Indigenous Land Rights
In collective Polynesian terminology, the land: aina, fanua, fonua,fenua, whenua, vanua, is “Tapu” or sacred. It is a stablizing and cohesive force that enables an indigenous people and culture, to reaffirm cultural beliefs,values,practices and kinship ties to each other as well as to the land itself. For indigenous peoples and cultures, such as the Pacific Islanders, the land is their life’s blood. It is integral in the survival of the collective group, and not just the individual. LAND, is an integral factor that sustains our identity and survival, as a People and Culture. When I think of the word "Land", I think of the sacred yet significant aspect of the samoan vernacular in "fanua" and "ele'ele," which is womb, placenta and blood. Land is synonymous with Woman, Mother, the female life giving source,the womb of Life and Sustenance. We are nurtured, just as vulnerable new life in the womb is nurtured and sustained. We are connected to that source of life, like the placenta and umbilical cord we receive our life's blood, our sustenance and survival from our Mothers.
The Hawaiian people’s land rights claim is a rightful one. In essence, it is a claim that preexists and predates the "just laws" governing the ideal of "individual land ownership. Like the ever changing, breathing and living Earth; indigenous cultures like that of the Hawaiians, must be allowed to thrive. It must find its just course and rightful niche in society. Culture is meant to be alive,to be experienced, lived and practiced daily. A living, breathing entity in its own right. It should not be relegated as some concept of the distant past, shelved and forgotten, to be found only in tourist venues, museums, and history's pages. More so, it should not have to be coerced into revival amidst a climate of social and political animus and apathy.
The land rights of Pacific indigenous peoples, like the native Hawaiians, should not be treated as an anachronism. It becomes a societal issue and responsibility. It reflects the disintegration of social, moral and political contracts within the present governing institutions or society.