Why Jennifer Lawrence’s Butt-Scratching Incident Caused a Stir with Native Hawaiians
Turns out the area where Lawrence was shooting, the Waimea Valley on the island’s north shore, has tremendous historical significance. “It was an archeological site,” says Hawaiian cultural expert Kahokulua Haiku, who advised the #Hunger_Games production team. “It’s an ancient Hawaiian living site and there are several hundred burial caves right in that area. The caves contain the bones of our ancestors—but not just any ancestors. They are called Kahuna. These were the astronomers, navigators, and doctors of the time. They were the Einsteins and Marconis of Hawaiian culture. And they were filming just a few yards away.”
Issues of indigenous rights are hot button issues in #Hawaii, where many native people have felt swamped by mainstream American culture and are keen to protect their heritage. Hawaii was an independent monarchy until 1893, when its last monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani, was overthrown by a party of American businessmen. Soon after, President Benjamin Harrison annexed the Hawaiian islands. Many Hawaiians have felt disrespected by the mainland ever since.
[Donne] Dawson [the Hawaiian state film commissioner] and others hope the incident helps outsiders understand that Hawaii is far more than a place to hit the surf. “It’s important for people visiting Hawaii, and certainly film producers, to understand that the native Hawaiian community is alive and well,” says the film commissioner “Although our kingdom was overthrown more than a century ago, a lot of what we’re experiencing now is a result of what happened to native Hawaiians all those years ago. It’s important for people to understand why these things are considered so egregious to native Hawaiians.”