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

1 year ago 161

She helped recovered the tract of Hawaiian studies and pressed for Indigenous sovereignty. “We volition dice arsenic Hawaiians,” she said. “We volition ne'er beryllium Americans.”

July 9, 2021, 8:03 p.m. ET

Haunani-Kay Trask successful  an undated photo. As a professor, writer  and activist, she pushed for the designation  of Hawaii’s Indigenous people. “I americium  not soft, I americium  not sweet, and I bash  not privation  immoderate  much  tourists successful  Hawaii,” she said.
Credit...Kapulani Landgraf

July 9, 2021, 8:03 p.m. ET

Haunani-Kay Trask, a scholar, writer and champion of sovereignty for the Hawaiian radical who decried what she called the colonization and despoliation of her autochthonal land, died connected July 3 successful Honolulu. She was 71.

The origin was cancer, her partner, David E. Stannard, said.

In her best-known book, “Notes From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty successful Hawaii” (1993), Dr. Trask called Hawaii “once the astir fragile and precious of ineffable places, present transformed by the American behemoth into a dying land.”

“Only a whispering tone remains,” she wrote.

Dr. Trask was not acrophobic to marque waves arsenic a person of what became known arsenic the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement. She received nationalist attraction successful 1990 for remarks directed astatine an undergraduate pupil astatine the University of Hawaii, wherever she was a prof of Hawaiian Studies. The student, successful a missive to the schoolhouse newspaper, accused Native Hawaiians of holding racist attitudes toward achromatic radical connected the island.

Dr. Trask responded that the pupil “does not recognize racism astatine all” and should permission Hawaii, which helium did, returning to his location authorities of Louisiana for a time, The New York Times reported. When immoderate students and module criticized Dr. Trask’s comments arsenic unnecessarily harsh, she answered: “I americium a nationalist. I americium asserting my assertion to my country.”

She continued, “I americium not soft, I americium not sweet, and I bash not privation immoderate much tourists successful Hawaii.”

With her sister Mililani B. Trask, Dr. Trask was a founding subordinate of Ka Lahui Hawaii, an enactment that promotes self-determination for Native Hawaiians. It held its archetypal normal successful 1987. She believed, arsenic she wrote successful “Notes From a Native Daughter,” that “the secrets of the onshore dice with the radical of the land” and frankincense preservation of Indigenous lands should beryllium paramount.

In 1993, she helped pb a march of astir 15,000 Native Hawaiians — known arsenic Kanaka Maoli — who were seeking to reclaim lands held successful spot by the state. It was 1 of the archetypal large protests calling for a instrumentality of autochthonal lands successful Hawaii; it took spot connected the centennial of the overthrow of its past queen, Liliuokalani.

Her group, Ka Lahui, demanded that the territory beryllium ceded to it, aft it had drawn up a constitution for Hawaiian self-government on the lines of the “nation wrong a nation” exemplary recovered successful American Indian tribal lands. Bills were introduced successful the authorities Legislature, but they failed to pass.

At the march, Dr. Trask took to the podium successful beforehand of Honolulu’s Iolani Palace and proclaimed: “We are not American. We volition dice arsenic Hawaiians. We volition ne'er beryllium Americans.”

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

Along with “From a Native Daughter,” her books see “Eros and Power: The Promise of Feminist Theory” (1981), which was adapted from her dissertation, and 2 poesy collections, “Light successful the Crevice Never Seen” (1994) and “Night is simply a Sharkskin Drum” (2002).

Dr. Trask’s poesy employed imagery suggestive of a sentient land bleeding from the unit of colonialism. In 1 poem, “Colonization,” she wrote:

Hawaiian astatine heart:

nothing said

about loss

violence, death

by hundreds of thousands.

She besides railed against the tourism manufacture successful her world and poetic work, challenging its selling of the Hawaiian islands arsenic an acquiescent paradise, a depiction that she felt ignored the past of unit against the onshore and its Native inhabitants.

Hawaii is simply a racially divers society: 2019 census data puts the land astatine astir a 4th white, 38 percent Asian, 10 percent Native Hawaiian and different 4th identifying with 2 oregon much races. Large numbers of Japanese immigrants came to Hawaii successful the precocious 19th and aboriginal 20th centuries, and with American annexation of the land successful 1898, achromatic settlers came arsenic well. Hawaii became a authorities successful 1959.

Dr. Trask was founding director of the University of Hawaii’s Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, a tract she was credited with helping to establish. She retired from the assemblage successful 2010.

She was considered a pivotal fig successful showing “the value of captious investigation and creativity to forging a much conscionable aboriginal for Indigenous peoples,” the American Academy of Arts and Sciences said successful electing her a subordinate this year.


Dr. Trask spoke successful  2001 astatine  the University of Hawaii’s Manoa campus. She helped found  the tract  of Hawaiian studies.

Haunani-Kay Trask was calved connected Oct. 3, 1949, successful San Francisco to Bernard Kaukaohu Trask and Haunani (Cooper) Trask. Her parent taught simple school, and her begetter was a lawyer.

“When I conscionable different Hawaiian” Dr. Trask wrote of her lineage, “I accidental I americium descended of 2 genealogical lines: the Piilani enactment done my mother, who is from Hana, Maui, and the Kahakumakaliua enactment done my father’s household from Kauai.”

She grew up connected Oahu extracurricular of Honolulu, on with her 5 siblings.

Dr. Trask graduated from the Kamehameha School successful Honolulu, which was established successful the precocious 19th period to amended children of Hawaiian descent. She attended the University of Wisconsin astatine Madison, earning her bachelor’s grade successful governmental subject successful 1975 and a doctorate successful the aforesaid tract successful 1981.

Just aft completing her Ph.D., Dr. Trask began teaching astatine the University of Hawaii astatine Manoa, wherever she started successful the American Studies department.

Along with Dr. Stannard, her spouse since 1980, and her sister Mililani, she is survived by 2 different sisters, Kahala-Ann Trask Gibson and Damien Onaona Trask, and a brother, Michael. She died successful a residential attraction home.

In her code astatine the 1993 march successful Honolulu, Dr. Trask summed up overmuch of what her beingness was astir erstwhile she reminded her chap protesters wherefore she stood earlier them, and what drove her on. “I americium truthful arrogant to beryllium here,” she said. “I americium truthful arrogant to beryllium angry. I americium truthful arrogant to beryllium a Hawaiian.”

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