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Beamer shares her family's `ili`ili tradition.
 Click to hear Audio transcript Click to see Video clip
Nona Beamer
Honolulu, 1999
In this clip, Auntie Nona discusses her family's `ili`ili tradition and recalls where they used to go and find `ili`ili as children.
Length: 3:53

NONA BEAMER: The length of the `ili`ili should be commensurate with the width of your palm. M-hm. Tucking it between the pointer and the middle finger. And the other between the thumb and the pointer. And opening and closing. So the thumb is [CLICKING] kind of used as a striker against the other, uh-huh, and turning the hands. Uh-huh, uh-huh. So you can tell the story, the waves are rolling, and they're crashing, and the rain is falling. [CHUCKLES] Affairs of the heart. [CHUCKLES] An upset heart. M-m, churning heart. [CHUCKLES] We talk only about the good things. [CLICKING] We see the sands that bark of Nöhili. [CLICK] And the pahapaha lei of Polihale. Beautiful for storytelling but not easy to keep the `ili`ili in the fingers and be comfortable turning, telling the story. Now this is our style. I don't know about any other style of holding, but Beamer style is this. And the smaller, between the thumb and the pointer. And the flex in the thumb, and bringing the palm into the thumb. M-hm. And of course, you want to be sure they're nice and tight. [CHUCKLES] You do a wind and you'll have them flying into the audience. [CHUCKLES] So here ... are the `ili`ili. M-hm. Now these are water-worn. And the best place to look, where the streams come down to the ocean and the ocean comes up on the, on the sand. And it goes, pr-r-r-r-r. You know. And it smooths it out so beautifully, and the kani is lovely. M-hm. Of course, if you can find the smooth `ili`ili without the pukas in it, the sound is better. H-m, I don't know much about basaltic stone, but those without the pukas sound better. M-hm, m-hm. And each instrument has its own mawaena, its own, uh, interlude, where the rhythm patterns change, the body movements change. And this one has the wrist and the turn. So you reach into it, and you pull into it, like that. And you extend the body as far as you can. And roll, roll, roll. M-hm. Kahi, lua, kolu, hä. Kahi, lua, kolu, hä. It's kind of a neat instrument, `ili`ili.

MAILE LOO: Where did you guys go get `ili`ili?

NONA BEAMER: Oh, Pololü, Pololü Valley. And as late as, ah, before Brother Towhead died, we went down and gathered. I think he toted 75 pounds upon his back in a gunny sack. But they were beautiful with the river going down and the mount, the ocean coming up, you know, and right there (FLUTTER OF TONGUE SOUND). Oh, the best `ili`ili.

MAILE LOO: What places do you go now when you pick?

NONA BEAMER: Hmm. I haven't. Oh, I found a few in Idaho last week. (LAUGHTER)

MAILE LOO: Oh, really?

NONA BEAMER: (LAUGHTER) Moana and I went down to the river.


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