- Native Hawaiian inmates are taken from their homes and sent thousands of miles away to Arizona.
They cope with imprisonment by discovering their roots.
- I never knew one ounce of Hawaiian before I even came to jail.
- The more I understood our culture, the more I understood myself.
- First and foremost, I am Hawaiian.
- Haa is the Hawaiian bombastic dance.
- Ciara Lacy brings you this story of cultural rehabilitation where these men find a sense of self and transition from prison back into society.
- I didn't know who I was.
I wanted to know: Where did I come from?
- Out of State.
Now only on Independent Lens.
[dramatic music] ♪ ♪ [surf crashing] - Nothing like the beach, man.
It's a release for me.
My mom used to tell the story of how we went camping one time, and I think I was like maybe five or six or something, and... she woke up in the middle of the night, and I was gone.
I was in the water.
And she was screaming her head off, "What you doing in the water?"
And I kept telling her, "The water was calling me, Ma."
[laughs] [surf crashing] They call it, um... kapu kai when you dive into the water and you cleanse yourself and you heal.
You forgive yourself for a lot of stuff that you did.
And I think I had to go to the ends of the earth so to speak and hit bottom to really find out who I was.
[soothing music] ♪ ♪ [traffic whooshing] [indistinct speech over PA] - What unit are you in?
[indistinct chatter] Are you Native American?
- Oh, is that what this is?
- This is-- No, this is Hawaiian.
Native Hawaiian goes here.
Native American here.
[indistinct chatter] They're in alphabetical order.
Practice-- You gotta practice your ABCs.
In alphabetical order, in the unit by your name.
- You interested or no?
[inmates chattering indistinctly] - I didn't know who I was.
I wanted to know, "Where did I come from?"
[conch shell blowing] "Who am I inside?"
[conch shell blows] You need to know your culture to know who you really are.
- [chanting in Hawaiian] [all chanting in Hawaiian] [conch shells blowing] [men shout] [indistinct chatter, conch shells fade] [conch shell blowing] - I never knew one ounce of Hawaiian before I even came jail.
I learned everything in jail.
- Come on.
Shoulder to shoulder.
Now one in front of the other.
Circle up, circle up.
[indistinct chatter] [metallic clicking] Hey!
[indistinct speech] - [indistinct speech] [indistinct radio chatter] Report to center now, please.
[door buzzing distantly] Not much of a view, but we can see the road.
- And I get this one.
Kinda like this one.
It shows all the Hawaiian journey back home.
The Hokulea voyage.
You know what I mean-- the Hawaiian people, they were a beautiful people, man.
And they still are.
We just struggling right now, and we need to find ourselves.
[men shouting in Hawaiian] [men continue shouting in Hawaiian] - Haa is the Hawaiian bombastic dance.
It's aggressive, but you're not acting out.
You're letting them know the pain that you feel inside of you about what you went through in your life.
[men shouting in Hawaiian] [David speaking Hawaiian] I was working for my friend.
He used to remodel homes.
Everyone in the workforce was pretty much hooked... On ice.
[men shouting in Hawaiian] We had a place, and she was pregnant.
We were both using, and then it started going downhill after that.
I think I went on a 20-year run.
I just went crazy, in and out of jail, doing drugs, picking up charges, and then finally ending up here.
[group responds in Hawaiian] [men shouting in Hawaiian] [men breathe deeply] [men shouting in Hawaiian] [applause] [quiet chatter and laughter] [David chanting in Hawaiian] [indistinct chatter] - You know the first day I went there, I watched them do the ai haa, and I was instantly drawn to it.
I said, "I wanna learn this."
- It should be everybody.
- Not just-- [indistinct chatter] Everybody should be involved, because it's the people.
- Yeah, they don't know.
- But I would have never learned it if I wasn't in prison.
That's messed up.
Why couldn't I have learned my culture while I was outside?
And the simple answer to that is because I was just getting more progressive with the drinking and the drugs.
[chanting in Hawaiian] Back in to the-- Boy?
Back in to the regular triangle.
I Ku Mau Mau, eh?
I always took from people.
That's how I knew how to get what I wanted in life.
[men chanting in Hawaiian] The more I understood our culture, the more I understood myself.
[men chanting in Hawaiian] First and foremost, I am Hawaiian, you know?
[men chanting in Hawaiian] [indistinct chatter and laughter] - You guys stay warm up already, yeah?
[indistinct chatter] Okay, one more, then we're gonna do the auwana.
You guys' legs gonna burn.
- [indistinct speech] - And make sure you guys snap 'em!
Jake, when you guys stay up here and you guys ku i luna, make sure you guys bring 'em down with one da kine, yeah?
It's a big responsibility being kumu hula, yeah?
[indistinct chatter] Some people never even got a chance for know things like this, and yet they Hawaiian, yeah?
[drumming rhythmically] [men chanting in Hawaiian] Teaching them our culture, I love to do it.
[men chanting in Hawaiian] [rhythmic drumming and chanting continues] ♪ ♪ So in here it shows all my steps and the moves of all the hula that they learn.
This all of my work, and then I make sure that all the people get this, and I refer them to the books that they need to read.
My time is really long.
I have a life sentence.
So I have 120 years, and the minimum is 45.
I'll be here quite some time.
Before, you know, my family, my kids and everything, this, you know, it was a disaster.
It was a disaster.
[indistinct chatter] Yeah, this is my home right here.
[men chanting in Hawaiian] [rhythmic drumming, chanting continues] ♪ ♪ So every dance I do with these guys; you know, every time I come to this place...
Put your hands up high, look up towards the right.
It takes me away.
Come back down one more time.
[indistinct speech] [rhythmic drumming, men chanting in Hawaiian] - We're not waiting for permission to be indigenous people.
We are indigenous, and the only way we're gonna be recognized is to stand up and say it, you know?
- For me, I was carrying a lot of baggage over the 20 years that I been in the system.
And that all gotta get released first.
You gotta kiloi that first before you can go out there and try be something pono.
The hula, the haa, the spirituality.
We can have that process start in here.
And outside, where do we begin?
We get used to being locked up.
I've seen it way too many times happen on the outside.
Spin, right back in the door.
You have to have a plan.
"Oh, I'm going to get out and go back to my family and get a job, and I'll be fine."
Some of the families may not feel that way, and as far as getting a job, not so easy.
- [grunts] Sometimes you gotta release the pressure.
- Make sure your water's off.
- Try 'em again, boss?
- And we got a nightlight out in Lima Alpha 16, which is directly over here.
- Not yet.
They did all the max-outs, yeah?
- Next week I heard.
- That's what I heard.
- No, I got paroled.
[cart rattling] - Yeah.
I got a job, so it's gonna be good.
- That's half the battle right there.
- That's half the battle.
[buttons beeping] [line trilling] - Hello?
- Hi, Dad!
- Hi, Dad!
- [laughs] Finally got you.
Um, I just wanted to let you know that, um... they haven't packed me up yet.
I'm still waiting, and I'm hopeful that they're going to call my name.
So, everybody just gotta stand by and wait.
- That means that you might not be on this flight?
But I'm hopeful, and, um... - When is the flight?
- Next week.
- When is the next flight?
- Probably three months from now.
- But I miss you.
I miss talking to you.
[baby babbles] - Miss you, Dad.
- How's the babies?
[baby babbles] - Big.
- Who's that?
Give him a kiss from me.
- Hold on.
- [laughs] - Mama.
Who are you?
- This is Papa, honey.
Oh, is that you?
- I love you.
I love you.
I love you, honey.
God bless you, bye.
[phone clicks] - Her mother and I split up while she was, like, real young.
She practically grew up on her own.
I was not really in her life the way I should have been.
[breathes deeply] I'm hopeful this time out.
[jet whooshes] [dreamy music] ♪ ♪ - Take care.
- Hey, good luck.
[door buzzing] [indistinct radio chatter] - Today is 6.26.14, and then 9:15.
- Ready for this.
Let's do this!
[dreamy music] ♪ ♪ [speaking Hawaiian] - Eh, no squeeze me hard, brah.
No squeeze me.
- I love you.
- [indistinct speech] - Okay, okay, yeah, yeah.
I love you.
Okay, go over there and go sit down.
I get something for you.
You're gonna have a smile on your face, 'cause your oldest son did better this time.
Instead of all the messed up stuff I was doing before, you know what I mean?
The messed up stuff.
[clicks tongue] I, uh...
I know, uh, I bring shame to the family name.
But, uh, I gon' make up for that.
- I apologize to you.
I had expectations.
I apologize for that, you know?
- That's all in the past, Dad.
We gotta look forward.
[dog barks] [bright ukulele music] [horn honks] - There's your grandchildren!
- [laughs] - Hey!
[bright ukulele music continues] ♪ ♪ [kid babbles, David smooching] Gimme kiss!
[smooching] This is my daughter, Devina.
[both inhale deeply] [David and Tim moaning and sniffling] [both speaking indistinctly] - You know me.
[singing in Hawaiian] ♪ ♪ [surf crashing] [singing and ukulele music continues] ♪ ♪ - Eh, how that one sound, brah?
[laughter] I love you.
- I love you, Dad.
- My new job at Hoomau Ke Ola.
It's a clean and sober house.
Teaching the stuff that I been doing to the young kanaka that are currently in rehab.
[men shouting in Hawaiian] I move forward this way.
Now I'm gonna help my people get stronger.
[men shouting in Hawaiian] So helping them to become stronger helps me to be stronger.
[David shouts in Hawaiian] [David chants in Hawaiian] How you guys feel?
- You know what you gotta do?
You gotta find one place for hanu.
You get breaks, yeah?
[chanting in Hawaiian] [inhales deeply] [chants in Hawaiian] Breathe in through your mouth.
'Cause once you start holding and you no can breathe in, next thing you know... [mimics chanting in Hawaiian] [laughter] [laughs] [laughter] Not to make fun of the chant.
- [laughs] - Yeah?
[both inhale deeply] [indistinct chatter] [light music] ♪ ♪ - I been locked up 15 years.
[jet whooshing] Honestly, brah, I'm nervous.
Not gonna pretend that I'm not.
[somber music] ♪ ♪ [surf crashing] [door clicks shut] I gonna be entering the work furlough program.
Work furlough is transition from doing long-term prison sentence out back into society.
Every day I walk out the gate for go work... [door buzzing] But I gotta always be back at the facility by 1:30 in the morning, no if, ands, or buts.
[engine humming] [dreamy music] ♪ ♪ You know what's so funny is like I've been waiting all this time.
I want to come home, you know?
But right now, prison is home, yeah?
Think about it.
That's some years that I spent there.
So where is home?
You know what I mean?
[door buzzing] [kids chattering indistinctly] - ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪ ♪ Happy birthday to you ♪ ♪ Happy birthday, dear Devina ♪ - [indistinct speech] - Happy birthday!
[laughter] - Thank you, Uncle.
- Happy birthday!
- I think the happiest time of my life was when I had my kids.
Go change your clothes.
And my daughter, she got to open up to me to let me know about the pain she was going through the years that I was absent from her life.
No crashing into anybody.
I kinda just....
It tore me up, because I knew that I was, like, letting her down big-time.
But I gotta admit, it made her strong.
[indistinct] She's, like, really playing a big part in helping me with my transitioning out.
I need that.
It's important to me.
I never had that the other times.
I came out on my own, and I always messed up, you know?
Because that's what happen when you try things on your own.
[laughs] [traffic rumbling] - In prison, there's so much restrictions on everything.
So now, out here, how do I change?
Where do I begin?
It started when I was young.
My mom, she used to deal weed in the housing.
Everybody knew that.
That's how pretty much it started.
You know, sneaking, grabbing her stash, sneaking and smoking weed until one day I got caught and then she just made me smoke joint after joint until I threw up.
Came to a part in my life where it's just like, I didn't care.
There's that sun, coming up!
Pretty soon I can actually go to the beach and watch the sun rise.
[dramatic music] ♪ ♪ Back then, I would blame everybody for my life.
Everything but me.
Some things in life you cannot undo, right?
How do I explain to the families that I'm sorry?
I can only make sure that I don't continue to do wrong and that somehow along the line, I do better.
♪ ♪ - [indistinct speech] - You gotta stop that, though.
- No, this one?
This my best friend.
- Right now.
I'd like to see you dump that out.
- Dump um?
- Dump um.
- Nah, I no can.
- Ikaika, ikaika.
I like see you dump that out.
- I can, but I no like.
- The thing make me feel better inside, eh?
On the other hand, I don't see my family, yeah?
I love to drink; that's why.
- Oh, yeah?
It's only temporary, Bu.
It's only temporary.
- [indistinct speech] - [sighs] - When you're ready.
- [indistinct speech] I stay over there.
[indistinct chatter] That's our bus.
- [indistinct speech] Yeah.
I felt like that over 20 years.
20 years stuck in that.
- Last time we talked about calling prison home.
- Have you been working on that one?
[laughter] I know it's hard.
- Yeah, I still going through that.
It's just one habit, but not only that like I said, it's, like, security, right?
When I get back to the prison, it's like now I can breathe again.
Because the environment that I know.
- Right, have you used the key at all?
- Okay, okay.
'Cause that's gonna help you feel more connected.
- I still wait for her to go in.
I gotta work on that.
You know, for me, it's a whole new beginning.
Actually applying the help that's out there.
- It's so much easier to just say "I don't need help."
- I mean, I don't think I would have gotten this far if I never had my church support, you know, brothers, you.
Without one good lady by my side, I would not get this far.
[peaceful music] ♪ ♪ - Look at him on the side of the road.
Babe, you said 7-Eleven.
Oh, that's okay.
- I just ran back across the street.
Laura I've known since we were kids.
I used to play football with the brothers, and she always used to come to the field.
She had a crush on me back then.
I like the sour poi, yeah?
But growing up, typical housing boy.
I had it in my mind to be a hee, spread my love around.
You know what I mean?
[both laugh] One pound of tako kimchi poke.
We connected in 2002, and she stood there with me all the way.
She never missed one call.
She never missed visit.
She never left my side.
- It ain't gonna go nowhere.
[laughter] - Yeah, so it's a keeper, you know?
[surf crashing] [low atmospheric music] ♪ ♪ - When I stand up and I let people know who I am, sometimes people cannot handle it.
People see this totally hyped up, aggressive guy, and they don't know if I have a cool, soft side or something.
So they misinterpret a lot of-- A lot of the things that I do.
[both inhale deeply] - So before we start, I just wanted to explain to you, like, I know you have concerns.
Um, I'm here to listen, mainly.
And I didn't know how you guys was going to accept me, because, you know, it's hard not knowing.
Every place I went was like, "whoa," you know what I mean?
And my way is too aggressive sometimes.
And I gotta learn to tone it down so... - I agree.
I don't mean to offend you.
You've been institutionalized a lot.
And coming back and being part of the community again, I was like, "Okay, let's do it."
- Yeah, yeah.
- You know?
But then also to look, you know, "Okay, how we going do this?
- Right, right.
- You know?
- Thank you for being open to toning it down.
[sighs] [David chanting in Hawaiian] [continues chanting in Hawaiian] I was supposed to be there full-time.
But now it's like two days out of the week.
So now what do I do?
[chanting in Hawaiian] I wanna work.
I'm trying to do something good.
[chanting in Hawaiian] [quieter chanting in Hawaiian] [low atmospheric music] ♪ ♪ - This was my mistake in life growing up... Hey, brother.
Thinking I'd rather be respected or feared than loved.
Today, it's totally the opposite.
I getting out of prison after 15 years, and I getting married.
- My heart's still pounding.
[laughter] - Aww.
[weed whacker whirring] - I never thought I would be this blessed.
- I never like leave all the rubbish over there.
- That's what I do best!
[laughs] - Try grab me another trash bag.
See if you can fit inside.
[laughter] I get the broom, you know.
- Sometimes you need to ride on it!
[laughter] - That's funny, huh?
- Sometimes, not all the time.
[Hale laughs] No matter what I gotta put up with or whatever I gotta go throughout the day, whatever I doing, I doing it for my family.
[door buzzing] - I should be happy that I even got a job, but it's like... Geez, man.
I owe a whole bunch of money.
[chuckles] Court fees, and stuff that I did.
I put on myself.
I owe $45,000 back payments, child support.
[phone beeping] [sighs] [baby babbling] I just trying to get this month's rent paid.
And then I can figure out... [baby babbling] [phone beeps] [low atmospheric music] ♪ ♪ The last time I was out, I called up one of my friends that had something going on.
From Kalihi to Waikiki, that was the playground, eh?
Money is fast out there.
[men chanting in Hawaiian] [men clapping rhythmically and chanting in Hawaiian] But I don't even want to go there, 'cause I have too much to lose right now.
- Where is he?
There ya go!
The last one out of the pack.
What happened to 7:30, bud?
- Let's see how big your stomach is.
- Oh my god, I can imagine.
- The way I see things, her kids, they're part of my life now.
Whenever I introduce Shy, it's like, "This is my daughter."
Even though, biologically, she's not.
- What number is that?
You are a certified sow.
Anything after 35, you're just a calf.
Now you're a certified sow.
- Hey, what's up, Doc?
How you doing, Doc?
- Good to see you again.
How's everything going?
- Good, good, good.
- He has his gloves on.
Let's measure your stomach real quickly first just to make sure it's all good.
- If she measures 39, I'd worry, okay?
She's measuring 33.
[laughter] That would be a bad baby.
- Oh, yeah?
She only 6 inches away from it.
[static crackling] 33... - Yeah, but 6 inches, that's a lot.
- For me, that was the hardest thing in my life, to actually forgive myself for failing as a dad.
[heart beat swishing] I hear him.
- He's hanging out now.
I know I'm not gonna fail this being a grandfather.
[indistinct chatter] - When my mom passed, that's where I wen' learn forgiveness for me in life.
- Got the clothespins.
- Growing up was rough.
I was kinda like addicted to the abuse.
And when she asked me to forgive her, as a mom, which I never expected from her, you know, I guess from that day on, everything just... All the hatred, all the anger, all the resentment went away.
That right there really changed my whole thinking.
[indistinct speech] [indistinct chatter] - Child support is gonna start taking out $755 a month, and I make $7.50 an hour, which comes out to roughly about $700 to $800 a month.
I'm not gonna be able to afford the rent here.
Luckily, my cousin is willing to help me.
- [sighs] All right.
He's gonna let me stay at his place until I can get back on my feet.
[crickets chirping] [light ukulele music] But then nothing really keeps you grounded.
[light ukulele music] ♪ ♪ [crickets chirping] [birds chirping] - Congratulations, Dad!
- I heard that today's your last day of parole.
- You actually made it through without... - Messing up again?
- Proud of you.
- I know.
[laughter] - Yeah.
- Actually does work, right, when you have support?
Thank you for being an awesome Dad.
Remember I told you last night?
You feel like you achieved something?
- Not really.
I going let you know when that day comes.
- But we should count the little steps that we take too before us.
If we can't appreciate and be grateful for that, we can't appreciate when the big thing come.
We always want, want, want, want more.
- Love you guys!
- Thank you!
[leaves rustling] [plaintive music] [indistinct chatter] ♪ ♪ [David chanting softly in Hawaiian] - Part of our program is a culturally based program, finding pride in themselves and grasping their identity.
These are our guys from our therapeutic living program.
[David shouting in Hawaiian] [men chanting in Hawaiian] [chanting fades] [plaintive music] ♪ ♪ - It's like-- Like a valve got opened, and I'm slowly losing something.
You know what I mean?
Just, like, dripping.
[surf crashing] [conch shell blowing] [man chanting in Hawaiian] - These guys here, they come and they go.
A lot of them I seen them come back many times already.
You're either gonna choose the right path or the wrong path, and I hope you make the right choice.
- [chanting in Hawaiian] - I know ten years ago, I would have threw in the towel... And said "The hell with this."
[Kalani speaks Hawaiian] - You know, when you start feeling like you belong in prison or you belong in the drugs, you know, the game and that world.
And you stay stuck there in your mind... Everything is gonna be hard.
[low atmospheric music] ♪ ♪ [door buzzes] - Now, freedom.
Now, everything begins.
This is where the real test begins.
Gonna be weird not hearing something click behind me when I close the door.
5... 10... 15...
There it goes.
[low atmospheric music] [car beeping] [low atmospheric music continues] ♪ ♪ - So wait, you just got back from Arizona?
- 15 years.
So you folks have been together for a while then, huh?
Good lady; good man.
You work it out, everything's good.
You know what I'm gonna do?
You guys are really touching my heart today.
I'm not going to charge you, okay?
- Thank you.
- Take her out for a nice dinner or something.
- Thank you.
- And I'm glad everything's working out for you.
- Now face each other.
Will you love and honor her, cherish and protect her, in the good times and bad?
And do you promise to be her best friend for as long as you both shall live?
- I do.
- I now pronounce you husband and wife.
- I love you.
- I love you too.
[birds chirping] [indistinct speech over PA] - Da-da.
- It's not "Da-da."
- Yeah, "Papa."
[low atmospheric music] ♪ ♪ - So, I was thinking.
From the time I came out till now, wouldn't that be a trip for people to see how hard it really is?
[surf crashing] I actually had thoughts about checking out.
I ended up using.
You know, going back to the dope.
[coughing] People always say, "It's the choices you make."
[water splashing] [plaintive music] ♪ ♪ So being in a house, paying rent, that's what you're expected to do, you know?
Those kind of things.
It's called life.
What I wanted to-- wanted people to know is, this is life too.
[plaintive music continues] ♪ ♪ [David chanting in Hawaiian] [plaintive music continues] ♪ ♪ ♪♪ ♪♪