A Nation Rising: Review Essay

Over at Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society (an open-access journal), our sister-scholar Natalee Kēhaulani Bauer has a new review essay published. Itʻs about A Nation Rising (Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, Ikaika Hussey, & Erin Kahunawaikaʻala Wright, eds., Duke University Press, 2014), an important new compilation about the history, present and future of the always multifaceted Hawaiian sovereignty movement.

Here are the first two paragraphs and you can read the full essay over at Decolonization here.

From the time I was a small child in Hawai‘i, I often sat for hours listening to my grandparents and other kupuna “talk story” about their lives, shared experiences, our history. This small group of men and women in their late 80s were an endless source of information that I could never have learned in over twenty years of formal education. In much the same way, A Nation Rising reads like the secret stories you hear when elders reminisce, inviting you in to a world of truth that has been kept hidden for decades. Through its collection of diverse voices narrating the struggles and successes of the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement, the anthology works to make visible a people and a struggle that has fought systematic erasure for over a century. Although the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement came of age alongside other well-known political movements – the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement, for example – our struggle has received little attention outside of Hawai‘i. A Nation Rising puts the Hawaiian sovereignty movement into conversation with global struggles for self-determination and reveals the depths and complexity of Kanaka resistance as an exemplar for similar struggles worldwide. Not since Haunani-Kay Trask’s revolutionary book, From a Native Daughter, has the voice of the Hawaiian people spoken so loudly, demanding to be heard and insisting on taking its rightful place in the canon of global history.

Editor Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua’s introduction to the anthology sets the historical stage for the mo‘olelo (stories, narratives) that follow, weaving together the history, complexities, and triumphs of each movement as well as their historical and spiritual interconnectedness, while outlining the overarching goals of the text as two-fold. Primarily, the editors aim to provide readers with a multiplicity of voices and strategies within the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, and to make visible the Hawaiian culture and people as an active and contemporary reality. Thoroughly written histories of Hawai‘i in general are scarce and often flawed (historian Gavin Daws’ Shoals of Time (1974) comes first to mind here), leaving out all trace of Kanaka Maoli resistance and most traces of our existence following the illegal US occupation. This written disremembering of our history is due to both the intentions and the repercussions of colonial capitalist occupation. Intentionally, haole writers of Hawaiian history have worked to further the capitalist and ideological investments in romanticizing the islands as a once-heathen land in need of saving, transformed into a now serene land full of happy, welcoming natives. Such a writing of history both lures in curious tourists (and their money) while simultaneously justifying, in the name of progress, the ongoing violence enacted on the Hawaiian people. As a repercussion of the ideological arm of US occupation, much of Hawaiian history has been disremembered due to a lack of historians fluent in the Hawaiian language and able to access Hawaiian language primary sources (a critique made by many Hawaiian Studies scholars including Noenoe Silva, Noelani Arista, and ku’ualoha ho’omanawanui). A Nation Rising fills that gap by emphasizing Kanaka Maoli authorship (as creators and literal writers) of our own history.

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