Home Education Haunani-Kay Trask, Champion of Native Rights in Hawaii, Dies at 71

Haunani-Kay Trask, Champion of Native Rights in Hawaii, Dies at 71

by WDC News 6 Staff

Haunani-Kay Trask, a scholar, poet and champion of sovereignty for the Hawaiian individuals who decried what she known as the colonization and despoliation of her homeland, died on July 3 in Honolulu. She was 71.

The trigger was most cancers, her companion, David E. Stannard, mentioned.

In her best-known ebook, “Notes From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii” (1993), Dr. Trask known as Hawaii “as soon as probably the most fragile and treasured of sacred locations, now remodeled by the American behemoth right into a dying land.”

“Solely a whispering spirit stays,” she wrote.

Dr. Trask was not afraid to make waves as a frontrunner of what grew to become referred to as the Hawaiian Sovereignty motion. She acquired nationwide consideration in 1990 for remarks directed at an undergraduate scholar on the College of Hawaii, the place she was a professor of Hawaiian Research. The scholar, in a letter to the college newspaper, accused Native Hawaiians of holding racist attitudes towards white folks on the island.

Dr. Trask responded that the coed “doesn’t perceive racism in any respect” and may depart Hawaii, which he did, returning to his house state of Louisiana for a time, The New York Times reported. When some college students and college criticized Dr. Trask’s feedback as unnecessarily harsh, she answered: “I’m a nationalist. I’m asserting my declare to my nation.”

She continued, “I’m not tender, I’m not candy, and I don’t want any extra vacationers in Hawaii.”

Together with her sister Mililani B. Trask, Dr. Trask was a founding member of Ka Lahui Hawaii, a company that promotes self-determination for Native Hawaiians. It held its first conference in 1987. She believed, as she wrote in “Notes From a Native Daughter,” that “the secrets and techniques of the land die with the folks of the land” and thus preservation of Indigenous lands needs to be paramount.

In 1993, she helped lead a march of about 15,000 Native Hawaiians — referred to as Kanaka Maoli — who had been searching for to reclaim lands held in belief by the state. It was one of many first main protests calling for a return of native lands in Hawaii; it came about on the centennial of the overthrow of its final queen, Liliuokalani.

Her group, Ka Lahui, demanded that the territory be ceded to it, after it had drawn up a structure for Hawaiian self-government alongside the strains of the “nation inside a nation” mannequin present in American Indian tribal lands. Payments had been launched within the state Legislature, however they didn’t cross.

On the march, Dr. Trask took to the rostrum in entrance of Honolulu’s Iolani Palace and proclaimed: “We aren’t American. We are going to die as Hawaiians. We are going to by no means be Individuals.”

She continued: “The Individuals, my folks, are our enemies, and you could perceive that. They’re our enemies. They took our land, they imprisoned our queen, they banned our language, they forcibly made us a colony of the USA.”

Together with “From a Native Daughter,” her books embrace “Eros and Energy: The Promise of Feminist Concept” (1981), which was tailored from her dissertation, and two poetry collections, “Gentle within the Crevice By no means Seen” (1994) and “Night time is a Sharkskin Drum” (2002).

Dr. Trask’s poetry employed imagery suggestive of a sentient island bleeding from the violence of colonialism. In a single poem, “Colonization,” she wrote:

Hawaiian at coronary heart:

nothing mentioned

about loss

violence, loss of life

by a whole lot of 1000’s.

She additionally railed in opposition to the tourism trade in her educational and poetic work, difficult its advertising and marketing of the Hawaiian islands as an acquiescent paradise, an outline that she felt ignored the historical past of violence in opposition to the land and its Native inhabitants.

Hawaii is a racially various society: 2019 census data places the island at a few quarter white, 38 p.c Asian, 10 p.c Native Hawaiian and one other quarter figuring out with two or extra races. Giant numbers of Japanese immigrants got here to Hawaii within the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and with American annexation of the island in 1898, white settlers got here as properly. Hawaii grew to become a state in 1959.

Dr. Trask was founding director of the College of Hawaii’s Kamakakuokalani Middle for Hawaiian Research, a subject she was credited with serving to to ascertain. She retired from the college in 2010.

She was thought-about a pivotal determine in displaying “the significance of important evaluation and creativity to forging a extra simply future for Indigenous peoples,” the American Academy of Arts and Sciences said in electing her a member this year.

Haunani-Kay Trask was born on Oct. 3, 1949, in San Francisco to Bernard Kaukaohu Trask and Haunani (Cooper) Trask. Her mom taught elementary college, and her father was a lawyer.

“Once I meet one other Hawaiian,” Dr. Trask wrote of her lineage, “I say I’m descended of two genealogical strains: the Piilani line by means of my mom, who’s from Hana, Maui, and the Kahakumakaliua line by means of my father’s household from Kauai.”

She grew up on Oahu outdoors of Honolulu, alongside along with her 5 siblings.

Dr. Trask graduated from the Kamehameha College in Honolulu, which was established within the late nineteenth century to coach kids of Hawaiian descent. She attended the College of Wisconsin at Madison, incomes her bachelor’s diploma in political science in 1975 and a doctorate in the identical subject in 1981.

Simply after finishing her Ph.D., Dr. Trask started instructing on the College of Hawaii at Manoa, the place she began within the American Research division.

Together with Dr. Stannard, her companion since 1980, and her sister Mililani, she is survived by two different sisters, Kahala-Ann Trask Gibson and Damien Onaona Trask, and a brother, Michael. She died in a residential care house.

In her speech on the 1993 march in Honolulu, Dr. Trask summed up a lot of what her life was about when she reminded her fellow protesters why she stood earlier than them, and what drove her on. “I’m so proud to be right here,” she mentioned. “I’m so proud to be offended. I’m so proud to be a Hawaiian.”

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