By Kahala Johnson, CPIS MA Student
Makawalu was established in 2010 in response to the lack of active Native Hawaiian organizations at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa. Since then, the group has been involved in Hawaiian advocacy initiatives on and off campus, including opposition to GMO kalo, the Honolulu Rail Transit, and the exhuming of iwi kupuna (ancestral bones) at Kawaiha‘o church; an Independent Hawaiʻi petition drive; and celebrations of Hawaiian holidays such as Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea (Hawaiian Kingdom/Sovereignty Day) and Lā Kūʻokoʻa (Independence Day).
The mission of Makawalu is to promote the vision of Hawaiʻiʻimiloa: a far-seeking Hawaiʻi in which pono imbues all aspects of life and ancestral knowledge is sought in realizing our futures; a Hawaiʻi whose people are the healthiest and happiest on earth; a place where sustainability is not a trend but a way of life; a Hawaiʻi that serves as an example for the rest of the world to live by. The way we achieve Hawaiʻiʻimiloa is through education, community support, advocacy, and numerous other far-seeking endeavors that serve the perpetuity of life.
In 2013, the group became an RIO (recognized independent organization on campus). Prior to achieving this status, its members volunteered their time and effort to the organization and execution of its events. Therefore, we decided to apply for a SEED (Student Excellence, Equity, and Diversity) grant to support the creation of an online media series describing various political and cultural issues in the Hawaiian community such as food sovereignty and the Kanaʻiolowalu Hawaiian roll commission. This was my first attempt at writing for financial support; I took this opportunity to learn the process, which I will use to help other Hawaiian groups in the future. Although the need to abide by deadlines and fulfill all parts of the application was important, the ability to articulate the objectives of the group was my foremost concern. The experience continues to inspire me to refine my skills and hopefully reapply for funding for subsequent projects next year.