the Spam in an inch thickness. I grabbed a pan down from the cabinet and placed it on the burner. I then poured some olive oil in the pan and allowed it to heat up. I placed the Spam in the pan and seasoned it with pepper to counterbalance the saltiness.

After a few minutes you could start to smell the Spam cooking and Ramonne goes “Bro this smells so good. It smells like bacon.” I said “Spam is really good.” I finished cooking and I told Ramonne to make his plate first. He grabbed some rice, some eggs, and Spam. I said “hold up you forgot your condiments.” I poured some soy sauce on his rice and sprinkled some furikake. Furikake is a Japanese rice seasoning that has seaweed, sesame seeds, and some other ingredients.

Ramonne went to sit down and eat and the look on his face when he took a bite of the Spam was priceless. His face lit up like a little kid going into a candy store for the first time. He smiled and said “Bro, this f****** thing is so good! It tastes just like bacon and you made it crispy just like bacon.”

Bonding on the Mainland

Breaking The Losing Streak

On a hot bright Saturday morning, I woke up with a rush of anxiety and butterflies because it was finally game day. I went through the whole week stressing about school and wanted to give up because there was just so much homework I had to do in addition to going to practice. Now with it being Saturday, I could concentrate all about football but I still felt stressed. At 1:00 p.m it was kickoff and the game started. Our game was in Pomona, California and we were going up against Pomona Pitzer.

Walking on the field for warm ups, the field was a flat and even dark green field with bright white lines and numbers. The sun was shining brightly down onto the field with no white clouds anywhere to be seen. The goal posts on opposite sides of the field was standing tall and bright yellow like the Statue of Liberty. As I took my first few steps on to the field, I immediately said in my head “my feet are f****** burning.” The heat that was coming off from the grass was like walking on hot cement barefoot. I could feel my feet sweating and I could feel my socks becoming soaked from my sweat and immediately after that, I thought in my head “I am going to get blisters today.”

On our first possession of the game, I lined up over the ball and looked at the defense lining up across of me. I could feel my stomach start to tighten up in nervousness as I got down in my stance. I could feel the world slowing down as I communicate with my other lineman the blocks that we are doing. Our first play was a zone run to the right and I had told my other lineman “zorro right” which means zone steps to the right. Before I could bite down on my mouthpiece to get ready to snap the ball all I remember is hearing my quarterback say “set go” and all hell broke loose.

I snapped the ball and took my steps using my head and hands to block the big sweaty nose tackle that grunted like a gorilla. I had to take a two o’clock flat step and shoot both my hands under his shoulder pads so I could get under him and drive him back using my wide base at my feet taking small steps forward. I remember getting under the nose tackle and on my fourth step, I remember shooting my hips up and under him and I was able to pancake him and land right on top of him.

I said “this is going to be a long game for you and this is how Hawaii boys play.” We scored the game’s first 17 points and capitalized on early Pomona mistakes to eventually lead 24-7 at halftime. Following back-to-back scores by Pomona in second half, we scored 16 unanswered points to go up by three possessions. When Pomona opened up the second half with back to back scores, the Hawai’i boys got together and said that we need to step up to the plate and get this team back in the right mindset.

At that time I was feeling mad at my team and wanted to yell at everyone because they were allowing them to come back. Our positive attitude on the sideline was turning negative and we were pointing fingers at everyone. I remember telling myself in my head that I need to step up and be a vocal leader. I knew I wasn’t someone who spoke a lot but I had to do it for the sake of our team.

On Pomona’s ensuing possession, their punter had the snap go over his head for a 39-yard loss that set the Pioneers up with a goal-to-go situation, and three plays later, it was third and goal on the 5 yard line. As we huddled up waiting for our quarterback to tell us the play, I turned around and looked at everyone and said “Listen fellas, we only have five more yards to punch this ball in the endzone. Look at them across from us- they are tired and they didn’t train as hard as we did.

I know we are all tired but I want you to give me your all and I will do the same. I promise you guys that if we do, we will score and win this game. We will not give up and I will not let you guys give up.” We broke the huddle and hustled to the line of scrimmage. I went down in my stance, almost catching a cramp in my legs because I was so tired and I was getting dehydrated because I was sweating so much from the heat.

I reached forward to grab the ball and as I lifted my head up to see the defense, the defensive line shifted to the right and so I hurried to lean on one leg in my squat and used my left hand to point to the new linebacker that we are blocking and I turned to my left to tell my left guard that he is going to combo block with me to him. As I shifted my body back into position, I had to hurry to put my mouthpiece back in and as soon as I bit down on it, my quarterback said “set go.”

As I heard that, I shot out of rocket using my head as a spear. I hit my head on his head so hard that I thought I had hit a stone wall. I remember driving the nose tackle back and feeling my running back run right past me as he dove in the endzone to score the go ahead touchdown. As I got up and turned around, I was filled with so much emotion and joy that I ran over to my running back and picked him up and lifted him up in the sky. Running off of the field, I could feel the emotion welling up and small tear drops coming down my face as my body filled with joy and happiness knowing that we had just won the game.

We ended up holding on to the lead and winning the game 40-29 snapping our 33 game losing streak. When the clock hit 00:00, I immediately ran to the training table to grab the water jug. I had another teammate help me lift it off and I must say that it was pretty darn heavy. We quickly waddled over to our head coach and we both lifted the jug over our head and tipped it over. We watched a whole water jug filled with ice and water pour onto our head coaches head.

We saw the water running down from his head to the field like a huge waterfall. Our coach jumped up and down a few times in shock of how cold the water was. He then turned around and hugged me and said “Kalae, this is why you came to this school. You have led this team in a victory and have showed us how Hawaiians play football.

Thank you for this memory.” I couldn’t help but hug my coach tighter and replied with “Thank you coach for giving me this opportunity to live my dream and show everyone up here where I come from and how boys from back home play football with so much passion.” I let go of coach and slid my helmet back on while I stormed on the field with sweat dripping down my face.

In excitement and with a sigh of relief I started hugging everyone and hugging our coaches congratulating everyone on snapping the losing streak. The Hawaii boys circled around in a big group on the side and hugged each other shedding a few tears and I said, “This is why we are here- we are here to change this program around and have a winning record.” I also said “We need to bring the Hawaiian play style of football to every game so we can continue winning games.”

The Hawaiian play style is smash mouth hard hitting every single play and we are looking to put you on your butt every play. We play with so much passion and love for football because football is the reason why we are in college and was able to get off of the islands. It is a different play style in the mainland because they don’t like to hit that hard with you.

They like to play smarter and use their strengths to their advantage. As a team, we gathered together and one of the Hawaii boys said “Let’s first hold hands and lets pray.” The first thing that we did was gather around in a circle and held hands as we prayed and thanked God for keeping everyone safe and giving us the strength and ability to finish the game and get us a win. We also asked for a safe return back to Portland, Oregon later that night.

The praying is a Hawaiian identity that we brought up to the mainland because we all know that we are playing for our family and of course Hawaii but we need to give praise to God first for all the blessings that he has given us. After the prayer, we all got together and had a team break. We made sure that everyone in that stadium could hear us and hear the bond that we have as a team. I will never forget this moment because it was a dream come true for us to snap our losing streak and win our first game.

We have two coaches that are from Hawaii and they came to our circle and told us that this is why they recruited us which is to change the playing culture at Lewis & Clark so we can play smash mouth football and win games. The coaches congratulated us in our victory but told us to stay humble and get ready to work on Monday.

Bonding In The Locker Room

Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep! The sound of someone punching in the code to open the door into the Lewis & Clark College football team’s locker room. As you take your first few steps into the locker room, you are immediately hit with this smell that is not quite enjoyable. Imagine working out in a shirt and when you are done, you take it off and leave it in your room without washing it for about 3 months. Try to imagine how sour and powerful the odor would be.

That is the smell that will hit you when you walk into the locker room because of all of the sweat in our shoulder pads and helmets. As you continue looking around our locker room, you are hit with bright wooden polished lockers that will impress you because of how nice they are. They are tall and wide enough for a 6’3 310 pound lineman to fit inside comfortably. As you sit in one of the lockers, the two windows towards the back of the locker room allows warm and bright sunlight to beam through and warm you up while the big vents in the ceiling is pushing cold air to keep you from overheating.

As you sit in a locker and turn your head to the right and left, you will see two wide and long couches. One of the couch is a black leather couch that could sit five people. The couch was once a shiny brand new leather couch that added comfort and style to our locker room. Now the couch is dull and ripped in a few places due to it being used on a daily basis by the players. The other couch is a three seater regular couch that has been there for a long time.

That couch is in worst shape because it was once in a house with Lewis and Clark students. Along with the couches, we also have two 50 inch tvs that are the source of entertainment. The two tvs are hooked up with Xboxes that is available for players to play on their free time. You will hear a lot of cussing, laughters, and rages during the day from players playing the games. It is funny because it gets really competitive between players and sometimes it goes way too far and other players has to calm them down.

For example, one Tuesday afternoon we had a FIFA tournament and there was a lot of smack talking between the players. One payer said “You are trash at FIFA and I will score 6 goals before you can score 1.” “The player playing him said “F*** Y**, I will beat you so bad that you will start crying.” This is only one moment of the competitiveness that goes on between players over an Xbox game. The last main compartment of our locker room is the stereo system.

The stereo system may not seem that important or a big deal but in a football locker room, it is life or death. The stereo system is a old Bose setup that consists of two big wooden boxed speakers and one wooden boxed subwoofer that can put out some boom. The stereo is set up to where the two speakers are equally in the middle of the locker room facing both sides so that no matter where you are in the locker room, you will hear the song and it will be clear. “Let me play my music”, “Your music sucks”, “You play only black music”.

These are the common phrases that you will hear once it hits 3:00pm when everyone comes in and gets ready for a long practice. The disturbing arguing of players complain about each others music is a growing pain in the butt. It is like listening to a baby cry louder and louder consistently for 15 minutes. The football locker room is big enough to fit about 90 players but our team is small so only about 75 lockers are taken up from players.

The locker room has bluish grayish concrete brick walls that is in a big rectangle shape. There is a black wooden single digital number pad locked door that you can enter and exit. There is also two black heavy duty back doors towards the back side of the locker room that leads you out to the football field. The two doors that is in the back of the locker room is locked with a card swipe mechanism that can only be opened with certain key cards. The lockers are situated along the perimeter of the rectangle shaped structure with about fourteen lockers in the middle of the locker room. The lockers are splitted up by positions.

The quarterbacks are in the far side away from the main door towards the back two doors. The defensive players are split up around the quarterbacks having a corner to themselves and the main wall portion on the opposite side of the main door. The offensive players utilizes the lockers closest to the main door. When you walk through the main door and take a right, right away you will see the offensive skills lockers. When you walk through the main door and take a left, you will be hit with the big boys lockers. The Offensive line and Defensive line have their own corner because we are the biggest and need more space then the skills players.

As you walk out of the main locker room, you come across the showers. The showers is a big open rectangle space with white walls. It has a slippery white floor and you must be careful so you don’t slip and fall walking in or out of the shower. The shower heads are lined up all around the walls and there is no individual stalls for us to shower in.

The shower itself doesn’t allow a lot of water to come out so it is very hard to shower. You will be standing under the water for a good 5 minutes just to rinse off the shampoo from your hair. The water also doesn’t get hot so after a cold long practice, we don’t have the luxury of taking a hot shower to relax. We are all rushing to shower so we don’t have to stay under the warm/cold water that is coming out. We all just want to hurry up and put on our warm clothes.

Even with it being so cold showering, we still find a way to make it a fun time to bond with our teammates. You are filled with semi-naked men and for some people it might be a bit awkward but for a football team, it is a way to bond. We love to listen to music, sing, and dance. It is funny because the songs we usually listen to is sing along songs that get everyone in their feels and it brings out personalities that we don’t usually see on the field.

One night after a cold practice, we started listening to the song called Cupid Shuffle and when it first started playing, one of the players said “oh shit, this is my song.” Another player said “ everyone lets dance.” We all lined up in rows and started to do the cupid shuffle. There was a lot of laughter and picking on especially between the Hawaii boys and some of the other boys. My friend Melvin who is from Hawaii said “Ramonne you look so dumb doing this dance, this is how you are suppose to do it.”

Ramonne is a 6’0” 295 solid African-American defensive lineman from Texas. He has dreads and he loves to wear Nike sweats, Nike shoes, Nike high cut socks, cheap t-shirts from Walmart and Target, and a North Face jacket. He is a junior and he is majoring in Physics here at Lewis and Clark College. Melvin showed Ramonne how to do it but Ramonne couldn’t get the timing and steps down because he said “Melvin, this dance is a Hawaiian dance. How do you do this?” Melvin replied with “Bro, this is a dance that we always do at parties. It is a dance that is fun to watch when all of the drunk uncles and aunties do it because they lift their beer bottles up in the air and do this dance.”

Football Fight

We had our first practice later on that day so before we headed out, we had to make sure we put our Hawaiian flag sticker on our backplate of our shoulder pads. Knowing that it was our first day of practice, we knew that we had to go out there and show the coaches and players who we are and how we play in Hawai’i.

Well, that didn’t turn out so well for Randy. We were running a team session which is when the offense goes against the defense in live reps but with no tackling to the ground for a few periods. Randy was playing safety on defense and I was the center on offense. The offense ran a pass play to our receiver and when the receiver caught the ball, Randy came flying in and smacked the sh** out of him. Our coaches came running over and started yelling at Randy and questioning him on why did he hit his own teammate that hard. Randy replied with “That’s how I hit and that’s how we hit in Hawaii.

I came to this school to turn this program around and by watching film on this team from before, no one wanted to hit and that’s is why we lost games.” The coaches had to calm him down and explain to him that this is only practice and he doesn’t need to kill our own teammates. After this incident, Randy was looked upon as a hard knock football player that will hit you no matter what the coaches says. He plays with a lot of passion and he tells this to everyone on the team. “We must all play with passion to change this program around. We must not be scared of no one and it all starts with practice. We must practice like how we are going to play in the game.”

The issue of identity involves how people perceive who they are in relation with the first level of socialization, family. The thesis has so far focused on personal experiences and responses to the topic by Hawaii boys playing football for Lewis & Clarke College, and other nearby competitors. Arguably, there are several theories that can be linked to issues of identity, in particular, the spread of individuality among cultures. For purposes of this assignment, only three will be highlighted in relation to the thesis.

Pacific Islander Cultural Racism Theory (PI-CRiT)

According to Kukahiko (2017), both culture and race affect the experiences of Pacific Islanders in colleges. The scholar presents the Pacific Islander Cultural Racism Theory (PI-CRiT) as a crucial philosophy in determining how these students perceive their identity. It is important to note that the scholar also uses other models and theories to explain the spread of identity among Pacific Islanders. It is arguable that the footballers from Lewis & Clarke, and other Hawaii boys were unique and stood out from the rest.

This is interesting as the US education system is hegemonic (Kukahiko 2017). This premise means that students tend to adopt popular culture at their high schools. One of the reasons for such adoption of culture is personal conflict, where one has to consider who they want to be in the school setting and who they are at home.

The Hawaii boys did not demonstrate this as they valued their cultures. Interaction with the boys on the pitch, in the locker rooms and the dorm rooms, showed that despite being in different schools or teams, the Hawaii boys were easily identified. Indeed, even though their physique was slightly different (body, color and race) the boys were also open about their culture (Hawaiian traditions). Using Kukahiko’s (2017) argument, one can state that the Hawaiian boys accepted their values wholly, making their culture a hegemonic one even in school.

Kukahiko (2017) through his PI-CRiT framework explains that there is a relationship between the history of US colonialism in the Pacific and the contemporary circumstances of Pacific Islander communities. The scholar explains that various documentations prove that Hawaiian’s have faced racism in the US. Native Hawaiians do not have fair skin and are presented with a darker shade, which was used as the basis of the discrimination.

Many parents insist their children, despite studying in the US, still practice their traditions because of this reason. This premise was illustrated in the study through symbolization that the players had in regards to their culture. As explained previously, the perception that the flags of both Hawaii and Kanaka Maoli connect the community to their homeland makes them treasured. Arguably, Hawaiian boys were still largely influenced by their culture through food, dressing and activities.

As previously mentioned, football is a common game in the Island and many of the Hawaiian boys in Lewis & Clarke associated the sport with their hometown. The passion that they used to play the spot with their neighbors and friends at home is the same as when they are in the pitch either playing for or against Lewis & Clarke.

Cultural racism is a big part of higher learning in the US (Kukahiko 2017). Bullying and discrimination based on race have been reported in a majority of schools in the last couple of decades. Even though these biases are improving, there is still a significant percentage of Hawaiians who face discrimination because of their skin color. This fact ties with the cultural oppression Hawaiians faced from the US. Parents in the community instill a sense of responsibility to all their children.

Additionally, they are taught not to be ashamed of their culture. Randy can be used as an example to make this premise clear. Randy’s physical appearance is largely associated with Hawaiian males. He is in great shape, stands at 6 feet tall and weighs 205 pounds. He has long hair, which he wears down like a number of other Hawaiian boys, and hazelnut eyes, another physical characteristic associated with Hawaiian boys.

Despite the probability of cultural racism based on his looks, Randy is proud of who he is and is not ashamed of letting other people know. In fact, it is crucial to note that his physique has also been used to his advantage to show his strength and manliness, which are all valued in Hawaiian culture. This point is further reiterated by media representation of Hawaiian people for instance, Maui, an animation character who was a hero to his people, had this same physique.

It is critical to point out that the theory suggested by Kukahiko (2017) both reinstates the thesis and proves that the Hawaiian boys were indeed different from other players on the field. It is interesting that their passion and personality differences could be noticed even when they were on opposing teams. As mentioned previously, the spirit of the game was cultured in their native homes, where completion was fierce but friendly.

Despite Lewis & Clarke losing every single game they played against the Wilders, their Hawaiian boys kept optimistic that they could win. On the other hand, the Hawaiian boys among the Wilders were keen to win the game whereas their counterparts believed there was no way Lewis & Clarke could win. Additionally, the theory proves that to the Hawaiian boys, football was not just a means of passing time or competing with others but it was also a crucial element of who these players were in terms of their identity as Hawaiians.

They cultured their skills in childhood in their hometown and used the same skill as teenagers, and even college students, to keep in touch with who they were, and with one another.

Customs among the Hawaiian Community

According to Green and Beckwith (1928), native Hawaiians have always been in touch with their surroundings (both animate and inanimate things). For example, the scholars confirm that different parts of the house in Hawaiian tradition are given special names. The central part of the house was referred to as the “pou” which is the mast of the canoe (Green and Beckwith 1928, 1). The scholars go further to prove that customs are regarded highly among the Hawaiian community and this can be linked back to the thesis in various ways.

It is arguable that the spread of Hawaiian culture can also be linked to the community’s cuisine. Green and Beckwith (1928), give the story of the young chief, where a keeper’s child was forced to feed a chief’s son through the right traditional ways or face death. The scholars explain that the keeper’s child had to either use the “ai pua” where he first chewed food and then gave the child, or the “ai Kau” where he dropped food into the child’s mouth (Green and Beckwith 1928, 3).

Both practices did not allow holding or touching of the child’s head by the keeper or his son. It is important to note that the customs were highly regarded that the penalty for doing the wrong thing resulted in death. Today, several eating customs are still practiced by the Hawaiian community living off the Island. For example, as mentioned previously, various families would come together and prepare Hawaiian foods when they wanted to feel the spirit of home.

Taro and fish are common Hawaiian meals and they are often cooked in accordance with traditional recipes. Among the footballers, from time to time, their favorite Hawaiian dishes were cooked at home regardless of whether they won or not in an attempt to complete the feeling of being “home” (back in Hawaii).

Debatably, traveling traditions have also led to the spread of Hawaiian culture, both for the footballers and the non-footballers. As mentioned earlier, there are two main flags that families associated with the Hawaiian culture. It is common to find travelers, including students studying abroad carrying either or both the Hawaiian flag and the Kanaka Maoli flag. Green and Beckwith (1928) state that these travel items were essential to remind the traveler of where they came from, or rather, their home. The scholars explain that traditionally, traveling customs were meant for people getting visitors and not the visitors themselves.

For instance, it was common to find that a visitor would be welcomed to eat small portions of food in each house before they arrived at their final destination (Green and Beckwith 1928). Arguably, when Hawaiian families send their children to the mainland to study, they are usually already in contact with other Hawaiian families that they know who help and even host the students. This also applies to students who have not lived in the Island but have to travel to a different state to study. This is one of the reasons why the Hawaiian boys both in Lewis & Clarke and other teams were close to one another.

Many people believe that Hawaiians only fish but in truth, they are also farmers and have several farming customs as well (Green and Beckwith 1928). One of the important farming tradition is the different weather patterns and their relationship to the moon. For example, the community would plant sweet potatoes on a full moon and watermelons the day after the full moon. These customs were established not only to ensure that the weather was right for the crop but also to ensure that the harvest was plenty. Indeed, it is arguable that many of these planting and farming customs are still in use today in the Island.

However, on the mainland, they are usually referred to when grocery shopping or even discussing how the different crops and fruits taste. As stated previously, many families, both of players and non-players, would meet and have Hawaiian traditional food together. It is important to note that all Hawaiian traditional food is organic and fresh.

This involves people picking out fresh vegetables and other ingredients that would be used in the foods and the knowledge that has been passed on from generation to generation is used to select the best products. A full watermelon, for instance, is described as one that was planted at the right time, which is the day after the full moon.

It is critical to note that the spreading of the Hawaiian culture through customs is limited in this day and age. This is because many of the customs were based on the communal living of the Hawaiians. In the mainland, however, it is difficult for the Hawaiian community to practice the same, as they do not, for example, fish or farm. However, these customs are still passed on from one generation to the next through traditional meals and conversation.

It is imperative to note that these customs bind the Hawaiian community together in the same way that football does with the Hawaiian boys. Although eroded, some of these customs are significantly strong in the community because of the importance they are perceived to have. For example, whereas the Hawaiian community in the mainland does not practice the faring rituals, a significant number practice the traveling rituals.

Football and Community

Through his book, Franks (2018) looks at how football has become a vital part of the Hawaiian community living in the mainland. The scholar focuses on three concepts that are associated with Hawaiians and football namely, racial exclusion, labor exploitation, and colonialism (Franks 2018). It is critical to point out that there are various other concepts that the author alludes to in relation to Hawaiian culture and football. Additionally, the scholar explains that in order to survive (culturally) the indigenous groups that are living in the US mainland had to group together while still practicing their individual cultures.

This reinforces the term “strength in numbers” which is an approach that Franks (2018) believes has worked for the Hawaiian community. Sports is a main part of American culture and interestingly, different races have been linked to different sports. For instance, basketball is associated with black Americans while professional football is associated with Caucasians. On the other hand, amateur football is associated with both Hispanics and Hawaiians.

One can argue that the Hawaiians are known for amateur or non-professional football as they also view it as a childhood sport and hobby and not entirely as a career sport. Franks (2018) explains that interestingly, before 1960, a significant number of Hawaiians played the sport professionally. It can be argued that there was a point where the culture was not as strong as it is today in the mainland. This lapse might have pushed families to reinforce their cultural norms on their children in order to avoid the erosion of their traditions.

Franks (2018) states that the issue of cultural exclusion is to blame for why different races are associated with different sports in the US. One can argue that there are two main issues that have to be analyzed when discussing exclusion in sports. First, no race is “built” for a sport and each race is equally capable of playing any sport.

However, cultural biases and expectations have shaped the way different races perceive the various sports. In the case of the Hawaiian community, football has been perceived as a childhood sport. In fact, many of the Hawaiian players in both Lewis & Clarke and other teams were playing passionately as the game reminded them of their home. They were not doing it because they wanted sports scholarships or opportunities to play professionally.

This is one of the reasons why many Hawaiians do not do sports professionally. Secondly, exclusion in sports also has to consider the motive behind playing. As mentioned, many of the players were doing it for fun and to remind them of home. However, because of the varying motives the Hawaiian players have compared to other teammates, they are viewed (by their teammates) differently. In turn, this affected how younger generations perceive their culture and their role in protecting it.

Whereas currently labor exploitation is a world-wide concern, the wealthy mainland citizens took advantage of Hawaii residents to get cheap labor in the early and mid-1900s. Franks (2018) argues that sports has been used by the indigenous groups to bring them together in an effort to solidify their culture and prove that they are not only useful as a labor item.

When the families go to see their children play, Franks (2018) states that it is common to find members of the different teams but of Hawaiian heritage say hello and even invite each other to their homes after the games. Indeed, one can argue that these actions tend to separate the Hawaiian boys even further from their teammates. However, as Franks (2018) explains, it has been a necessary action to allow both the growth and spread of Hawaiian culture.

Spectatorship is an essential part of football and the Hawaiian culture (Franks 2018). It not only allows the community to mingle with one another but it also provides a homely atmosphere for the players. Whereas parents in Hawaii do not normally go to see their children play this sport, their siblings, cousins and other community members often watch them play. They cheer them on using local dialect and enhance the spirit of friendly competition.

As mentioned previously, colonialism plays a key role in how the Hawaiian community in the mainland has protected their culture. Franks (2018) argues that many indigenous cultures have been eroded as a result of the absorption of popular culture. This can mainly be attributed to schools, which teach a history of the larger US country and not the history of the indigenous groups that live both in the mainland and in the Islands. Franks (2018) observes that the Hawaiian community has, however, ensured that their children understand how colonialism affected their forefathers.

This has allowed the younger generations to put much effort in protecting their culture. Franks (2018) believes that numerous indigenous and minority races and cultures in the mainland have created a cosmopolitan canopy to shield them from the influence of popular culture. Hawaiian culture has been protected through this canopy as not only does it shield the culture but it also connects individual families, which is critical for the proper interpretation of traditions.

Initially, in the Island, grandmothers and grandfathers were the custodians of culture and would help interpret it as it applied to different situations. In the mainland, however, families have to come together to apply the different cultural practices to different situations. Thus, the network that the said canopy encourages is critical in both spread and protection of the culture (Franks 2018).


Kukahiko, Troy Keali‘i. 2017. “Staying in: The Study of Pacific Islanders in College Football Using Indigenous Methodologies.” Asian Journal of Social Science Studies 2 (4): 19-44.

Green, S. Laura and Beckwith, Martha Warren. 1928. “Hawaiian Household Customs.” New Anthropologist 30 (1): 1-17.

Franks, S. Joel. 2018. Asians and Pacific Islanders in American Football: Historical and Contemporary Experiences. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Meghan. “What’s the Story behind Hawaii’s Flag?” Hawaii Magazine. 2015. Web.