Hōpoe is not by any measure a household name. Even those in Hawaii who recognize the name Pele and Hiʻiaka and know of some of their most celebrated journeys are often completely unaware of Hōpoeʻs existence. And yet, Hōpoe was the beloved ʻaikāne of Hiʻiaka who happens to be the favorite sister of the most written about Hawaiian goddess throughout all of Hawaiʻi’s literary history. Hōpoe also happens to be the first kumu Hula. Kumu hula today often come back to Hōpoe as their beginning but most often fail to ask the question, why has Hōpoe been so eassy to forgotten and excluded from our collective consciousness as Kanaka Maoli.
The joining of Hiʻiaka and Hōpoe is more than the collision of two beautiful powerful women as companions and lovers. It is the intersection of oral poetry and the poetry of movement and forever changes the way story and mele are created. In meeting, the two women are creating themselves as apart of eachother. Hiʻiaka gives Hōpoe a home made of rare Lehua blossoms and mele while Hōpoe gives Hiʻiaka movement, dance. Hula then becomes one of the most recognizable ways for kanaka maoli to imagine themselves and project themselves before others.
Today Hula for many has turned in to something entirely different. But at its root has the potential to contest all Hawaiian stereotypes and images and return women with the power to create of themselves.