Just like the honua (earth) each of us comes from a spark so wewela (intensely hot) that it melds the essence of two separate people into a single form. This new entity is nurtured in the ipu ʻaumakua (womb) of the woman. There, a tiny world is constructed, a house in which this being grows - "ka hale aʻa o ke kanaka." The aʻa is the amniotic sac that holds the nalu or lapawai (amniotic fluid), which cushions and protects the child. Spoken of as "ka honua mua," the first earthly foundation, the ʻiewe is the connection from mother to child that allows for nourishment from her to reach the developing baby through the piko (umbilicus). The ʻiewe is our first anchor point and our most critical foundation. As such, the handling of ʻiewe and piko upon the birth of a child are of the utmost importance. ʻIewe are washed in the ocean, then buried, swum out to sea, or burned, among other practices (it varies by place and family). Returning the first honua to the honua we live on is a powerful way to reaffirm the connection of a child to their ʻāina hānau (birthplace). As births have moved from homes to hospitals, some people have been denied their child's ʻiewe. This right is now being assured by the work of Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) and families that have brought cases forward since 2005. For more on the story of our rights to keep ʻiewe and the awesome work of the folks at NHLC, visit our website.
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