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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, February 3 ,2002

It's not matter of being trapped in crab bucket; it's about getting out

By Pamela K. Nakagawa
Honolulu resident

Summer time for our family was a chance to visit Moloka'i. To stay right on the beach with our tutu man and tutu lady. There were always pots of crab, pipipi and kupe'e, and hot water on the stove for good eating and large mugs for days and nights of coffee, hot chocolate and saloon pilot crackers.

However, when the crab pot got low, it was us kids that went for the refill.

We would wait for the darkness of night, light our lanterns, grab our bucket and go! We would scoop up the white crabs hovering in the water's edge and dig the monstrous holes in the sand for the sand crabs that burrowed deep in the expanse below us.

My brother George and my cousin Ronny Boy, the expert crab diggers, would place their hands in the hole and follow the tunnel to where the crab was and in about ten seconds flat would pull out the fiercest looking crab with the largest pinchers I had ever seen. These would become the refills for the crab pot on the stove and would provide us endless meals during our summer stay. I never mastered the art of finding the crabs in the holes, so my job was watching the bucket. I would stand over the "catch" with my flashlight and make sure that any crabs that tried to get out would get pushed back in.

The 'alamihi crab syndrome I hear about is just not true. Every single crab in that bucket was clamoring to get out. It wasn't that they pulled down the one that made it to the top, it was that every single crab in the bucket was doing everything in their power to get out. If it seemed that the crab that was just about out happened to get pulled back in by another one also trying to get out, then that was exactly what was happening. It was a concerted effort by every crab to get out. The only ones that weren't trying were the ones that were already dead or injured. The crabs knew that the bucket was not the environment they wanted to be in. It wasn't natural or comfortable.

Hawaiians may feel trapped in an imaginary bucket or may have bought into believing that they have to stay in the bucket. This is just not true. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Department of Hawaiian Homelands, Punana Leo and Alu Like are the bridges out of the bucket. OHA provides loans to Hawaiian entrepreneurs to pursue an "out of the bucket" experience to start a business. DHHL provides an "out of the bucket" experience of home ownership with workable ownership and living solutions. Punana Leo provides an excellent Hawaiian-based education, with a team of dedicated teachers, giving Hawaiians an "out of the bucket" back to our roots experience. Alu Like provides "out of the bucket" programs to pursue education and advance personal self worth. The biggest "out of the bucket" experience is to become a Kamehameha Schools beneficiary, where attendance provides students with complete paradigm shifts out of the bucket and into raised self esteem and educational excellence.

The 'alamihi crab syndrome only lives in those who believe it exists.