How you say “YEE HAW” in Hawaiian?

Ikua Purdy, Hawai'i's Most Famous Paniolo (Cowboy): 1908 World Steer Champion Roper

In 1908, three Hawaiian paniolos (cowboys) traveled to Cheyanne, Wyoming to compete in the annual Frontier Days World Steer Roping Championship…and in 56 seconds, Ikua Purdy from Waimea, won the title. It was a shock to the event spectators, because not only were Purdy and his companions vibrantly attired (their colorful clothing influenced by vaqueros, Mexican cowboys), but they also startled the American crowd by speaking in their native language, na ‘olelo Hawai’i (Hawaiian). However, they were mostly not favored to win because they were using borrowed saddles and horses, a sure deal-breaker. Didn’t matter! In less than a minute…WHAM! That cow was roped!

Purdy's Moment of Glory, 1908 Cheyanne Frontier Days

Cows were first brought to Hawai’i as gifts from King George of England to King Kamehameha. King Kamehameha fell in love with the “exotic” creatures and let them roam freely in the wild…except the cows, being cows, trampled everything in sight. Thus, out of necessity, the paniolo was born.

If you go to the Cheyanne Frontier Days Museum in Wyoming today, you’ll see a small bronze statute of Purdy standing in honor of his recent induction into their Hall of Fame. He was also celebrated by Helen Parker (of Parker Ranch, Hawai’i’s first ranch), who describes his accomplishments in a still-popular mele:

Waiomina (Wyoming) – by Helen Parker
Kaulana Ikua me Ka`au`a, la
Na `eu kipuka `ili
Na aiwaiwa `o Eulopa, la
Waimea e ka `eu
Ka ua Kipu`upu`u
Kahua Waiomina

`Olua na moho puna ke ao, la
Na `eu kipuka `ili`
A`ohe kupu`eu nana e a`e, la
Waimea e ka `eu
Ka ua Kipu`upu`u
Meke anu a`o Kaleponi

Na ke kelekalapa i ha`i mai, la
Na `eu kipuka `ili
Ikuwa e ka moho puni ke ao, la
Waimea e ka `eu
Ka ua Kipu`upu`u
Na kuahiwi `ekolu

Piha hau`oli ou mau kini, la
Na `eu kipuka `ili
Kaulana ka ua Kipu`upu`u, la
Waimea e ka `eu
Na kuahiwi `ekolu
Kahua Waiomina

Ha`ina hou mai ka puana, lä
Na `eu kipuka `ili
Ke kaula `ili a`o kani ka uwepa, la
Waimea e ka `eu
Na kuahiwi `ekolu
Waimea e ka `eu

English translation:

Famous are Ikua and Ka`au`a
Both mischievous with the lariat
Both experts in Europe
Waimea full of gusto
The hard rain named Kipu`upu`u
To the stadium of Wyoming

Both are delegates to the world championship
Both mischievous with the lariat
No expert to excel you
Waimea full of gusto
The hard rain named Kipu`upu`u
To the cold of California

A telegraph brought us the word
Of your mischievous lariats
Ikuwa is the champion of the world
Waimea full of gusto
The hard rain named Kipu`upu`u
And the three mountains

Your people are full of happiness
Of your mischievous lariats
Famous is the Kipu`upu`u rain
Waimea full of gusto
The three mountains
The stadium of Wyoming
Tell the refrain
Of your mischievous lariats
The sound of the lariats
Waimea full of gusto
The three mountains
Waimea full of life

Listen at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiWvadr2yGU

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2 thoughts on “How you say “YEE HAW” in Hawaiian?

  1. This is an awesome legacy. The Hawaiian paniolo roped a different way–they threw the lasso towards the rear legs of the steer, bouncing it off the ground and thereby snagging one or both rear legs. It was fast and efficient because the cowboy didn’t have to punch (take down) the steer. Ikua Purdy was the first and showed the cow-punching rodeo world how; many other Hawaiian paniolo used the same technique and taught it to other cowboys…

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