Another interesting incident in culture popped up this week, one that illuminates where our society currently stands on the relationships between cultures. Living and working in Hawaiʻi, within Hawaiian culture made this event resonate on a personal level.
A Chicago based eatery has trademarked the name ‘Aloha Poke’. No issue there, simply a legal filing. What they failed to understand is that the word Aloha contains central concept in Hawaiian culture. Thus, when the lawyers for Aloha Poke sent out cease-and-desist letters to similarly named businesses around the country, including one in Hawaii, they were met with a firestorm of criticism.
Attempting claim ownership of such a word, even in a limited business context, is simply total fail. Legal? Yes. A good idea? Nope.
I suspect the owners of Aloha Poke are actually figuring that out. On the other hand the management at Aloha Poke has not withdrawn their legal assertions and have made a non-apology.
The missteps of Aloha Poke aside, what is more interesting is how some in the Hawaiian community have responded to the case. There have been statements from a number of community leaders. One of the most telling is from the head of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a state agency charged with administering state programs for the Hawaiian community.