Introduction
Noelani Goodyear- Kaʻōpua
Free the waters and the land you stole from me.
I don’t wanna wait for anotha’ minamina century,
Because you owe it all, from the mountains to the reef.
We gonna carry on, til our liberty—sweet sovereignty.
Yeah, sweet sovereignty.
Kapali Keahi of Lahaina Grown
A constellation of land struggles, peoples’ initiatives, and grassroots organizations gave
rise to what has become known as the Hawaiian movement or the Hawaiian sovereignty
movement. These Hawaiian movements for life, land, and sovereignty changed the face
of contemporary Hawaiʻi. Through battles waged in courtrooms, on the streets, at the
capitol building, in front of landowners’ and developers’ homes and offices, on bombed-
out sacred lands, in classrooms and from tents on the beaches, Kanaka Maoli pushed
against the ongoing forces of U.S. occupation and settler colonialism that still work to
eliminate or assimilate us. Such movements established recognition of and funding for
Hawaiian language instruction in public schools. They got the largest military in the
world to stop bombing and begin the cleanup of Kaho‘olawe Island. They preserved,
even if sometimes temporarily, entire coastlines or sections of various islands from
being turned into suburban and commercial hubs. Because of Hawaiian movements
like those documented in this book, water in Hawai‘i is protected as a public trust;
Indigenous cultural practitioners can continue to access necessary natural resources
and sacred sites; white supremacy cannot go unchecked; and the unadjudicated claims
of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s descendants to our national lands and sovereignty still
remain intact. There have, of course, been major losses too: highways built over burials
and religious temples, the eviction of families from their ancestral homelands, and the
alienation of communities from once-productive fishponds and taro fields. The stories
gathered in this collection chronicle some of these gains and losses, and, in so doing,
emphasize the active role Kanaka Maoli have played in the making of our own histories.
Our usage of the term “Kanaka Maoli” is itself a result of the movements discussed
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