History of Hawaii|
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 97 11:37:38 CST
From: "Workers World" <email@example.com>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Hawaiian youth leader: 'Respect people, land'
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Mar. 20, 1997
issue of Workers World newspaper
Hawaiian youth leader: 'Respect the people and the land'
By Monica Moorehead, in Workers World
20 March 1997
Workers World recently interviewed Noelani Goodyear
Kaopua, a 22-year-old University of Hawaii graduate who led
a youth workshop during the Linking Up the Struggles
conference in Honolulu in early February. She describes her
heritage as Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiian), Chinese and
MM: What are some of the problems facing Hawaiian youth?
NK: Considering the legacy of colonialism and imperialism,
there are Hawaiian youth who are out of touch with what
their heritage is and are not taught to speak our language.
They do not know our religious and other traditions. They
are alienated from the land and this leads to a whole lot of
other problems such as kids getting involved with crime,
gangs and just feeling lost.
MM: Do you see a genuine differentiation of the problems
facing teenagers and young adults or is it solely
NK: I think that it all stems from the same historical
circumstances--the overthrow of our nation and the banning
of our language.
MM: What are the main issues you are involved in now as an
NK: I am mainly involved in the movement for sovereignty
and independence for Kanaka Maoli. At the root of this
movement is what we call Aloha Aina, a core value at the
heart of our culture and traditions--which means to love the
land, respect the land as you would your mother and to feel
a certain responsibility to it.
You do not see the land as a commodity or something to
exploit for oneself but as something to care for. In return
you will be cared for.
I think a lot of young people my age feel alienated from
their traditions, but there are other young people who are
starting to return to the traditions and language. ... We do
not want to see ourselves as solely being environmentalists
because we are concerned not only about the land but about
the people. They go hand in hand.
MM: With all of the day to day challenges facing Hawaiian
youth and students, how do you go about seeking out and
reaching out to these youth?
NK: The group that I am working with now is called Aloha
Aina. What Aloha Aina is trying to do is carry out political
educational programs in schools. We want to bring youth
together to discuss what kinds of issues they are facing,
particularly in regards to sovereignty and the need to build
a new nation.
MM: If you could come to the U.S. to speak to young
activists and organizers, what would be your main message to
them? Also how can they show solidarity with your struggle
NK: So many people do not know that there is an indigenous
population in Hawaii so I would let people know that
Hawaiian people do exist. And although we have been
colonized for over 200 years, we still have our own distinct
language, our own distinct way of living, our own beliefs
and practices which are being threatened every day by the
current U.S. political and economic system.
It would be important to support the idea of the
sovereignty and independence for Native people here and of
course, they should do the same for Native peoples
everywhere. While we want people to come here to visit, we
ask that they not stay in those mass tourist hotels. We want
to have people like yourself come here to see what our
struggle is all about.
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