Analyze Charles Knehailua, a Vietnam veteran reinterpreting his life, Hawaii, and the United States in the context of developing a Hawaiian national identity

This chapter introduces Charles Knehailua, a Vietnam veteran reinterpreting his life, Hawaii, and the United States in the context of developing a Hawaiian national identity he had largely forgotten through enculturation as an American soldier. The author’s story of friendship with Knehailua illuminates some of the everyday social interaction involved in the deconstruction of American identity within the Hawaiian community and points to the fraught political and ethical terrain of doing ethnographic research with at least one native Hawaiian veteran. For Knehailua, the process of coming to consciousness and awareness of his indigenous historyone characterized by dispossession and betrayalis at odds with a U.S. military ideology of self-sacrifice for country and meritorious advancement through the ranks.