An Ethics of Settler Decolonization: Non-Hawaiians in Relationship with Hawaiians

Narikawa, Logan
McDougall, Brandy Nālani
American Studies
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Starting Page
Ending Page
Alternative Title
This study uncovers, details, and analyzes a settler ethics of decolonization. To do so, I forward the beliefs, values, and acts of exemplary settler activists who variously deployed their professional skills as lawyers and documentarians, intentionally defied state laws as activists, and preserved Hawaiian cultural practices in their support of Hawaiian movements for self-determination. Collecting and analyzing interviews of Kānaka Maoli and non-Hawaiians who have been at the forefront of various causes from the 1970s to the present, this project focuses on several Indigenous-settler alliances forged to prevent urban development and working-class tenant evictions; to advocate for legal, cultural, and land protections for Hawaiians; and to collaborate with Hawaiians in decolonial artistic creation. This project draws from and intervenes in the existing research on settler colonialism and proposes normative positions—ethical commitments and actions that ought to be held and undertaken—regarding the conduct of settlers in Hawaiʻi. I present instances of non-Hawaiians who partnered in exemplary ways with Hawaiians in pursuit of ea. In contending with the relative lack of examples of this sort, I present the stories and experiences of twelve interviewees—Joel August, Mike Town, Alan Murakami, Bart Dame, Gwen Kim, Gigi Cocquio, Charlie Reppun, Paul Reppun, John Reppun, Jon Matsuoka, Joan Lander, and John Witeck—who help answer the questions: 1) What should be the role of non-Hawaiians in Hawaiian movements? 2) In what ways did non-Hawaiians behave ethically in their conduct with Hawaiians during the early modern Hawaiian movement? 3) How might non-Hawaiians today learn to act in ethically similar ways? Using a methodology of ethics ethnography influenced deeply by Indigenous research methodologies, I argue that there are at least three ways in which we can understand ethical conduct for settlers in Hawaiʻi: 1) Through effective discharge of one's professional duties in partnership with Kānaka in the protection of ʻāina; 2) Through clear defiance of settler authority, alongside Kānaka and in assumption of personal risk; and 3) Through sustained and intentional relationship building with ʻāina and Kānaka in the service of ʻāina and Hawaiian communities. This written work serves as an attempt to fulfill my sense of responsibility, as a settler in Hawaiʻi, by seeking to recover models of ethical settlers while also attempting to persuade other settlers to emulate their beliefs, values, and actions. To put it another way, this work is my attempt to recover ethical ancestors—exemplary elders whose dispositions and acts we might emulate—amongst those settlers who contributed to the early sparks of the modern Hawaiian movement.
American studies, Ethics, Native American studies, Decolonization, Hawaiʻi, Settler Colonialism
245 pages
Geographic Location
Time Period
Related To
Table of Contents
All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Rights Holder
Local Contexts
Email if you need this content in ADA-compliant format.