the muliwai project: Here’s one of the projects I’m working on that begun during the federal recognition hearings this summer, which for various reasons is just being shared widely now. It continues to be a long-term, work-in-progress, collaboration. We look forward to posting more in 2015! For now, read our post on the federal recognition hearings and other forms of recognition between Pacific Islanders at home and in diaspora, and with other Indigenous peoples here.
This website is a space for creative and critical reflection on Pacific/Oceanic sovereignties, relationships, kuleana, and genealogies. Sparked by collective concerns about the recent US Department of Interior hearings about the potential establishment of a “government to government relationship” between the US and the Native Hawaiian people, this website is a space for responding to, re-framing, and rejecting the terms of US federal recognition. It is also a space for acknowledging, reflecting on and building other modes of Indigenous recognition in and beyond Oceania.
In that spirit, our website is named muliwai, meaning estuary or river mouth in English. For us, the muliwai’s meeting of fresh water and salt water symbolizes the greater Pacific connecting to the wai (water) of specific islands and peoples. Ma ka waha o ka muliwai – at the mouth of the muliwai – we find a place that speaks, takes in, emerges, embraces, loves, resists, is silenced by the sacred or sometimes by force. The muliwai is a murky and constantly changing place; a place of meeting and transformation; a mouth between the land and the ocean; a queer space; our space.
The Department of Interior’s public hearings and comment period ended on August 19, 2014. Our project opens up in the aftermath of the DOI process which has been by turns inspiring, painful, beautiful, and panicked. Where eloquent testimony after testimony was cut off at the two minute mark in the Hawai’i public meetings, we insist that our words for recognizing ourselves overflow the time limits imposed upon us by the United States in multiple ways. We ask our readers to think with us: what (pleasure, politics, protest) can be done in two minutes? What can be done with more? And, thinking with the theme of muliwai, what can be done at the mouth, at the meeting of different elemental forces?