PBS: Maui and the Creation of the Islands
Pacific Islander Communities - - - Activity
- Activity: Students will watch a PBS-sponsored and illustrated video of Hawaiian storyteller Kealoha Kelekolio chronicling the creation story of the Hawaiian island chain. After seeing an example of Pacific storytelling, each student will chronicle their family creation story (or another event of equal importance), emphasizing events of significance or providing an illustration of their family. Students will then share their stories within groups or as a class to experience storytelling as a traditional skill.
- Purpose: Students will participate in the difficult storytelling process that Pacific Islander communities use to pass along their histories.
- Activity: Students will watch a PBS-sponsored and illustrated video of Hawaiian storyteller Kealoha Kelekolio chronicling the creation story of the Hawaiian island chain. After seeing an example of Pacific storytelling, each student will chronicle their family creation story (or another event of equal importance), emphasizing events of significance or providing an illustration of their family. Students will then share their stories within groups or as a class to experience storytelling as a verbal skill.
- Purpose: Students will participate in the difficult verbal storytelling process that Pacific Islander communities use to pass along their histories.
Writing materials for students including paper, pencils, erasers, etc.
Presentation devices for video i.e. projector, T.V., computers, tablets, etc.
Presentation tools *see links*
Utah’s Polynesian Communities
Many Hawaiians, Tongans, and Samoans moved to Utah during the 1800s, 1900s, and 2000s. People from the Pacific Islands brought to Utah their cultures, traditions, and religious beliefs. Their experiences are an important part of the Utah story.
Native Hawaiians and people from Tonga began to move to Utah during the late 1870s. Before 1875, Hawaii had strict emigration laws that prevented Hawaiians from moving somewhere else. The Hawaiian government relaxed the laws in 1875 making it possible for Hawaiians to move to a new place. In 1876, six Native Hawaiians—or people who were born in Hawaii and had not moved there from other parts of the world—moved to Salt Lake City. A woman named Likibeka was one of the first six Hawaiians to live in Utah. Likibeka married John W. Kauleinamoku and they built a house in the Warm Spring, which is on the North part of Salt Lake City. Kikibeka and Kauleinamoku lived next to Native American and Scandinavian people.
By 1889, many Hawaiian people and families had moved to Salt Lake City. They applied to become citizens of the United States, but many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes known as Mormons, and non-LDS members did not want them to become citizens or have voting rights. They had a hard time accepting Native Hawaiians because of their different language, cultural habits, and their skin color. Many Euro-American Utahns also believed that Hawaiians carried a skin disease called leprosy. Kauleinamoku and a group of people decided to find a place for the Native Hawaiians and people who emigrated from Tonga to move so they could be free of harsh judgment and treatment in Salt Lake City. Likibeka, Kauleinamoku, and forty-five other Native-Hawaiian families moved to a new Utah home to escape the discrimination they faced. They named their new home Iosepa which was Hawaiian for Joseph F. Smith, a Mormon apostle. Iosepa was located in Skull Valley near Tooele, Utah.
The Iosepa community was a dramatic change for Native Hawaiians and the other people from the Pacific Islands who lived there. Iosepa was dusty and dry and very hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The Hawaiian residents felt alone, and they faced severe weather and they did not have much money. In 1889, many children died from whooping cough. During the early 1900s, other people got very sick with influenza. Although life was difficult in Iosepa, Native Hawaiian Uthans found ways to make a living and build community. They built homes and community buildings, planted trees, and created an irrigation system to water their gardens and crops. Many started successful businesses. Many of the people grew beets, wheat, oats, potatoes, and squash to sell. They also raised sheep and cows.
Life was much different in Iosepa, but residents developed community by adapting to the weather conditions and learning English and about agriculture. The Tooele County School Board built a school in Iosepa. Residents also went ice skating and sledding during the winter. Many also found ways to change recipes for foods they enjoyed from their first homes in the Polynesian islands. For example, Hawaiians used to bake some food wrapped in ti leaves, used corn husks instead. They ate carp from local ponds and lakes in place of their diet of tropical fish. They also learned how to square dance, to play the fiddle, banjo, and mandolin. The Halemanus family wrote songs about love and their religious beliefs and performed them for others. Their music inspired Richard Walton Tully’s play The Bird of Paradise that eventually became a movie. They also enjoyed picnics and horseback rides, foot and obstacle races, and played marbles and wrestled.
People did not live in Isoepa for long. In 1915, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would build a temple in Hawaii. Church leaders advised the people of Iosepa to move to Hawaii. The LDS Church even offered to pay for them to move. The majority of the people moved to Hawaii. Those who remained in Utah moved to Salt Lake City or became miners. No one lived in Iosepa in 1917.
During the 1900s, Native Hawaiians, Maoris, and Tahitians moved to Utah’s cities. They developed community by attending churches, joining organizations, shopping, working, and going to Utah schools. The Hawaiian Civic Club organized luaus to earn money for school scholarships and they held language and culture classes. The New Zealand-American Club celebrated Pioneer Day and New Zealand’s national holiday. Many people from Tahiti gathered together at different times during the year to celebrate Tahitian holidays or to share food with one another.
Today, Hawaiians, Tongans, Samoans, Maoris, and Tahitians call Utah their home. They continue to develop community by participating in Utah, United States, and homeland holidays and cultural celebrations. They also attend church services where they speak their native languages. They grow exotic fruits and vegetables that they sell in Utah’s local markets.
Tracey E. Panek, “Life at Isepa, Utah’s Polynesian Colony,” Utah Historical Quarterly 60, 1 (1992): 66-69.
Intended Learning Outcomes
Students will be able to participate in the storytelling process and understand how minority community groups implement storytelling within their communities in order to preserve cultural identity.
Students will create their own oral histories to share in a multitude of formats. Students can tell the story of their family, the story of their friendships, chronicle a difficult time in their lives, etc., and present the stories using oral or multimedia tools such as YouTube, Prezi, pictures/drawings, figures, etc.
GBH. (2021, February 15). Maui and the creation of the Islands. PBS LearningMedia. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://utah.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/echo07.lan.stories.maui/maui-and-the-creation-of-the-islands/.