192: Kava, Culture, Indigeneity and Mormonism: Daniel Hernandez

How do Indigenous folk manage the White Wasatch American cultural capture of Mormonism?

Daniel Hernandez, PhD Candidate at the University of Auckland, is an Urban Diasporic Mayan but grew up in Rose Park, Salt Lake City, Utah among a mostly Tongan and Samoan community.  As researcher, observer and participant in the various cultures of ‘Brown Utah’ we discuss Kava and the importance of cultivating and preserving traditional practices that build connection to indigenous roots.

(Kava as a root extract  from a plant found in the Pacific Islands and is consumed as a drink in ceremony.  Both Kava drinks and the ceremonies associated have come under General Authority criticism from time to time.  BYU-Hawaii and some local leaders have banned it outright.)



2 comments for “192: Kava, Culture, Indigeneity and Mormonism: Daniel Hernandez

  1. Jean Bodie
    April 21, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    I really can’t see how this kava ceremony is any different from groups of people sitting around using cannabis.
    It too facilitates peaceful conversation and I just feel like my ego takes a back seat. If I don’t indulge heavily, my mind is clear and my thoughts are much more pragmatic and creative.
    Why do you think the kava ceremony is any different Daniel? It’s just a group of humans doing what humans have done for thousands and thousands of years.
    In England for example, it is a huge cultural thing to make a pot of tea for visitors. In N. America, inviting someone to have coffee is a very cultural thing.
    It really does spike my interest in why the colonization had to include preventing indigenous peoples from holding ceremonies or gatherings that are special to them. I ‘think’ it was cultural genocide.

    “We won’t have to deal with these brown people if we destroy their cohesion.” In Canada the native peoples held the potlatch ceremony. However, an intolerant federal government banned the potlatch from 1884 to 1951 in an amendment to the Indian Act, ostensibly because of the treatment — seen as wasteful, reckless (and anti-Christian) — of personal property.

    I loved the conversation and wish you all the best with your dissertation Daniel.


    • Daniel H
      April 24, 2017 at 7:30 pm


      I think what would distinguish the Kava ceremonies is the personal ancestral connections people have, genealogical ties to place and culture, physical properties, and the protocols of how to use Kava as a few examples. However, in various contexts there are different foods, drinks, substances, that literally or symbolically aid in facilitating conversation, reflection, social-political performance, spiritual/philosophical development, and conflict mediation as you indicate, and in that sense there may be some similarities generally speaking in my opinion. I would agree in both genocide and ethnocide that has taken place through colonial/imperial projects and continues to in shape shifted forms today unfortunately, like the example you share from Canada.

      Thank you for your well wishes,


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