Dr. Haunani-Kay Trask receives national recognition for scholarship for the public good

University of Hawaii News recently published an article talking about how Dr. Haunani-Kay Trask was presented an award by the American Studies Association for her scholastic work for the public good. Dr. Trask is a hugely important figure not only for Hawaiians, but for other indigenous peoples around the world, such as Okinawans and Native Americans.

Here’s the link to the article:

Haunani-Kay Trask receives national recognition for scholarship for the public good

Racism within academia

My recent experiences with racism within academia has significantly grown my appreciation for Dr. Haunani-Kay Trask, the legendary Hawaiian professor at the University of Hawaii who did so much to advance Hawaiian rights, as well as the rights of indigenous peoples all over the world, such as Native Americans and Ryukyu / Okinawans. Trask particularly had a huge impact on improving the rights of indigenous peoples within academia. Of course, she was attacked mercilessly by many critics at the time who called her “extreme.” Actually though, looking back on the things she said, they no longer seem particularly extreme, but seem rather normal or even mild compared to some of the rhetoric we hear today. This is in large part due to the efforts of Dr. Trask, who laid the foundation for other indigenous scholars to build off of.

Here’s a video of Dr. Trask giving a speech at the University of Hawaii regarding racism within academia. It’s around three decades old, and I was just a very small keiki at the time. But it provides a glimpse of the incredible amount of racism and prejudice that Dr. Trask had to go through at the University of Hawaii.

Today the University of Hawaii is still far from perfect, as the recent controversy surrounding Mauna Kea and the Thirty Meter Telescope suggests. But it has come an awful long way in the last several decades, thanks to Dr. Trask and others who worked so hard for so long.


Marlon Brando’s 1973 speech regarding Native Americans

In 1973 Marlon Brando turned down an Oscar for his role in the Godfather due to the poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry, and in American society in general. He asked Sacheen Littlefeather to read a speech at the Oscar’s for him, but she was not allowed to, and was booed, heckled, and even threatened with physical violence by John Wayne. For the first time in 45 years, Littlefeather reads her speech: