The Mauna Kea

Syllabus Project

Welina mai kākou, warm greetings.

Welcome to the Mauna Kea Syllabus Project website. Before exploring the Syllabus, please scroll down and read this page in its entirety.

What is the Mauna Kea Syllabus?

The Mauna Kea Syllabus Project is an educational resource that seeks to bring diverse voices of our lāhui together in order to enhance education for Hawaiʻi communities and beyond. Similar to Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, and Immigration syllabi, we’ve developed thematic categories, guiding questions, readings, and resources, after inviting some of their contributors to workshop and share their experiences. There, you will find a set of carefully curated curriculum units around topics relevant to teaching for Mauna Kea. Additionally, you will find interviews with elders, community leaders, and organizers throughout our syllabus.

The Mauna Kea Syllabus is a living document, which means that over time we will continue to add new content, build our hui, and pull together the ʻike of our lāhui in meaningful and more transformative ways. The contents of each section can change, grow, and shift as we bring together our ʻike, as conversations change and grow, and as our people create art, write truths, and build towards more creative tomorrows.

ʻO wai kou kuleana?

To whom are you responsible?

Kuleana is a Kanaka ʻŌiwi ethic of responsibility, authority, and rights that are tied to one’s relationship to place, genealogy, and commitment and effort put forth toward a community and landbase. Kuleana, fundamentally, is about the connection between people and their ties to ancestry and place. Over centuries of living in a place and fostering a relationship with those places, people become tied to the land, making both human and non-human elements ʻohana. Mountains, winds, rocks and other non-human beings are recognized as family members and ancestors, and people are obligated to care for their ʻohana. To use the term “kuleana” without understanding the importance of land and genealogy is to alter this important cultural concept. Instead, we ask in every new context: “what is my kuleana here?”

Asking “what is my kuleana here?” fundamentally structures how we approach this project. We ask that, before entering our syllabus, you take a pause to answer this question. In engaging with these texts, videos, images, and other media, you are engaging in an act of building pilina (relationships through accountability and mutuality). Such a process requires pause, reflection, and to ask: what is my kuleana here? In drawing upon these curated sources, some of which are meant for particular places, people, and times, we ask that you acknowledge your relationship, your positionality in relation to Hawaiʻi before engaging with, teaching, or doing work on our islands.

For more on kuleana read this short excerpt from the Movement for Building Ea Workshop Book (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua et al.,):