Ke Aloha Nui Uncle John Lind

Written by KUA’s Executive Director, Kevin Chang, whose knowledge of Uncle John Lind evolved over the years in ways both personal and professional

Uncle John and Kapahu Farm; E Alu Pū gathering, Kīpahulu 2017. Photo for KUA by Kim Moa.


Aloha E Alu Pū, Hui Mālama Loko I’a, Limu Hui and friends,

We wanted to let you all know that Uncle John Lind of Kīpahulu ʻOhana passed on earlier today.

The family loses a husband, brother, father, uncle and grandfather. Kīpahulu and East Maui lost an elder lawaiʻa and mahiʻai, an icon among taro farmers and quiet leader who with his ohana perpetuated a way of life amidst great change in Kīpahulu. Uncle John was respected in the tradition of konohiki for his community. He pointed the way forward.

In the early 2000’s long before I had met Uncle John and Aunty Tweetie and the Kīpahulu ʻOhana, I knew of them. Their names came up in many conversations. There was a time when my greatest reference to East Maui was the music of Pekelo Cosma and everyone liked to talk about their highway. Knowing Kīpahulu ʻOhana made these things deeper and more meaningful.

Uncle John and Aunty Tweetie welcome E Alu Pū to Kīpahulu, 2014, Photo for KUA by Kim Moa.

One of the significant times I heard their names was in stories about Kahoʻolawe from Aunty Colette Machado. I heard the deepest aloha for them from a friend of mine from Hana, Mālama Minn, whose father Mike along with John, Tweetie and others founded Kīpahulu ʻOhana. I never got to meet them until I was asked to visit Kīpahulu before helping support the work they created, gathering the kuaʻāina of E Alu Pū which KUA continues today. But even then, when I think back I also knew of them through growing up in Kahaluʻu, Oʻahu around KEY Project where KUA’s office is today. Tweetie and John were celebrated by kalo farmers in Waiāhole as member of the Onipaʻa Na Hui Kalo. They were celebrated; this made them kuaʻāina celebrities.

I always felt Uncle John had a deep sense of aloha and cultural philosophical outlook on his life’s work. Stories were told, kindness was felt and you might put hands to soil. I have this sense because I only got to know Uncle John in his solitude often away from the crowd when we gathered. So he always seemed reflective to me. He preferred action to talking, he liked to have something in his hands, or something to do. Unlike many folks when he spoke he often had something to say.

Uncle John putting hands to work, first Limu Hui gathering. Photo for KUA by Kim Moa 2017.

These last two and half years away from all of you has been hard on all of us. It has been especially so when we cannot reach out to aloha you in-person when you are hurting. For most of us it was not possible to see Uncle John, to hold his hand and appreciate him.

Yet, despite the obstacles and the distance the aloha ʻāina vision of Uncle John continued, even when he fought his cancer, his brothers came out for the Kīpahulu CBSFA to tell the story of his and their families aloha for their fishery. His sons and daughters, and Scott Crawford and the gang continued to host people at Kalena Triangle and continued to mālama ʻāina up at Kapahu Farm. In all moments Uncle John was with them; and with us.

To wax philosophically, Uncle John, like many of our elders was a teacher. Not the conventional kind of teacher. More of a sage, a hard worn diamond in the rough. The greatest teachers in our lives leave us with a lesson in a memory, an algorithm of the conscience that sets off a light in our soul or a sense of awakening. When I think of Uncle John I think of these Taoist sayings:

“My teachings are easy to understand
and easy to put into practice.
Yet your intellect will never grasp them,
and if you try to practice them, you’ll fail.

My teachings are older than the world.
How can you grasp their meaning?

If you want to know me,
look inside your heart.”

Tao Te Ching, Verse 70 Trans. S. Mitchell

“….The Master views the parts with compassion,
because he understands the whole.
His constant practice is humility.
He doesn’t glitter like a jewel
but lets himself be shaped by the Tao,
as rugged and common as stone.”

Tao Te Ching Verse 39, Trans S. Mitchell

Uncle John Points the way at Kapahu Farm, E Alu Pū 2014. Photo for KUA by Kim Moa.

Uncle John was less concerned with words than he was with meaning in action. Like the Buddhist manaʻo about the “finger pointing at the moon,” the abstractions of language distract from the real substance of life. The greatest teacher will leave you when he sees that it is no longer his finger you follow to see the moon; you see the moon for yourself and point it out for future generations.

Much and aloha and respect to you Uncle John and Kīpahulu ʻOhana for pointing the way…sleep in deep and restful aloha. Good night everyone.

Celebration of Life • Saturday, July 23, 2022 9am-12pm at St. Maryʻs Catholic Church in Hāna, Maui

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