The pre-Congress gathering of indigenous leaders, E Alu Pū, brought together 150 participants from across Hawai‘i and over thirty countries for a four-day cultural exchange.
faculty participated in the International Union for Conservation of Nature
(IUCN) World Conservation Congress, held in September in Honolulu, where they
shared research on everything from Rapid ‘Ohi‘a Death to agroecology to native
bees. Before the Congress began, though, other members of the college helped to
set the tone for the international event. Dr. Mehana Vaughan, assistant
professor in the department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management
(NREM), along with NREM students and alumni, participated in a pre-Congress
gathering of indigenous leaders, E Alu Pu. This gathering brought together 150
participants from across Hawai‘i and over thirty countries, as far away as
Madagascar, Canada, Vanuatu, and Peru, for a four-day cultural exchange. E Alu
Pū, which means “move forward together,” reflects the spirit of collaboration
fostered by the event. The nonprofit organization Kua‘āina Ulu ‘Auamo convened
the gathering and partnered with NREM, the Nature Conservancy, Hui ‘Āina Momona,
and UH Sea Grant to facilitate group discussions.
NREM alumna Molly Noelaniokekai Mamaril participated in E Alu Puand wrote about the experience.
One of the
participants was Molly Noelaniokekai Mamaril, who earned her MS in 2014 and
currently works as an assistant project manager at Pono Pacific Land
Management. She was joined by fellow NREM alum Pua‘ala Pascua and NREM students
Emily Cadiz, Cheryl Geslani-Scarton, Amy Markel, Monica Montgomery, Kanoe
Morishige, Jordan Muratsachi, Aissa Yazzie, and Kawela Farrant.
part in a traditional Hawaiian ‘aha ‘awa ceremony and in discussions focused on
preserving indigenous culture and fostering community stewardship of local
lands and waters. They shared struggles with the loss of native lands,
over-regulated harvesting rights, and pressure to westernize the management of
local resources, as well as success stories of reclaiming access to resources,
building local trade economies, creating strong partnerships, and empowering
youth. Many stories emphasized the importance of community-based natural
resource management. The group also worked together on a restoration project at
Huilua fishpond in Kahana, putting ideals into action.
An important theme
of the gathering, later echoed by IUCN members in their adoption of key
measures supporting indigenous peoples’ rights, was the need for policy to be
founded in the collective wisdom and experience of communities who understand
how to sustainably manage their local resources. “Worldwide, communities who
have long depended upon their land and waters for sustenance are critical
partners in ensuring the health of natural resources for future generations,”
maintains Dr. Vaughan.
See http://kuahawaii.org for more