MOʻOLELO DISFIGURED – MY TALK FROM TEDx MĀNOA
AN INTRO TO INTEGRAL THEORY WITH DR. UMI PERKINS
ʻUMI PERKINS: AN ACADEMIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY
I was born in Boston, Massachusetts to a Hawaiian mother and a father whose family had been in Massachusetts since 1631. My parents were what might be termed “starving intellectuals,” and both parts of this moniker influenced my development. Moving to Hawai’i at age two, where my mother was an East-West Center doctoral fellow, early on I developed interests in history, politics and notably, land. The fact that my parents could not afford what many of my peers’ less-educated parents could – a house – seemed to cultivate in me a desire for property. The concept of property would much later become a central notion in my dissertation research – a concept that proved to be highly problematic.
I grew up in Kapahulu and Waikiki, attending a Montessori school and later Noelani Elementary, but spent much of my time in the gardens behind Imin Hall at the East-West Center, and surrounded by intellectuals. In 1981, at age 9, my parents took academic positions at the fledgling Atenisi University in Tonga. The six years I spent there proved to be formative in many ways. I saw the contrast between Tongans, who forbade foreigners to own property, and Hawaiians, who even then made up a large proportion of the homeless. The international community there, and the country’s small size gave me a global focus, which may have been the precursor to a keen interest in the process of globalization.
In 1986, I was sent to Lahainaluna as a boarder, where my focus shifted to “the local.” Lahaina was my mother’s home as a child and ancestral home of my family. As a magnet school for agriculture, the Lahainaluna boarders maintained a farm, and a generally rural flavor was the result of the many boarders from Moloka‘i, Hana, Keanae and other rural communities. Working the land became a foundation for my later theoretical studies of land tenure. It was the basis of my later admonitions to my students that “you can’t understand ‘aina unless you get it under your fingernails.” I also developed a lifelong interest in distance running, which I took (or which took me) to college.
After being waitlisted at Cornell, I chose Whittier College in Southern California, where I combined my interests in land and athletics, studying both Geology and Exercise Physiology, and competing in NCAA cross-country and track. My general interest in environmental issues was nurtured at Whittier, though my politics were somewhat stifled by the conservative environment at Richard Nixon’s alma mater. Despite this, at the end of my time there, one particular professor renewed my interest in politics and political philosophy – an interest that took me through graduate school.
I drifted for over a year in a way typical of recent college graduates, but eventually found a job at Waianae High School teaching science. I spent one year as a dorm counselor at Lahainaluna before heading to my birthplace of Massachusetts to attend Harvard as a government concentrator. My years in Cambridge made indelible changes in me politically, as I combined my studies with practical experience in NGOs in the fields of Indigenous rights and American politics. I studied campaigns and worked on them, and extended my global focus. But land in Hawai’i remained a driving motivation for my work even then. My master’s thesis compared the alienation and reclamation of land in Hawai’i and New Zealand. I later continued this relationship with New Zealand Maori through a Fulbright fellowship and by attending the World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Education. As invigorating as Harvard was, I felt that I was in exile from the monumental events in Hawai’i in the late 1990s. I returned in 2001 to begin another phase – one that combined, deepened and put into practice the disparate fields I had been studying from afar.
After a year teaching at Anuenue immersion school, I began my current position as Hawaiian History teacher at Kamehameha Schools, Kapalama. I also began my PhD work at this time in the Political Science department at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa. Teaching while pursuing my PhD allowed me to start and support a family, and recently, buy a house. During a sabbatical year I was able to defend my PhD proposal and pass my comprehensive exams. I finished the PhD in May 2013, and my manuscript is currently under review by the University of Arizona Press. Over the past five years I have been developing a high school-level textbook in Hawaiian history that I have thought of as a massive literature review. My interest in land tenure deepened and became situated in a broader context – that of both its European feudal connections and traditional Hawaiian land tenure. In 2012 I began lecturing in Political Science at Windward Community College and in 2014 I began lecturing at UH Mānoa in the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution. I find myself at what seems to be the cusp of a new phase in my career, when the strands of my various interests may again converge around notions of land and homeland in a global era.
I spoke on my dissertation topic, Kuleana land rights (native tenant rights), with legendary activist Walter Ritte, on my left. Click picture for video.
M. ‘UMI PERKINS
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI‘I, MĀNOA
Political Science, Honolulu, HI. May, 2013.
Dissertation title: Kuleana: A Genealogy of Native Tenant Rights
MASTER OF LIBERAL ARTS (ALM) HARVARD UNIVERSITY
Cambridge, MA. June 2002. Concentration in Government.
Thesis: “O ka ‘Āina ke Ea: Land is Sovereignty.”
Comparison of Hawaiian and Maori land claims.
BACHELOR OF ARTS WHITTIER COLLEGE
Whittier, CA. June 1994.
LIKO AʻE NATIVE HAWAIIAN SCHOLARSHIP
2008-2009 and 2009-2010.
FULBRIGHT-HAYS SEMINAR ABROAD FULBRIGHT NEW ZEALAND
Jul. – Aug. 2004. Aotearoa/New Zealand.
National tour of New Zealand education system.
LECTURER, MATSUNAGA INST. OF PEACE, UH MĀNOA
LECTURER, POLITICAL SCIENCE WINDWARD COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Kāneʻohe, HI. Fall, 2012 – Teach Political Science 110 online. Scheduled to teach POLS 110 and POLS 180 (Hawaiʻi Politics) in Spring, 2013.
TEACHER, HAWAIIAN HISTORY KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOLS
Honolulu, HI. Aug. 2002 – Present. Teach Hawaiian History (grade 12) and Hawaiian Culture (grade 9) at preparatory school for native Hawaiians. World History in Summer School 2006 – 2008.
INSTRUCTOR, TEACHER INSTITUTES HAWAIʻI DEPT. OF EDUCATION
Kane‘ohe, HI and Kea‘au, HI. Jul. 2009 – Jul. 2010. Taught Hawaiian History to Hawai’i Department of
Education teachers for Professional Development Credit. Institutes organized in conjunction with
Kamehameha Schools, Public Education Support division.
TEACHER, SOCIAL STUDIES KE KULA KAIAPUNI ‘O ĀNUENUE
Honolulu, HI. Jun. 2001 – Jul. 2002. Taught middle school social studies (US and Hawaiian
History) and science to grades 6 – 12 at Hawaiian language immersion school. Taught Science, US
History and English in Summer School. 2001 – 2003.
INFORMATION SPECIALIST POLITICAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATES
Somerville, MA. Jun. 1999 – Dec. 2000. Conducted research, tracked membership and maintained
library at research center monitoring US political Right-wing. Co-wrote report: The Pioneer
Institute: Privatizing the Common Wealth.
MEMBERSHIP COORDINATOR CULTURAL SURVIVAL
Cambridge, MA. Mar. 1998 – Jun. 1999. Coordinated all aspects of member relations, in
organization for indigenous peoples’ advocacy. Edited membership newsletter. Co-edited issue
of journal Cultural Survival Quarterly (Spring 2000).
TEACHER, HAWAIIAN HISTORY/DORM COUNSELOR LAHAINALUNA HIGH SCHOOL
Lahaina, HI. Sep. 1996 – Jun. 1997. Taught Modern Hawaiian History and supervised 66 in boys’
dormitory. Designed curriculum on Hawaiian Sovereignty. Coached Track and Field.
TEACHER, PHYSICAL AND MARINE SCIENCE WAIANAE HIGH SCHOOL
Waianae, HI. Sep. 1995 – Jun. 1996. Taught ninth grade physical science and marine science.
Coached Track and Field.
“Pono and the Koru: Towards an Indigenous Theory in Pacific Island Literature”
Hūlili: Multidisciplinary Research on Hawaiian Well-Being, Vol. 4, No. 1. 2007.
“O ka ‘Āina ke Ea: The Waitangi Tribunal and the Native Hawaiians Study Commission,”
Hūlili: Multidisciplinary Research on Hawaiian Well-Being. Vol. 2, No. 1. 2005.
Mooolelo Hawaiʻi – Column in The Hawaiʻi Independent. 2010 – Present.
“Building an Intellectual Culture” The Hawaiʻi Independent. Jan. 8, 2013.
“Hawaiians, APEC and Globalization,” Ka Wai Ola, Oct. 2011.
“Globalizing the Islands: The Impact of APEC,” The Hawaiʻi Independent, Oct. 14, 2011.
“Teaching Land and Sovereignty,” Hawaiian Journal of Law and Politics, Vol. 2, Issue 1, Summer,
“Hawaiian Land and Sovereignty – A Revised View,” Proceedings of the World Indigenous Peoples’
Conference on Education. Hamilton, New Zealand, 2005.
Lesson Plans for national screening of Whale Rider on PBS for Pacific Islanders in
Communications.http://www.piccom.org/whalerider/lesson_plans.html Jul. 2005.
“Mana/ʻIke: Maori and Native Hawaiian Education and Self-Determination.” Fulbright-Hays
Research Projects. http://www.fulbright.org.nz/events/fulbrighthays-projects/perkinsu.html
The Pioneer Institute: Privatizing the Common Wealth. Co-authored with Paul Dunphy. Report
discusses the influence of right-wing think-tank, Pioneer Institute, on privatization in
Massachusetts. Published by Political Research Associates, Jul. 2002.
“Problems in Paradise: Sovereignty in the Pacific; Ka Lahui’s Hawaiian Vision” Associate Editor
for theme issue of Cultural Survival Quarterly (CSQ), Spring 2000.
“Conflicting Visions of Hawaiian Sovereignty” Editorial, CSQ, Spring 2000.
“Fantasies of the Master Race” Review of book by Ward Churchill, CSQ, Summer, 1999.
“East Timor” CSQ, Spring 1999.
Action Update, Editor – Cultural Survival member newsletter, 1999.
“Aftermath of the Hawaiian Sovereignty Vote” CSQ, Summer, 1998.
PUBLICATIONS IN PREPARATION___________________________________________
Mo‘olelo: A Hawaiian History. Textbook manuscript for high school and introductory college Hawaiian history and Hawaiian Studies, to Kamehameha Publishing.
“Privatizing ‘Āina: A Review of Māhele Scholarship” to Native American and Indigenous Studies.
RIGHTS OF A CHILD. Panel on early childhood education. Mid-Pacific Institute, Mar. 18, 2013.
EDUCATION PANEL: THE IDEAS SUMMIT. Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Honolulu, HI. Jan. 18, 2013.
MOʻOLELO REFIGURED: DEVELOPING A NEW HAWAIIAN HISTORY TEXTBOOK – TEDx Mānoa,
Honolulu, HI. Oct. 5, 2012. East West Center, University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa. Presentation on the need, content and perspective involved with developing a Hawaiian history text from a Hawaiian perspective.
A CONVERSATION WITH ʻUMI PERKINS AND KEKUNI BLAISDELL, IMI PONO PRODUCTIONS,
ʻŌLELO COMMUNITY TELEVISION. Honolulu, HI. Aug. 2011. Discussion on upcoming APEC and
Moana Nui conferences and impact of globalization on Hawaiians and Hawaiʻi communities and
THE HAWAIIAN STATE OF MIND, “OCCUPIED MINDS,” ‘ŌLELO COMMUNITY TELEVISION
Honolulu, HI. April. 12, 2010. Live television talk show focused on the topic of the military occupation of
Hawai‘i. Episode examined the teaching of the idea of occupation in public and private schools.
50th ANNIVERSARY OF HAWAIʻI STATEHOOD – HAWAIʻI DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Honolulu, HI. August, 2009. Panel for Hawaiʻi Department of Education on teaching about Hawaiʻi
Statehood with James Burns and Kippen de Alba Chu.
NĀ LEO MAKAʻĀINANA, “SEIZED, NOT CEDED LANDS,” ʻŌLELO COMMUNITY TELEVISION
Honolulu, HI. Feb. 25, 2009. Live television talkshow on Hawaiian issues. Episode dealt with US Supreme
Court case on Hawaiʻi ceded lands.
HAWAIIAN SOCIETY OF LAW AND POLITICS, SECOND BIENNIAL SYMPOSIUM
East-West Center, UH Manoa, Honolulu, HI. Mar. 31, 2007.
“Moʻolelo Disfigured: Teaching Sovereignty – an Update.” Presentation on historical and legal
issues involved in writing a Hawaiian history textbook.
HAWAIIAN SOCIETY OF LAW AND POLITICS, FIRST BIENNIAL SYMPOSIUM
East-West Center, UH Manoa, Honolulu, HI. Apr. 16, 2005. “Teaching Land and Sovereignty.”
Presented on use of primary legal resources in High School Hawaiian History at Kamehameha
NATIVE HAWAIIAN EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
Windward Community College, Kāneʻohe, HI. Mar. 18, 2011. “Hawaiian Dissertations” workshop.
WORLD INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ CONFERENCE ON EDUCATION
Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand, Nov. 30, 2005. “Hawaiian Land and Sovereignty.”
Presented on legal issues of land ownership and their relationship to sovereignty.
KAMEHAMEHA CONFERENCE ON HAWAIIAN WELL-BEING – Panel: “Land and Sea”
Kea‘au, HI. Oct. 29, 2004. “Land and Sovereignty” Presented on developments in land research.
FULBRIGHT-HAYS SEMINARS ABROAD
Honolulu, HI. Jul. 17, 2004. “A History of Hawaiian Sovereignty.” Presented on history of
Hawai‘i to fellow Fulbright participants during orientation.
NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD CONFERENCE – Panel: “The Perils of Privatization”
Boston, MA. Nov. 3, 2000. Presented on privatization in education.
MASSACHUSETTS LABOR PARTY CONFERENCE – Panel: “Problems with Privatization”
Holyoke, MA. Oct. 14, 2000. Presented on influence of privatization of government services.
Introduction to Political Science, Windward Community College, Spring, 2012.
Hawaiian History 1850-Present, Dept. of Education (for public school teachers), 2009, 2010.
Hawaiian History, Kamehameha Schools, 2002 – Present.
Honors Hawaiian History, Kamehameha Schools, 2003 – Present.
Hawaiian Culture, Kamehameha Schools, 2002, 2006.
World History, Kamehameha Summer School, 2006 – 2008, 2012.
US History, Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Anuenue (School year and summer), 2001 – 2002.
The Hawaiian Kingdom, Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Anuenue, 2001 – 2002.
General Science, Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Anuenue, Summer 2001.
Physical Education, Ke Kula Kaiapuni o ʻĀnuenue, 2001, Lincoln Elem School, Whittier, CA 1994.
Modern Hawaiian History, Lahainaluna High School, 1996 – 1997.
Physical Science, Waiʻanae High School, 1995 – 1996.
Marine Science, Waiʻanae High School, 1995 – 1996.
EDITORIAL BOARD, HŪLILI: MULTIDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH ON HAWAIIAN WELL-BEING
Research and Evaluation, Kamehameha Schools, Honolulu, HI. 2007
Board member for multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal on Hawaiian issues.
EDITORIAL BOARD, KAMEHAMEHA PUBLISHING (Formerly Kamehameha Schools Press)
Kamehameha Schools, Honolulu, HI. 2006 – Present.
Board member for press. Policy and acquisition. Member of Secondary school curriculum
HAWAIIAN SOCIETY OF LAW AND POLITICS
University of Hawai‘i, Honolulu, HI. 2005 – Present.
Member of student/faculty society at University of Hawai‘i focused on Hawaiian legal topics.
WRITER, PETER APO FOR OFFICE OF HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS
Aiea, HI. Sep. – Nov. 2010. Wrote campaign material and conducted research for campaign.
HUMANITIES SCHOLAR, MISSION HOUSES MUSEUM
Honolulu, HI. Spring 2003. Consultant on Museum tour for school-aged children.
POLICY CHAIR, NATIVE HAWAIIAN CAUCUS, HAWAI’I DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Honolulu, HI. May 2002. Developed policy for Native Hawaiian Caucus.
CERTIFIED TRAINER, UNITED FOR A FAIR ECONOMY
Boston, MA. Jun. 2000. Trained to present workshops on economic issues such as globalization.
MEMBER, EAST TIMOR ACTION NETWORK
Cambridge, MA. 1998 – 1999. Worked with international network for East Timorese
POLL CAPTAIN, JOHN O’CONNOR FOR CONGRESS
Cambridge, MA. Jun. – Sep. 1998. Canvassed, phone banked and supervised 10 volunteers as Poll
TEACHING DOCENT, HAWAI‘I NATURE CENTER
Wailuku, HI. Jan. – Mar. 1997. Taught environmental education in outdoor setting in Iao Valley,
COMPUTER – MS Access, MS Word, MS Powerpoint, Mac Quark, Filemaker Pro, MS Outlook, Internet research.
LANGUAGES – Hawaiian, Tongan
The Other ‘Umi [a-Liloa] – a response to Kamakau vis-a-vis Kame’eleihiwa (e kala mai for the umlauts)
Beginning a mo’olelo with a genealogy situates the characters in a web of relationships. Kamakau constantly does this, showing the complexity of chiefly relationships and … This technique is seen in other Hawaiian literature such as Kaluaiko’olau by Pi’ilani.
Kame’eleihiwa holds that there are four traditional Hawaiian metaphors that order Hawaiian society: Mälama ‘Äina, Nï’aupi’o, ‘Aikapu and ‘Imi Haku. Mälama ‘Äina is not merely caring for the land, but also represents the reciprocal relationship between aliÿi and makaÿainana in which the aliÿi care for the makaÿainana (eyes of the land) through their administration of the land. Nï’aupi’o is the incestuous mating practices of ali’i, which, by limiting one’s ancestors to those of royal blood, provides an unquestioned right to rule. ‘Aikapu was a central legal principle in Hawaiian society, dividing men and women (while eating) created two parts to society, which could be balanced through distinct societal roles. This balancing act was pono, a fundamental value of Hawaiian society, and the goal of every chief. ‘Imi Haku was the search for mana which had two paths, the paths of Kü (violence) and Lono (peace, e.g. political marriages). In this response, I will locate these metaphors in the story of ‘Umi and in the life of Kamehameha I.
‘Umi practiced mälama ‘aina continually, in both its literal sense – he was considered a humble chief who “did two things with his own hands – farming and fishing”, and in the figurative sense – he “took care of the old men, the old women, the fatherless, and the common people” (Kamakau, 1992, p. 19).
‘Umi practiced nï’aupiÿo when he married his half-sister, Kapukini, daughter of Liloa by Pinea, who was Liloa’s aunt. Thus Kapukini was herself a pi’o chief. ‘Umi practiced ÿaikapu when he built menÿs houses for an army to defeat his brother Hakau. This metaphor is also seen in the story of ‘Umi’s conception when his mother, Akahiakuleana had just completed her menstrual cycle in which “Lehua shed her tears” (Kamakau, 1992 ). Finally, ‘Umi practiced ‘imi haku, both the path of Kü, defeating his elder brother through force, and the path of Lono, increasing his mana by marrying both Kapukini and Pi’ikea, daughter of Pi’ilani, the king of Maui.
Kamehameha, like ‘Umi was a chief who would labor in the fields, thus practicing mälama ‘äina directly. He also exhibited the indirect practice of mälama ÿäina with his “law of the splintered paddle,” mamalahoe känäwai, which forbade the abuse of chiefly and other powers upon threat of death. He thus protected the most vulnerable sectors of society. He practiced nï’aupi’o and imi haku by marrying Keöpüolani, the daughter of Kiwala’o, his cousin and rival. While she was not a close relative like Kapukini was to ‘Umi, he thought of her as such – this is seen when he referred to his children by her as his “grandchildren.” He therefore thought of Kïwala’ö as his brother and Keöpüolani as his daughter. Kamehameha also practiced ‘aikapu. This can be inferred by the fact that Ka’ahumanu waited until his death to officially abolish the ÿaikapu in December 1819. This suggests that kamehameha never would have allowed this change to such a foundational aspect of Hawaiian society. Finally, Kamehameha exhibited ‘imi haku, both the path of Kü, in the unification struggle and the path of Lono by his political marriages to Ka’ahumanu and Keöpüolani.