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McDougall-Nordstrom. Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke: Kaona as Rhetorical Action

McDougall-Nordstrom. Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke: Kaona as Rhetorical Action

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Published by: Brandy Nalani McDougall on Feb 17, 2012
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CCC 63:1 / september 2011
CCC 63:1 / september 2011
Brandy Na-lani McDougall and Georganne Nordstrom
Ma ka Hana ka ‘Ike (In the Work Is the Knowledge):Kaona as Rhetorical Action
Drawing on Malea Powell’s “rhetorics o survivance” and Scott Richard Lyons’s “rhetoricalsovereignty” as a ramework, we examine how kaona, a Hawaiian rhetorical device, isemployed within Queen Lili‘uokalani’s autobiography and Haunani-Kay Trask’s poetry as a call or Hawaiian resistance against American colonialism through allusions toPele-Hi
iaka stories.
ecent projects in composition and rhetoric, such as this special issue o 
College Composition and Communication
and Damián Baca and Victor Villan-ueva’s 2010 anthology 
 Rhetorics of the Americas: 3114 BCE to 2012 CE 
, representthe feld’s increased ocus on the heretoore largely underexamined rhetoricso indigenous peoples. Close analyses o such texts have signifcant implica-tions or composition and rhetoric because, as Baca notes, “[a]ccounting or[indigenous rhetorical] practices . . . provides more accurate understandingso how indigenous artists and writers have responded and continue to respondto imperialist teleology and Western expansion,” and can potentially counter what Baca calls a European hegemony over “political ideology, cultural mean-ings, and historical narratives” (1–3). Other scholars, such as Malea Powell,have argued, however, that even when such examinations have been conducted,
Copyright © 2011 by the National Council of Teachers of English. All rights reserved.
mCdougall and nordstrom / kaona as rhetoriCal aCtion
analyses are oten encumbered with colonial/paracolonial ideologies that resultin misreadings and, in turn, misrepresentations.
Consequently, Powell callsor greater sensitivity in examinations o indigenous texts and suggests thatraming such analysis within a theory o “rhetorics o survivance,” borrowingGerald Vizenor’s term
), can acilitate theacknowledgment o both the continued survival and resistance o indigenous peoples and their literatures. She writes:
For Vizenor, and or mysel, this means not only reimagining the possibilities orexistence and ironic identity within Native communities, but also reimagining ascholarly relationship to writings by Indian peoples, one that hears the multiplici-ties in those writings and in the stories told about them. (401)
A rhetorics o survivance, then, emphasizes that indigenous texts as well as texts written about indigenous peoples must be recognized and read as articulationso the paracolonial status o Native Americans.Powell’s description o composition and rhetoric’s scholarship on Ameri-can Indian texts echoes assertions made by Scott Richard Lyons, who writesthat while the literature o the past decade demonstrates the discipline’s eortsat including Native ways o knowing in scholarly discussions and classroomcurricula, representations o Native texts, and correspondingly Native peoples,oten include “Indian stereotypes and cultural appropriation” and are virtu-ally void o “discourse on sovereignty and the status o Indian nations” (458).To capture more ully the rhetorical breadth o Native American texts, Lyonsadvances the term
rhetorical sovereignty 
to describe “the inherent right andability o 
to determine their own communicative needs and desires inthis pursuit, to decide or themselves the goals, modes, styles, and languages o  public discourse” (449–50). Rhetorical sovereignty, as Lyons asserts, counters“rhetorical imperialism,” which he sees as “defnitional” and hegemonic, “settingthe terms o the debate . . . by 
the parties discussed by describ-ing them in certain ways” (452). Given this, Lyons points out that rhetoricalsovereignty “requires above all the presence o an Indian voice, speaking or writing in an ongoing context o colonization and setting at least some o theterms o debate” (462). Like Powell’s remarks, Lyonss call or composition andrhetoric literature to divert rom and question its own employment o rhetori-cal imperialism emphasizes the importance o reading indigenous texts withinboth their cultural and colonial contexts as well as providing models o suchinormed readings.
CCC 63:1 / september 2011
Like the texts by and about the indigenous peoples o the North and SouthAmerican continents that are the ocus o much o the work o Lyons, Powell,and Baca, Kanaka Maoli, or Hawaiian, texts have been similarly underexaminedand misunderstood.
While there is a signifcant body o scholarship that lo-cates itsel in Hawai‘i, much o it is ocused on classroom pedagogy and Hawai‘iCreole English, the “Pidgin” language that evolved postcontact. Such works are oten problematically categorized as “Hawaiian” rather than “o Hawai‘i,highlighting the general lack o understanding o the complicated relationship between Hawaiiansand non-Hawaiians who reside in Hawai‘i: MorrisYoung notes, “In Hawai‘i you are not Hawaiian as you might be Caliornian i  you lived in or were raised in Caliornia” (86). In actuality, there are ew scholars who have examined texts by and about Hawaiians or written in the Hawaiianlanguage within a rhetorical rame.In “Native Claims: Cultural Citizenship, Ethnic Expression, and theRhetorics o ‘Hawaiianness,’” Young oers such a rhetorical analysis ocusing onHawaiian eorts to reclaim their history and cultural practices since the 1960s.He oers an insightul analysis o these events, situating them as expressionso “cultural citizenry” (to borrow Renato Rosaldo’s term) and then argues thatthe maniestations o cultural citizenry in this particular context are a precur-sor to nation-claiming. Young asserts, “Native Hawaiians are enacting culturalcitizenship as a starting point or an imagined national citizenship” (99). Be-cause o the overtly hegemonic practices that preceded the 1960s, includingthe banning o the Hawaiian language, the cultural citizenship he is reerringto may indeed be a
step toward 
national citizenship. We suggest, however,that cultural citizenry has traditionally corresponded to national citizenry orHawaiians. An examination o a specifc Hawaiian rhetorical device,
,explicates this relationship between cultural citizenry and national citizenry or Hawaiians. The enactment o kaona is deeply cultural; it is an aestheticappeal and, at the same time, part o a rhetorics o survivance that has beenand continues to be employed by Hawaiians to assert rhetorical sovereignty, ameans o communication essential to national citizenry.Kaona, oten described as a Hawaiian poetic device implying “hiddenmeaning,” provides a vehicle through which Hawaiians employ the aestheticso as to make rhetorical appeals. George Hu‘eu Sanord Kanahele describeskaona as a highly developed, multilayered use o metaphor, puns, and allusion, with which
ka po‘e no‘ono‘o
, or intellectuals, traditionally composed or passed
In actuality, there are few scholars whohave examined texts by and aboutHawaiians or written in the Hawaiianlanguage within a rhetorical frame.

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