Written By Logan Narikawa
Dear Dr. Noelani Goodyear-Ka’opua,
There is so much that I would like to thank you for. I write this letter in appreciation of you. As an Indigenous scholar-activist, a mentor, and a community organizer.
Your scholarship, prolific and grounded in community, breathes life into the idea of an organic intellectual. I have never doubted where your priorities lie or where your inspiration comes from. You are always committed to your lāhui. The deep love that you have for your home and for your people is clear. You stand as an example of a scholar who uses their access to create better conditions for their community.
I am a settler — a nonindigenous yonsei or gosei, whose family has resided in Hawaiʻi for four of five generations. I am not indigenous to Hawaiʻi, even as I love this place and call it home. I am appreciative of the historically informed work that you do because I want what is best for my home. Your work advocates for an environmentally sustainable and politically independent future for Hawaiians.
The incredible opportunity to learn from and work with you has transformed the very way I understand and inhabit the world. In your class, I learned the importance of knowing where I live, by identifying the natural Indigenous names and features of that place. As a teacher, you nurtured my blossoming concern for the wellbeing of Hawaiʻi. Because of you, I began caring even more deeply for my home. I wanted to better understand my relationship to the Indigenous People who cared for this place long before my ancestors arrived.
For settlers, it is easy to deny and forget that our lives rest on lands stolen from Indigenous People. Indigenous People who created societies that function in harmony with the natural environment. Often, Indigenous People do not have the luxury of exploring the history of their ancestor’s relationships to their homes. It is urgent that we come to terms with the ongoing consequences of the violent removal and erasure of Indigenous Peoples.
When class was over, you invited me to work with you in community and introduced me to so many people that I am fortunate to now call my friends. You introduced me to a way of working in community: deliberately, face to face, in reciprocity. You showed me that it was always most important that our programming was serving the needs of the communities we visited.
My gratitude, I resolve, will extend beyond these words. It will be lived in service to a community that has nourished me — one that I would not know, if not for your generosity.
Logan Narikawa holds a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and is a Ph. D. student in the American Studies department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. His current research considers the relationships that have historically existed and might obtain between settlers and Hawaiians in Hawaiʻi. As a board member for KAHEA (the Native Hawaiian Environmental Alliance) this father is convinced that we must act with audacious courage in order to deliver a more hopeful, compassionate and healthy world to our children.