Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua is a Kanaka Maoli who was born and raised in Hawaiʻi. Her genealogy also connects her to Southern China and the British Midlands. She is an associate professor of political science at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where she teaches Hawaiian and Indigenous politics. Noelani’s research interests in Hawaiian sovereignty, Indigenous resurgence, the politics of education, and decolonial futures are deeply connected to her work beyond the academy. She is a co-founder of Hālau Kū Māna public charter school and of MANA, a movement-building organization supporting Hawaiian independence. Noelani also serves on the boards of Kānehūnāmoku Voyaging Academy and Hui o Kuapā Keawanui, both of which use Native Hawaiian ocean-based technologies and practices to help create resilient Indigenous communities.
The ethics and practices of aloha ʻāina guide her academic and community work, as she seeks to document, analyze and proliferate the ways people are transforming imperial and settler colonial relations through Indigenous political values and initiatives. For example, her research has focused on the politics of designing and implementing Indigenous culture- and land-based educational initiatives within and against settler state structures. Her first book, The Seeds We Planted: Portraits of a Native Hawaiian Charter School (University of Minnesota Press, 2013), discusses some of these tensions and the ways educators and students navigate them. Noelani deeply values collaborative work. Two edited volumes co-edited are evidence of her commitment to collective intellectual production. A Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements for Life, Land and Sovereignty (Duke University Press, 2014) is a collection that explores late-20th and early 21st century Hawaiian organizing for justice and self-determination, while The Value of Hawaiʻi, 2: Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2014). She is also the co-editor, along with April Henderson, of a new Indigenous Pacifics series with UH Press.
I am honored to be nominated for NAISA council secretary. One of the things I value most about NAISA is the ways the organization and annual meetings have helped to facilitate trans-Indigenous intellectual, cultural exchanges that have deeply influenced my work, my activism, and my students. I would bring to the position my experience in serving on volunteer boards for community-based, non-profit organizations. For instance I served as secretary and then chair of the local school board of Hālau Kū Māna. Because that orgnaization dealt with significant external pressures, I came to understand the critical importance of clear and timely documentation of deliberations and official communications. Being a mom of three and a former waitress has also made me a practiced multi-tasker. I am currently serving on the host committee for the NAISA 2016 annual conference, and this is giving me a better understanding of some of the inner workings of NAISA governance. If elected, I would also be interested in exploring with the council ways that we might use more digital tools to facilitate participatory decision-making amongst the membership. Community-engaged research and activist scholarship are my passions, so I would want to support NAISA’s continued work and growth in these areas. I am also interested in conversations about how to be more inclusive of scholars from disciplinary backgrounds that seem to be less common at NAISA, such as theater, economics, or public health, and of scholars from parts of the Indigenous world(s) that are less well-represented in the organization and the field of Indigenous studies.