Hawaiʻi, the most remote archipelago on the planet, possesses an exceptional richness of unique species but also has the dubious distinction of being the extinction capital of the world. Many of those extinctions, including scores of native bird species, are all too often directly blamed on Indigenous Hawaiians — a view that first emerged in the early 1980s and one that is still regurgitated in popular media . Such conclusions, often drawn by scientists from neocolonial cultures, are done so in the absence of scientific evidence — and they hurt. The pain these statements inflict is compounded by the history of countless such insults visited upon Hawai‘i’s Indigenous people by settler colonialists. Directed toward us with an air of superiority from elevated positions of power and authority, these dismissals tell us our own beliefs are wrong — in this case, our belief that our ancestors were good stewards of these islands. Mirroring numerous false assumptions about our ancestors that have previously been made by white colonizers to diminish Hawaiians’ cultural power, they reflect an institutional racism that permeates science and academia to this day. Examples range from the writings of Ralph Kuykendall, a ranking member of the Hawaiian Historical […]

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