SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes hosted the state's diverse Polynesian communities in a kava ceremony in the middle of the Capitol rotunda.
The Friday afternoon event was meant to bring together Utah's Pacific Islander communities to show their culture and bring their elders together with chiefs of police and the legislature. Reyes said many Polynesians are undocumented and he wanted them to not be afraid of law enforcement.
While not a traditional kava ceremony, Reyes said he was hoping to acquaint the Polynesian culture with the legislature.
"We’re bringing everyone’s traditions together" he told the crowd.
Dances and other cultural demonstrations were put on in the Capitol rotunda as lobbyists, lawmakers and tourists walked by. Joined by Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi, they partook of the kava drink which one Fijian elder told the crowd is "a taste you have to get used to."
Kava ceremonies are about peace and coming together in "one spirit," the attorney general said.
Utah has the highest per capita population of Polynesians in the continental United States. Reyes is one of the highest ranking Polynesian elected officials.
Speaking to Polynesian youth in the crowd he told them to "be proud of our culture and never, ever, ever apologize for being Pacific Islander."