Indigenous Politics, University Hawai'i-Manoa
International Indigenous Relationships
IGOV has been engaged in a cultural and academic exchange with the Indigenous Politics Program at the University of Hawai'i-Mānoa (UHIP) since 2006. This partnership has developed and renewed international Indigenous relationships and has been an invaluable way to deepen students' learning experience. In July 2011, IGOV hosted a two week intensive graduate course in collaboration with local Indigenous communities. Reclaiming Ćelánen: Land, Water and Governance, focused on Indigenous land and water based practices, particularly as lived by local Coast Salish and Strait Salish Peoples. This highly-experiential course allowed students to develop a rich understanding of major social and economic forces that have impacted Indigenous peoples since colonial invasion, while participating in the efforts of Coast Salish and Strait Salish people to reclaim, develop, and practice their Ćelánen (Senćoŧen work for ancestry or birthright).
The course included teachings from Lekwungen, Pilalt, and Wsáneć community members and Elders, as well as classroom-based lectures, interspersed with onsite visits to local Indigenous communities. Some of the community-based activities included:
- Visiting local Wsáneć artist Charles Elliott's carving studio to learn about local culture, protocol, and the ancient art of wood carving;
- A traditional pit cook and canoe travel on Tseycum beach and Wsáneć territorial waters;
- Travel to Cheam First Nation to participate in the various elements of a fishing camp on the Fraser River; and
- A colonial reality tour of Victoria, guided by Lekwungen activist Cheryl Bryce, to identify places of significance to local Indigenous peoples and the colonial institutions and names that now mark them.
At the conclusion of the course, the Hawaiian kumu (teachers) and students presented IGOV with kahili (pictured above), traditionally used by Hawaiians to show status, lineage, and family ties. Kahili were also brought to villages to alert folks that the ali'i (leaders) were approaching. This gift honors IGOV and is a symbol of the ongoing relationship between the two Indigenous territories.
In March 2012, this relationship was renewed when IGOV students and faculty travel to Hawai'i to participate in a two week intensive course hosted by UHM. Titled Restoring Kuleana and co-taught by Holulani Aikau, Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua & Taiaiake Alfred, this course was also comprised of seminar style classes and community based learning. A group of faculty and students spent time on the island of Kaho'olawe, which Kanaka Maoli (Indigenous Hawaiian) activists are re-occupying in protest of the US military presence (http://moolelo.manainfo.com/). A smaller group travelled to Moloka'i, the last Hawaiian island, where the values of `āina and mālama `āina (love and care for the land) guide Kanaka Maoli practices of self-determination.
Mahalo (thank you) to our UHIP friends for an unforgettable experience.