Kumu Haunani-Kay Trask
As the Mauna Kea Syllabus Project and our lāhui Hawaiʻi prepared for Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea 2021, we received the devastating news of the passing of beloved kumu aloha ʻāina Haunani-Kay Trask on July 3rd. Haunani-Kay Trask was Professor Emerita at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies whose many labors span from her work with the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana to the countless haumāna (and their own haumāna) she inspired in the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, a center to which she was critical in establishing. Beyond her work as an educator, however, Haunani-Kay Trask was, and remains, one of the most influential Hawaiian scholars and activists of our time whose scholarship has made an impact across languages, cultures, and the places.
Haunani-Kay provided language to speak to the enduring legacy of settler colonialism and the need to envision a decolonial future not only for Oceania, but for oppressed peoples across Turtle Island, Palestine, and the globe. Haunani-Kay was trained in intersectional feminist literature, spoke and wrote against the vast implications of racial capitalism and its impact on racialized communities. Her teachings embody the commitments of the syllabus to ask readers to recognize how our collective desires for ea might expand longer genealogies of resistance and solidarity.
The Mauna Kea Syllabus organizers understand ourselves as the "slyly reproductive" pua of Kumu Haunani-Kay Trask. Without her deep aloha for our lāhui, her insistence upon Hawaiians weaving our ropes of resistance, and her brilliant kindness that would burn with the passion of a thousand sovereign suns, we would not be doing the work that we are doing here today. Her reminders that Hawaiians must be political, that we must learn to analyze, that resistance is its own reward, compel us to continue this work, and we hope that her aloha ʻāina shines through each word.
We dedicate this syllabus to Kumu Haunani Kay Trask, with the hope that it will inspire us to continue to speak with the tip of the spear.