by Kathy Collins
Listen to this column read aloud in pidgin:
You can take da tita outta da islands, but. . . .I was trying fo’ remembah, ‘cause dis past Memorial Day weekend, I went holoholo waaay up north to Yellowknife, Canada—about 250 miles below da Arctic Circle—da capital of da Northwest Territories. I went to one multicultural storytelling festival at da Northern Arts & Culture Centre.
Everyt’ing about Yellowknife seem so diff’rent from Maui. And yet, even though I only went stay one week, I felt like I was at home. If my home was inside Haleakala Crater.
Daytime, it felt like Keokea on one cloudy day; liddo bit chilly. Nighttime was way mo’ cold, but seemed okay ‘cause still yet was sunny! All night! You dance to two o’clock in da mornin’ inside one dark, crowded nightclub, and den when dey kick you out, look like da night jus’ starting, wit’ da sky all pink an’ orange. You like party all ovah again. Dass why I no can live ovah there; too much sun, no ‘nuff sleep. And imagine wintah-time, when stay reverse. I no can handoh dat much dark.
Maybe dass why da storytellahs ovah there so good. No can go outside play, so they get plenny time fo’ talk story. My fav’rite stories was da First Nation folk tales, maybe ‘cause they so much like Hawaiian legends. They get shapeshiftahs, we get kupua. They get spirit guides, we get ‘aumakua. Their stories teach respeck fo’ nature an’ love of life, jus’ like us guys.
One a da bes’ stories was da Tlingit legend about one giant who used to kill humans and drink their blood. Finally, one brave guy went kill da giant, but even though da bugga stay ma-ke die dead, da giant’s voice tell, “I still yet going eat humans, forevah an’ evah!” So da guy went chop up da giant’s body, burn ‘em up in one fire, and t’row da ashes to da wind. An’ every single ash went turn into one mosquito. Ass why hard, yeah?
But da mos’ awesome part of all was meeting plenny new friends, speshly dese two wahine from da Yukon. Sharon is Tlingit and Rhoda is Taltan, and t’anks to my Japanee-Okinawan blood and my Maui tan, I look like I related to dem. So fo’ couple, t’ree days, we was Da T’ree Titas of da Tundra. We ate roasted musk ox and li hing mui ginger. We talked story about Pele an’ Raven an’ Wolf, an’ how da heck grown women can make one living jus’ talkin’ story an’ makin’ people laugh. An’ we found out dat even though we went grow up diff’rent, we get same kine atta-tude. Aloha spirit is aloha spirit, no mattah what language you talk.
So now I know how da saying go. You can take da tita outta da islands . . . but she going find ‘em wherever she go.
Mahsi cho! (Dass Inuktitut fo’ mahalo.