Pacific Currents

Edited by Paul Lyons and Ty P. Kāwika Tengan


Notions about the “Pacific” region have become increasingly charged as an epistemic marker for shifts in geopolitical power (from Atlantic to Pacific), generating both conceptual realignments and lines of critical opposition. However, as Pacific Islands Studies scholars have long insisted—without necessarily being approached as partners on matters “Pacific”—the emerging oppositional versions of “Asia-Pacific” and the “Transpacific” often sublate Pacific Island and Islander priorities within models that originate outside of the Islands. In counter-posing Oceanic understandings of Pacific currents with au courant views of “the region,” starting in our Introduction with resonances of the Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian) word for current, “au,” this Special Issue aims to further conversation among Native Pacific Studies, American Studies, and decolonial critique.

The issue centers the Islands—and island histories that have been reshaped by the movements of various peoples along the portals of Empire—along with the ongoing movement of Islanders into spaces under U.S. jurisdictions, as generative of thought that addresses (and redresses) central problems in the region, including America’s ongoing occupation of Hawai‘i, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), American Sāmoa; (neo)colonial relations with the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI); the stepped-up engagement of the U.S. in regional politics; and corporate development issues, which, whether in the form of GMOs and the TMT in Hawai'i, destructive mining in Papua New Guinea (PNG), over-fishing in the Marshalls, or the veiled terms of the TPP, represent threats to Pacific life.

The essays in this collection contribute to a substantial body of work at the junction of American and Pacific Islands studies—one that has generally been disaggregated within American Studies contexts, or too easily equated with work in which “Pacific” signifies differently, and that within Native Pacific Studies remains a limited sector. Much of the compelling work that engages these conditions—flexibly responding to issues as they come up—today appears in online formats, including collective blogs. A number of these are referenced in the notes to our introduction and to individual articles, but we would like to highlight a few in this space, along with few recommendations of recent special issues and documentaries that move in alliance with the spirit of this Special Issue.



Special Issues

Bascara, Victor, Keith L. Camacho and Elizabeth DeLoughrey, eds. “Gender and Sexual Politics of Pacific Island Militarisation,” Special Issue of Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific Issue 37, March 2015.

Camacho, Keith L. ed., “Transoceanic Flows: Pacific Islander Interventions across the American Empire,”Special Issue of Amerasia, Issue 37, Number 3 (2011).

Dvorak, Greg and Miyume Tanji, “Indigenous Asias,” Special Issue of Amerasia, Issue 41, Number 1 (2015).


Beamer, Kamanamaikalani.  No Mākou ka Mana: Liberating the Nation. Honolulu: Kamehameha Publishing, 2014.

Camacho, Keith L. Cultures of Commemoration: The Politics of War, Memory, and History in the Mariana Islands. Honolulu: Center for Pacific Islands Studies and University of Hawai‘i Press, 2011.

Camacho, Keith L. and Setsu Shigematsu, eds. Militarized Currents: Toward a Decolonized Future in Asia and the Pacific. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

Carroll, Jeffrey, Brandi Nālani McDougall, and Georgeanne Nordstrom, eds. Huihui: Navigating Art and Literature in the Pacific. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2015.

Goldstein, Alyosha, ed. Formations of United States Colonialism. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2014.

Gonzalez, Vernadette Vicuña. Securing Paradise: Tourism and Militarism in Hawai‘i and the Philippines. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2013.

Hanlon, David. Making Micronesia: A Political Biography of Tosiwo Nakayama.  Honolulu: Center for Pacific Islands Studies and University of Hawai‘i Press, 2014.

Johnson, Giff. Don’t Ever Whisper: Darlene Keju, Pacific Health Pioneer, Champion for Nuclear Survivors. Marshall Islands: Giff Johnson, 2013. 


Arista, Noelani. “Navigating Uncharted Oceans of Meaning: Kaona as Historical and Interpretive Method,” PMLA 125.3 (2010): 663–69.

Arista, Noelani. “Ka Waihona Palapala Mānaleo: Research in a Time of Plenty. Colonialism and Ignoring the Hawaiian Language Archive.” In Indigenous Textual Cultures. Lachlan Paterson and Tony Ballantyne, eds.  Durham and London: Duke University Press (2016). 

Fujikane, Candace. “Asian American Critique and Moana Nui 2011: Securing a Future beyond Empires, Militarized Capitalism, and APEC,” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 13.2 (2012): 189-210.

Kabutaulaka, Tarcisius. “Re-Presenting Melanesia: Ignoble Savages and Melanesian Alter-Natives.” The Contemporary Pacific 27.1 (2015): 110-145.

Uperesa, Fa‘anofo Lisaclaire. 2014.  “Fabled Futures: Migration and Mobility for Samoans in American Football.”  The Contemporary Pacific 26.2 (2014):281-301


Kelly, Anne Keala. Nohohewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawai‘i, 2009. 

Bautista, Lola Quan. Breadfruit and Open Spaces, 2013.

Haman, Dean and Joe Wilson, Kumu Hina, 2015.

Horowitz, Adam. Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1, 2011.

Collective blogs


Ke Ka‘upu Hehi ‘Ale

Individual blogs

He Wahī Pa‘akai: A Package of Salt

IEP JELTOK: a basket of poetry and writing from Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

Maile Arvin
Kealani Cook
Greg Dvorak
Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada
Brandy Nālani McDougall
Dan Taulapapa McMullin
Tiara R. Na‘puti
Stanley Orr
Jessica A. Schwartz
Stephanie Nohelani Teves

Still in the Blood: Gendered Histories of Race, Law, and Science in Day v. Apoliona

Maile Arvin

My essay focuses on the Day v. Apoliona case (2005-2010), in which five Native Hawaiian men sued the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for failing to enforce a strict blood quantum policy that defines “native Hawaiians” as being “of not less than one-half part blood.” The essay is concerned with thinking through the complicated ways in which Native Hawaiians can at times buy into Western scientific and legal definitions of race, indigeneity and gender, and defend and deploy those definitions against other Native Hawaiians, even in the pursuit of Hawaiian sovereignty independent of the United States and its laws. I find similar concerns are also at the forefront in current debates around state and federal recognition for Native Hawaiians. Many Native Hawaiians reject state and federal recognition precisely because they are political strategies which will likely tighten the stranglehold Western political structures and definitions of race, indigeneity and gender already have on Native Hawaiian communities.

Federal recognition has a long, fraught history as a political strategy within the diverse Hawaiian sovereignty movement. The well-known activist group Kā Lāhui Hawaiʻi, for example, pursued federal recognition in the late 1990s but many of its leaders renounced this strategy as they discovered the Akaka Bill, the federal recognition legislation nicknamed for its chief sponsor Daniel Akaka (Democratic senator from Hawaiʻi), lacked much especially in the way of land rights. First introduced in 2000, and reintroduced several times over the next decade, Republican opposition effectively defeated the Akaka Bill in Congress. In 2011, proponents of the Akaka Bill shifted tactics, pursuing and achieving recognition at the state level instead. State recognition has allowed the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to lead an official “nation-building” effort, currently underway, complete with a Native Hawaiian roll (Kanaʻiolowalu) modeled on Native American tribal rolls. Many Native Hawaiians are against the roll effort because they recognize the many issues Native American tribes have had around enrollment and disenrollment. Because the Hawaiian Kingdom was a multi-ethnic and multi-racial country, many completely reject the idea that blood must be the basis for any future government.

In June 2014, the U.S. Department of the Interior (D.O.I.) suddenly raised the issue of federal recognition again, from a different angle. They announced the D.O.I. would hold public hearings in Hawaiʻi to solicit public opinion on a proposed rule change that would “re-establish a government to government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community.” Though many questions remain unanswered about this proposed relationship, especially about land rights, the D.O.I. suggested this would bring the Native Hawaiians into a more analogous relationship to the U.S. government as federally recognized Native American tribes.

The public hearings took place in multiple locations across the Hawaiian islands from June 23-July 8, 2014. Almost all of the hearings were broadcast live and continue to be archived online by the local cable channel ʻŌlelo TV. At the time, the hearings invigorated Native Hawaiian communities, both those living in Hawaiʻi and many who live in diaspora—not because of any major support of federal recognition but for the exact opposite, the public evidence of a groundswell of support for Hawaiʻi’s independence. Speaker after speaker, mostly Native Hawaiians but also local allies, used their allotted two minutes to strongly reject the offer of federal recognition and instead called on the D.O.I. representatives to acknowledge ongoing existence of the independent Hawaiian Kingdom. There were many moments of sheer beauty and honesty shared. Many keiki (children) fluently spoke ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) for the entire two minutes they were given. Songs and tears and sometimes anger overflowed in those rooms. “To me, the overthrow happened yesterday,” one man stated before sharing that his grandfather used to make ice cream for Queen Liliʻuokalani. The D.O.I. also invited written comments, many of which are viewable on their website. Both the videos of the hearings and the written comments are useful for anyone interested in learning more about or teaching contemporary Native Hawaiian politics.

The hearings also held many difficult moments. At times, the opposition, frustration, and perhaps panic at the sudden wish of the D.O.I. to bestow federal recognition caused those testifying to express anti-Native American sentiment. One of the D.O.I. representatives, who was from a federally recognized tribe and explained the benefits of federal recognition to her tribe, was called, unflatteringly, Pocahontas. What little media coverage of the hearings existed failed to contextualize these and other sentiments shared during the public testimonies, and instead characterized the outpouring of political knowledge and aloha ʻāina (love of the land) as the unbecoming, uncivilized conduct of Natives. As Lani Teves and I pointed out, especially in response to those who urged Native Hawaiians testifying to show more aloha (love, though in this context they meant niceness), anger can be part of expressing aloha too.

Despite the obvious opposition from the hearings, a year later, the D.O.I. appears ready to approve the rule change that would effectively institute federal recognition.  The details of what this will mean, exactly, remain murky. What is clear to me and many others in the wake of the hearings and in the face of another inspiring movement in Hawaiʻi—protecting the sacred summit of Mauna Kea from the construction of a thirty-meter telescope—is that we cannot allow state-forms of recognition to entirely structure the ways we recognize each other and imagine justice for our people. Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua recently wrote a beautiful public letter to those supporting state and federal recognition efforts, insisting that those efforts are “not really nation-building” but “bureaucracy-building.” Nation-building, Goodyear-Kaʻōpua argues, is what is already happening all around us: “We don’t need to seek gifts of hollow justice from the state to see something good happen for our people. Our people are what’s happening. Can’t you see us rising?” 

Many of us are similarly working to make other forms of recognition, including definitions of indigeneity separate from blood quantum and honoring connections to the larger Indigenous Pacific, more desirable and even irresistible. My essay asked of legal recognition of blood quantum at stake in Day v. Apoliona, borrowing Fred Moten’s words: How do we not want this shit (this authenticity, respectability, protection promised by the law and the state)? We may always be working out the answer to that question. In the meantime, I leave readers with two blogs that regularly feature the other things we want for our peoples: Ke Kaupu Hehi Ale and muliwaiKe Kaupu Hehi Ale is organized around the acknowledgement that: “The work we all do can really grind you down, and we all need stories that bring us hope or remind us of the fire inside us or ask us to carry a communal burden.” Muliwai is a project I’m involved with as part of Hinemoana of Turtle Island, a Pacific feminist group, and our blog is a space for “acknowledging, reflecting on and building other modes of Indigenous recognition in and beyond Oceania.”

Ke Ao a me Ka Pō: Postmillennial Thought and Native Hawaiian Foreign Mission Work

Kealani Cook

Between 1852 and 1900, several hundred Native Hawaiians engaged in mission work in Micronesia and the Marquesas. Through the post-millennial worldview brought by their New England “makua,” (parents) foreign mission work allowed them to support the expansion of Christ’s kingdom while also pushing back against the paternalism and racism of American missionaries in Hawaiʻi and in the field. If the most important measure of a people came from their dedication to expanding Christ’s kingdom, the Hawaiians could claim full equality with the Americans and Europeans through their commitment to mission work. Yet an examination of Hawaiian missionary interactions with and treatment of other islanders provides a stark counterpoint to this somewhat celebratory account of Hawaiian religious agency. The same rigid theological division of the world and eagerness to expand Christ’s kingdom also led to and justified their denunciation and even persecution of the islanders they worked among.

The article on these Native Hawaiian missionaries found in this issue of American Quarterly, “Ke ao a me ka Pō,” comes from a broader project examining Native Hawaiian interactions with other Pacific Islanders. In the historiography of Hawaiʻi, and indeed Pacific historiography in general, there is such an intense focus on interactions between Islanders and foreigners, particularly European and American foreigners, that little attention is paid to those many instances when the foreigners Islanders were interacting with where Islanders themselves.  It is not that such interactions have not left traces in both primary and secondary sources, indeed the genesis of this project came from the multiple instances when such interactions were briefly mentioned in secondary sources. In most cases, however, the interactions themselves received brief mention and little analysis, with many historians seemingly viewing them worthy of little ink and even less thought.  As a graduate student whose own thinking of Pacific History was heavily informed by my personal and professional connections with other Pacific Islander academics, it seemed that such interactions held some tantalizing clues about how Pacific Islanders, including Native Hawaiians, understood the world.

The details of many of these interactions, however, are lost to history. Indeed some of the stories I would most like to tell are too poorly sourced to be uncovered through the discipline of history. In the Marquesas, for instance, Ruta Kaiheʻekai, the wife of missionary Alexander Kaukau, spent several months in a clandestine affair with a pair of chiefly Marquesan brothers, then left Kaukau and the couple’s children to live with the two. Despite repeated pleas by Kaukau and other HBCFM representatives, she refused to return to either Hawai'i or Kaukau. The records of this are relatively sparse and one-sided, including a 1966 letter from Kaukau to the editor of the Nupepa Kuokoa which can be found in the Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society’s Marquesas collection.  Ruta’s side of the story, as well as those of her Marquesan lovers, is largely lost.  How did Ruta view the relationship, coming from both a heavily Protestant era in Hawaiian history and a culture where such things where considered quite normal just a few short decades earlier. What element did exorcizing play in the relationship?  To what degree did their cultural similarities connect Ruta to her lovers in ways her mission brethren might have found uncomfortable, dangerous, and even shameful reminders of their past? At this point the story seems too have far more potential as the basis of a novel or short story than a monograph, but to actually know what that relationship was like, to understand it as they understood it, that is a history I would truly like to tell.

Many historical interactions between Islanders are like those of Ruta and her two Marquesan chiefs, ill sourced incidents and relationships that are available as little more than the barest glimpses into the past.  Other interactions between Islanders are far more documented, which is why the massacre of Tabiteauea or Berita Kaaikaula’s battles with Rev. Sturges find so much room in the article while Ruta is denied anything but a short mention in an online appendix.  Research into these more documented encounters, however, is still relatively thin.  Perhaps this article might encourage some Pacific historians to put a little more thought into such interactions, perhaps it will not.  Either way, the histories are there waiting to be told, and the stories they tell may help us rethink how we see the Pacific as a whole.

Oceanizing American Studies

Greg Dvorak

In relation to my essay on “Oceanizing” American studies, I would like to contribute a number of resources that connect with Native Pacific Studies as it applies to contexts that may not be mentioned elsewhere in this special Beyond the Page website.  In my essay, I elaborate on the example of the Marshall Islands, the weapons testing that has taken place there, and the Marshallese diaspora that has migrated to Hawai'i and across the United States.  I also write about the larger idea of bringing the meaningful teaching of indigenous-focused learning about the Pacific Islands into the classroom.  Here I offer some suggestions about how to learn more about Marshallese articulations with the United States and American Studies, and some useful online materials that can inspire ways to “Oceanize” the academy in general.

To introduce the Marshall Islands in all of its complexity, there are few comprehensive materials in print, but one recent book that covers a very broad and insightful array of information about Marshallese cultural history is Etto ñan Raan Kein: A Marshall Islands History, by Julianne M. Walsh, in collaboration with Hilda Heine. Honolulu: Bess Press, 2012.  This history textbook is the first of its kind in the Marshall Islands but it also represents the first full history of these islands from a Marshallese perspective.  As this text is rather expensive and not readily available, one useful online source is the Republic of the Marshall Islands Embassy in Washington DC website, which maintains a relatively detailed history of recent issues in the context of American involvement in the islands, including information about nuclear testing and the Compact of Free Association. 

In my essay I mentioned Marshallese poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, the charismatic woman whose words moved the United Nations General Assembly to a standing ovation in September 2014.  She keeps a fascinating and powerful blog of her poetry with links to videos of her evocative readings at “IEP JELTOK:a basket of poetry and writing from Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner.”  I urge readers to look at her poetry not only about climate change but also about nuclear testing issues and racism toward Micronesians, such as Marshall Islanders, in Hawai’i. Recently, Kathy was featured in a CNN special report which highlighted the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ struggle to deal with rising sea levels and severe weather.  This interactive resource is a visual and vibrant site that provides a stark reminder of how the industrialized countries of the world contribute to the devastation of low-lying nations like the Marshalls.  It also highlights many of the social problems brought by decades of US strategic policy in this region. 

To learn more about Kwajalein, the atoll where I spent my childhood years on the US military base there, readers may be interested in watching a short documentary broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Company in 2009 entitled “Rocket Island.” This video captures the stark contrasts between the American community living in the relative comfort and affluence of Kwajalein island while the Marshallese labor community of nearby Ebeye lives in poverty.  This film was made before the clan heads and traditional leaders of Kwajalein agreed to renew their lease to the United States (which they did in 2011), so it is somewhat dated, but the conditions and complex circumstances of the atoll have not changed very much.  For more on the complex and contradictory histories of Kwajalein Atoll, please refer to my forthcoming book:  Dvorak, Greg. Coral and Concrete: Remembering American and Japanese Empire in the Marshall Islands. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press (forthcoming, 2017).

Marshallese migrants settle throughout the United States, the largest communities being in Arkansas and Hawai’i.  Recently, the problem of Marshallese and other Micronesian migrants’ homelessness in Honolulu has been featured in local media, repeating many of the negative stereotypes and misunderstandings Hawai'i residents have about these communities.  In fact, these migrants come to the United States seeking education and work opportunities, and more and more will likely come to evade the threat of impending flooding from climate change. Yet, there is an ongoing debate about how welfare can support these new migrants, many of whom come as part of the promise of the Compacts of Free Association but do not speak English or lack the skills to earn well-paying jobs that can afford them housing and basic needs. About the Marshallese community of Springdale, Arkansas, “A New Island: The Marshallese in Arkansas” offers a rather nuanced perspective, including much background on the Marshall Islands as well. 

In terms of broader approaches to bringing Native Pacific studies into conversation with American studies, I would like to offer a comparative perspective by sharing my own work on the subject of teaching Pacific studies and Pacific history in Japan, where I am based.  Japan is similarly indebted to the Pacific islands, and has, like the United States, colonized and militarized Micronesia.  I wrote about this topic in a special forum about the teaching of Pacific history in the Journal of Pacific History  volume 46, issue 2 (2011), which includes several other articles on pedagogy by leading Pacific scholars that may be of interest. I also talk about the importance of Pacific Islands learning in my TEDx talk, “Connecting the Dots” from 2013. In this talk, I also introduce the grassroots initiative ProjectSANGO which aims to bridge communities in Japan and indigenous communities throughout island Oceania using art and creative academic approaches.

Finally, if not already mentioned elsewhere on this special “Beyond the Page” online supplement, the University of Hawai’i’s Center for Pacific Islands Studies recommends its own list of resources, including the Pacific Islands Report from the Pacific Islands Development Center of the East-West Center and the extensive Pacific Collection of Hamilton Library, which has its own links to various Pacific topics and regional themes.

To Ea: In Response to David Kahalemaile, August 12, 1871

Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada


This poem was written as part of a collective poetry offering for an event called Nā Hua Ea in the lead-up to the Hawaiian kingdom holiday Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea. The holiday commemorates the return of Hawaiian sovereignty after a six-month takeover in 1843 by Lord George Paulet in the name of Great Britain, and has been celebrated in recent decades as an assertion of Hawaiian pride and national consciousness. In 1871, David Kahalemaile gave a speech talking about ea, which is translated as life/breath/sovereignty/rising, and the first line of each stanza comes from his discussion of ea. This particular performance took place at an annual living history walking tour entitled Mai Poina [ʻNever Forget’], which reenacts and commemorates the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893.

Moʻokūʻauhau versus Colonial Entitlement in English Translations of the Kumulipo

Brandy Nālani McDougall

In 1895 Queen Liliʻuokalani was put on trial, sentenced, and imprisoned in ʻIolani Palace for misprision of treason after an armed royalist attempt to reinstate the Hawaiian Kingdom. During her imprisonment, she began her translation of the Kumulipo, her moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy), which traces her descent from over 800 generations and recounts the universe’s beginnings. Despite this history, Liliʻuokalani’s translation is largely invisible, and the American folklorist Martha Warren Beckwith’s translation, published in 1951, is often thought to be the only one.Exactly how this has come to pass, I assert, is directly related to how “colonial entitlement” continues to pervade academic forums. Comparing these translations of the Kumulipo, my essay examines the opposition between colonial entitlement and moʻokūʻauhau. I “hoʻokūʻauhau,” or genealogize, as a methodology to contextualize both translations before comparing them ideologically, politically, and aesthetically.

It has been a mere four or five generations since the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen Liliʻuokalani’s forced abdication of the throne, and the subsequent (and also illegal) annexation of Hawaiʻi to the United States. Examinations of the genealogies of these competing translations of the Kumulipo, as well as of their translators, elucidate colonial entitlement and academic gatekeeping and how such appendages of institutionalized coloniality undermine Indigenous claims to sovereignty and nationhood. Still, Liliʻuokalani remains a beloved symbol of Hawaiian governance and nationhood, and aloha ʻāina, love for the land and patriotism for the Hawaiian Kingdom, abounds. Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio’s 2009 performance of a poem titled “Kumulipo” at the White House, with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in attendance, stands as one such testament of aloha for the queen, the Hawaiian Kingdom, and Hawaiian cultural expression.

Though I offer a brief analysis of Osorio’s performance in the essay, I would like to use this space to further explain my readings of the kaona within the closing lines of her performance. Kaona, often described as ʻhidden meaning,’ is the practice of hiding and finding symbolic, allusive, and/or metaphorical meaning. As a previous study with Georganne Nordstrom illustrates, the practice of kaona is shared between a composer and her multiple audiences, with certain audience members (with greater knowledge or experience) having the ability to find more meaning than others. Though a part of Kanaka art for generations (as the Kumulipo makes clear through its own displays of kaona), kaona became a convenient means for subversive and counterhegemonic communication during colonial censorship and surveillance in 19th-century Hawaiʻi. Osorio’s use of kaona in her performance, therefore, exemplifies the continuance of decolonial Hawaiian counterhegemony and a distinctly Kanaka literary practice. I emphasize in the essay that Osorio’s closing lines, “Don’t forget us/ Mai Poina” allude to the Queen and the anti-annexation movement, but exactly how she does this by speaking to multiple audiences may not be clear to those unfamiliar with Hawaiian history, language, and politics.

The concluding lines demonstrate how Osorio is speaking to two audiences through kaona—one, an English-speaking general American audience, which includes the President; and the other, an English and Hawaiian-speaking Kanaka audience. As such, the meaning somewhat differs. Aside from language, the lines differ in that the English line includes the word “us,” indicating here an exclusive Hawaiian collective, a “mākou” as opposed to a kākou.” Together, her demonstration of the anxiety of colonized forgetting, her articulation of a desire to reconnect with ancestry and language, as well as her powerful (and exclusive) performance of her moʻokūʻauhau in Hawaiian underscore “Don’t forget us” as “Don’t forget (what you have done/continue to do to) us.” On the other hand, “Mai poina,” or “Donʻt forget” urges her Hawaiian audience to not forget our ancestors, who and where we came from, our history, and our culture. Of course, this urging has a nationalist underpinning as well, as Osorio demonstrates in the poem that Americanization has meant a near cultural genocide.

Osorio’s choice of poem for the White House performance is key. In choosing to perform “Kumulipo,” she uses kaona as a means of connection with the original Kumulipo while at the seat of American colonial power, at the White House in the presence of President Obama and the First Lady. In doing so, her performance is reminiscent of Queen Liliʻuokalani’s own travels to Washington D.C. to represent her people and to argue first against Annexation and then against the dispossession of Hawaiian land. That these trips were preceded by the Queen’s efforts to translate the Kumulipo, her own moʻokūʻauhau, while imprisoned, illustrates Liliʻuokalani’s own return to ancestry and culture within colonial confines, and the mana therein. In following Liliʻuokalani as a model, Osorio’s performance thus also subtly asserts her loyalty to Liliʻuokalani as an aliʻi and thus her allegiance to the Hawaiian Kingdom. In bringing “Kumulipo” to the seat of American power over a century later, Osorio assures her audiences that she has indeed not forgotten who she comes from, the Queen, or the memory of an independent Hawaiian Kingdom.

100 Tiki Notes

Dan Taulapapa McMullin

“100 Tiki Notes” is part of a collection of pieces in various media, a work-in-progress, exploring appropriation as a site of conflict--in whatever way one might interpret this.

The following links are to essays and videos by indigenous Pacific writers and artists whose works on cultural appropriation and many other subjects inform my practice and viewpoint:

Noelani Arista

“Aloha Denied” is an essay published by The Hawaii Independent, by historians Noelani Arista and Judy Kertész, that talks about the concept of Aloha, and how the word itself is made a commodity of settler colonialism.  As a Kanaka Maoli, Native Hawaiian, Noelani Arista, a professor at University of Hawaii, makes the declaration that Aloha can be denied, which speaks to Polynesian cultural traditions of reciprocity.

There is a video text piece also called “Aloha Denied” that Noelani Arista wrote for the exhibition PIKO: Pacific Islander Contemporary Art at PIEAM Pacific Islander Ethnic Museum in Long Beach, California.

Craig Santos Perez

Craig Santos Perez is a Chamorro-Guamanian poet, professor of English at the University of Hawaii, and publisher with Brandy Nalani McDougall of Ala Press of Honolulu.  He recently wrote an essay on the recent ruckus surrounding race-based appropriations of white conceptual poets.

And in Harriet, published by the Poetry Foundation, he wrote a book review that criticized white supremacy in American literary practices.  The relationship between racism and appropriation is at the core of what both are about, the capitalization of our bodies and our ways of expression, and the assessing of value from a white viewpoint.  In his essay “Whitewashing American Hybrid Aesthetics” he addresses this issue in American literature:

Maile Arvin

Male Arvin is a Kanaka Maoli writer and professor of Ethnic Studies at University of California, Riverside.  She describes her online essay “Possessions of Whiteness: Settler Colonialism and Anti-Blackness in the Pacific,” on the website Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society: “It focuses on the Western history of identifying Polynesians with whiteness (or as things white people can possess), particularly addressing appropriation in the movie The Descendants, but also looking at how those ideas about whiteness and possession impact divisions within our own, diverse Pacific communities.”

Daniel Satele

Daniel Satele is a Samoan/New Zealand writer based in Auckland.  His work looks at the intersections of popular, traditional, and fine art cultural forms.  In a recent critique, that sparked debate in Aotearoa-New Zealand, he addressed a conceptual public art piece that he considered orientalist.

Joanne Barker

Joanne Barker is Lenape (an enrolled member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians). She is Professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University. On her blog Tequila Sovereign, she wrote recently on the subject of appropriation in regards to indigenous being.

Militarization and Resistance from Guåhan: Protecting and Defending Pågat

Tiara R. Na‘puti

Our project centers Guåhan (Guam) as a critical site of rhetorical struggle over identity, indigeneity, and Americanness. Using Chamoru (Chamorro) cultural frameworks of inafa’ maolek (to make things good for each other), we illuminate how local responses and activism challenge US colonization and militarization. Efforts to “protect and defend” Pågat, a sacred site on the northeastern coast of Guåhan, focus on ancestral land, language and cultural revitalization, and self-determination. They rely primarily on actions that both depend on and reinforce communicative channels directed against the US nation-state. We argue that activism must first be rooted in our sacred spaces to give us strength for contending with American influence and critiquing militarization. Yet activism is articulated through rhetoric that demonstrates complex and contradictory identities positioned as simultaneously part of the United States and exterior to it. Understanding these struggles from Guåhan offers an important launching point for efforts connecting ongoing transoceanic dialogues and resistance.

From Guåhan to Tinian and Pågan 

From Guåhan, there are deep connections with other islands struggling against increased militarization by the US. In 2015, the issues that Guåhan has been addressing with the military buildup continue and are extending outward as other parts of the Mariana Islands archipelago are being targeted for elements of the US military buildup. Since 2006, there have been several phases of US military planning for Guåhan without genuine consultation or input from the local community. The US and Japan governments orchestrated changes to their security agreement, including initial plans to transfer 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guåhan along with a number of other significant buildup plans for the island. From 2007-2008, public meetings were held island-wide to provide an opportunity for community members to articulate their concerns about the buildup through written comments. A catalyst moment was the November 2009 release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which revealed the DOD plans for military buildup for the first time to the people of Guåhan. The sequence of military planning and community response has continued as the local population challenged the plans for failing to consider cultural and social implications, specifically the contentious issue of  “acquisition” of acres of ancestral, public, & private lands. In Guåhan, much of this resistance centered on the sacred site of Pågat, which was pursued as a “preferred alternative” for a live firing range complex, and then flared up again when the supplemental EIS raised the possibility of using Litekyan (Ritidian) as a firing range similar to the way Pågat was slated a few years earlier.

This sequence of military planning and response continues to unfold throughout the Marianas. The original Guam-CNMI Realignment plans for Guåhan include 5,000 Marines and their dependents, a new wharf for a nuclear aircraft carrier, a center for a new Global Hawk UAV program, a THAAD missile defense system, and numerous training areas. Similarities persist in the process of engagement with the US military EIS, which has resulted in a variety of levels of public opposition and resistance to the proposed military buildup in the region.

Tinian and Pågan are now facing similar and distinct ways of engaging with and challenging militarization as the tentacles of the proposed U.S. military buildup plans to stretch its way throughout the Mariana Islands. Tinian has a population of about 3,200 and is the second most populated of the three main islands comprising the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). It has a land area of 39 square miles, two-thirds of which is already under US military control.


Reproduced with permission from the Lonely Planet website © 2011 Lonely Planet

Pågan is one of the most geologically and biologically diverse islands in the Marianas. Although most of the island residents were forced to evacuate due to a volcanic eruption, it is considered a sacred space and many residents still intend to return to the place that has supported their ancestors for over 3,000 years.



Mount Pagan, the northern volcano on Pagan Island (taken in May 2015).



Mount Pagan, the northern volcano on Pagan Island (taken in May 2015).

On April 4, 2015 the CNMI Joint Military Training draft EIS was released, revealing plans to create new live firing ranges and training areas on Pågan & Tinian. The document is 1,700 pages long and reveals that the majority of Tinian lands will be off-limits to civilians for 16-45 weeks out of the year. Due to the size of the island, artillery, rocket launchers, and other military exercises will be conducted within a few miles of residences. The sounds will be loud enough for over 1,000 people living on Saipan to hear these exercises. The island of Pågan will be utilized for training and air combat exercises, including dropping 175 1-ton bombs on the island every year. A live-fire military range will have significant negative impacts on human and animal inhabitants as well as cultural, economic, and environmental damage. 



Similar to the 2011 process for Guåhan, a review period of 60 days was initially granted for the CNMI, but an extension request was granted to allow the public to read and comment on this lengthy and complex document. In response to the request, the CJMT draft EIS public comment period was initially extended through August 4, and then extended again after Typhoon Soudelor hit the CNMI and US President Barack Obama announced a disaster declaration ordering federal aid to assist after the destruction left much of the commonwealth without running water, electricity, or fuel. As a result, the US military announced it is extending the public comment period until  October 2, 2015 Chamorro Standard Time (ChST).


Inafa’ Maolek Throughout the Mariana Islands

Long before the DEIS release residents have been questioning the environmental and economic impacts that increased military activity would have on their islands. Using the guiding principle of inafa' maolek (to make things good for each other), the people are focused on cultural preservation, sustainability, and restoring balance by maintaining deep connections to our sacred spaces that are coming under threat of increased militarization. The public hearings have featured speakers telling their stories and relating to the land, of people sharing how they give back to their communities that brings meaning to their lives, and connecting Chamorus and others to their environment as stewards of i guinahan i tano’ yan tasi (the resources of the land and the sea). These efforts reflect the deeply rooted foundation of Chamoru culture that persists despite centuries of colonial influence; it demonstrates how mutual respect must prevail over individualism.

In the wake of these issues, PaganWatch has been reactivated to respond to the challenge of protecting the CNMI from US military intentions. Alternative Zero, a local group concerned about the proposed live-fire training is also working to represent a peoples' choice of "NO" in the face of the US military places for Pågan and Tinian islands.

This coalition offers local perspectives and reflects that sometimes the best option is no option. Demonstrating their rooted connection to the land, members of these communities provide verbal testimony to oppose the destruction of the environment, to tell their collective story, to share what the people want the community to be, and to ask, what do we want to do with our land? Often weaving together these concerns, local activism demonstrates resistance through its articulations of cultural resources and environmental stewardship connecting to a deep historical framework of inafa’ maolek. 

In this video, posted by Alternative Zero Coalition on Sunday, May 3, 2015, Patricia Coleman (Alternative Zero Coalition member) provides verbal testimony opposing the buildup arguing that the DOD uses rhetoric and propaganda to divide and conquer the peoples of the Marianas. Coleman urges continued resolve and strength within the community in the efforts to save Pagan and Tinian, noting that although the DOD may try persuasion tactics about the economic benefits, “No amount of money can justify destroying the two places that are dear to our hearts and playing equal roles in our peoplehood. Money can be replaced, our islands cannot.”

Additionally, Vinnie Sablan, representative of the CNMI legislature, opened up the floor by raising his concerns about the Draft EIS and the DOD's plans in the Marianas. He uses information directly from the EIS to contest the buildup impacts for Pågan, focusing on the threats posed to ancestral lands and the peoples’ ability to continue cultural and traditional practices. His testimony from Wednesday, April 29 at Southern High School was posted by the Alternative Zero Coalition on Saturday, May 9, 2015.

Northern Islands Mayor Jerome Alden also strongly opposes the militarization of Pågan, arguing that the military is ignoring the indigenous and cultural context of the islands and the long history of its peoples. Alden also challenges the military’s description of Pågan as “uninhabited,” which falsely dismisses any consideration of the people connected to the island and their continued knowledge of what goes on within our islands. These waves of resistance to the buildup circulate from government officials and other community members and even beyond the DEIS process, including a petition to the US federal government on The petition includes a video campaign of Guåhan youth in solidarity with Tinian and Pågan. The video provides news clips summarizing US military plans for the buildup in the Marianas then features Guåhan youth making and wielding signs with messages of  “prutehi yan difendi,” “Protect and Defend Tinian & Pågan,” and “Our Islands Are Sacred.” The campaign illustrates inafa’ maolek as a means of respecting nature as more important than us, and a guiding principle within the ongoing struggle against militarization.

On June 29, 2015 an independent consultant team reviewed the DEIS and deemed the document "woefully inadequate" and argued the US military hearings on the buildup were not sufficient and have only served the purpose of the military relaying what it wants to relay without being responsive to the public's comments. The consultants also argue the DEIS is not in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), stating “no one is above the law and that includes the military.” This scathing review sounds all too familiar from Guåhan, where in 2010 the US EPA gave the military’s EIS its lowest possible rating and argued that the plans “should not proceed as proposed” in Guåhan. As the military buildup continues to move through the Marianas and becomes a perennial element, this familiarity has not stifled resistance. Rather, it has strengthened efforts to unify the demands throughout the archipelago and continued the practice of inafa’ maolek that reflects the importance of grounding activism in deep connection to sacred spaces and making things good for each other.  Oceanic dialogue is connecting the islands, and helping the people of the Marianas work toward unity in addressing the US military plans. These ongoing efforts demonstrate the importance of continuing to foster broad transoceanic dialogue as a means of connecting struggles and resistance to militarization.

Recommended Readings and Other Relevant Material:

'Strangers in Our Own Land': John Kneubuhl, Modern Drama, and Hawai‘i Five-O

Stanley Orr

“Cave of the Spirits”: John Kneubuhl’s “The Isaiah Quickfox Story” (Wagon Train, 1965) and the Fale Aitu Tradition

Readers may be perplexed by the subtitle of this article, which includes the ‘okina for Hawai‘i Five-O. This diacritical mark does not appear in the 1968-80 series title and, as many critics have pointed out, Hawaii Five-O elides native Hawaiian language and culture. I find this inaugural rendering of the series title appropriate to John Kneubuhl’s sui generis intervention into Hawaii Five-O. For the dramatist brought his own deep experience of things Hawaiian, as well as his postcolonial trickster aesthetics, to a program often critiqued as synonymous with "Haole-Wood Agitprop”(to borrow a phrase from Ed Rampell). In “Strangers In Our Own Land,” Kneubuhl deploys crime story conventions as well as complex allusions to native Hawaiian cultural criticism, his own stage dramas, and The Adding Machine (1923), a play written by his Workshop 47 mentor Elmer Rice. Kneubuhl’s postcolonial “Mr. Zero,” Hawaiian impresario Benny Kalua (Simon Oakland), has recourse to many tactics as he wages a one-man war against the forces of colonialism in Hawai‘i nei. Not least among these gambits is misdirection; in order to beguile McGarrett’s Five-O team, Benny creates an elaborate ruse in which the troubled veteran Tommy Kapali appears the murderer.

Kneubuhl consistently imbues his insurgent villains with a streak of chicanery. As Sarina Pearson observes, Kneubuhl’s most celebrated TV character, Dr. Miguelito Loveless (Michael Dunn) of The Wild Wild West (1965-69), often carries out his subversive program through the power of illusion (recall “The Night That Terror Stalked the Town” [1965] and “The Night of the Surreal McCoy” [1967]). Similarly, the Prince of the South Sea Coral Islands (Nick Adams), in “The Night of the Two-Legged Buffalo” (1966), stages his own kidnapping in an effort to destabilize US power in the Pacific. Even as Kneubuhl explicitly based Dr. Loveless on himself, each of his dramaturgical tricksters reveals something of the dramatist. This is especially true of Kneubuhl’s original script for “The Isaiah Quickfox Story” (Wagon Train, 1965), in which the indigenous dramaturge Isaiah Quickfox (Frank de Kova) stages a haunting spectacle in the outré setting of a Southwestern bat-cave for an exposure of settler violence against Native Americans. This episode sees the TV Western inflected with conventions of the Samoan dramatic form known as fale aitu.

In “The Isaiah Quickfox Story,” Cooper Smith (Robert Fuller) and Charlie Wooster (Frank McGrath) ride into a desert town in quest of supplies for the nearby wagon train. Here they find a bizarre scenario: working with local Indian Isaiah Quickfox, New England historian Professor Sheffield (John Holland) has accidentally unleashed a colony of vampire bats as he searches a cave for legendary Spanish artifacts. Moreover, he has gotten himself lost in said cave and is presumed dead, the victim of the bats. Most of the villagers flee, leaving only a few townies alongside the professor’s daughter Kate (Nancy Rennick). The two most interesting holdouts are Isaiah and Burt Enders (John Doucette), a local headman. For decades, these two have regarded each other with hatred and suspicion— the fallout of a skirmish in which Enders led a massacre of Isaiah’s tribe. “I got here when there was nothin’ but Injuns...all over,” Enders seethes, “red devils that would sooner put an arrow through you, your women folk, your children, as they would to eat and drink. They didn’t scare me off. I stood my ground…I fought back, I cleaned this place out…I made it a decent place for people to move in and settle down...I made it a fit place for white folk to live in.” Isaiah wearily admits, “I have spent most of my life keeping an eye on Mr. Enders. And he has watched me every day for years….He watches me like the child watching the darkness for a ghost. You cannot harm a ghost. You can only sit in the darkness and wait for it to come to you.”

When the party ventures into the “Cave of the Spirits,” as Isaiah terms it, in search of the lost professor, Burt joins the effort “just to keep [an] eye on that Injun.” An acquaintance of Joseph Campbell, Kneubuhl has cited The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949) as a context for his Wagon Train Westerns (125-126); and, indeed, this journey into the underworld, as it were, brings to light the ugly truths hidden beneath the surface of the community. When Isaiah disappears and then returns, ghostlike, from the cave’s shadows, Enders fears an Indian ambush and he attempts to rally the group for another pitched battle with the natives. This scenario summons Enders’s memories of a massacre in which he ordered an assault on the unarmed Indians and then covered his atrocity with tales of a genocidal war of survival. It turns out that the bats are harmless and that Isaiah has seized upon Professor Sheffield’s visit as an opportunity to expose the settlers’ crimes against his people. In the episode’s denouement, Isaiah leads the group to Professor Sheffield, who has found his Spanish artifacts. Like Jeremiah Dark (Lloyd Corrigan) in Kneubuhl’s “The Magician” (Gunsmoke, 1963), and Jeremiah (Sammy Davis Jr.) in “The Night of the Returning Dead” (The Wild Wild West, 1966), Isaiah operates a jeremiadist who resorts to dramaturgy in order to illuminate America’s bloody frontier past.

Excerpts from “The Isaiah Quickfox Story”:


Deep in the bowels of the cave, Enders asks Coop, “Did you ever have something from the past come out to meet you?” Most apparent in “The Isaiah Quickfox Story,” the return of repressed atrocities also informs Kneubuhl’s Wagon Train episodes “The John Bernard Story” (1962) and “The Alice Whitetree Story” (1964). “The Isaiah Quickfox Story” is remarkable, however, in its self-reflexive presentation of Kneubuhl’s transcultural (Pratt 7-8) television aesthetic. The primary setting of  “The Isaiah Quickfox Story” may have been inspired by the bat caves of Tutuila in American Samoa; but its name— “The Cave of the Spirits”— recalls the Samoan fale aitu that Kneubuhl recognized as a major influence upon his work. In Woven Gods: Female Clowns and Power in Rotuma (1995), Vilsoni Hereniko draws upon his conversations with Kneubuhl in order to gloss the emergence of the fale aitu tradition:

The Samoan fale aitu also has its origins in rituals associated with the spirits. According to the late John Kneubuhl, fale aitu originally referred to the spirit house in each village in which the aitu ‘spirit’ in the form of some object was kept (1993, 101). The comic sketches were usually performed in a spirit house, and usually during poula ‘teasing nights’ that were part of a malaga. The poula began with old people gathering at dusk to sing and dance for each other. After it became dark and these old people (who were naked, according to Kneubuhl) had left, young men and women who were fully dressed would enter and sit at opposite ends of the fale aitu. Singing and dancing began slowly and built up in tempo as the young people became increasingly ribald and erotic, culminating in their being embroiled in a wild sexual frenzy. At this point, someone shouted: “I see the ghost, he is coming!” and everyone rushed out into the darkness. The ghost referred to in this instance was the “ghost of complete libidinous license, the uncontrolled unconscious” (Kneubuhl, 1993, 104). After the sexual act, the young men and women returned to the fale aitu for the performance of comic sketches. (154)

These comic sketches evolved into traveling fale aitu troupes that would stage performances, often in the interludes between other songs and dances in a traditional Samoan concert. Fale aitu sketches frequently direct irreverent humor against the solemnity of the status quo. “Caricature, hyperbole, and satire characterize plots that often turn on ridicule of authority figures,” writes Caroline Sinavaiana-- “In the sketches, normative status roles are reversed: the high are made low and the world momentarily ‘turned upside down,’ as found in carnival traditions elsewhere”(“Comic Theater” 202). Whether sending up government officials or exposing the “brutal inanities” (Sinavaiana “Comic Theater” 206) of the Western medical establishment, fale aitu dramas provide a means of venting frustrations and approaching conflicts that cannot be directly addressed (Hereniko 161).

In his 1990 interview with Hereniko, Kneubuhl affirms the fale aitu as a form that allows common folk to satirize the elite: “A fale aitu team will move into a village and serve almost the same functions as psychodrama— releasing anxieties, angers, rages, frustrations, whatever in the village. These tensions are released in laughter. The ordinary lowly guy, as long as it’s a fale aitu sketch, can be almost outlandishly outspoken about the upper classes” (Kneubuhl and Hereniko 102). In keeping with Kneubuhl’s remarks, scholars have identified the fale aitu as a major pretext for his dramas Mele Kanikau: A Pageant (1975) and A Play: A Play (1990).  Noting the self-reflexivity, wordplay, and ribald humor of the latter drama, Sinavaiana observes, “The two decades Kneubuhl had now spent rerooting himself in his native Samoan soil are evident in the flowering of indigenous aesthetic form in this play” (Sinavaiana-Gabbard 119). Although Kneubuhl’s return to Samoa certainly occasioned a fresh encounter with Samoan culture, small-screen dramas such as “The Isaiah Quickfox Story” reveal that he was mindful of fale aitu conventions throughout his Hollywood sojourn.

Working within the Wagon Train frame narrative, Kneubuhl inverts the traditional fale aitu schema. Whereas Samoan fale aitu performers would travel from village to village, “The Isaiah Quickfox Story” finds the series protagonists Coop and Charlie as itinerants who stumble into a “house of the spirits” drama— or, in this case, “Cave of the Spirits” drama— that unsettles the status quo. The primary movement of this drama is the vampire bat hoax that Isaiah enables as a means of luring Enders into the cave and eliciting a confession of his crimes against Isaiah’s people:

Isaiah: We came to you without weapons…we came in peace.

Enders: I didn’t know that!

Isaiah: But when you found out, you had to hide it. You had to silence even our women-- even our children-- to bury forever your secret.

As he reemerges from the darkness of the cave (“I have come with my people,” he declares), Isaiah assumes the aspect of a plaintiff specter who demands the truth from Enders. This “ghost story” in the midst of the Western underscores Kneubuhl’s recollection of the fale aitu ritual, in which participants “sit in the darkness and wait” for an apparition that summons the repressed unconscious (Kneubuhl and Hereniko 104). Evoking stories of his own people’s ritual trials in the “Cave of the Spirits,” Isaiah hereby stages a drama that will discover the long-buried truth of his community. In contrast to the triumphalist national narratives associated with Wagon Train and other “settler” TV Westerns (Sharrett 8), Manifest Destiny emerges from “The Isaiah Quickfox Story” a whitewashed narrative of conquest and ethnic cleansing.

As Sinavaiana argues, the fale aitu has proven a vital means of illuminating the “contested terrain” of neocolonial Samoa-- “Comic sketches highlight the cracks and fissures of that social topography with satire and wit: the artful pun, the well-placed twitch, a Samoan Elvis singing about the sorry sight of Christian ministers squabbling over the most prestigious cuts of roast pig”(“Comic Theater” 205). While the deadly serious business of Enders’s confession accounts for the climax of the episode, its denouement teases out two additional gestures consistent with the critical, satirical texture of the fale aitu. When the searchers discover Professor Sheffield, he proudly announces, “[S]ee here, I was right, I found what I was looking for. The priests did come. They hid here; they died here.” Oblivious to the tension between Isaiah and Enders, Sheffield longs for his office: “If I could get back to my desk, what a paper I could write!” The Professor’s myopia (a joke on all future critics of the episode), places him squarely in the tradition of the fale aitu, which often sends up preachers, politicians, physicians, and other members of the intelligentsia. Isaiah finds in the professor’s “discovery,” a pretext for a stinging epilogue: he wryly bequeaths the Spanish treasure, which mainly consists of Bibles, to his white neighbors: “[T]his treasure has been hidden here too long. The town needs it. My people never disturbed it. Enders, take this treasure for you and your people— it is the greatest gift ever brought into the West.” Although the trunkful of Bibles seems an implausible cargo for a cadre of early modern Catholic missionaries, the gimmick allows Kneubuhl to create a context for the ironic sermon that Isaiah preaches to the Christians who have decimated his tribe.

If Isaiah’s first name alludes to the jeremiad, then his surname conjures not only the tricksterish animal of global folklore, but also the pe‘a, the flying fox of Samoa. As Albert Wendt suggests, this “cheeky, courageous” bat is a “combination of a rat and a furred bird who perceives the world upside down (and usually at night using radar)”(402). Like the bats with which he is metonymically associated, Isaiah is able to see the world from multiple perspectives, and this ability allows him to exploit Professor Sheffield’s visit to stage the “Cave of the Spirits” drama that transforms his community. As suggested above, Isaiah also reads as an inscription of Kneubuhl himself. In television dramas such as “Strangers In Our Own Land” and “The Isaiah Quickfox Story,” Kneubuhl scripts narratives that move beyond simple diversion to engage diverse artistic traditions and vital questions about history, politics, and culture.

Works Cited

Hereniko, Vilsoni. Woven Gods: Female Clowns and Power in Rotuma. Honolulu:

Univ. of Hawai'i Press, 1995. Print.

“The Isaiah Quickfox Story.” Wagon Train. Writ. John Kneubuhl. Dir. Virgil W.

Vogel. ABC. 1965.

Johansson, Michelle. "Cultural Crisis in Postcolonial Pacific Theatre: John

Kneubuhl's: 'Mele Kanikau: a Pageant'." AlterNative: an International Journal of Indigenous Peoples. 10.2 (2014). Print.

Kneubuhl, John and John Enright. Oral History Interview with John Alexander 

Kneubuhl, Samoan Playwright, Linguist, Historian. American Samoa?: s.n,

2002. Print.

Kneubuhl, John and Vilsoni Hereniko. "An Interview with John A. Kneubuhl:

Comic Theatre of Samoa." Manoa. 5.1 (1993): 99-105. Print.

Pearson, Sarina. “Hollywood Westerns and the Pacific: John Kneubuhl and The 

Wild Wild West.” Transformations (n.d.): n. pag. 2014. Web. 15 June 2014.

Pratt, Mary L. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. London:

Routledge, 2010. Print.

Rampell, Ed. “Hawaii Five-0: A Case Study in Haole-Wood Agitprop.” Television 

Quarterly 33.1 (Spring 2002):76-82.

Sharrett, Christopher. The Rifleman. Detroit, Mich: Wayne State University

Press, 2005. Print.

Sinavaiana, Caroline. "Comic Theater in Samoa As Indigenous Media." Pacific 

Studies. 15.4 (1992): 199-209. Print.

Sinavaiana-Gabbard, Caroline. “John Kneubuhl, Rev. of Think of a Garden and 

Other Plays, by John Kneubuhl. Pacific Studies. 22.2 (1999): 115-121. Print.

Wendt, Albert. 1999. ''Afterword: Tatauing the Post-Colonial Body.'' Inside Out:

Literature, Cultural Politics, and Identity in the New Pacific. Eds. Vilsoni

Hereniko and Rob Wilson, 399–412. Print.

Marshallese Cultural Diplomacy in Arkansas

Jessica A. Schwartz

One-third of the entire Marshallese population lives outside of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), primarily in the United States. Diaspora has provided unique challenges and opportunities for Marshallese. In my essay, I discuss the ways in which the Marshallese community in Springdale, Arkansas, where the highest concentration of Marshallese in the US reside, uses expressive culture as a form of cultural diplomacy, coined as such by Consul General Carmen Chong Gum. I worked with Chong Gum, who introduced me to professors at the local community college—NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC), which at the time (2012) was experiencing declining enrollment of Marshallese students. I was invited to speak at the college on two separate occasions, and, following conversations with Marshallese in the community, including Chong Gum, April Brown, a history professor and honors director at NWACC and I decided to continue working with the community to provide educational platforms for Marshallese and non-Marshallese residents in the area. From this, the Marshallese Educational Initiative, a nonprofit, was created.

We are still in the formative stages of development, and beyond the pages or behind the scenes of the non-profit’s development are myself, a researcher who lived in the RMI for two years and studies how imperial violence and nuclear testing have shaped expressive culture, Faith and Nixon Jibas, a Rongelapese-American woman and Bikinian man who passionately advocate for their stories to be heard, stories such as Faith’s mother Neisen Laukon at a Nuclear Remembrance Day event that MEI hosted in 2014 at the Clinton center, Chong Gum, who saw her initial visions of cultural diplomacy realized at the Battle of the Jepta performances, and Benetick Maddison, a Marshallese college student who works to promote Marshallese culture and advocates for climate change awareness, to name just a few key players. This is an excerpt of Maddison’s story, and towards the end of the video, he addresses climate change in the Marshall Islands, a topic that has increasingly compelled journalists to come to Springdale, Arkansas and search for Marshallese who relocated because of environmental concerns.

Eco-journalism is, some consider, a form of cultural diplomacy as well, and these stories are powerful reminders of a threat faced by Marshallese in the RMI and in Arkansas, where they are also susceptible to changing weather patterns, including floods, and social discrimination heightened by climate change issues, as shown on the Oxfam fact sheet, “Social Effects of Global Warming” in Arkansas.

I asked Maddison, who has worked with some of the journalists, to recommend the media coverage of the islands and Arkansas responses to climate change that he feels are pertinent. As you will note, Maddison included a number of interviews with Foreign Minister Tony deBrum, who has been outspoken about the nuclear legacy and the impact of climate change, often linking the two as environmental catastrophes and attacks on the livelihood of an entire culture.

John Sutter, “2 Degrees: You’re Making This Island Disappear,” CNN, undated.

Renee Lewis, “Disaster after disaster hits Marshall Islands as climate change kicks in,” Al Jazeera America, May 18, 2015 (1st of a 3 part series)

Address by Minister in Assistance to the President, Tony de Brum, High-Level Segment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 19th Conference of Parties, Nov. 22, 2013, YouTube.

Interview with Foreign Minister Tony de Brum, BBC World News, May 2, 2014, YouTube.

Mary Beth Brangan interview with Foreign Minister Tony de Brum, “Tony deBrum on the Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Non-Proliferation Lawsuit,” Voices from the NY People’s Climate Convergence, Sept. 30, 2014, YouTube.

Interview with Foreign Minister Tony de Brum at the United Nations Climate Change Summit, BBC World News, Oct. 20, 2014, YouTube.

Additional links:

Holly M. Barker, “The Iniquities of Climate Change and the Small Island Experience.” Counterpunch, 2008.

Michael B. Gerrard, “A Pacific Isle, Radioactive and Forgotten,” New York Times, Dec. 3, 2014.

Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, Professor Michael Gerrard speaks to the dangers of further radioactive contamination at Runit dome on Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The dome, built on top of a crater left by a thermonuclear detonation in 1958, is filled with radioactive waste, but a 2013 report by the Department of Energy reasons that any release of the dome’s contents due to storms or sea level rise will create no added threat.

Christopher J. Loeak, “Climate Change Has Reached Our Shores,” New York Times, Sept. 25, 2013.

RMI President Christopher Loeak calls for US leadership on climate change and to support his administration’s Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, which outlines low-carbon emission standards.

Peter Rudiak-Gould, Climate Change and Tradition in a Small Island State: The Rising Tide (Routledge, 2013).

WAND, Jessie Calkins, “Webinar: The Nuclear Zero Lawsuits: Why the tiny nation of the Marshall Islands took on the Nuclear Nine,” July 15, 2014.

A webinar from WAND that focuses on the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits, the post includes slides and audio of Rick Wyman from Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Neisen Laukon with MEI, who is a nuclear survivor from Rongelap Atoll.

Videos from Peace & Planet’s Mobilization for a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just, and Sustainable World held in New York City. Former Sen. Abacca Maddison speaks as a Marshallese representative.

To find out more about MEI or to contact any people featured in the videos, please visit on the web. 

Aloha State Apparatuses

Stephanie Nohelani Teves

Do a web search for “aloha” and you will find a litany of commodified objects, such as the recent Cameron Crowe box office flop, Aloha. Or, you might be inspired to live a more healthy and balanced life by Aloha, a line of high-end natural fitness supplements founded by a German entrepreneur. These are just two examples of the array of businesses that utilize the name recognition of “Aloha” to sell products that have little to do with actual Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) people.

Loosely defined as love, aloha is commonly used in everyday speech as a greeting or to invoke general good feelings of welcome and harmony. Aloha also has more insidious functions: as a colonizing force that obscures the ongoing US military occupation of Hawaiʻi and as a political and discursive practice intended to create a population that can “naturally” serve tourists. As I argue in my essay, aloha is consistently deployed and exploited by private and state-based institutions through an Aloha State Apparatus that promotes the so-called “spirit of aloha” as a uniquely Hawaiian essence which is then used to discipline and sustain different performances of Hawaiian Indigeneity. And yet, while many Kānaka Maoli criticize the commodification of aloha and acknowledge the harmful role the appropriation of aloha has played alongside colonialism, many of us still are deeply attached to aloha and believe that it represents who we are as a people.

Below is a list of readings and websites that will assist in honoring aloha and the people it comes from. These resources provide a redirection of aloha from its commodified forms and offer instead, historical and political context as well as knowledge about forms of aloha that can be used to support Indigenous Hawaiian political struggles.

Books and articles:

Diamond, Heather A. American Aloha: Cultural Tourism and the Negotiation of Tradition. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2008.

Imada, Adria. Aloha America. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012.

Meyer, Manulani. Ho'oulu: Our Time of Becoming. Honolulu: ʻAi Pohaku Press, 2003.

Ohnuma, Keiko. “ʻAloha Spirit’ and the Cultural Politics of Sentiment as National Belonging.” The Contemporary Pacific 20, no. 2 (Fall 2008): 365-94.

Silva, Noenoe. Aloha Betrayed. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.

Williams, Liza Keanuenueokalani. “The Politics of Paradise: Tourism, Image, and Cultural Production in Hawaiʻi.” New York University, 2015.

For more on practices of aloha ʻāina, see the Hawaiian Patriots Project

Also, ʻŌiwi TV has extensive coverage of the ongoing struggle against the TMT (Thirty Meter Telescope). There you can find a timeline and information about Kapu Aloha, a guiding principle of the Protectors of Mauna Kea.