Nā Wāhine Koa: Hawaiian Women for Sovereignty and Demilitarization
- About the Book
Nā Wāhine Koa: Hawaiian Women for Sovereignty and Demilitarization documents the political lives of four wāhine koa (courageous women): Moanike‘ala Akaka, Maxine Kahaulelio, Terrilee Keko‘olani-Raymond, and Loretta Ritte, who are leaders in Hawaiian movements of aloha ‘āina. They narrate the ways they came into activism and talk about what enabled them to sustain their involvement for more than four decades. All four of these warriors emerged as movement organizers in the 1970s, and each touched the Kaho‘olawe struggle during this period. While their lives and political work took different paths in the ensuing decades—whether holding public office, organizing Hawaiian homesteaders, or building international demilitarization alliances—they all maintained strong commitments to Hawaiian and related broader causes for peace, justice, and environmental health into their golden years. They remain koa aloha ‘āina—brave fighters driven by their love for their land and country.
The book opens with an introduction written by Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua, who is herself a wāhine koa, following the path of her predecessors. Her insights into the role of Hawaiian women in the sovereignty movement, paired with her tireless curiosity, footwork, and determination to listen to and internalize their stories, helped produce a book for anyone who wants to learn from the experiences of these fierce Hawaiian women. Combining life writing, photos, news articles, political testimonies, and other movement artifacts, Nā Wāhine Koa offers a vivid picture of women in the late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century Hawaiian struggles. Their stories illustrate diverse roles ‘Ōiwi women played in Hawaiian land struggles, sovereignty initiatives, and international peace and denuclearization movements. The centrality of women in these movements, along with their life stories, provide a portal toward liberated futures.
- Moanike‘ala Akaka was a founding member of Kōkua Hawai‘i, the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana, and Ka Lāhui Hawai‘i. She served for twelve years as an Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee, from 1984 to 1996, and remained a staunch advocate for Hawaiian sovereignty.
- Maxine Kahaulelio has been a community organizer and aloha ‘āina advocate since the late 1970s. On O‘ahu, she organized for welfare rights and supported communities against evictions in Chinatown and Waiāhole. In her demilitarization work she has fought to protect Kaho‘olawe, Pōhakuloa, and other sacred places.
- Terrilee Keko‘olani-Raymond has long combined her activism for demilitarization and Hawaiian sovereignty, doing this work through organizations like Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific; Hawai‘i Peace and Justice; and Womens’ Voices, Women Speak.
- Loretta Ritte has protected and nurtured numerous sacred places across the Hawaiian Islands. An early warrior of the Hui Alaloa and the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana, she has continued her aloha ‘āina activism particularly defending lands and the unique way of life on her home island of Moloka‘i.
- Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua is associate professor of political science at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where she teaches Hawaiian and Indigenous politics.