Notes on The Native Science I. Force and Energy F1ow. 1. Introduction: The Problems of European Science and the Alternatives by the Native Science. One characteristic of the way the modern men in European cultural background do things is that they try to “force” what they think as the answer. In Native American Culture, however, such a behavior pattern is considered to be extremely rude, equivalent of declaring a war, even if the answer is correct. Natives may suggest things, but do not force anybody, even for the good. This apparently baffles and frustrates the modern men. They might think that the Natives are irrationally resisting the progress. However, one needs to reflect if the modern way is indeed correct. F. Capra in The Turning Point talked of the troubles of the European Science and the need of alternatives. M. Bermann discussed what was lost in the development of the Modern Civilization in The Reenchantment Of The World. And there have been many other thinkers who warned us of the arrogance of the “Science” and its consequences; Destruction of the Environment, Nuclear Holocaust, Dehumanization. The Modern Civilization not only “killed God”, but also is about to annihilate Life. Whether or not one agree with those thinkers, there is a critical need to examine what our “science” is. I shall take up only a small part of the task, and discuss the notion of “Force” in Newtonian Mechanics and contrast it to an alternative in “Flow” which is a counterpart to “Force” in the Native Science. 2. What is “Force”? One might think that the word “Force” is so commonly used that there is nothing to think about it. If we see an obstacle on our way of doing something, we automatically think of a use of Force to remove the obstacle. If we have problems like confronting our opponents, we talk of use of Force to resolve the problem. We have phrases, terms like Police Force, Air Force, etc. 2 We may have trouble answering the question as to what precisely the “Force” is, say in physics exam. But then we have a good excuse. Namely, we can point out that, in precise mathematics, the fundamental terms are formally declared to be “undefined”. The terms like “Line” and “Point” are not defined. And if one press mathematicians, they would say that there exist no such thing in the real world. Those terms are “pure concepts” and do not need any object to identify them. And if that is not enough, logicians would come to rescue us. They assure us that there exist “this horse” and “that horse”, but not “Horse in general”. “Force” as a general concept is not an object which we can point to and say “this is the Force”. To be sure, we may not want to be saved by mathematicians and logicians. For we used to feel/think that our Physics is about “Facts”. The Mathematicians and logicians are converting our “science of facts” to a “Linguistic Construct”, similar to the arts of “Story Telling” and “Poetry”. We would not like to reduce Physics into an “art”. That is, our “pride” (arrogance) in knowing the “Factual” World prevents us from total surrender to the “Subjectism”. [Marxists warned us the danger of the “Bourgeoisie Subjectism” which would seduce the revolutionary workers to powerlessness by denying “Objective knowledge” of the “Historical Material” Wor1d, though they acknowledged that no knowledge can be free from particular interests of the Class to which the thinker belongs. We shall come back to this issue later. Here, it is sufficient to note that even the issue of “Objective Fact” is a political matter. The pretended value neutrality by the European Science represent a Cultural Bias, against which the Native Science has to struggle.] [As to the meaning of “Surrender”, see Kurt H. Wolff Surrender And Catch Boston Studies In The Philosophy of Science vol. LI. (105). D. Reidel Pub. Co. 1976. European Science is preoccupied with the task of exerting controls, and Marxists are fighting to win. They paid insufficient attention to the “surrendered”. We tend to listen to the winners and the Powerful ‘ It is a form of “surrender”. It is about time that we listen to the victims, as Bishop Remi De Roo says in Cries Of Victims – Voice Of God (Novalis 1986). This is one of ways of self liberation.] 3 Rather, we observe that, despite our vague understanding of the term “Force”, we do use the concept almost routinely and we feel we are making a sense, if not claim a “righteous position” to us — i.e. we feel “we are thinking right” —. And in this “culture” nobody challenge us in doing that by asking questions like “what do you mean by Force?”, we rarely reflect what we are saying/thinking. In schools, we are demanded to produce sentences or stories in the form suggestive of the Force metaphor, in order to be certified as knowing something. I cite here a fanatic example from what is going on in the reputed institution of intelligence of Academia. In Psychology and Social Sciences, scholars use Statistics to “prove” what they regard as the “Causa1 Re1ation”. That is a very difficult thing to do, because Statistics cannot “prove” the “Causal Relation”. Anybody who studied elementary Theory of Statistics knows that. It is an impossible miracle that those scientists are trying to achieve. But, I am not concerned with the ignorance as to the Theory of Statistics, but with the social phenomenon. Why they do that? And there we see the enormous Power of the notion of “Force” from Newtonian Mechanics. Newton himself had never equated “Force” with “Cause”. In fact, in a letter, he denied his “Force” had anything to do with “The Cause” (God). Unfortunately, the metaphor of his “Force” and what people had in their mind as “Cause” were identical. The word “Cause” had been in the Bible and the notion that “Some Agent Must Be There To Make Things To Move” was firmly implanted in the culture. And, Newton did use the term “Agent”. His metaphor of Force was not too far from “Ange1s Pushing The Planets In Heaven”. Therefore, the association of Force with Cause was unavoidable. In fact, the association helped the popular acceptance of Newtonian Mechanics. [This point can be discussed in detail in comparisons with other similar theories Proposed by Newton’s contemporaries, notably Liebnitz who sunk into an oblivion in his competition with Newton as far as his mechanics was concerned. We today know of Liebnitz as a “philosopher” (meaning “unscientific” thinker).] In terms of the structure, Newton’s Mechanics had three parts. In the first part, he postulated that it is the proper motion for things to move on a straight line with a constant speed. 4 [This is called The First Law Of Motion. Note, however, that this is not observational fact. Our experiences, observations appear to contradict such an assumption. Newton’s genius was in boldly assuming a principle against what was so obviously factual.] Having denied the “reality”, Newton then introduced an amendment to the first assumption. He, of course knew that things do not move on straight lines with constant speeds. He, thus, had to explain why they do not behave as his Law dictates. That was where “Force” was introduced. He said “Because Force make them do”. That is known as the Second Law of Motion. It is the same rhetoric as that of saying “Because Devil Made me do it”. Of course, “planetary motions” are not crimes. If anything, people might have had “unconscious anxiety” that the planetary motions night be messed up and bring disasters upon the Earth. The “cu1tural wish” was to keep the planetary motions as orderly and as regular as possible. So that the Newton’s “Agents” ware “good angels”, if not the Almighty God himself. Nonetheless, the rhetorical structure of “attributing to God”/”blaming some Agent evil” is the same. [As to the hidden anxiety about astronomical disasters, see Immaniuel Velikovsky Worlds In Collision Dell 1967. and subsequent publications. Velikovsky was a Freudian Psychoanalyst and concerned with the phenomenon of the “Cultural Amnesia”. We shall not deal with Velikovskian thesis here. But, it is important to take a note that European Science stemmed from Fear of the Nature. Native Science is not.] Although we think, or rather are taught to think, that Science emerged against Christianity, Newtonian Mechanics was accepted within the Christian Cosmology — i.e. “God is the Prime Mover, the Cause of all motions and changes —. People had been in the Culture where saying like “God made are respectable statement. The cultural habit, particularly language habit, and hence the habit of thinking could not change quickly. European scientists stop using overtly religious terminology. For any “in group” thing people make up, the first thing they do is to learn the “lingo” of the group. So that they no longer used terms like “The Prime Mover”, “The First Cause”, but used the term “Force”. However, the metaphor was not changed. When they talked and listened, the rhetoric referring to “Cause” (some agent forcing) was 5 “impressive” of knowing something, because of the traditional rhetorical habit of the Culture. The psychologists and social scientists, seeing the success of Newtonian Mechanics, try very hard to emulate the rhetoric. And, if a young researcher wish to be a recognized member to the institution, the ritual of saying things in the established rhetoric is a must. He would not get his paper published, if he does not observe the proper ritual in his knowledge claim. That is the reason why they are looking for “Causal Relations” — find the Agent, if not the God/Devil that is making the phenomena observed —. It is irrelevant, if they are knowledgeable about the Logic of Statistical Inference and aware that it is not capable of saying anything about Causality. Recognition in a social institution is primarily a “political” matter. “Knowledge” recognized in those institutions of “sciences” are social product, to which individual thinkers have to “culturally” adapted into, if they wish to be the members. If anyone does not like the political system of those institutions, one can always work at hamburger joints etc., and do what one likes. There is nothing to stop any one from doing research. However, the recognition by the society of the individual “doing a science” is not an easy matter. One has to play politics, particularly if one wish to have an income from the recognition. That is the reason why the Psychologists and Social Scientists are crazy about “Causal Relations” in their Statistical Rhetoric. 3. The Politics of Recognition that one knows. We note that there is no such thing as “The Native Science” as yet today, precisely because the Natives has no political power to gain recognition to their Science. And the ease or hardness of gaining recognition has a great deal with the Culture in which statement of knowledge is made. One who goes along with the dominant Cultural bias, or even takes advantages of implicit assumption/superstition of the Culture would have an easy access to the recognition. If you propose some idea foreign to the culture, you would meet “deaf ears” or even you would be prosecuted as a “disturber of peace”. People probably would not understand what was said, but nonetheless they do sense that you are bringing in a “cognitive dissonance” which arouses their anxiety and make them uncomfortable. After all, not everybody 6 in a society is “creative thinker”. For the majority, the “science” is a common agreement that they worked hard to achieve. For the sake of maintaining “stability”, they stick to “the Established Truth”. By bringing in something that does not fit in the established order of thinking — even in abstract thinking which may have little immediate political or economic consequences —, you are “disturbing the peace” and you are a Heretic. You are challenging the Legitimacy of the well established intellectual Authority of “Science” in the society. Therefore, you are a Rebel. “Not making wave” is a political act, just as “making wave” is. But the former is “covert”. Whereas, the latter is “overt”. Those who “surrendered” to the Authority would resent anyone who make them aware that they surrendered. They would not welcome the “Liberator”. Rather, they would like to entertain their illusion of being Free thinkers. (If you doubt this, try to convince Americans and Canadians that they are not Free, or that their private property is not sacred under their government who is willing to accept death of a hundred million civilians as the price for the “National Interest”. You would quickly find out that you be lab1ed as a trouble maker. Besides, you would find that they regard you “political”, while they think they are not political at all. They are feeling that they only live in a “Natural Order” which cannot be other than what it is. The psychology is the same with regard to Newtonian Physics, even if they may not know what Newton’s Laws of Motion are. They are believing in the established Authority and anything that sound different is “devil’s work”. ) We remark here about a cultural difference. The God of Judeo-Christian religion gives “Commandments”. “The Great Spirit”, which is the Native equivalent of God, does not issue commands, but gives advice. Native Americans are not Authoritarians like Europeans are, but quite “Democratic” free people. The above religious backgrounds make a difference in the manners of “statement of knowledge claim” and “assertion of facts”. In the European psyche, people tend to assume that they ought to be, and are, “god-like” — in particular, when they try to do what they think good to others —. They say “We are God’s side” and whoever stands on the way deserves to be punished by death. Killing of pagans and heretics are not only justified, but often a moral obligation. 7 When European scientists and scholars are asserting their knowledge, their postures are the same as that in their religious tradition. And Newtonian rhetoric of asserting “Force” (Agent) is very well suited to the ritual of knowledge claim. (To them, there is not much psychological difference between “Claiming Knowledge” and “Asserting Facts”. Both let them feel like “being close to God”. ) Natives have no such “emotion”. The Natives respect each person’s ways. Persons who disagree with one’s ideas and preferences are not “evil”, but just being merely “the way they are”. It is not that Natives did not fight wars on disagreements, but that they did not need to condemn the enemy in the name of God. In a close translation into European language, the Natives were “Pantheistic — i.e. everybody, everything has its own “spirit”, directly sharing a connection to the Great Spirit —. Therefore, they cannot be “Forced”. Each spirit is the primary mover, autonomous and free. The Great Spirit is a Flow in the multi-dimensional Space-Time. It “Goes On”, but does not “cause” anybody to do anything. I shall try to translate the sense of “The Flow” in to the terms understandable to European Science. Fortunately, Relativity and Quantum Field Theory are somewhat similar to the Native Science. And I can use them in my attempt to translate the Native Science of “the Flow”. 3.2. [There is a problem about what we “feel” as knowing. Before Galileo’s time, scholars apparently thought that they knew (understood) planetary motion by reciting what Aristotle wrote. Namely, planets move on circles, “because circle is perfect, and planets as heavenly body (angellike) have to be perfect, the planets must move on circles”. Then came Kepler, who discovered that the orbits of the planets are elliptic, not circle. That represented “knowing” planetary motions for the people then. Newton, after that shown mathematically that “Force” inversely proportional to square of the distances from the Sun reproduce the elliptic orbits of the planets. That satisfied people’s wish to know “why” such motions. Newton did not explain how such Force is generated. Einstein tried to explain the Gravity Force by 8 saying it is a property of Geometry. Evaluations on Einstein’s work are not uniform. But I imagine physicists and astronomers felt, by the theory, that they then knew what Force is. Today, some physicists suspect that Gravity might be an unbalanced electricity. Suppose they are right. Dose that make “knowing” planetary motion or force? Each successive generation of “knowing” was “knowing” to the Culture of the stage. It is like “knowing” of our friend. We have a feeling of “knowing”. But do we really know? Sometimes, in surprise, we say like “I do not know you” to our friend. What that sense of “knowing” is? Is it not just a “state of mind”, indicating there is no anxiety when we say “I know”? Science is a social entity. So that the “state of mind” must refer to the “Collective psyche” of society — we call it “Culture”? Then, “Knowing” is a kind of Psychotherapy for the Culture as a whole. Science is a Part of the therapy. If so, it is not surprising that “Science” is ritualistic. By “science” we are performing ceremony. It is akin to Harvest Dance, Rain Dance etc. We ought then recognize those Dances as “Science” and respect, honor, and perhaps participate if we can. At any rate, the distinction of “knowing” and “science” etc., verses “superstition” etc. is cultural and political. There is another problem in “knowing” concerning “practical” and “intellectual” kinds. As to this see Micheal Polany Personal Knowledge etc.] 4. What is “The Flow”? — an explanation from Newtonian side —. Here, I shall try the language of European Physics to explain what “The F1ow” is. Since the Energy Crisis of 1973-74, “Energy Flow” is familiar concept to us. “The Flow” is similar to “Energy F1ow”. Technically speaking, the “F1ow” which corresponds to “Force” of Newton is “Flow of Momentum”. Perhaps, I shall explain this elementary Physics, as an introduction to 9 the Native Science. For in this case, the translation is perfect. In elementary physics texts, you would find that “Force” is defined, detected and measured by a formula “Mass times Acceleration”. It is equivalent to the “Rate of Change of Momentum”, For “Acceleration” is the “Rate of change of Velocity”, and “Momentum” is “Mass times Velocity”. In mathematical symbols, we can denote the above as: (1) F = m A (Force = Mass times Acceleration) (2) A = dV/at (Acceleration = Rate of Change of Velocity. dV denotes “change in V”. And dt is unit time interval. ) (1) and (2) combined makes (3) F = m dV/dt = d(mV)/dt But “Momentum” P is P = mV. Hence, (4) F = dP/dt. Now, the critical rhetorical trick (hence change in ways of thinking) is to read the express (4) as: “The Rate of Momentum Flow per unit time”. There is nothing in the Mechanics to prohibit this reading. It is just that, for the original metaphor Newton and his followers were entertaining, the “Momentum” was understood to be “belonging to the body/object”. It is like a private property, and stay with the owner. They did not imagine the possibility of “momentum” flowing. One of obstacle to imagine a flow of momentum is that, for it to f1ow, there have to be “somebody/someone” to receive it and give it away. In Newtonian World View, the Space surrounding Objects is absolute “Void”, “Vacuum”, “Nothing”. (Not even “Soul”, “Spirit” or “God” could possibly exist in the Vacuum.) The Space cannot, therefore, act as the “Medium” to mediate any flow. Only flow possible in Newtonian Wor1d View is the flow of matters, such as Water. 10 Apparently, this “Nothingness” of Space was an embarrassment to Newton himself. He was reputed to have been muttering to himself “It is impossible to exert Force through Vacuum”. He was genius enough to sense the problem. But the lesser physicists did not notice the problem at all and worshiped Newton’s Theory of Force as if God-given Truth. (Often, the followers of a Belief system are far stronger believers than the one who created the system. It is perhaps because the creator knows that it is what she or he made up. I wonder what kind of doubts God has as to his creation.) Leibnitz appeared to have had some doubt, but he could not put forth effective counter theory to this respect. It looks some two hundred years, before “F1ow” metaphor of Force came to be recognized. It was the works of M. Faraday and J. Maxwell on Electromagnetism that brought a notion of “Field” in vacuum. The Fields are capable of mediating “Force”. And this is the idea which led Einstein to Relativity. Once Field is permitted as “physical”, there is no problem in thinking of “Momentum Flow”. That makes a kind of “Feynmann Diagram” in Classical Mechanics. In fact, M. Faraday fantasized on such a picture. [For “Feynman Diagram” see Capra Tao Of Physics. Incidentally, in Relativistic format, Energy and Momentum make up an entity, called “4-Vector”. It as a set can flow. The “Mass” of the entity can be calculated from squares of Energy and Momentum. In this sense, one can say that it is the Flow that makes the “existence of matter”.] [However, in one important aspect the Native Flow is not quite identical to Energy-Momentum Flow. That is EnergyMomentum Flow is “conservative” — stays constant, except for Quantum effect in very short time interval —. Whereas, the Native Flow is “creative”. It needs not be a constant, but can Increase or decrease. And, perhaps, the Native Flow may be of a very high dimension, not limited in 4-dlmenslon.] And in this picture (metaphor) one can say that things move or are supported in a place by Flow Of Momentum, instead of saying “Force” acted on them. Both “Force” and “Momentum F1ow” are invisible like ghosts. Or one might say the both are “rhetorical” invention. But without them, we would have trouble in making our sense. Those two metaphors are completely different, but neither can be said “more true” than the other. The both “ghosts” are useful in making sense of what are observed in motions. 11 As a physics, the change in the metaphor from that of “Objects existing in absolute nothingness” to “Space filled with Fields mediating inter-relations” is rather trivial. (Actua11y, it was not trivial, in the historical context. We have the benefit of hindsight. ) Newtonian view is cold and individualistic. It views the Cosmos hostile and fearful. The Field View is sensual, communal, and loveful. The choice seems a matter of psychological tastes. But let us think about implications of the alternative view. In the Field Theoretical View, one would not think of “Forcing” anybody to do anything. That coincides with the Native philosophy. The “Spiritual Field” surround you and you are in the flow of the Spirit. You cannot be arrogant in the view to think that you can force anything. Just as fishes swim in a flow, you may possibly swim in the Flow of Spirit. But you are not anything like the A1mighty God to Cause any motion. If “man” is made after God’s image, in this very important aspect, the “man” is completely different from God. Christians have an admirable ambition to simulate God-like actions. But according the Flow Physics, they can only be “witnesses” to the wonderful flow. Interestingly, Hegelian sense of History, which Marx inherited, talked of History in the Flow sense. And Hegel did have a sense of the Flow in which everybody is a part. That sense of flow shared by the community of the human race is very much like what the Natives say. That is, the “primitive” Natives have been Hegelian Philosophers since the time before Hegel was born. Only trouble I can foresee for a popular acceptance and practices of the Flow View (F1ow Metaphysics) is that it sounds very much “Feminine”. You sort of “go along with the flow of things”, which is not appealing metaphor for the proud male ego. Loss of “Force” is loss of “Power”. They cannot claim “I did this and that”. Instead, they have to learn to talk like Inuits who would never claim any achievement but simply say “It happened while I was there”. But, I remind you that the Flow Of the Spirit goes through you. It is your life that makes up the Flow. ‘You have a great Power of messing the flow up, and become so much of distresses to the community. It is not your own individual misfortune that matters in this view, but the whole community suffering misdirected Flow that is the concern. In contrast to the Flow View, the Force View is individualistic. You can cause Good to others. Yes. But 12 when you fail, it is your individual misfortune. Aside from charity, the other people have nothing to do with your sorrow, your pain, your disaster. And this view is convenient, If you want to justify Inequality among People. You have achieved your enormous wealth and power by your individual talent and merit of your individual force. Nobody shall have any claim to share that, even if that was largely “wind fall profits”. And if you are aiming at fierce competition, that would be good metaphor and rhetoric to use. Since the majority was educated (brainwashed) in the Mechanics — not in understanding, but in worshiping its authority/legitimacy — you would meet very little of resistance, even the majority is unhappy with the system. The reason why our schools do not teach the alternative Mechanics of Flow may have to do with this political effect. However, in terms of Nuclear Arms race, we have a great difficulty. Because we believe in Force, for good and for bad, we cannot give up arming ourselves, despite our wish of Peace. Environment as a Flow is not well understood by us and consequently we cannot effectively deal with Pollution Problems. tie also accumulated Social Problems. Our anxiety, so heightened for the sake of the Market Competition, is literally killing us. Yet we cannot do much, because we deny the Flow. To be sure, to some extent, Flow Thinking has been applied. Keynesian Economy is an example, where circulative Flow of Money is the central concept. But collectively, we are not good at Flow Thinking. There may be ideological reasons for our incompetence. But I do not overlook the fact that our education system is not keen in teaching the alternative physics. There are well developed “System Dynamics” in which one might see Flows, such as “Feed Back”. But except for specialist training, we do not teach the art. That is, we have not come to teach anything beyond the 300 year old mechanics of Newton in general education. Unless this was not from a cultural or ideological bias, physics teachers and educators in general can be accused of incompetence. [We need to write a textbook f or Flow Mechanics. In the meantime, I recommend reading of Capra, and Bermann, mentioned before. In addition, for the Electromagnetic Field notion, I add J. McGuire. “Forces, Powers, Aethers, and Fields” in Methodological And Historical Essay In the Natural And Social Sciences. Ed R. S. Cohen & M. W. Wartofskv Boston Studies In The Philosophy Of Science XIV (60). 1974. 13 J.F.Woodward “Early Attempt at a Unitary Understanding of Nature” in O1d And New Questions In Physics, Cosmology, And Theoretical Biology. (ed) van der Merwe Plenum 1982.] [For the Native sources, I have difficulty specifying one definite text. The Natives do not believe in writing texts, let alone a dogma. One has to decipher from anthropological observations/interpretations. And, even after we get texts, we have troubles of English translation. Translators do import Newtonian metaphysics, because, English language carries it. For an illustration, I quote one extreme example of English translation from The Sky Clears by A. Grove Day. Page 25. (U. of Nebraska press 1951): An Indian poem goes as: Ho-o-o Kakati chiri wakari pirau Tiraa; Kakati chiri wakari pirau Tiraa; Kakari chiri wakari pirau Tiraa; Kakari chiri wakari pirau Tiraa; Kakari chiri wakari pirau Tiraa; Kakari chiri wakari pirau Tiraa; which is translated as: I know not if the voice of man can reach to the sky; I know not if the mighty one will hear as I pray; I know not if the gifts I ask will all granted be; I know not if the word of old we truly can hear; I know not what will come to pass in our future days; I hope that only good will come, my children, to you. The translation was deemed to be authentic. However, one ought to be aware of the difficulties involved. When I said in the above “The Native Cosmology is …”, I was doing an English translation. Readers Beware!!! One needs to check with Native elders with proper and spiritual sensitivity. See also Michael Castro Interpreting The Indian. U of New Mexico press 1983.] 14 In connection to translation/interpretation problems, I must add one apology. I am not authorized to speak for the Native, nor do I pretend that. What I said is no more than what I have so far learned. The readers are recommended to find Native sources. I am only trying to encourage research into Native Science. A few ways to translate European Science into alternative rhetoric are suggested. I hope they are useful as “clues”. [As to the problems of Non-Native to interpret Native Culture, see: H. David Brumble III. “Indian Sacred Materials: Kroeber, Waters, and Kroeber” in Smoothing The Ground (ed.) Brian Swann. U. of California Press 1983.]
Application of Indigenous Science ~ Mo’o Kiha Canoe Project
My husband Keola is a Kahuna Kalai Wa’a or, a Medicine Man of the canoes. In 1975 he built the Mo’olele, the first ocean going, double hulled voyaging canoe made in more than 150 years. The re-creation of the big sailing vessels triggered a cultural renaissance in the islands. The hundred years of colonization, missionization and plantation life destroyed 90 to 95% of the Hawaiian population in less than one hundred years. The rapacity of conquest left scant opportunity for preserving or perpetuating traditional ways. When Keola decided to re-create the voyaging canoe, he had only a sketch by an 19 century French artist to go by. There were no surviving models of the canoes not Elders who had ever built or seen one. Yet without canoes there would be no Hawaiians for the canoe brought them to the islands and shaped both their characters and societies.
The word for canoe is, ‘Wa’a’. ‘Wa’ refers to a segment of time and ‘a’ is the name for the Sirius star system – the origin of Hawaiian people. Interestingly, when Elders Hale Makua of Hawaii and Dr. Erick Gbdossou of Benin met, they discovered that their diverse cultures have the exact same words for the most ancient aspects of the culture. Both refer to the companion star of Sirius by the same name! Yet, western science only identified this star in our generation.
A few years ago, Keola and I visited Bella Bella, an Indian Reserve on the west coast of Canada. There we met a man who had been a Mason and was an expert in sacred geometry. He mentioned a geometric ratio called, the Golden Mean or Phi Ratio and recommended, ‘Serpent in the Sky’ a book on Egyptian culture and mathematics. It took a while but eventually I found a copy (this was pre-internet). I will never forget what happened when I gave the book to my husband. It was about 10:30 at night, we were in bed reading when suddenly he spoke in a very intense voice. “Apela, I got it. Listen to this, if the Phi Ratio is the mathematical formula for how life expresses itself then probably the Ancient Hawaiians who lived on the seas and in nature would think like that too. They wouldn’t have called it Phi, they might not have called it anything at all but they would have thought that way. Just think. This could answer the questions we could not find out about in the design of Polynesian canoes. A fish is made according to Phi principles. If I could design a canoe and apply the Phi ratio in as many design aspects possible then it could be possible to create a canoe that would be a perpetual motion ‘machine’. Once it got under way and was sailing, it would surf its own wave and would require no energy to keep going! Oh, fantastic,’ he said, throwing off the covers and padding downstairs and outside to his shop to put together a scale model to see how the application of Phi would change the design of the canoes he had made twenty years earlier.
Three days later the model was done. It was sleek stunning and did indeed alter the shape of the canoe. We were in love with it but then sad reality hit. There were no trees left big enough to make such a canoe and even making it out of modern materials would cost more than one hundred thousand dollars. Who would fund such a project? In a few weeks, Keola packed up the small model and put it away. Nearly two years passed.
Keola and I went for a ceremony with my Oneida people. During that ceremony, he asked the Ancestors and the Morning Star, permission to help heal his people. Within a few weeks of our return, people started showing up, volunteering their skills, others brought wood one was even a canoe maker from the Coast of Canada. Our dream project – to build a massive double hulled voyaging canoe – one that would incorporate modern features within a completely traditional design allowing the vessel to pass U.S. Coast Guard regulations and which could sail independent of a support vessel (which Hawaiians don’t usually have) had begun!
We started where we were at which is the first principle of Indigenous Science – everything we need is present in the nature around us. We began the construction in the garage – shop outside our house. Keola had made the first canoe, the Mo’olele or flying lizard, there in 1975 but ‘place and spiritual power’ are important aspects of Indigenous Science too and our house is built on a sacred site. My husband’s Hawaiian family has lived adjacent to a pond sacred to the great lizard later known as the Kihawahine – the spirit woman of fresh water, genealogy and conception. As recently as the 1800’s thousands of people witnessed the last appearance of this 36 foot black lizard in the pond. Because fresh water is so crucial for ocean people, the Kihawahine was revered. To even drop a piece of litter near this pond was punishable by death. When the Europeans arrived, the trashing of the site began and the last Holy Guardian of the site conducted the ceremony to call the lizard – probably in an effort to keep Hawaiians strong and to convince the Europeans of the efficacy and power of Hawaiian spirituality. The lizard came and received the traditional offering of awa – a sacred herb drink. The lizard rolled around in the water with delight! But this did not stop the colonizers from diverting the flow of water from the pond to their sugar cane fields. Subsequently, they land filled the pond. Since that time, water shortages have become common, people have forgotten their identity and West Maui, described as the ‘Venice of the Pacific’ became the semi- arid land it is now.
We did not know it when we began but Keola’s shop was the perfect place. Despite no funds and very limited space, we began to build a 62.5 foot long double hulled voyaging canoe that would take the community and future generations of Hawaiians throughout Polynesia and around the world. The people would no longer be isolated from each other or the global community. They would pick up where their Ancestors had left off!
We’re building the Mo’okiha (the doubly powerful Kihawahine) canoe in a totally voluntary way. In the first six weeks, we had 3,000 volunteer hours. Imagine the excitement. Hawaii has the highest cost of living in the U.S. Most local people must work 2 jobs – all in the low paying tourist industry – the only employer on the island. Nothing like this has ever been seen, It isn’t only natives, we have tourists, people from every culture coming by to help, that’s how it’s catching on. Because of the unprecedented support, the State and the County turned over a small park, adjacent to the sacred pond and right on the ocean. The Kihawahine, fresh water spirit, is guiding and protecting us. She surely must. To get 13 acres of oceanfront property – some of the world’s most expensive real estate, would be impossible otherwise. As of today, we have
put 6,000 hours into the canoe- the hulls, one representing the male sun and the other the female moon are just about done. The bottom of the canoe hull is the ‘kua mo’o or backbone of the lizard. It also refers to a body of stars used in open ocean, non instrument navigating. Next we will start on the I’ako (the curvilinear supports that connect the two hulls and serve as a foundation for a central platform which is akin to the planet venus). As you can see, the canoe is not just a boat. The design embodies principles of star navigation, oral history and worldview and Polynesian worldview is very sophisticated.
Francis Warther, Hawaiian Archaeoastronomer, writes:
Where are we? Who are we? for the ancient Hawaiian, to answer the first question was to realize the answer to the second. The Ancient Polynesian considered a very select geographical area of our planet called the ‘Tropic Region’ almost entirely ocean – the largest in the world, a unique marinescape…. This region had a limit, 1600 miles north and 1600 miles south of the equator, called the “Navel of Wakea” and each half, the north called Kane, the south Kanaloa, WERE MIRROR IMAGES OF EACH OTHER IN TIME, SEASONS AND CALENDAR NAMES.
[Hawaiian Identity and the Tropic Skies, p.1 Warther, Francis]
Polynesia islands straddle the equator. The north and south regions are identical and opposite. Water, winds and weather move in opposite directions. Summer in the north is winter in the south. The canoe with it’s two hulls and central platform represent the tropic lines and the equator.
“Only within the Tropic property line limits will the sun climb to the Zenith (Lolopua) directly overhead twice a year for each Tropic island. The sun will be directly underfoot about twice a year at the nadir for each island.
This astronomical fact was the basis for the unity of Polynesian mythology and provided the cosmic connection, the imprinting as it were, of the Heavens to the Sea and its Islands. The belief of Mana, the cosmological generating power of life and renewal capable of infusing a person or thing with immortal sustenance, is I believe, directly connected to the position of place under Heaven and the primordial sea.
[Hawaiian Identity and the Tropic Skies, p.1 Warther, Francis]
These perceptions, singular to the members of the Tropic community have a profound influence on the thought process and values of the society and its regulatory rules….a distinct Polynesian logic has been shaped by this cosmic reality – that position in the world influences and directs ones concept of space and time and even more profoundly the logic of thought processes.
. [Hawaiian Identity and the Tropic Skies, p.4 Warther, Francis]
Roy Wagner shows how the canoe design emulates the inner workings of the ‘tropic philosopher’. “his apprehension of knowledge is dialectical rather than rationalistic.” The Polynesian philosopher creates and uses “ a tension of dialogue, like an alternation between two conceptions of viewpoints that are simultaneously contradictory and supportive of each other. As a way of thinking, a dialectic operates by exploiting contradictions, against a common ground of similarity rather than by appealing to consistency against a common ground of differences after the fashion of rationalistic or linear logic.”
Warther goes on to point out the limits of linear logic to resolve multi-faceted problems and notes that conflict resolution (Ho’oponopono) has been central to Hawaiian culture placing kin, community and leadership in a balanced relationship to cosmic and ecological cycles and who patterned their social, politic organization on what they saw as priorities of order of the astronomical heavens.
Warther concludes with the statement that the survival of humanity depends on our ability to become members of the “Tropic Club”. That is to respond adaptively to the “mental equations contained in the logic of non-linearity passed to us by the Ancient Hawaiian culture.”
As we build the canoe, we are also building identity. Elders like Francis Warther come to the new canoe Hale (house) to teach and to share their wisdom. Hawaiian Elder’s Auntie Mahilani Poepoe and Hale Makua stop by to offer cultural insights, encouragement and love. The more we work the more we are being integrated into the web of life – the Aloha of ancient Hawaii – and the more synchronicities occur. Two striking examples of this come to mind.
When Keola built the first canoes in the 1970’s he was fortunate to find the remains of a partially completed ancient canoe in an a shelter cave. The canoe was falling apart but to his trained eye, the aged pieces of wood were a university that told him how certain cuts were made, what lines to use and even answered critical design questions about ropes and how they were attached but some things could not be answered. Ancestors came to him in dreams. He would fall asleep with a design question and wake up in the morning knowing the answer. But some things could not be solved and he had to make an informed, ‘best guess’ – choices that haunted him. Keola had incorporated all the ancient design features he knew in his canoes. Often he was ridiculed as the features made no apparent sense. The Manu or upright tips at the ends of the hulls were a good example.
Keola and three other adults took a group of eight children out in the Mo’olele. Suddenly a 40 knot wind hit. Ocean swells rose to twenty feet – extremely dangerous. The canoe was moving so fast that she passed the crest of the wave and slid down into the trough. Water began pouring onto the hulls and pushing them down under the next wave. An ordinary canoe would sink in this situation. Suddenly the brilliance of the ancient design shone through. The curved, points of the Manu came slicing up through the waves bringing the rest of the hull along with it! The children and crew made it safe to shore and after that, no one ever again doubted the minds of their Ancestors.
Keola was determined to regain and incorporate even more of the traditional designs into the Mo’okiha and finding out about the Phi ratio provided a key to guide in the construction of elements where the traditional knowledge was absent. But what if this was not accurate? He posed this problem to Kauai archaeo-astronomer, Francis Warther who shocked us with his response. Not only did ancient Hawaiians know about Phi, but had built Malae, an entire pyramid dedicated to the teaching of both pi and phi. Warther then produced a diagram which he happened to have with him!
Incorporates the “cosmic proportion” of:
SIX = SPACE TIME and two = FEMALE
FIVE=CREATION Three = MALE
Six divided by Five equals 1.2
1.2 is Pi over Phi squared
Pi over Phi squared is 3.1416 over 1.618 squared
These two harmonic proportions drive the universe. Both are contained in the data bank of Malae.
Warther and Makua point out that the Malae also integrates astronomical information. In this case the site is oriented to the constellation Pegasus as well as heliacal rising and settings of various stars and planets.
Nearing the completion of the hulls raised the question of spacing. How close or far apart would the hulls have to be to conform to the Golden Ratio? Keola worked at this question in many ways including consulting with Elders. No one knew. We prayed and we worried. One day a young German man and wife stopped by the canoe house. They had lived in Fiji for six years because they were building a canoe and wanted to learn about traditional Polynesian canoe design. The Elders had refused to share their teachings so they built an essentially western canoe with obvious Polynesian design elements incorporated. They were very hurt and discouraged but sympathetic to the historic wounds which stood between themselves and the Fijians.
Keola, master canoe maker of Hawaii, shared openly with this young man as he does with all people but he also had a hunch. Sure enough. The next day, just hours before
departure for Europe, the German man appeared at our door. He confessed to Keola that as he prepared to leave Fiji an Elder took pity on him and passed on one traditional design secret. It was all this young man had and he wanted to keep it to himself. He said that after meeting Keola, and not sharing what he knew, that it kept him awake all night so he knew he had to pass on the information. What he said thrilled us – it was the ancient formula for joining the hulls and… it conformed to the Phi Ratio!
So this is a good example of the way Indigenous Science and the Ancestors work to help us when we dedicate ourselves to remembering who we are. Because colonialism is a global phenomenon, we find ourselves receiving guidance from diverse sources – books, guests from other countries, dreams, oral history – that is because our Ancestors always believed in sharing. This is another reason why gatherings such as Coumba Lamba are so important. As we meet, we begin to put together the pieces of the Great Knowledge that each of us has. In the Great Forgetting the Knowledge was disbursed so that no one tribe would have all of it and so that the only way to restore ourselves would be by coming together as was done in Ancient times.
Tonight at Coumba Lamba there will be a ceremony with water and your ancestors. It’s the same type of Spirit and way that has been guiding and empowering us. It is an African ceremony with it’s own unique cultural aspects but emanates from the same source. I encourage you to join us and to remember our indigenous science of relations, peace and Aloha – the turning of the face to God – our Ancestral Remembrance.
Choctaw Grandmother, Pokni, Mary Jones, will now close this session with a prayer.
Pokni Mary Jones
CONCLUSION; Grandmother’s Blessing
I can feel there’s something here, there’s power here. If it wasn’t the power and the Spirit’s power, we all wouldn’t be here. I am so glad that I know her (Apela). She don’t
know I know her but I do and I’ve been working with her for the last 11 years. It’s somebody I have never seen (before working together) and I didn’t even know who she was. But it was a dream that brought us together, it was a rock1 that brought us together, it was the Spirit.
A depiction of Marys Rock
I’m glad they did; I worked with her and worked with this indigenous science thing. I don’t know much about the science things, I’m not well-educated to know science, but I know my Choctaw science. So my science and Western science; we can compare and I still believe my science because things are just about the same – white people’s science and Native people’s science are just about the same thing. What I learned, I learned by spirit. I don’t learn from reading or nothing like that. I learn from traditional ways. So,
1 In 1990 I had a dream of a special rock. A few months later I visited Choctaw Chief Jerry Jackson in Louisiana. I related part of my dream to him. He interrupted and said we had to call his Aunt Mary as she was the Elder who knew of these things. When Mary came into the room I felt as if I knew her and she later said that she felt the same with me. I told her my dream and she was shocked. She said, ‘I can’t believe it. You just dreamt my rock’. We have been close ever since. Kowianukosha is a little person, a nature spirit with great powers. He is also a trickster who throws this sacred type of stone at people especially healers to help them in their work.
that’s the Spirit that’s with me and I’m so glad to be here with you all. I don’t know what I can do or what I can say but I hope and pray that the Spirit takes care of you all and bring you all back together and give you all what you want, what you all need to be here together today, this week, all this time that you all spend together. Something good will come out. It might not be next week, or next year, but something good is going to come out of this. And this day you all remember it for your next generation. I’m glad to be here with you all and bless you all. Somehow all this touched me and I know so I’m going to pray for you all, all of us together this evening.
(Prayer in the Choctaw language) This session is officially closed. Thank you.
Lahaina, Maui – The newest addition to Hawaii’s fleet of double-hulled voyaging canoes is three-quarters finished in a shed on the Lahaina waterfront. The Mo’okiha O Piilani will be the biggest such canoe in Hawaii and probably the most controversial in the Pacific.
What’s controversial about it is a fusion of Polynesian tradition and modern technology in a way that blurs the distinctions between the two.
For example, this canoe asks the question: Is it in the old Hawaiian tradition of conservation to hew a canoe from logs when logs are in critically short supply?
“Today you cannot waste 80 percent of a log lo make a canoe,” said Keole Sequeira, the canoe builder, “That takes too much out of the environment. “The Hawaiians took a log and carved away everything that wasn’t a canoe. We re laking a space and filling it with a canoe built of modem materials. I’m trying to combine the best of Hawaiian design with modem technology”
Sequeira makes another controversial companion between what’s traditional and what’s modern.
Hawai’iloa, built on Oahu of traditional wood logs, was funded as one activity under a $3 million federal grant to preserve Hawaiian culture.
The Mo’okiha O Piilani will cost only $200,000 in modern currency. It will be built of space-age materials, but most of the cost will come in traditional currency – at least I0,000 volunteer man-hours.
That doesn’t count half again as much contributions of volunteer help to put on benefit luaus and other fund-raisers.
Sequeira can even tell You how much traditional currency is worth. He said he built the smaller Mo’okiha in l975 tor $11,000 in cash and volunteer help. Today the canoe is appraised at $120,000.
The whole concept of Mo’okiha O Piilani seems to be a new way of looking at the ancient art of canoe voyaging. Or is it the other way around, looking at today through the eves of old Polynesia?
Mo’okiha O Piilani will be the first voyage canoe with jet propulsion engines. The engines run on diesel fuel that will serve the vessel a range under motor power of about 500 miles.
So what’s Polynesian about that? The ancients used paddles of auxiliary power. Sequeira points out that Hokule’a carries an outboard motor for safety when sailing among the treacherous South Seas reefs and that Hawaii’s voyaging canoes never go out without escort boats.
“Inboard engines are safer than outboards,” he said. Our canoe will be so safe we won’t need an escort boat .”
There will be state-of-the-art satellite navigation gear on board and a desalinization plant that can make 160 gallons of fresh water a day.
At what point does the Mo’okiha O Piilani stop being a Polynesian voyaging canoe and become a modern Yacht? that what the controversy will be about. More important, will she sail?
The Indigenous Mind Concentration is based in antediluvian rock carvings, which embody and convey the mindset of the of the earth-based spirituality of our Ancestors. All spiritual indigenous people are schooled in these symbols, which are not actual symbols at all, Instead they are interactive essences who revel their wisdom when the time the person and the image match. The Dalai Lama explains:
“There is a great sort of interrelationship between the appropriateness of the time, the place, and also ta person intimately related to it. All these factors must be taken into account. When suitable people remain there, the image remains. When there are no more suitable people there, the image also disappears.
I myself have one very little pebble, white quartz. There is one Tara in that pebble, very clear, very clear.”‘
Central to Indigenous Mind is the carving of the giant lizard, snake, or dragon because this image teaches the knowledge of the integration of dualism. To acquire the understanding of why and how this is true is an initatic experience. This means that all aspects of yourself will become engaged in an intensive, transformative learning experience.
Conversation with Kapi’ioho November 19, 20, 22, 2008
Mohai, sacrifice, to be of higher plane.
- Horns symbolizes, ‘what sacrifices itself for us.’
- We use the horn to call that spirit.
- It is the reminder. The Aumakua remind us to remember the sacrifice.
- Some chiefs wear the horn (on the head) to show/strengthen the connection to the animal but may forget the sacrifice and say, ‘I’m as great as this God/Animal and‘I’ sacrifice and feed you, like this animal.”
- Its spirituality in its purest form, created in the center of the universe; created between things. That gigantic atom in the sky is in us also. The space between two heavenly bodies is not as big as the space between the atoms in us. In that space is Uli, darkness, not Po which is the lack of light. In between is the energy and the harmony. The Black Hole, eats; the White Hole puts out.
- Spiritual perfection; the yin-yang in interaction – power and harmony blending together to create spiritual perfection. Kahuna contact and remain in contact with Uli to help people.
- Spirituality is based upon the blending between power and harmony. Power is the uncontrollable force and harmony is actually like a blob! They need each other and must go together.
- Medicine People go into Uli; become Uli and then come back out. Religious people can’t get close. They are not supposed to. You meet the Aumakua and things that sacrifice self for physical existence and then become that – those Horns or symbols of what they represent. We come back and draw the true figures.
- When you look in a mirror, when do you see it? Sometimes not. Depends on the person, moment.
- Dimensions may move around.
Uli, look into Uli the place of perfection; it comes back into us.
Ma uli, In the place of darkness it’s the space between things where enormous spirit energy and harmony comes to us. This is not the spirit of the Ancestors. Energy plus harmony equals, spirituality.
Hewa, The curse we put on ourselves. When we leave work; leave the work there, don’t bring business back to the home or the home concerns to work.
Bring Hawaiian language into the work business, in memos, in greetings, even in simple ways it will help to bring forth our thinking.
We have to be at peace. When we’re around someone who is at peace with the past, future and self and each other, it’s contagious. Barack Obama is at peace with himself.
Hamo…..to breathe through the spine; to deal with stress. Ie. Some meals are high stress meals!
I don’t go to ULI with a question, maybe I have them in my mind somewhere but I don’t think about them (in this moment). I go to Uli and certain things are revealed. Maybe and issue you had or something Spirits decide you need.
I go with an empty cup and fill it with whatever is given.
It brings a bunch of clarity. That’s what is given.
When you go there, you don’t want to come back but to stay as long as you can and then come back as soon as you can.
Po is where the Ancestors are at.
Uli is where the higher forces are. The Kahuna can go back and forth to Uli where you meet particular teachers. Their teaching becomes clear. Sometimes clarity makes me more confused in a human way which has to make sense (of it).
When we meditate, we start to put it together.
I meditate before I drive with no objective; then I drive. Aumakua appear. Now I am in another dimension and at the end I come up with fantastic thoughts.
I never went in with an intention of soloving one thing but came out with it. I’m looking for answers in there (Uli) but not consciously. When I come out, I’ll know I was with someone but in there, I’m gone. Out of it, in this clarity, I’ll know if it was an Ancestor.
I’ve worked on helping others to allow others to go to a deeper place. Hewa, allow things to control you.
Help them find peace from with in. Bring peace in and Heva has to get out but it’s a fight because its been comfortable in there (in the psyche or heart). The body nearly stops. Work on the senses to get going.
Moku Mana Mana in 2012…looking for the ship.
Mahalo. Thank you very much for buying my sculptured vase. Kathy, the sales
June 11, 2007
Aloha Mr. McLeod,
woman said that you were drawn to the piece. It makes me wonder when a person is
attracted to a piece because as an artist, I also have had an experience in creating it.
Note that your piece is the first of it’s kind. The design is new and has evolved
over the years of making vases, exploring and trying to discover new expressions. The
wood is of ‘Cook Pine’, a species brought to Hawaii over one hundred years ago. It
looks like a tall Christmas tree. Although the wood is not interesting when first cut, after
letting it ‘spelt,’ the dark shades start to appear. This is what gives the piece so much
The wood is then turned and checked for thickness with a caliper; however, I take
the process one step further. I do a second check with a light. When I see light shining through the wood, I know that I’m close to its finished quality. The wood is then dried and soaked in an oil solution of my own making. After drying fully, I coat it with five coats of epoxy.
I had a wonderful adoptive family who cultivated my talent with wood and
When I heard that this piece was going all the way to Scotland, I was deeply
I’ve been doing wood working all of my life and I do it because I enjoy creating
works of art that people appreciate. On my tool box is a sign stating, “To honor the tree
Spirit.’ I believe that if I produce a work of art that people treasure, I have truly honored
the Spirit of the tree. For me, creating in wood is also an experience of shared inspiration
with the essence of the tree itself. To capture the beauty of the living wood in a piece of
sculpture that moves people in a good way is indeed a very rewarding experience.
moved for I am half Scot. I was adopted into a Hawaiian family at three days of birth and
had the gift of carving since age five but it was not until a dozen years ago that I found
my Japanese birth mother and learned that my father who was a U.S. Navy man named
Clifford Willis whose ship stopped in Honolulu where he met my mother. They were
never married. He went off to fight the Japanese in the South pacific and my mother’s
family, first generation Japanese in Hawaii, made her give me up for adoption.
provided a deep education in the culture and ways of old time Hawaii. Because of this
and because of my gratitude to them, I went on to re-create the double hulled Hawaiian
voyaging canoes, the images and all of the other cultural icons. This in turn helped
trigger the Hawaiian renaissance of the 1970s and was written up in National Geographic.
Oddly enough, when I did find my birth mother, I met an Uncle, who was 95 at the time
and had also appeared in National Geographic because of his artistry with wood and
My wife and I tried numerous ways to find Clifford Willis but so were not able to.
In an attempt to connect with my Scot ancestry, I took up fly-fishing and dreamt of a trip
to Scotland. I studied maps of your lakes and noticed a loch ‘Leven’- my English name
is, ‘Levan’ given me by an Aunty as Hawaiian culture dictates. Usually a lot of thought
and meaning goes into a Hawaiian child’s name so I asked her what the name means.
So, the story of your attraction to this piece and all the difficulties you’ve
Much to my shock, she said she did not know – it just came to her! Now I wonder if there
is a connection to Scotland – if something was breaking through?
experienced in getting it home, touched me. In fact this is the first direct contact I’ve
ever had with this side of my heritage. I feel really good to know that a part of my
creation, and life is there in Scotland with you and hope you and your wife get years of
pleasure from this Kanoa or bowl of Light.
If by chance, you should come across any connection or information about the
Willis Clan (from Southwestern Scotland) please let me know. I still hope to find my
Keola Levan Sequeira
573 Wainee St.
Lahaina, HI 96761