Backlash has erupted online after a restaurant in Chicago (USA) exclusively trademarked the Hawaiian name ‘Aloha Poke’.
But the straw that broke the camel’s back for many indigenous Hawaiians was being told by the company to stop using the phrase after the company sent out 'cease and desist' letters to native Hawaiian-owned poke shops because many of the shops had the words “aloha” and “poke” in their names.
The world knows the word ‘aloha', the Hawaiian word for love. Add the word ‘poke’ (pronounced poh-keh) , one of their favorite traditional meals, then you have Aloha Poke which means Love Raw Fish.
For Native Hawaiian Vicky Holt Takamine, says, “Poke is a cultural practice, we’ve been making poke for thousands of years, we’ve been sharing aloha and poke with the world for hundreds of years. The fact they think they have the intellectual property of the government to trademark and copyright our Hawaiian language, well we absolutely refuse to allow that to happen.”
Takamine says 2003 was a precursor to outsiders claiming their reo and heritage when Disney began to use their cultural icons such as Hawaiian chants and this led to an important declaration about their traditional rights.
“We held an Hawaiian intellectual property rights conference and we published a declaration and sent it out to communities, state legislature, Congress and the UN so they understood we claimed our rights to our own IP on our language and our traditions.”
“They don’t understand what aloha is, they have no concept of what aloha is. When you appropriate cultural traditions and you use it for your own purposes, this is all about greed, this is all about money and this is all about the commercialization of our cultural practices."
Despite an apology from the Aloha Poke Company, Takamine claims the shutters are drawn on trademarking their traditional icons, their cultural practices and their indigenous language.