Education

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

Haunani-Kay Trask, a scholar, poet and champion of sovereignty for the Hawaiian individuals who decried what she referred to as the colonization and despoliation of her place of birth, died on July 3 in (*71*). She was 71.

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

In her best-known e book, “Notes From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii” (1993), Dr. Trask referred to as Hawaii “once the most fragile and precious of sacred places, now transformed by the American behemoth into a dying land.”



“Only a whispering spirit remains,” she wrote.

Dr. Trask was not afraid to make waves as a pacesetter of what turned often known as the Hawaiian Sovereignty motion. She obtained nationwide consideration in 1990 for remarks directed at an undergraduate pupil at the University of Hawaii, the place she was a professor of Hawaiian Studies. The pupil, 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 scholar “does not understand racism at all” and will go away Hawaii, which he did, returning to his dwelling 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 am a nationalist. I am asserting my claim to my country.”

She continued, “I am not soft, I am not sweet, and I do not want any more tourists in Hawaii.”

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 of the land die with the people 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 — often known as Kanaka Maoli — who had been in search of to reclaim lands held in belief by the state. It was one of the primary main protests calling for a return of native lands in Hawaii; it occurred 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 traces of the “nation within a nation” mannequin discovered in American Indian tribal lands. Bills had been launched in the state Legislature, however they didn’t cross.

At the march, Dr. Trask took to the rostrum in entrance of (*71*)’s Iolani Palace and proclaimed: “We are not American. We will die as Hawaiians. We will never be Americans.”

She continued: “The Americans, my people, are our enemies, and you must understand that. They are our enemies. They took our land, they imprisoned our queen, they banned our language, they forcibly made us a colony of the United States.”

Along with “From a Native Daughter,” her books embrace “Eros and Power: The Promise of Feminist Theory” (1981), which was tailored from her dissertation, and two poetry collections, “Light in the Crevice Never Seen” (1994) and “Night is a Sharkskin Drum” (2002).

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

Hawaiian at coronary heart:

nothing stated

about loss

violence, dying

by tons of 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 numerous 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. Large numbers of Japanese immigrants got here to Hawaii in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and with American annexation of the island in 1898, white settlers got here as nicely. Hawaii turned a state in 1959.

Dr. Trask was founding director of the University of Hawaii’s Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, a subject she was credited with serving to to determine. She retired from the college in 2010.

She was thought of a pivotal determine in exhibiting “the importance of critical analysis and creativity to forging a more just 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.

“When I meet another Hawaiian” Dr. Trask wrote of her lineage, “I say I am descended of two genealogical lines: the Piilani line through my mother, who is from Hana, Maui, and the Kahakumakaliua line through my father’s family from Kauai.”

She grew up on Oahu outdoors of (*71*), alongside along with her 5 siblings.

Dr. Trask graduated from the Kamehameha School in (*71*), which was established in the late nineteenth century to coach kids of Hawaiian descent. She attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison, incomes her bachelor’s diploma in political science in 1975 and a doctorate in the identical subject in 1981.

Just after finishing her Ph.D., Dr. Trask started instructing at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the place she began in the American Studies division.

Along 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 dwelling.

In her speech at the 1993 march in (*71*), 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 am so proud to be here,” she stated. “I am so proud to be angry. I am so proud to be a Hawaiian.”


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