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Ohana club hosts first inaugural lū’au

During SAMEAPI Month the Ohana Club worked to put together their first Lūàu at Mills College. (Alexina Estrada)
During SAMEAPI Month the Ohana Club worked to put together their first Lū’au at Mills College. (Alexina Estrada)

“I ku mau mau!” “I ku wa!” “Stand up together!” “Stand and shout!” students chanted.

The I Ku Mau Mau chant is one of resistance that native Hawaiians will chant from sunrise to sunset, and back to sunrise again. This was the chant that Senior Makaiwa Tong taught those at the lū’au on Friday Apr. 24 at Mills College.

After envisioning the event since the club’s reestablishment two years ago, The Ohana Club hosted an inaugural lū’au from 6:00 pm to 8:oo pm in the Student Union. The club hopes the lū’au will become an annual event.

The lū’au was part of South Asian Middle Eastern Asian Pacific Islander Heritage (SAMEAPI) month. It was coordinated to provide a space for the community to come together and learn about Hawaiian culture and the movements happening in Hawaii today.

Loke Davis, the adviser of the Ohana Club and head volleyball coach at Mills, taught people how to make three different types of leis: ti leaf, haiku and the more common flower lei.

Since this was the first lū’au hosted at Mills, according to the co-presidents of the club, some people in attendance weren’t sure what to expect.

“I really liked the decoration and everything they did,” Sophomore Gabriela Gonzalez said.”I didn’t eat everything but I liked what I did have, especially the rice noodles and juice.”

The traditional Hawaiian dishes there included Kalua pig, lomilomi salmon (salmon salad) and poi (a purple paste-like side for the lomilomi salmon).

Ohana Club Co-Presidents Amanda Kam, a junior, and Jessica Oride, a  senior, have been part of the event planning since the initial idea for a lū’au when the club was reestablished.  The two are happy that they got to see the vision become a reality before their time at Mills ends.

“We are really happy to bring traditional and local culture here on campus,” Kam said. “We wanted this lū’au so that people could come and share stories, eat food, participate in activities and to bring knowledge to people.”

During the event, there were two main performers: Senior Alana Pollack and Senior Makaiwa Tong, both from Hawaii.

Pollack, whose mother is a hula teacher, has grown up dancing. She performed three dances including one with Davis. During the dance, Pollack explained the different movements and where the songs originated from. Pollack also had a station where people could come to her if they had questions or wanted to learn more about hula.

Tong performed three songs and played the guitar. She also explained what the songs were about and where they originated from, including one about a Hawaiian man who falls in love and ends up in San Francisco.

Tong also taught the resistance chant, encouraging the room to shout louder and louder each time. She then talked about the movements happening in Hawaii, including one she is very passionate about, protecting Mauna Kea, a volcano on the island of Hawaii, commonly known as the Big Island.

Mauna Kea is very sacred land to the Hawaiian people and culture. The state is currently planning on building a Thirty Meter Telescope there, and protests have spread from the island to the rest of the world, including the Bay Area.

“We are basically trying to protect saved land,” Tong said. ” Mauna Kea is said to be the origin of all people. We are trying to protect our sacred spaces.”

Tong passed around a flyer with ways for people to learn more about what is happening and what they can do to support by using the hashtag #BayAreaAgainstTMT and going onto the Bay Area Aloha ‘Aina page.

“It’s exciting to be part of this movement even though I’m not home,” Tong said. 

By the end of the event, people were walking around with leis, finishing plates of food and talking with the club members.

“I think it went pretty well,” Sheryl Miralles, a club member, said. “Certain things went as expected and some not as expected, but it was fun to make people happy and to see everyone enjoy it. That was its purpose, to share it all and come together.”

Kam and Oride thank the club members and Davis for their work putting together the club, as well as the APISA club, Muslim Student Alliance and OSA for their support.

“We are so proud to put something on that people are interested in and hope that future club members make this a tradition,” Kam said.

The lū’au was the last SAMEAPI month event open to the public. The final event of the month was the Faculty / Staff Appreciation Dinner on Monday April 27.