Empowered aloha for indigenous people at summit
It’s a good week for indigenous peoples in the United States. President Barack Obama’s administration halted construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through the sacredlands of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation after a federal court ruled in favor of the company.
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It’s a good week for indigenous peoples in the United States. President Barack Obama’s administration halted construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through the sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation after a federal court ruled in favor of the company.
And here in Honolulu, before the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC) started, E Alu Pu, a network of grassroots malama aina groups that KUA facilitates, engaged with over 70 global indigenous peers. Further, the IUCN Members’ Assembly took a landmark step of creating a new membership category for indigenous people’s organizations. Their leadership matters because 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity is safe-guarded in areas managed by indigenous peoples, and we need to draw from their knowledge and practices.
Equally significant was community members’ influence over the language of Motion 53, which asked countries to establish a greater percentage of their national waters as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by 2030.
Contributions by KUA along with E Alu Pu and several Pacific island nations led to a revised motion emphasizing that such efforts be preceded by dialogue with indigenous peoples and local communities up front.
A majority vote for Motion 71 in support of increased community-based natural resource management in Hawaii and the world further strongly prioritizes input from indigenous people and local communities. These are proactive steps toward building better relationships with nature and each other that our state should consider.
Small island communities can do big things. King Kalakaua was the first head of state to travel and reach out globally, and today a president from these islands works to weave better relations among nations. Global diplomacy is thus a customary and traditional practice for Hawaii. Our multiethnic community is a result of proactive global engagement.
The Hawaiian system of agriculture once fed the people of the islands — and beyond. A little over 100 years ago we supplied most of the food to the West Coast during the Gold Rush. Yet today we do not have food security and much of the West Coast is our breadbasket.
THERE is a movement that seeks aina momona — an abundant productive ecological system that supports community well-being — through malama aina (caring for that which feeds us) and lawai’a pono (proper fishing). It is led by the initiative and leadership of people in small rural and Native Hawaiian communities like Haena on Kauai, Kaupulehu on Hawaii island, and Moomomi on Molokai, as well as places like Hauula on Oahu, which once had the most fishponds. At the WCC, representatives of many communities shared the lessons learned from their efforts to reinstate time-tested ancestral practices.
I’ve been asked many times what Hawaii gained from hosting the WCC. Conventional economists tend to look at tourism revenues and income generated for our state. We believe the returns go far beyond these numbers. This past week saw the emergence of empowered aloha for our home. We found solidarity with others from around the world in a shared commitment to honor our past so that we might be better stewards of our future.
We are moving forward together. In responding to a question on Standing Rock, President Barack Obama said that a priority of his is to restore “an honest, generous and respectful relationship with Native American tribes.” The WCC held similar aspirations relative to all indigenous peoples. We hope to see aspirations translate into actions.
Most importantly for Hawaii and the people we serve, the message was that our community is the first place we need to look for the power and the potential to help us get where we want to go.