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Making Sense of Disney’s Moana ~ Indian Country Media Network

I wrote this last fall, but it’s worth sharing here, given the overall horror of cultural appropriation being aided and abetted by plenty of natives. Anywayz… You can go to this link for the complete commentary:

Here’s an excerpt:

Our hopes, dreams and struggles are inconvenient to what Disney has chosen to produce about us. Worse yet, we’re expected to shut up and enjoy the ride everyone’s taking on our back. Yes, some of our own people, grateful for any acknowledgment, don’t recognize an insult or culture theft when they see it. Others will happily join in with the massive, commodifying monstrosity of “Moana” and buy Moana-gear and computer games. (I heard that the Ala Moana Disney Store is already well-stocked.) One Maori writer, who likes the Maui-Skin-Suit, said it’s like dressing up as Santa Claus. He’s not far off, seeing as how we’re the ones doing all the giving. He reminded me of something funny that Haunani-Kay Trask, one of our beloved sovereignty leaders, once said to me: “Yah, the haole, they stole everything we gave them.”

Being culturally poached and misrepresented isn’t flattering, it’s a threat. The historical fact is that colonization in the Pacific, everywhere for that matter, has had catastrophic consequences for Indigenous peoples in every conceivable way. And Native collaboration, while highly problematic, doesn’t legitimize hijacking or pimping our knowledge, heritage, and identity. Having said that, not knowing who the members are of the Oceanic Story Trust, a group that was hand-picked by Disney to shepherd the cultural content and merchandising, we can’t ask these Pacific Mouseketeers what the capital F they were thinking when they helped Disney strip mine our culture(s) for the sole purpose of making a profit.

On Being Hawaiian and Homeless

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 8.11.33 PMThis is a radio documentary I did 10 years ago. Sadly, the story of Hawaiian homelessness has only worsened, and it was already really bad then. (This story, and a few others, are available at

From “A Nation Rising”

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 8.00.01 PMLately, the selling out of Hawaiian culture, and silence of Hawaiians who literally fly around the world posing as Hawaiian “leaders,” compels me to share this essay. Why? Because, in part, it’s about them and their state sanctioned privilege. If I were to write it now I would use stronger language. Here’s to hoping they stop using a broken compass.

Here’s an excerpt:

The now normalized American social order and economy requires Hawaiians to assimilate or disappear. One common form of the vanishing Hawaiian is evidenced by the ongoing mass desecrations of Hawaiian graves.