The Sons of the Soil

 37  bar steady 29.78 0mph windchill 36

   Waxing Crescent Moon of Winds


Below is a reply to my brother Mark about this e-mail he sent to me:

Charles, This is pretty amazing. It really needed to happen. Mark ** Penang abandons pro-Malay policy **The Malaysian state of Penang says it will no longer follow a government policy favouring ethnic Malays.< >In re:  the sons of the soil.  When I was in Hawai’i, I learned the natives call themselves kama’aina, literally children of the land.  Businesses offer a kama’aina discount and there has been some effort to get civil service preference to kama’aina.  In Hawai’i, where the indigenous population has experienced considerable oppression (plantation slavery for sugar and pineapples) and marginalization (numbers cut by 90% thanks to disease), it seems just.

It made me think a lot about this notion of belonging to a land, or a place.  The problem with identifying one ethnicity or one particular population as sons of the soil is its ahistorical nature.  That is, at some point in time, virtually every population on earth, outside of a miniscule group in Africa, emigrated. In other words, kama’aina is not a permanent characteristic, rather it reflects an acquired relationship, one that reflects a love for this place.  Others, too, can become kama’aina.  That is the essential injustice in the Malaysian situation.It is, too, an injustice in Hawai’i, if Filipino, Japanese, Chinese and white inhabitants cannot, at some point, also be kama’aina.


As I thought more about it, I realized I am kama’aina of the American Midwest, the heartland of the North American continent, yet I am also a son of immigrants.  Am I less wedded to this land than the Annishinabe or the Lakota?  I don’t think so.  My life depends on it. When I return, I see home in its lakes and forests.

In fact, the whole notion of an ecological consciousness comes down to seeing ourselves, each of us, as kama’aina of the planet earth.

Anyhow, thanks.  I agree, amazing and hopeful. 

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