Too Many Deaths: Decolonizing Western Academic Research on Indigenous Cultures
By Gabrielle Welford
A dissertation submitted to the Graduate Division of the University of Hawaii in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English, May 2003
© 2003 Gabrielle Welford (welford@hawaii.edu)

Chapter 9 - What Are Our Options?

 
Main
 

Title Page, Acknowledgements, Abstract, Table of Contents, Preface

 
Chapter 1 - Introduction
 
Inbetween I
 
Chapter 2 -Approaching Scholarship
 
Inbetween II
 
Chapter 3 - The Western Academy Described: Purpose and Means
 
Inbetween III
 
Chapter 4 - Objectivity
 
Inbetween IV
 
Chapter 5 - Externalization of Viewpoint Unwillingness to be Affected
 
Inbetween V
 
Chapter 6 - Fact and Fiction Written vs. Oral Linear Argument
 
Inbetween VI
 
Chapter 7 - Modes of Thought Effects
 
Inbetween VII
 
Chapter 8 - Examples
 
Inbetween VIII
 
Chapter 9 - What Are Our Options?
 
Inbetween IX
 
Chapter 10 - Conclusion Responsibility
 
Bibliography

 

 

CHAPTER 9
WHAT ARE OUR OPTIONS?

In the final two chapters of this dissertation I take a look at what our options may be if we take the problems of descriptive distortion, appropriation, and colonization seriously, if we listen to those who are telling us to stop and if we wish to respond from a position of engagement and friendship rather than objectivity and distance. The first direction I want to take is to examine, in a similar way to Chapters 3-7, aspects of the process of indigenous academics who are delineating the boundaries of indigenous scholarship. I do this to look at alternative models within indigenous cultures.

What I am calling an indigenous model of scholarship has come to me in various ways and is based completely on my own conclusions, possibly malformed and skewed. Among these ways are: studying for three years with Paula Gunn Allen; growing up in and living as an adult in countries that are not Euroamerican; reading; talking to and hanging out with friends; attending meetings, presentations, workshops and seminars; having been asked to become involved in an indigenous movement for sovereignty; more talking to friends. I do not in any way claim to be right in how I am presenting the indigenous cultures I draw my descriptions from and am only too glad to be corrected by members of each culture, who are the ones with the right to make those descriptions. The reason I am attempting such definitions is only that I believe western-trained scholars are going to have to take a look at how we are undertaking research and to find alternative methodologies, as soon as possible, in order to avoid the effects I have been discussing in the previous chapters. I believe I am describing some such alternatives in the following pages.

***

Purpose

I began in Chapter 3 with purpose or intent, what drives research. Linda Tuhiwai Smith describes the purposes, methods and theories of indigenous research as follows:

There is certainly a history of research of indigenous peoples which continues to make indigenous students who encounter this history very angry. Sometimes they react by deciding never to do any research; but then they go out into the community and, because of their educational background and skills they are called upon to carry out projects or feasibility studies or evaluations or to write submissions that are based on information, data, archival records and interviews with elders. They are referred to as project workers, community activists or consultants, anything but "researchers". They search and record, they select and interpret, they organize and re-present, they make claims on the basis of what they assemble. This is research. The processes they use can also be called methodologies. The specific tools they use to gain information can also be called methods. Everything they are trying to do is informed by a theory, regardless of whether they can talk about that theory explicitly. (16-17)

She cites questions that communities and indigenous activists often ask, such as "Are they useful to us? Can they fix up our generator? Can they actually do anything?" reminiscent of Epi Enari's question about curing the common cold (10). These quick delineations suggest that what drives indigenous research is more likely to be particular practical needs of indigenous communities outside the academy. This recalls Smith's desire to show how indigenous methodologies "can be more respectful, ethical, sympathetic and useful" (9).

Also included in purpose is Smith's characterization of indigenous research as "resistance," as part of the activism that she says is "the basis of everyday life" for an indigenous person in the fight for self-nurturance and survival from colonialism (110):

The research agenda is conceptualized here as constituting a programme and set of approaches that are situated within the decolonization of politics of the indigenous peoples' movement....a goal of social justice which is expressed through and across a wide range of psychological, social, cultural and economic terrains. It necessarily involves the processes of transformation, of decolonization, of healing and of mobilization as peoples. (115-116)

This point is related to a shift in what is deemed practical research in that, in a movement for decolonization, research is driven by the specific community needs of the moment within the movement as well as by more long-term concerns. Hereniko specifies that western researchers must now begin to be committed to "empowering native people as they struggle to transform social injustices and inequalities" (88). This provides a possible moving point for western scholars looking for ways to change what we do.

Mary Churchill's dissertation arose from dissatisfaction with non-Cherokee studies on Cherokee culture. Characterizing western scholars as "the blind" after the parable of the blind men and the elephant, Churchill calls for dialogue between scholars and Indians, "which could revolutionize their understanding of American Indian cultures" and for "a tolerance for the vague, the indeterminate, and the ambiguous," i.e., for an attempt by western and western-trained scholars to extricate ourselves from hitherto immovable (but slowly changing) paradigms of western culture that cause us to distort what we are writing about when we analyze indigenous cultures with different paradigms (3, 4). Such a tolerance is related to what I mean by tuning. Churchill's scholarship is driven by a desire to right a distorted picture of Cherokee culture and a wrong way of deriving that picture.

Similarly, Paula Gunn Allen's subtitle for The Sacred Hoop is Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions, a strand she saw obscured by predominance of men among anthropologists, folklorists, and ethnologists and of male ways of thinking among female professionals (Conversations) (endnote 1). Bringing together and making whole, respect for privacy and protocol, rather than separation and reduction from a "necessary" distance, are possible when the purpose is community-focused and has its requirements and criteria set by the community. Paula Gunn Allen says of what happens to her when she tries to override her Laguna upbringing in order to be scholarly, "[C]hildhood learning dies hard. In the classroom or before the keyboard, I find myself physically ill when I attempt to override those early lessons. My body, breed as it is, rebels against the very idea that such violations might proceed from me. ("Teaching" 385)

Her essay, as Churchill's dissertation, is about finding ways to research and teach that do not violate the values of her home (both inside and outside).

***

Objectivity

The third point above was objectivity, the "necessary distance" I refer to, as well as the belief that what one sees or discovers, is universally true. As Ahmad points out in his rejection of Jameson's theorizing:

'[D]escription' is never ideologically or cognitively neutral...to 'describe' is to specify a locus of meaning, to construct an object of knowledge, and to produce a knowledge that shall be bound by that act of descriptive construction. 'Description' has been central, for example, in the colonial discourse. It was by assembling a monstrous machinery of descriptions--of our bodies, our speech-acts, our habitats, our conflicts and desires, our politics, our socialities and sexualities--that the colonial discourse was able to classify and ideologically master the colonial subject, enabling itself to transform the descriptively verifiable multiplicity and difference into the ideologically felt hierarchy of value. (6)

When western scholarship, as Linda Smith says, "reaffirms...itself as the centre of legitimate knowledge, the arbiter of what counts as knowledge and the source of 'civilised' knowledge," the interweaving of other knowledges from the rest of the world (and from within western culture) is overlooked (63). This is not a solved problem:

Research "through imperial eyes" describes an approach which assumes that Western ideas about the most fundamental things are the only ideas possible to hold, certainly the only rational ideas, and the only ideas which can make sense of the world, of reality, of social life and of human beings. It is an approach to indigenous peoples which still conveys a sense of innate superiority and an overabundance of desire to bring progress into the lives of indigenous peoples--spiritually, intellectually, socially and economically. (56)

Such "progress" includes brutal discipline ( or as Gunn Allen says, "torture, imprisonment, battering, neglect, and psychological torment...") at American Indian, Hawaiian, and other boarding schools for indigenous children, ongoing adoption and fostering out of children from indigenous families to white families in the U.S., including Hawai'i, Australia and other places (my friend Mary TallMountain was an adoptee), and harsh punishment for speaking one's own language in schools wherever the colonizers landed (Hoop 39). Such treatment was designed to "persuade" (a gentle word for what was a brutal, and sometimes a deathly reality) indigenous peoples to trade their ways of experiencing the world for European ones.

In a striking passage in The Sacred Hoop, Gunn Allen describes at length the experience of the Montaignais-Naskapi of St Lawrence Valley, who were matriarchal, did not believe in physical punishment, and, like the Blood Blackfeet, were a tribe of "many chiefs" (as she describes them, humorous individualists), under the French Jesuits in early 15th century Canada (Hoop 38-40). She quotes the Jesuit missionaries as they sought to bring the people of the tribe over to a European way of thinking and being and what they would have to do to achieve this. As a result of these realizations they began removing children from home to boarding schools where they would be taught to experience themselves as sinners in need of a Christian God-given leadership (endnote 2) and they convinced the men to reject the equality of women. Tribe members would have to become willing to accept without question the authority of a person designated as a leader over them, something they had not done before.

What, then, within indigenous scholarship, becomes of the western academic concept of objectivity--which includes the importance of distance, valorization of being right over lived contextual meaning, and the right to ask any questions of anyone and do whatever s/he wants with the results independent of consideration of the community? I would plough ahead and begin to try to answer some of these questions myself except for the danger, yet again, of a non-indigenous person setting herself up to say what indigenous knowledge is. Smith warns against one of these dangers (more likely to be mine), romanticization of indigenous knowledge early on in her book:

Although [my grandmother] developed in me the spiritual relationships to the land, to our tribal mountain and river, she also developed a sense of quite physical groundedness, a sense of reality, and a sense of humour about ourselves. It may be those qualities that make me sceptical or cautious about the mystical, misty-eyed discourse sometimes employed by indigenous people to describe our relationships with the land and the universe. I believe that our survival as peoples has come from our knowledge of our contexts, our environment, not from some active beneficence of our Earth Mother. We had to know to survive. (12-13)

It is this warning (how much more needy of observation among non-indigenous commentators like myself) that also keeps me from quoting from Jamake Highwater, for instance, although he talks at length about (his ideas of) indigenous concepts of objectivity. John Trudell's term, "mining" of indigenous forms of knowledge both literally in the form of "collecting" as Smith calls it (whether for individual pleasure or for scientific "good of the world" projects) or in the guise of adopting spiritual, medical, political, and other forms of knowledge with or without true understanding (as in white-run Huna workshops, sweat lodges, the generally unacknowledged French and U.S. adoption of Iroquois forms of government, "aha" belated "discoveries" of the value of and subsequent patenting of indigenous medicinal plant knowledge, and so on) goes on daily as I write.

The danger of my joining the ranks of those who claim to understand indigenous models of knowledge has made me decide to offer quotes from both written texts and conversations in this section and not much more. I am not in a position to say what indigenous knowledges are, to describe them, but only to point readers toward the writing and/or speech of indigenous scholars, authors, and commentators themselves. Therefore, this section of my dissertation will consist of interviews, quotes from personal interactions, reading recommendations, and the like rather than my own observations.

The first source I would like to foreground in this section is Manu Meyer's article "Our Own Liberation: Reflections on Hawaiian Epistemology," which follows a 1998 article, "Native Hawaiian Epistemology: Exploring Hawaiian Views of Knowledge." Basing her work on 1997 interviews (conducted for her dissertation) with 20 Kanaka Maoli educational leaders, Meyer begins formulating a Hawaiian philosophy of empirical knowledge. Like Mary Churchill, she starts by working to expose the situational or cultural nature of experience and therefore of knowledge, undermining what she describes as a universalizing theory of knowledge, as in the quote on page 95 above. Churchill writes: "I begin my survey at the metatheoretical level and move toward the potential for 'partial' perspectives and 'situated knowledges' as bases for the development of indigenous theory" (5). Meyer argues, "Because the fundamental building block of knowledge, empiricism, stems from how we engage in the world, it must now be defined in specific, contextual terms. Even touching does not escape the influence of culture," adding, "The art of paying attention is indeed a culturally specific 'deep internalized knowledge.' It is shaped by a culture with a particular moral posture and achieved only through practice" ("Liberation" 133, 134). In the earlier article, she had specified:

Fundamental to Hawaiian empiricism is the notion that experience is culturally defined by what Marshall Sahlins refers to as "social canons of relevance." He sees the relation culture has to the shaping of sensory knowledge and questions a universal set of empirical judgments. He sees that senses are culturally variable...."The biological mechanisms of perception are not in question, nor is their universality. At issue, rather, is the organization of experience, including the training of the senses, according to social canons of relevance." ("Exploring" 39)

To build and defend a claim for indigenous scholarship, experientially based according to cultural specifics, the first step for Meyer, Hereniko, and Churchill is to debunk the notion that criteria for knowledge are universal across cultures, i.e., that scholarship, academic or otherwise, must take place on a Euroamerican model in the continued imperialism of globalization. And this is what Meyer does admirably in her 2001 article.

Once she has established that the acquisition and criteria for knowledge are culture specific, she goes on to take a more in-depth look than she did in 1998 at ingredients that make up a specifically Hawaiian epistemology (Meyer explains her need to borrow the word and "look[s] forward to the day where we no longer use terms that compromise our identity.... describing our experiences in our own languages" (126)). Much of what she says is echoed in the writings of other indigenous authors.

Linda Tuhiwai Smith sees that "The pedagogical implication of this access to alternative knowledges is that they can form the basis of alternative ways of doing things" (34). The second part of her book does just that.

STOP!!!

What am I doing here? Have I forgotten myself? Did you get carried along? I hope not. Have I forgotten that I was going to take a critical look at our/my own practices and explore what in my own experience might be alternative ways to those I described in the last chapter, that I was going to lay out examples of my own tunings and take a look at what that might mean for others? How extraordinarily easy it is to fall into representing another culture, even via that culture's own words.

Kelly Kraemer emphasizes in her dissertation how difficult it is for a privileged person to see her own privilege--a man to see his privilege over women, a white person to see her privilege over a non-white person, a heterosexual person to see his privilege over a gay person, a member of a colonizing culture to see her privilege over a person from a colonized culture. She says, "for the privileged, it needs to be made obvious" because "[c]ultural violence (for instance the 1896 banning of the Hawaiian language in public schools, which resulted in histories written only in English that distorted the meanings of events) creates and sustains the necessary conditions for 'not knowing'" by obscuring "what should be apparent," i.e., by producing silenced knowings (29, 28, 27).

For the privileged, like myself, the best road to awareness I have found has been the relationships that have made possible generous feedback from indigenous friends and acquaintances. Being there and willing to receive it has been my job. Being open, vigilant, and interested in getting educated, receiving feedback, desiring to know the truth, being willing to be humbled by awareness of my clumsiness when it becomes obvious that I have gone blind yet again, a willingness to be publicly wrong, are all important. Kraemer says, "Only by recognizing the operation of cultural violence at work can ignorance of one's own privileged status be explained and challenged" (29). Representation of a colonized culture by members of the colonizing one is an example of cultural violence, and for the privileged party, it is always a choice whether to see the violence in the first place and whether to do anything about it in the second (29-30).

As Noenoe Silva said to me when I showed her the opening paragraphs of this chapter, "What are you going to do about how you arrange the quotes, how you organize the information?" (Conversations). She was rightly concerned that any representation of Hawaiian epistemology in practice as a solution to distortions in western culture by me (or any other non-Kanaka Maoli) would be yet more interpretation from outside, however much I think I am honorably stepping back. At a recent gathering of our women's writing group, Keala Kelly also commented, "Is it going to be necessary for you to objectify us to do this? It's your life that we're interested in, not hearing your version of what we're saying." Noenoe Silva added, "We thought you were going to be writing from your own experience. What will be helpful is for you, as a white woman, to be talking to the white world about how your experiences have impacted you."

After curling up and turning inwards to tune for a few days (the time for curling up is getting shorter!), I re-emerged with the idea that one way we can go on working but shift our focus is by turning toward examining our European and American cultures from within. We can seek solutions to the problems of colonization by examining our own and other western scholars' involvement. As Kanalu Young said at the forum on "Indigenous Peoples, Research and Power: The Ethics & Politics of Knowledge," "It is time to turn the mirror on yourself." It is indicative of the need to continue saying these things that Black/Cherokee Ethnic Studies scholar and poet Kathryn Takara noted, on reading this, that Black activists made similar statements in the 1960s, yet the same problems arise.

Wittgenstein walked an always-tremulous fine line among the strong temptations toward theory-building in traditional philosophy. He methodically examined what we can and cannot say in order to reveal ways we experience the world and to release mental knots surrounding word use. Rupert Read, in "The ghost of Winch's ghost," insists, "it is possible to interpret Wittgenstein as austerely non-theoretical, and as resolutely therapeutic" (3). The attempt to move away from colonizing descriptions of other cultures and their works may walk a fine line among the temptations of theory-based literary criticism-as-it-has-been in order to undertake similarly methodical, grounded examinations of our own environments--western colonial (at home and abroad) histories, mythologies, psychologies, geographies, genealogies, and other belief systems that have been shaping who we are for hundreds of years. We can begin, as Paul Lyons in the U.H. Manoa English Department has done, to examine western representations of indigenous cultures in order to understand and make clear to others how such representations misfire.

We will have to uncover "silenced knowings" (Lorenz and Watkins' term), as John Trudell implies when he speaks of our origins in the "tribes of Europe," of what has become of us through the great massacres of peasants in England and Europe--generations of slavery and generations more of servitude, hundreds of years of savage war, the Spanish Inquisition through which our own tribal ways of life were surgically removed, and the present global colonial system whose first victims we were (Trudell 2/16/2000). Lorenz and Watkins, in "Silenced Knowings," express sadness and frustration that

many of the academic and organizational environments in which we have participated have managed only to reach the level of negative tolerance [in which the Other exists to serve the needs of the self, with indifference to issues affecting the Other if they do not affect the self]....Many...are locked in conflict about whose point of view, whose literature, whose history, whose sensibilities are important enough to be included and valued.

We need to focus on why it has been so difficult for people to move beyond a comfort zone [to a place] where new ways of thinking and being can be encountered with curiosity and even celebration...Homi Bhabha (1990) has called this needed space in-between individuals "Third Space," a difficult location where what we already know and are sure of may come into question and be revised, and where what has been silenced within and among us can find voice. Healing amnesia requires a period of disorientation and recollection in Third Space. (9-10)

We may look forward to what can be accomplished next upon the body of a culture as rooted in theft and demolition as ours is. To do this we need to stop looking for answers by examining and claiming to understand other, especially indigenous, cultures and focus the lens on our own. According to Lorenz and Watkins and to Kanalu Young, in order to break out of the comfort zone that silenced knowing provides, there is a great deal of pain (of acknowledging connection with our pasts--including present continuations of it--and responsibility, as well as feeling what our own families have suffered) we will have to be willing to go through (as did the family who had moved into the house in Austria) in order to move into that "Third Space."

To begin writing back against my own colonization and my colonization of others, I take a look here at the process as I was writing the various incarnations of this dissertation. What happened to me is one example of tuning (all-sensory listening or awareness). It has been one way of responding to critical feedback from the indigenous world on methods and focuses of scholarship.

My original plan (the one accepted in my dissertation proposal) was to examine three Inbetween colonized indigenous writers (Mary TallMountain, James Joyce, and Joe Balaz) for how they use the English language to write their own cultures. I was going to explore how indigenous writing in English can resist Standard English and pull it out of true. That topic over time developed into a theme of how the same three authors and others like them (from cultures that have been submerged by colonization--"adulterated" cultures, as David Lloyd puts it), if the writers are true to all the strands that make them up, can offer to western readers a gateway to understanding those cultures. They may also offer a more whole understanding of our own culture and of the world. Following Linda Krumholz's suggestions, I wished to show how such "Inbetween" or "halfie" (a term I borrow from Lila Abu-Lughod's "Writing Against Culture," meaning "people whose national or cultural identity is mixed by virtue of migration, overseas education, or parentage" (137)) writers might change us if we are willing and able to be aware of the damage we do and if we wish to be changed, if we are humble enough to hear when we are told we are responsible, to accept criticism from those who know colonization from the other side (endnote 3).

Having written an Introduction on this subject, I gave my writing to my friend Epi Enari for feedback. She somewhat reluctantly (she was reluctant because she'd been treated very badly by another haole person who had asked her for feedback) and then very generously and kindly wrote comments on my text and four pages of her own reactions, among which were the paragraphs I included at the end of Chapter 1 that embody the question, "Why write about others?" (41-42). I was floored. I had, as I suspect we all have, known somewhere in my gut that I was treading shaky ground representing the cultures of other peoples, even when at least one of those people was a close friend, but I had subordinated that gut feeling to the intellectual purpose of my project. I put aside my feeling that I was doing something "off" because it would have meant changing a project I had invested a lot of energy in (endnote 4). Writing dissertations, as with any scholarly project, is not supposed to be based on gut feelings, not about trusting the na'au, as Manu Meyer says, and I had listened to my academic head and not to the feelings I'm usually much better at trusting..

The nagging feeling I was bothered by had not been magically summoned by Epi Enari's comments. Before that, Noenoe Silva had very briefly mentioned, when I said I was using Jamake Highwater in my work, that Highwater had been part of a controversy and was accused of being a fake Indian. That comment also floored me since I had been impressed by the insights of The Primal Mind, which seemed to collect all the things I wanted to say into one volume (a telling circumstance). Having spent a couple of months, following her friendly and lightly given comment, unable to write while I digested the implications of what she had said, I set about again to put together my Introduction without any reliance on Highwater, only to be floored again by Enari's reaction when I had finished it.

Great change came through letting myself be floored, even though it was very painful. The business of tuning isn't necessarily easy! But, as Kelly Kraemer shows throughout Chapter 10 of her dissertation, being comfortable is not the main ingredient to being a non-indigenous ally to an indigenous movement for sovereignty and justice or, for that matter, to engaging and being a friend. I have had to develop a willingness, however shuddering and reluctant, to experience distress and discomfort, "shame, humiliation, degradation, and sadness," as Lorenz and Watkins put it (10). I experience shame in the face of accusations (however gentle) of complicity in racism, ethnocentrism, genocide, blindness to daily outrages glaringly obvious to indigenous friends but sometimes invisible to me. This willingness to be uncomfortable has "prepared the ground for being more open and permeable" to the daily acts of colonialism in our society and has made me more able to comprehend decisions and acts that counter it without being crippled by haole guilt (10, 11).

After receiving Epi Enari's comments and talking about the project with her, I lay silent again for a while, distressed that once again I had unknowingly crossed boundaries that hurt my friends. After some thought and a chance meeting with a former creative writing teacher who offered to work with me on the project, I decided (with great relief) to slip away from the heaviness of this area of discussion by changing the format of the dissertation. I would write the piece as a creative work in the form of a conversation between Epi and myself, where I would address the comments and questions she had given me. Eighty pages into this (enjoyable) effort, my friend came to town, and I gave her the paper to read. She came back to me again a couple of days later, we sat down, and she told me she didn't want to be associated with what I was doing. Again, I fell to the floor! "Why not?" I asked her. She explained that she couldn't find the concerns she had been most upset about in what I was writing. They were hidden in the verbiage of the creative piece. "No one will pay attention to this--because they don't have to," she pointed out. "You will have to go back to writing an academic dissertation and put the main point up front. It's the only way you'll be listened to." Don't you hate it when someone you love is right about something you hate?

That, then was the beginning of this version of the dissertation but not the end of my having to acknowledge that I was slipping out of true (to myself) by trying to represent the knowledge of another culture, as I did as recently as the beginning of this chapter. What, then, might "tuning" mean in a more general way as a guideline for those of us who want, at the least, to minimize our colonizing mistakes. What could it mean for those who are or want to be allies in indigenous and other liberation movements that are not of our own "social group," (endnote 5) who want, as I said in the Introduction, to act from a place of friendship and engagement? What could "tuning" mean for those who want to make sure we avoid as much as possible the slippages inevitable to a person not from a social group but engaged in supportive association with that group or, if they cannot be avoided, to know how to acknowledge and deal with our mistakes where they arise?

As I've described and experienced throughout this dissertation in the process of my own negotiations with slipping in and out of talk about those from other cultures, the main ingredient in my keeping integrity, it seems, has been to be able to listen and acknowledge what is being said to/about me (even when it is painful) without closing down and going into denial or paroxysms of guilt that prevent me from taking in what is being said and acting on it. Part of what may be necessary if we are to tune or listen is to become aware of ourselves as part of the problem--not potentially but actually, not historically but in the present--and to be willing to feel the pain once we face our own history and current potential for damage. Kelly Kraemer, Linda Krumholz, and Lorenz and Shulman talk about the necessity of reverse double consciousness for those in the dominant group if we are to begin to see ourselves as others see us--"seeing oneself not directly through one's own eyes, but as reflected through the eyes" of people who are being colonized, the reverse of the way W.E.B. DuBois used "double consciousness" as existing through the eyes of the colonizer (DuBois 38-39, Kraemer 24, Krumholz 109).

Kraemer (and others, after DuBois) characterizes the double consciousness of the oppressed as awareness of oneself as the problem--"[l]iving life as 'a problem'"--and a version of that is certainly a part of the recipe I would write for beginning to reverse continuing damage from colonization, whether we are aware or unaware as we propagate colonial acts in the academy (24). We are unlikely to be able to listen/tune unless we are willing to deal with the pain of awareness--that we are a highly visible, audible part of the upper echelon of a system that keeps certain populations of the world working to fulfill our needs and desires--that we are a part of the problem.

In "Silenced Knowings," Lorenz and Watkins recommend:

It is only in the recovery of cultural memory, in the listening to previously unheard feelings, symptoms, and narratives that [our] internal dissociations can begin to heal. To hold our history in ways that can inform our present we must nurture our capacities for grief and mourning, for truth and reconciliation...Part of the sadness that must be faced is how we may have prevented some of our deepest knowings from informing the major decisions in our life. (19)

Both through relationships with indigenous friends and in the process of writing this dissertation, I have come to realize that there are very recognizable and specific ways of being and responsibilities that go along with seeking or acquiring knowledge, and they are contextual in different arenas. There are very specific (though not regulable or bureaucratic) ways of becoming involved with people so that we may offer as much or more than we ask. My own experience has been one of becoming involved without a goal of acquiring knowledge. Involvement has been a slow and organic thing. I met Epi after I was asked to become part of the Hawai'i Literary Arts Council. Later, I was looking for anarchists, and I found Lynette Cruz and James Nakapa'ahu. We slowly became friends, and my interest in sovereignty grew from there. I feel that I have been given a great honor in being asked to come to meetings, to hang out in the evening making bead earrings and talking with Lynette and other friends, to go to sovereignty events, going for meals afterwards and talking, always talking. I offer what I can in return. This dissertation is part of that return.

It is always tempting in the academy to think we have to come up with "the answer" but in this case, there is no easy packet of actions that will make things right. Tuning is a concept that I hope might lead some people to be open to being led--whether by events or by people or by awareness of history or...--rather than being in control. Lynette has said in my hearing many times to people who were too afraid or guilty or guarded to get involved, "The door is open." And it is. That is why I turn to friendship (not the idea of or theory of friendship, but real friendships) as part of what I have to say in this chapter on options. Of course friendship cannot be forced. However, willingness to get involved can. Learning to keep our mouths shut rather than trying to run the show can. Turning up at events--just turning up is a big deal. In answer to my puzzlement as to why I'm the only haole at so many meetings, Keala Kelly has said to me she thinks she can count on the fingers of one hand the haoles who do just turn up. I'm sure there is worry about overstepping the mark, looking like a wannabe, wondering where the door is, maybe just not having enough time. But I think there's always enough time. It's a matter of priorities. And I happen to think that in a place like Hawai'i, where the history is harsh and obvious, priorities are pre-arranged. We step into them when we arrive. They're part of the responsibilities that come with choosing to be an academic in a place that has been overrun and occupied by white people for over 200 years over the bodies, minds, and souls of the original inhabitants.

Therefore I also think we have no right selling ourselves or our critical works as knowledgeable about any aspects of Kanaka Maoli culture without being specifically asked and guided by people in the community. We can be of use. Tuning into recognizing ourselves as part of the problem entails a shift in priorities. The world is so full of our voices that I cannot see any other way to avoid inappropriate appropriation than to step back and make room for indigenous peoples to make known their own ways of understanding themselves, including, if they wish, making known what they need and want of us. This might seem extreme BUT it is what we are being asked to do/undo by the indigenous scholars I have been quoting in this dissertation and also by those who are not scholars within the communities we "study" thereby objectifying them. (endnote 6) According to Noenoe Silva, the demand is everywhere in the indigenous world at this time for us to stop describing the work, lives, writings, art, etc. of other cultures from within our own world view--something we tend to be unaware we are doing because we are so unaware of the large differences between our comprehension of the world and other cultural comprehensions (Conversations).

What reasons could there be for us to continue? Could they be because, unbeknownst to those who ask us to stop, we have insights that will endanger those communities we are studying if we keep them to ourselves? "If only they knew how much we can help them..." We are making these studies "for their own good." If we have knowledge unavailable to anyone else, then, surely, let us give it to the community and let them do what they need to do with it. At a post-seminar discussion with anthropologist Steven Feld at the East/West Center in Honolulu on January 29, 2003, he told the story of another anthropologist in Papua New Guinea who had spent years collecting the names and genealogies of people murdered by the mining company that was paying him to do the study. At the end of his project, instead of handing over or publishing his findings, he gave them to the people in the community the murdered people came from. The priorities were clear. In the Kanaka Maoli community in Hawai'i, there is also talk of genocide through poverty, despair, and cultural schizophrenia so extreme that suicide rates, drug use, and violence are high. There are ways to be of use.

I question the justice of western scholars making careers within the academic community from knowledge they have acquired from indigenous cultures. The knowledge, according to the scholars I have listed in my note above is appropriated, just as the patents to awa and noni and the knowledges of traditional indigenous societies, such as Kanaka Maoli, are being taken and sold by those who not only do not have the right to them but who do not understand what they now say they own. (endnote 7) Western scholars often misrepresent, as Hereniko and many others point out, because they are not from and do not get involved with the cultures in question (endnote 8). Steven Feld, at the discussion I mention above, told how he had been closely involved with the people of a tribal community in Papua New Guinea for more than 25 years. He made the choice to stay. Others had left because the excitement of the fight for independence was over. He now facilitates the friends he has made there publishing and selling their own music. This is a different and engaged involvement.

Haunani-Kay Trask points out that no settler can know the land in Hawai'i as Kanaka Maoli know it because we are not rooted in it, not spiritually connected to it. No one who hasn't a spiritual connection to the products of the land, including such things as literature and arts, can have that level of knowledge either (247-248). Representing such artistic productions through the lens of a western academic epistemology does nothing for the people who produced them. Very often, as I have said above, what we are offering is a picture of ourselves, not of the culture we claim to be explicating. This holds true of me as well, and it behooves us, then, to facilitate as much as possible the people who do know to take our places publishing, teaching, and researching their own cultures.

Can it be that our claim to continue being experts rests on those within the other community who thank us and ask us to keep going? If so, I believe first attention has to be paid to those in the same community who tell us to stop. What is going on when such a split happens in a community? Our responsibility must surely be to pay attention since we have no way of telling--because we are not from that community--who we should listen to. If the choice is whether to go on talking about a culture we are not part of or to stop talking because someone has queried our right to do so or the validity of our knowledge or just the room we take up by talking, I suggest we stop. Once we have begun, whether we go on talking or whether we stop, we become the source of a split within the community--another common result of colonialism. The present situation with the Akaka Bill in Hawai'i is a case in point. A bill with a Kanaka Maoli Senator's name on it, formed with provisions which will be deeply damaging to Kanaka Maoli, is being used as a wedge between what have become opposing factions of Kanaka Maoli in and out of the sovereignty movement because of a vision--a version of what is "good for" Kanaka Maoli--proposed and delineated by non-Kanaka Maoli and a few U.S.-identified Kanaka Maoli in power in Hawai'i and Washington.

Our positions as "expert describers" who know how to explicate puts a wedge between those in a culture who believe we should be listened to and those who don't. In The Subaltern Ulysses, Enda Duffy points out that the very presence of the colonizer splits the consciousness of the colonized, who are being constantly observed, described, defined from above and without, just as the very presence of a violent parent often results in children fighting each other (113). It takes only colonial presence to produce a distortion. Maori activist Hone Harawira noted at a 1999 forum on "Decolonizing the Mind" in Honolulu that just speaking English rather than Maori would start his family fighting. He recommended not reacting to what colonial governments in all their forms give out since reaction to the daily infringements takes energy that could go into building something self-defined. The questions immediately come up when we offer input on indigenous cultures--how are our comments to be dealt with, reacted to (or not), welcomed, defended against? The split between those who follow Ngugi wa Thiongo in returning to their own languages and Chinua Achebe in continuing to write in English is an example that has been bitter.

Another example: this morning Paula Gunn Allen called me to say that two American haole women editing a book on women writers who died between 1970 and 2000 had asked her to write an entry for Mary TallMountain. She cannot do it and she pointed them in my direction, saying that I am a "Mary TallMountain scholar." Now I have a dilemma. Should I accept the offer (with or without thinking about it)? What must I do here? I could certainly use the boost to my c.v., let alone the $200 I'd get paid for writing the four pages they want. Gunn Allen is Indian (though not Athabascan) and was a very close friend of TallMountain's and she is asking me. This should satisfy the requirements I'm setting out, shouldn't it?

BUT what about the moratorium Ward Churchill, Epi Enari and all the other people I have been quoting have been asking for? At the very least, I am obligated by my own history in the situation to put out the call to other Indian writers before I can take this on. So that is what I am doing right now. I will not write the article unless no one who is Indian wants to write it. Nor will I write it if anyone who is Indian objects to my doing so. And even that decision leaves me feeling uneasy since if I do write it, I will go on perpetuating a particular view of Mary TallMountain, one which derives not from an indigenous perspective but from a haole one. I can speak to Mary's Inbetweenness, but I cannot speak to her Indianness.

Can it be a reason to go on with our scholarship that "I wouldn't know where to turn" if I stopped focusing on the other social group I am an "expert" on? I believe that is a situation we need to face as soon as possible. I would love to go on writing and publishing about someone as dear to me as Mary TallMountain. And there isn't anyone else writing consistently about her that I know of. I have so much to say about James Joyce too, things other people don't seem to see because they never lived in Ireland. I might win myself over by saying, "I lived in the Irish countryside for five years. Surely I know enough! Wouldn't the world be a better place for my particular insights? All I want to do is share what I know with the world, and my particular voice is so small..."

These last words bring me to noticing that maybe part of the problem is that western academics, especially those of us in the humanities, are used to regarding ourselves as powerless, poorly paid, and in a crisis of identity. If we look at ourselves, however, with a small pinch of reverse double consciousness (which can become a fine tool of unsilencing silenced knowings), we might become aware that, compared to the majority of those in the workforce even in the U.S., never mind the rest of the world, we are powerful, well paid, and in an oasis of calm. The clout of what we say in print, at conferences, and in classrooms contains the power that 500 years of colonialism has put behind it. It is surely misleading to downplay this privilege out of a mistaken sense of disempowerment. The space we take up talking about cultures we have chosen to study, and the power to describe occupied by that space, can be given up to scholars from the communities in question. They know more, they know it from a position we cannot ever completely occupy, and the right to speak is theirs. If we are serious in our dedication to end oppression, to which many of us declare ourselves opposed, we can make way for scholars from the communities we study to speak for themselves. In fact, our stopping being the ones with greater power to speak will almost certainly make room for more Kanaka Maoli, Pacific Island, American Indian, Irish, and other students to make places for themselves as the experts on their own cultures, in whatever way is most needed.

It has been hard, as Samoan/Kanaka Maoli scholar and teacher James Kneubuhl has shown in his M.A. thesis, "Reclaiming Representation: A History of Pacific Islands Literature in the U.H. Manoa English Department," for Pacific Island students at U.H. Manoa to find their way through academic culture to become scholars. Because of a continuing preponderance of Euroamerican values (and because of it, Euroamerican protocol, understanding of what it means to learn, to know something, and so on) and literature in the education offered there. "Rather than playing an active role in their development," the English Department, he says, is only "catching up with [Pacific] writings," offering, as he points out, at the time of his thesis, only one class a semester in Pacific literature although the department is in a prime position to be "at the forefront of studies in indigenous Pacific writing" (110). The number of Pacific Island and Hawaiian works being taught has increased, but the number of Pacific Island and particularly Hawaiian faculty has not. Academic validations of Euroamerican experiences of the world have been and continue to be a problem for students who do not experience the world or learn in the same way.

For indigenous students, the difficulty of completing an academic degree exists partly for similar reasons to those delineated by Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Vilsoni Hereniko in descriptions of their progress through schools and universities modeled on a western ideal. They explain that the texts and learning modes available to students from indigenous cultures as they proceed through the western academy specifically exclude them, or if they do include them, tend to distort who they are. Differences in values (such as orality over writing and the question of where a student's intellectual loyalty will go--to the academy or to her community) already delineated in Chapter 3 of this dissertation are also stumbling blocks (Smith 14, 35; Hereniko 83). This point was echoed by my friend Mahealani Dudoit, then a Ph.D. student in the English Department, and by Noenoe Silva, who has accepted a position in the Political Science Department at U.H. Manoa mainly because, as she says, "the [Kanaka Maoli] students there need me" (Conversations).

What are the positive directions we can take if we are to step back from studying and publishing on other people's visions of the world, over their objections? One direction is the one I have decided to choose, namely, the choice to scrutinize ourselves, our publications, our history--what has brought us to where we are now and how we go about our work. David Stannard, as Enari says, has done this admirably in American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World, as have Candace Fujikane in Settler Colonialim; Paul Lyons in "Fear, Perception, and the 'Seen' of Cannibalism," "From Man-Eaters to Spam Eaters: Literary Tourism and the Discourse of Cannibalism from Herman Melville to Paul Theroux," "Pacific Scholarship, Literary Criticism, and Touristic Desire: The Spectre of A. Grove Day," and "Opening Accounts in the South Seas: Poe's PYM and American Pacific Orientalism; Beth Tobin in Superintendinging the Poor; and Kathy Phillips in Virginia Woolf Against Empire. Who are we and why are we being asked to stop? Why are we being told by people from indigenous cultures that our studies of them are painful? There is much in our histories too that can be a guide toward different ways of doing things.

As I sit on this day, September 11, 2001, and listen to the outraged and pained/ painful U.S. news accounts of the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., from news journalists some of whom are calling for retaliation, I am reading Stannard's book and looking at the photographs and drawings of the slaughter our ancestors committed when they came to this country. It is a very distressing thing to stare head on at our history--what the basis of our culture (not only the U.S. but England and other countries as well) is--and therefore, I think, far more comfortable and, on the surface, rewarding to look elsewhere for answers. But I believe it is partly by looking honestly and closely at our own cultures and broadcasting what we find, as Stannard has done, that we will come to understand how to shift the colonialism we still engage in daily. It can also be by engaging with real people from those cultures, being prepared to be honest when we don't understand, and to find out what we can do to help.

Looking through Stannard's book, I began thinking about my family's history. Because one of my great great grandfathers on my mother's side was Acting Minister of the Interior under President Grant, I assume he must have been involved in enormously destructive relationships with Indian tribes. I went on-line to look him up. I knew he had been involved in "negotiating" with Indians. My great uncle told me that my great great grandfather had played poker with Sitting Bull, and I knew he had been involved in founding Yellowstone Park. I wanted to know, sitting here with Stannard's book on my lap, what Benjamin Rush Cowen had done--subjugating, maybe brutalizing Indians, taking their land away from them? I wanted to find out what he thought of them, how he, a man with a lot of power, had treated them. What I found made me cry. For several pages of a speech he gave in 1905, three years before his death, he echoes Stannard:

"Welcome, Englishmen," was the cordial greeting of the pagan Indian Samoset, as with the open hand of friendship he met the discouraged band of Christian pilgrims as they stepped ashore at Plymouth one bleak December day in 1620. For nearly 300 years, with mailed hand and the robber's plea, those civilized Christian Pilgrim-Puritans, so called, and their descendants [of whom he was one], by robbery, murder, enslavement, debauchery, and every form of wrong which the devilish ingenuity of perverted religionists could devise, have given the response of Christian civilization to that pagan welcome. (142)

Having detailed massacres of women and children and unarmed men by white settlers, the government and the army, he concludes:

If I have dwelt too long on this branch of my subject [most of the speech was taken up with it] in defence [sic] of the Indian character attribute it to my pronounced conviction derived from personal contact and varied experience, and to the fact that there are few left to say a word on that behalf.

He is as amenable to fair treatment as any race of which I have knowledge.

It was a stereotyped phrase in Indian treaties for many years that the lands named therein were solemnly guaranteed to the Indian to be his home "While grass grows and water runs." The ground we walk to-day was thus granted, and every tender blade that meets the quickening breath of spring and every drop of your beautiful river as it runs to the sea are silent but eloquent witness of our perfudy [sic] toward that unfortunate people. (146)

I am relieved that I can be proud of these words, BUT the speech ends with his repeating the praise with which he began, for the Anglo-Saxon race and our achievements, including the young men who would now go out to Asia and Africa "where they find something to conquer--that is their Frontier" (147). He clearly sees the "Anglo-Saxon race as the pinnacle of civilized humanity even though he has just finished listing the horrors his relatives and companions had perpetrated since they arrived in the "New World." This ethnocentricity, so clear in a speech from 1905, has continued to be present in western scholarship but has been obscured by continued development of a liberal strategy for improvement of the world. The copy of his speech available to me ends there, so I do not know if he goes on to urge the young men not to repeat the behavior of their forebears.

Even if he does, however, his introspection and acknowledgment of Anglo-Saxon "perfudy" [sic] do not extend to concluding that such expansion should stop, that we have something at least as big to learn from the "savages" as they, to their detriment, learn from us, even if it is just that we cannot go on doing what we are doing if it results in such suffering. Stopping is the next step. It is not enough for us to bemoan our crimes, then and now, however eloquently, and then keep doing what we do that benefits us, as he intended the young men to do--crocodile tears or those of the walrus as he ate the last of the oysters.

This kind of stance--acknowledging for instance that we cannot represent others without harming them and then continuing to do it, aligning ourselves vocally with the struggle for rights of a particular group but continuing to take actions that undermine that struggle--can be ascribed to "white guilt," which Kelly Kraemer calls a kind of racism and defines as "feeling guilty for being white." "White guilt often leads haole allies to make defensive statements declaring their 'love for the Hawaiian people'...to try and disassociate themselves from racism. But making a statement is not the same as taking action" (276). The statements are made out of a guilty realization that we are party to oppressive activities but they do not then lead to action that would change those activities.

White guilt, she says, takes several forms, among which she points to rejecting being called haole (without noticing that "Hawaiian" is our name for Kanaka Maoli and "Hawai'i" the name of only one island in this chain) because of the truths the name implies ("that's not me"); going to sovereignty meetings and using it as a notch in the belt or a gold star to make us feel better; attempting to deny race privilege by, e.g., equating occasional prejudice against haole in Hawai'i with daily racism against Kanaka Maoli, calling it "reverse racism"; "wannabe" attempts to take on Kanaka Maoli identities because we are ashamed to be us; and trying to work out white guilt all over Kanaka Maoli (during meetings for example) who have enough problems of their own (276-277).

Taking action that will move us from talk to commitment, in my experience, involves being willing to be open to hearing (perhaps personally painful) feedback on the effects our scholarship is having or on slips we may make in our daily encounters, and to making (maybe drastic) changes in our lives in order to facilitate alterations in the balance of power. The task I am focusing on here is parallel to the task Kraemer investigates in her dissertation: what does it mean to be an ally of the people in the cultures we are used to studying? How can we become more than removed commentators who do not know what we are talking about (if we accept that "knowing" a culture has to involve more than having read about it--or, at an extreme, that we can never know it well enough to call ourselves experts if we are not from it)? For a very thorough exploration of that question, I refer you to her dissertation.

On page 38, Kraemer begins to address the kind of relational power restructuring that will be necessary to undo the inequalities historically inherent in interactions between dominant social groups and oppressed social groups which seek liberation (whether these latter groups be Blacks and other minorities in the U.S., women, or colonized indigenous peoples). The prime recognition necessary for those from dominant groups to begin to undo unequal power relations is that individuals from the dominant group have an advantage in exercising power just by virtue of the status quo. Something drastic will have to be done by individuals in both groups to change this relationship. What Kraemer observes is that the recognition upon which all others rest is that we (in the case of my dissertation, western academics) are from a social group that, because of colonization of other cultures by individuals from western nations over the course of 500 years, has huge advantages of power. As Lorenz and Watkins point out, we are suffering from "silenced knowings" about the extent of this power for us as individuals:

We want to wonder with you today what habits of silenced knowing from the past 500 years of colonialism have been passed on to us? What pieces of our cultural history seek to find voice through us and our lives? In what ways is our personal individuation inextricably linked with responding to the silenced knowings that exist within our own biographies? How might they inform our work and our relationships? (1)

Kraemer concludes that a shift in "role allocation" within liberation movements has to be an element to effect change. Upon owning the fact that my belonging to a dominant social group (in the case of my involvement in the Kanaka Maoli sovereignty movement, my being a white Euroamerican) automatically gives me an elite position with very real privileges and powers, I can aid and abet a change that involves consciously handing over those privileges to members of the core group (endnote 9) in situations where I wish to act as an ally to that group (endnote 10). As Kraemer puts it, "[m]ost significantly, leadership and decision-making roles are generally reserved for the core members of the oppressed group (which may be defined differently at different levels of struggle), as a strategy for active empowerment and liberation: allies play supporting roles" (38-39).

I jump off here from Kraemer's advocacy to suggest that if western academics are to be allies of the peoples we study (as Hereniko and many others are increasingly calling for us to be (endnote 11)), we have to go much further than, for instance, making it clear who we are in our articles and books so that readers will know we do not have culture-centric knowledge; than acknowledging that we cannot be objective; than speaking in advocate roles for the cultures we study. We have, instead and much more radically (endnote 12), to begin to remove ourselves from unacknowledged positions of power that enable us to style ourselves as authorities on the artifacts of other cultures without being given permission to do so, to speak without being asked, to ask questions and conduct investigations without establishing ongoing, real relationships and respecting the protocols of the cultures we are learning about. The information, as Hereniko, insists, is not ours (88). We are asked at least to return to those we study the authority, as Kraemer goes on to detail, to give or withhold access to relationship and information and to self determine ("the act of determining 'what is said and sayable', naming, identifying, labeling, affixing meaning" and who is to say it" (40)).

Our acknowledgment and acceptance of a "core/ally distinction," in which we take a supporting role, with power given back to the core group to determine access and define who and what they are, is a step without which only surface adjustments to already delineated power relationships can take place (41-42). What this means in the context of academic scholarship is that we can give back the power to determine themselves to those whom we are used to describing. The rationale for this is parallel to the rationale for affirmative action in hiring practices, acceptance into institutions of higher learning, and so on. The status quo is already heavily weighted in favor of the dominant social group. In order to balance things, special terms have to be recognized and followed--in this case, handing over the reins of decision making to the group in question. "Social identity politics address privilege as well as oppression, recognizing their interdependence and acting on the power dynamics inherent to such relationships" (42) (endnote 13).

Tuning to unsilence silenced knowings, then, may hopefully bring us into position to recognize the extraordinary powers of access and definition 500 years of colonialism has given us and where we can elect to restore that power to those it was taken from. I don't believe any action less drastic can be effective in changing the status quo. No other action is consistent with a claim to be allies of those whose cultures and works we have been studying for generations. The demand is that we step aside and let ourselves be told what to do, including possibly to go away and not come back. However huge the change this will engender in the face of western scholarship, we cannot continue in our current practices and simultaneously claim to be allies of those we write about.


1 Donna Cashell addresses the shift women make in the course of pursuing graduate degrees from a female-centered language to a male-centered language. She concludes:
This study has provided some empirical support for the contention that certain situations (e.g., academia) elicit a shift in written linguistic style. There was also some suggestion that this shift might be more problematic for females since it involves a disallowing of certain grammatical meanings previously allowed; whereas for males the shift involves only a greater freedom of expression rather than less. (135)

2 The recent discovery that King Kalakaua of Hawai'i had his arm broken as a child by the missionary Amos S. Cooke at the Royal School in Honolulu when Cooke hurled him against a wall is a related incident and perhaps throws light on Kalakaua's later belief in reclaiming his own culture.

3 Linda Krumholz, in her paper, "'To understand this world differently,'" advises western academics,
I have tried to suggest in this paper that one way to treat [American Indian] stories may be to ask how they might change us as subjects, as readers--to rephrase Silko's description of the storyteller's role: what story does this book draw out of us? The concept of double consciousness could give those of us who are part of the white institutional structure a means of reconsidering our own subject positions, of viewing ourselves differently. (109)
In her dissertation, Kelly Kraemer insists that if we do not allow ourselves to be changed by what we discover/uncover in our studies and through our affiliations with those we are studying (a choice only open to those who are privileged), we perpetuate the dynamics of an oppressor/oppressed structure in our society when we could in fact be using our privileged position to make change. As Kraemer says, "This awareness....can inform the practice of those who do get involved in 'working to end somebody else's oppression by forcing them to confront their privilege and inviting them to use it as a weapon to fight against oppression" (36).

4 In "Silenced Knowings," Lorenz and Watkins discuss at length what in some cultures is still an individual dissociative strategy for coping with instances of intense pain but which in our culture "has been hardened into an extremely rigid, destructive, and pathological complex, affecting both individual personalities and whole communities in the United States, during 500 years of colonialism" (10). What they mean is the ability to dissociate from gut knowledge that is inconvenient. Within the head-focused environment of the academy, which insists on removal from emotional and spiritual engagement with the object of study, it is especially easy to go blind to one's own colonial realities.

5 "Social group" is a term Kraemer uses, quoting Iris Marion Young, to mean "a collective of persons differentiated from at least one other group by cultural forms, practices, or way of life," by "deeper cultural, experiential and emotional connections," a group that shares a collective history (19).

6 To name a few only among the scholars: Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Ward Churchill, Sherman Alexie, Haunani Kay Trask, Mary Churchill, Noenoe Silva, Manu Meyer, Paula Gunn Allen, Epi Enari... The list goes on.

7 During a U.H. Manoa class on "Indigenous Anthropology," one of the students, a Kanaka Maoli woman told about a haole man she knew who had published a book on knowledge from another culture. He was very proud of the book, which he considered his. She had told him the book couldn't be considered his because the knowledge was not his: "If they had stopped the flow of knowledge further upstream, you would never have gotten it. They gave it to you. It is theirs." The man would not recognize that the book belonged to the people he had gotten the knowledge from. In his eyes, the knowledge was now his to do with as he wished. This is a problem.

8 Kanaka Maoli attorney and activist Poka Laenui refers to "deep culture" when he asks what an independent Hawai'i could be like, using the concept as a touchstone to differentiate particularly between the foundational values of Kanaka Maoli and U.S. culture (50ff).

9 The core group in Kraemer's definition is the social group whose struggle for liberation is in question.

10 This reality is not altered by the fact that in other situations, such as my relationships with white males, my position will be different.

11 "The researcher in the Pacific who is not committed to empowering the native people as they struggle to transform social injustices and inequalities is, ultimately, an agent of the status quo" (88). It is what kinds of actions of ours can empower that I wish to examine here.

12 Kraemer defines "radical" in contrast to "liberal" as follows: "Liberal political strategies aim at getting government and society to treat all individuals, regardless of social group identity or history, according to one set of standards within existing institutions and practices," while "[r]adical political strategies aim at getting society to take identity into account, acknowledge oppression and privilege, and work to change oppressive intergroup power relations into non-oppressive group relations" (41, 42).

13 Kraemer also recognizes that the situations involved in interaction between the members of social groups are enormously complex and shifting, so that any generalization made in order to clarify a particular aspect of the relationship may obscure others, but she sees that in order to plan to restructure a situation in which one group has power over another, such clarifications need to be made, while keeping in mind that individual decisions are situational (44).

     
   

From:
Too Many Deaths: Decolonizing Western Academic Research on Indigenous Cultures
By Gabrielle Welford
A dissertation submitted to the Graduate Division of the University of Hawaii in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English, May 2003
© 2003 Gabrielle Welford (welford@hawaii.edu)