These are a few of the 84 letters (over 100 pages of text) from Tūtū Kealoha to me. The letters provide a glimpse into her daily routines, her thoughts and feelings, the lives of family members, and cultural aspects that spring up in her writing and reveal her upbringing surrounded by native speakers of Hawaiian in Puna, Hawai‘i. At the time she wrote these letters, mostly in the 1980s, Tūtū Kealoha had been living in Tuba City, Arizona, on a Navajo Indian reservation, with her daughter and son-in-law to help raise their children. Her son-in-law, a Māori man who had learned to speak Navajo in his younger years as a missionary assigned to Navajo country for the LDS church, had later earned a PhD and became the school superintendent on the reservation overseeing all public schools on the reservation. At times, Tūtū Kealoha would return home to Hawai‘i for visits and return again to the reservation to continue her role as co-caregiver for the children. In her letters, she describes her life in Tuba City and in Hau‘ula and her impressions of places and people.
As Tūtū Kealoha was a native speaker of Hawaiian, the way that she uses Hawaiian in her letters is a role model for learners of the language today. It is hoped that this brand of Hawaiian continues.
Click on the links below to read Tūtū Kealoha's letters:
• August 14, 1986
• August 19, 1986
• August 21, 1986
• October 8, 1987
a quilt sewn by Tūtū Kealoha, circa 1970s.