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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: https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/news/opinions/making-native-sense-of-disneys-moana/

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 annekealakelly.com)

http://archive.fsrn.org/content/being-hawaiian-and-homeless

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.

http://www.annekealakelly.com/uploads/3/5/9/1/3591542/resistance_pdf.pdf

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.

 

2017 EPELI HAU’OFA ANNUAL LECTURE ~ BYU’s Tevita O. Ka’ili

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.13.10 AMThe Australian Association for Pacific Studies Annual Lecture in memory of Epeli Hau’ofa will be presented by Tevita O. Ka’ili.

“In the beginning was the ocean” is the opening line of the Tongan creation story. Tongan deep history states that people originated in the moana (deep sea), and that Limu (seaweed) and Kele (sea sediment) are our primordial parents. Epeli’s Hau’ofa’s concept of Oceania revives an ancient cosmogony that begins with the moana and frames our advocacy for the ocean.

In this paper, Tēvita O. Kaʻili will navigate Hauʻofa’s Oceania by traversing what has now become a sea of ocean pollution, ocean acidification, rising sea levels, overfishing and deep sea mining. He will also critically examine, from an indigenous Tā-Vā (time-space) theory, the “mining” by extractive corporations, like Disney, of cultural heritage, such as stories, symbols, iconographies, objects, motifs, and deities that are associated with the ocean.”

Date: 12th April                                                                                                            

Time: 5.30-6.30pm                                                            

Venue: Theatre, Lower Ground Floor, Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson St, Carlton

Entry is free but please book to reserve a seat by emailing rsvphumanites@museum.vic.gov.au

For inquiries or other information please contact Lindy Allen: lallen@museum.vic.gov.au; phone 8341 7386

Special Discount for Australian Association for Pacific Studies affiliated universities through April 20th

20% off Institutional DVDs

20% off Streaming Rights (send inquiries to nohohewa@gmail.com)

The Passing of One of the Pacific’s Brightest Lights

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 6.12.18 PMTeresia Teaiwa has walked on ahead of us, and I am sadder than I can say. She was a brilliant, courageous, beautiful Pacific woman who led the way for so many of us. She was one of the most powerful and articulate voices when it came to colonization and militarization, thinking and speaking in ways that the rest of us had to run to keep up with. She was kind, generous, and an extraordinary poet.

I am heartbroken. There never was and never will be anyone like her. And those of us who were lucky enough to have been on the receiving end of her beautiful smile, or any of the beautiful words she wrote and spoke, or to have stood in her light, were blessed.

Her being gone from us… the void is immeasurable.
God bless her soul, and blessings and prayers for her ohana.

STARBUCKS EULOGY (August 6th marks 5 years since Annie’s death)

annie pauANNIE PAU and I first met at the Farrington Highway Starbucks on the Waianae Coast of Oahu. I was working on a story for Al Jazeera and needed a Hawaiian who was willing to be interviewed about what life is like for thousands who can’t afford rent. Parts of Waianae resemble refugee camps, so it felt wrong, meeting with a homeless person inside the mother ship of gentrification.

But nothing else was open at 6am on Sunday near Lualualei Beach Park, where Annie and her husband, John, were living in a tent with their two dogs.  That beach is nicknamed “Sewers,” for the stench from a sewage treatment facility wafting across the road.

Hawaiian names are often derived from an event or legend. Sometimes they’re metaphors, other times they describe something literal.  But they always have meaning, although many have ended up on the sacrificial altar of tragic irony.  Given its name millennia before the sewage, Lualualei means, “Beloved one spared.”

When I arrived at Starbucks that morning, Sinatra’s voice crooned over the din of hissing spigots and grinding beans.  Those in need of stimulus lined up dutifully, awaiting their single soy this and double whipped that. And there was Annie, wearing frayed coveralls, perched uneasy on the corner of a sienna toned sofa, ready to bolt if the manager looked askance in her direction.  Though her life, her story began not far from there, she was incongruous with the newly built Starbucks narrative.

Annie had a short, shocking white mane, and skin so darkened by the sun she looked more black than brown. She rose when I approached and smiled apprehensively.  The last of her teeth sat side by side on the bottom front row, like two moviegoers staying behind to read all the credits. Somehow the lack of enamel took nothing away from the warmth of her smile. Her face was kind and expressive.  There was nothing hidden or deceitful about her.

People like Annie, ragged and anonymous, are insurgents in the war of politics and culture, their marginalized lives embodying resistance to assimilation.  To quote Hawaiian activist and folk-singer, Skippy Ioane, “‘Dem get democracy, us get survive.”

I asked her what she’d like to eat and drink and she declined, saying, with a tobacco-scorched voice, “When we’re done talking-story I’d like a large Coke from Burger King and a pack-a-smokes from Longs, if that’s okay.”  The most she’d let me buy her from Starbucks was a croissant for her husband.

Standing beside me at the register, she was flanked on the other side by a row of plastic “Ethos” water bottles, shipped from 2,500 miles away and destined to spend eternity in a Waianae landfill.  A placard in front boasted that a nickel of the dollar-eighty price goes to a clean water cause in a developing country. I guess it takes the other buck seventy-five to get that nickel from here to there.

We sat down at a table and I imbibed sweet Chai Latte and Annie’s fierceness. During the 40-minute drive to Starbucks, I’d prepared myself for meeting someone who was possibly drug addicted or a little crazy. No doubt a projection of what I figured I’d become if I lived on that razor’s edge. Annie was neither. However hopeless her situation appeared to be, she was what Hawaiians call koa, a warrior. She had righteous anger without being self-righteous and the courage to speak it.

Ask her about being homeless and she takes you and your paradigm to school: “You mean houseless. How can a Hawaiian be homeless in Hawaii?” she says. “Even if I have to sleep on the ground, Hawaii’s my home.”

I interviewed Annie twice and shared a meal with her several times, but rife with paradox and contrast, the Starbucks meeting is seared in my memory.

After the police swept everyone off Lualualei, she, her husband and their dogs relocated several more times, eventually ending up at the Haleiwa Boat Harbor on the North Shore.  That was where I saw her last.  She looked unwell, had a cut on her foot and wore a sock on it in a futile attempt to keep it clean.

She talked about wanting to find a house, but in the same breath refused to consider living in a homeless shelter because it would mean giving up the dogs. “And besides,” she said, “in the [homeless shelter] system, you go into lockdown… they gotta lock us up to help us?”

One night, 4 months later, Annie’s husband found her collapsed in the dirt outside their van. She’d suffered a stroke. This beloved one, spared none of the ravages of poverty, died the next day, in a nice, clean hospital bed.

Annie’s last name, Pau, it means done, finished, complete.  It also means consumed, destroyed.

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 2.09.15 PM

A book launch for LIMBO, an environmental novel by Jamaican filmmaker and author, Esther Figueroa, is taking place Friday, September 4th, at UH Manoa’s English Dept, 5:30PM. Figgy, as she’s called by friends, is a brilliant writer and artist whose works are fast becoming the archive of environmental destruction and resistance in Jamaica.

Here’s the event flyer:

Join us for the Hawaii launch of ESTHER FIGUEROA’s novel Limbo, also featuring the powerful poetic voices of RAJIV MOHABIR and RAIN WRIGHT-CANNON, as well as novelist SHAWNA YANG RYAN reading from her forthcoming novel Green Island.

Praise for Limbo:
“In this brave and witty new novel, Esther Figueroa takes us into the dark side of tourism’s uncontrolled development. The work is intelligent, clear-eyed and unforgiving; Figueroa does not avert her gaze – the devastation of land and wildlife is harrowing. Esther’s passionate concern for the future of Jamaica and the Caribbean, and ultimately for the future of our planet makes Limbo a landmark work of extraordinary importance.”
—Patricia Powell, author of The Pagoda and The Fullness of Everything

The reading will be followed by a book signing.

Watch Noho Hewa FREE on Vimeo and Donate to the making of Why The Mountain

Vimeo final flyer

Fundraising with “Noho Hewa” for a new documentary called “Why The Mountain”

Since my last post on this site, I’ve been working on a new project, Why The Mountain. Long story short, after participating in stopping the so-called “Hawaiian blessing and ground-breaking ceremony” for the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea on October 7th, that mauna has been on my mind and in my heart more than usual. In December, after returning from a couple of weeks in the Bay Area, I began piecing together fundraising material and reaching out in hopes of making a film before construction began on the summit.

But I was unable to get it together in time, as the TMT work started almost 3 weeks ago. However, while this film’s fundraising has been slow going, the consciousness of Hawaiians and anyone else who is now aware of Hawaiian resistance to the TMT being built on the summit, has moved like wildfire.

Largely, this is due to the protective presence of hundreds of people on the mountain since work began on the site. And their devotion to saving that mauna has inspired thousands of people across Hawaii Nei and throughout the world.

“Noho Hewa” is going to be available free on Vimeo for one- week in part to support the mass education taking place right now about Hawaii. It’s also a fundraiser for this new project. You can get information about the film at whythemountain.blogspot.com or www.gofundme.com/whythemountain. There’s also a FB page at https://www.facebook.com/TheMakingOfWhyTheMountain.

My twitter handle is KealaKelly.

#WhyTheMountain

#ProtectMaunaKea

#WeAreMaunaKea

2 Screenings in Berkeley, Friday, November 21

I will be on a panel with Jeanette Armstrong and Chief Caleen Sisk (moderated by Derrick Jensen) at the Earth at Risk Social Justice and Sustainability Conference this weekend in San Francisco. It’s sponsored by the Fertile Ground Environmental Institute. Go to  Fertile Ground Institute  for information on how to watch the conference online. 

The day before the conference there will be two screenings of Noho Hewa in Berkeley. One at the university from noon-2:30 in Anthony Hall, the other in the evening at Berkeley Community College auditorium at 6:30.

And on Tuesday, November 25th, I will be a guest on KPFK’s “Uprising” with host Sonali Kolhatkar. The show can be watched online at Uprising and  Free Speech TV.