Wilma Mankiller

Update, April 6, 2010, I heard that Wilma passed today. Here is my otherwise unchanged blog from March 3rd:

I got word today that Wilma Mankiller is not well. That’s a huge understatement but it is not for me to speculate on her health and anyway, there is information elsewhere about her condition. I was mostly relieved that the news wasn’t what I originally thought it was going to be. She is hanging on and that means I will pray for her: pray that she is not in pain, pray that whatever is wrong will not get worse and pray that her family is holding up during this most trying and devastating situation.

Wilma’s name and legendary reputation preceded my meeting her, which made me feel all the more honored when I did meet and get to spend time with her . She included me in her book “Every Day Is A Good Day”. Although some people are under the impression that a group of women got together and had a conversation that Wilma then transcribed into this book, that is not what happened. I sat down and ‘talked story’ (as we say in Hawai’i) for a couple hours with Wilma on one of her trips to Kona, where she and Charlie rented a house near the ocean. Wilma had a list of very profound questions on various topics. Fortunately she gave me an opportunity later to edit my answers after I had more time to think about the questions. I haven’t looked at the book in a few years but I do remember the incredible depth of the conversation as it came out in the book. I was flattered to be in the esteemed company of the other women who were included in the book and hope I represented my community adequately.

I have seen Wilma a couple times since then. She was always involved in something and always intellectually curious, very sharp. When I think of people whom I deeply admire, Wilma Mankiller is at the top of that list. The world is a better place because of her. Mahalo, Wilma.

2010 American Indian Youth Literature Award

2010 American Indian Youth Literature AwardThe American Indian Library Association gave out its awards this past June 28th for youth literature. My book, Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me, won for best Young Adult Fiction.

My publisher, Kamehameha Publishing, sent me to Washington, D.C. to receive the award in person. It was a great trip and a fun ceremony, fun because the Piscataway Indian Nation Singers and Dancers, who offered a cultural presentation, invited the audience up to participate in two dances! Itʻs always nice to visit Washington, where I lived for almost 15 years. Thanks to Jim McCallum for the photo.



The ocean ebbed and surged but not enough to cause damage. The tv reporters earned their pay and Kirk Caldwell got some free airtime as acting Mayor, an opportunity I’m sure he was happy to have as he waxed on and on about the awesomeness of nature and how great everybody was to evacuate when they were told to do so. I watched the ocean from my house as it filled with boats that moved far enough out to sea to theoretically escape damage should a big wave hit. I also watched the coverage of the approaching wave(s) on a variety of local stations, including CNN, which was carrying the same coverage as the local stations. In other words, the whole country (can’t speak for what the rest of the world was watching) was poised, watching and waiting for the big wave to hit Hawai’i.

I’m sure many of us, especially those of us who live here, were visualizing the images of disasters we’ve seen on tv, like the recent ones in American Samoa and Haiti, and superimposing them on our own beaches and homes. I can’t say it wouldn’t have been cool to see a giant wall of water rush in but considering the consequences, I’m grateful it didn’t.

After the tsunami scare passed I decided to salvage what was left of the day and ventured out to Hawai’i Kai to meet some friends for a hike around Hanauma Bay. The freeway was still relatively deserted and people weren’t going all that fast. The feel was somber, as if we were all reminded of our mortality.

We are left with much to be grateful for that the tsunami didn’t hit our islands with any severity. Mahalo e ke akua for that and for all the prayers everyone sent us to help to avert disaster. In the meantime, let’s not forget about the people in Chile, who are still in the throes of disaster. Maybe now the news will focus on them since there is nothing further to report about us.

Maui News Review

Cultural spirits meet modern Hawaii in ‘Deep Blue Sea’

BETWEEN THE DEEP BLUE SEA AND ME by Lurline Wailana McGregor (Kamehameha Publishing, $15)

Like the lapping of waves on a shoreline, “Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me” enthralls slowly, gently, undeniably.

It’s an absorbing tale that one can read in a night and, like J.K. Rowling, suggests magic, ghosts and goblins, the latter in the form of prophetic earthquakes.

Lurline Wailana McGregor has crafted an absorbing, knowing tale.

The novel deals with a cogent isle issue: resolving the search for Native Hawaiian identity. Read Complete Article


Mana’o Ulu Wale Review

BetweenTheDeepBlueSeaAndMeIn the voice of darkness, birds stirred with anticipation. The approaching daylight separated sky from earth. By the time the first rays of the sun reached the top of the Ko‘olau Mountains, the birds were already in full chorus, celebrating the arrival of a new day.

On the leeward coast of O‘ahu, a Hawaiian woman, ageless as the ocean, stood in the mystery, ready to carry out her role in the morning ceremony. Water lapped as the tide rose. Into the darkness, facing the intense calm of the water, she began to chant. The primal sound of her voice was filled with the power of those who came before her. Her song carried out to sea.

So begins award-winning filmmaker Lurline McGregor’s first novel, Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me.

Turning her cinematic eye to a story that inherently resonates with so many of us, McGregor delves into what makes a native person native. Expanding upon the question of nature versus nurture, she tells the tale of a woman – Native Hawaiian by birth, western by upbringing – who is forced to confront the dichotomy of her indigenous past with the realities of the 21st century. Read Complete Article

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