- Indigenous Feminisms Roundtable
Daniel Rivers and Karen J. Leong, members of the Transnational Feminisms Summer Institute Program Committee, organized this roundtable to address the absence of Indigenous feminisms from feminist discussions of the transnational, even though many Indigenous nations in the Americas are themselves traversed by settler colonial nation-states, and most American Indians and First Nations peoples are binational, being citizens of sovereign states as well as citizens of settler colonial nation-states. We invited scholars Hokulani K. Aikau (Kanaka ‘Ōiwi Hawai‘i) from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Maile Arvin (Kanaka Maoli) from uc Riverside, Mishuana Goeman (Tonowanda Band of Seneca) from ucla, and Scott Morgensen from Queen’s University in Kingston to be part of this conversation, with Daniel Rivers as facilitator.
Prior to the roundtable, the participants collectively generated questions for discussion: (1) What are the relationships that currently exist between transnational and Indigenous feminisms? Are there overlaps and disjunctures between them, and what can they contribute to one another? (2) Are considerations of Indigeneity frequently erased by transnational concerns, and in what way are these transnational concerns articulated through settler colonialist logics? (3) What convergences exist between Indigenous feminisms and transnational feminisms that can offer critiques of existing heteropatriarchies locally and globally? How might these open up the possibilities of Indigenous transnational alliances that force settler colonialists and nation-states to be responsible for land theft and the injustices that ensue therein?
hokulani k. aikau
Aloha, my name is Hokulani Aikau, and I acknowledge and honor the ancestors of the Shawnee Delaware, Wyandot, and Miami Nations who were removed from this territory. These are still sovereign lands, and I acknowledge [End Page 84] that their descendants continue to live here unrecognized. But we recognize their lands and their ancestors. I ask them to be with us today and to let the knowledge of the ancestors, mind as well as spirit, guide us so we can see what needs to be seen and uncover the wisdom that is in the words we have to say.
I want to situate myself in relationship to my comments by recognizing that, even though I was born in Hawai‘i, in my homeland, my family moved to Turtle Island when I was a child. And it’s the lands of the Navajo, the Shoshone, and the Ute Nations that fed me. The word that we use for land in Hawai‘i is ‘āina, that which feeds. I returned to Hawai‘i in 2003 with an understanding of what it means to live in place, to live in a place of stories. I want to acknowledge these lands that fed me and made me feel full. I want to recognize that I write from an American university in occupied Hawai‘i at an institution that many people consider to be the “last plantation.”
My contributions today come out of work that my colleagues Dr. Noenoe Silva, Dr. Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua, and I, who comprise the University of Hawai‘i Indigenous Politics program (uhip), have been doing in collaboration with our colleagues at the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria, Mohawk scholar Taiaiake Alfred and Cherokee scholar Jeff Corntassel, with whom we’ve been collaborating for more than eight years. In 2006 we started hosting graduate seminar exchanges between our programs. We would take students to Victoria and they would bring students to Hawai‘i for academic and community engagement experiences. Three foundational principles guide the work that we are doing based on our understanding and practice of Indigenous studies. Although not marked as such, these principles reflect uhip faculty’s collective political, methodological, and theoretical affinities with feminisms, Indigenous and otherwise. I want to frame my comments around these three principles, because I think they offer important insights into how we put our Indigenous feminisms into practice in the Indigenous politics program at uh Mānoa and how an Indigenous-centered approach can be put into productive conversation with transnational feminisms. The first principle is that we must localize the struggle before scaling up the analysis to a regional or global...