Diffferent Views

A view of Mauna Kahālāwai from Waiheʻe Valley overlooking Kahului, Maui

Climbing a mountain, one hopes to experience a breath-taking panorama view of the surrounding landscape below. Upon their descent, they share that breath-taking panorama view with others. Another decides to climb that same mountain hoping for the same but comes back sharing a much different view. One would think that each person that climbs that same mountain hoping for that same breath-taking panorama view would have the same viewpoint, the same outlook, and the same story. But that is not so as explained by kupuna Kailiʻohe; “History, as anything else, is seen and understood by where a person stands on the mountain. All people climb the same mountain. The mountain, however, has many pathways – each with a different view ….(Kaili’ohe’s stories of the ancient people, an oral history of Hawaii before the Aliis invaded. Tales From the Night Rainbow by Lee and Willis.)

The photo above is of Mauna Kahālāwai also known as the West Maui Mountains. This photo shows a view from Waiheʻe Valley, Maui where my maternal ancestors are from. Another view of Mauna Kahālāwai is seen in the photo below from the view of Iʻao Valley in Wailuku. Both views are breathtaking however depending on where you are standing on the mountain and the path taken – each will share a different view. Interestingly, each view comes with its own history, story, and legacy.

A view of Mauna Kahālāwai from within I‘ao Valley State Park on Maui, Hawai‘i

Genealogy is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their lineages. It is like the view from the top of the mountain. There are different views. Some may say that genealogy and family history is one of the same, and others claim that genealogy includes family history. However, Tamura Jones the author of “What is Genealogy?” disagrees and explains; “Genealogy does not include family history. It is the other way around: a good family history includes a genealogy. ”Genealogy is about basic facts that have been documented officially and legally. Family History includes the collection of all record types that tells the story of an individual and an individualʻs family moving back in time. (Tamura Jones, What is Genealogy? tamurajones.net, 2010.)

Why does this matter? Most persons dive into their genealogy gathering family records, photos, whatever they can find to begin tracing and searching for their ancestors. I too, just dove in. Over the years I learned what mattered, what counted, and most importantly genealogy is about facts and that family history is about familial relationships. Knowing the difference, one can put into perspective one’s family tree with what matters and what counts. Being able to do that provides an accurate account of a familyʻs story through time regardless of the different views.


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