Life of the Land: Articulations of a Native Writer
- Winner of the American Book Award, 2018
- About the Book
Winner of a 2018 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation
Life of the Land: Articulations of a Native Writer explores the inexhaustible relationship of the Hawaiian people to their native land. Dana Naone Hall’s writings cover more than three decades of her political and cultural engagement in public, federal, state, and county processes. As an activist with poetic sensibilities, Naone Hall demonstrates how meticulous analysis coupled with the power of the imagination can unlock new ways of seeing and relating to places that may not be immediately recognized as retaining profound Hawaiian elements. In her poem, “Keone‘ō‘io Fishpond,” she encourages,
If you do not see
how those here raised
the soft-nosed needlefish,
A nationally recognized poet, Naone Hall’s decades of effective advocacy for Native Hawaiian and environmental issues began in 1984 as a founding member of Hui Alanui o Mākena, an organization that successfully prevented the closing of the Old Mākena Road (including the ancient Alaloa known as the “King’s Highway” or “Pi‘ilani Trail”) fronting the Maui Prince Hotel. She was at the forefront of the Native Hawaiian burial movement born during the struggle to protect the multitude of iwi kūpuna resting in the sand dunes of Honokahua, Maui. Efforts there led to amendments to Hawai‘i State historic preservation laws, including new protections for Native Hawaiian burial sites and establishing Island Burial Councils for Hawai‘i.
Naone Hall defines activism as “99 percent trench work” and we see just a fraction of this work reflected in her writings. We clearly see her take every opportunity to speak for the kūpuna and the lands in which their bones are planted. By encouraging engagement to benefit the life of the land—to protect and restore cultural sites across the islands—she ensures that “the life of the land will continue to be perpetuated for future generations.” This book will serve as a companion and guide to those engaged in protecting the sustained presence of Native Hawaiians on and in the land.
- Dana Naone Hall continues to advocate for the protection of coastal resources and shoreline access, as well as the preservation of historic and cultural sites. She lives in Ha‘ikū, Maui.