Up above the grand canyon.
Little bits of beauty in the arizona desert.
Unsure which i love more — my motel room bedspread or the complimentary copy of “super chevy” from 1982.
Extremely honored to have been able to speak with this father-daughter professor duo — jonathan kay kamakawiwo’ole osorio and jamaica heolimeleikalani osorio — about hawaiian education, sovereignty, and radicalism. i came to hawai’i intending to continue my work on @signsofyouridentity by looking at the criminalization of the hawaiian language in secondary schools and how that kind of coercive assimilation was still felt today. instead, i met a dozen or so hawaiian educators, parents, millennials, and current high school students who taught me about the hawaiian renaissance and the movement for educational autonomy through language immersion and land-based charter schools. “we believe that our language has a lot to teach people — not just ourselves, but everyone — and that there’s value there for everyone in whatever work they’re doing,” heoli said. “but don’t just translate things into hawaiian to appease us. transform the way you operate based off of a hawaiian understanding of place and politics and power and justice. if you’re not on board for the political side of hawaiian, then you’re not on board for hawaiian.” #signsofyouridentity #hawaii @insidenatgeo @opensocietyfoundations
Hawaiian cultural practitioner lani yamasaki crouches at the base of a blue marble tree on the grounds of the lyon arboretum, where she spent much of her time in grad school growing her knowledge of hawaii’s native flora. (the blue marble tree is not endemic to hawaii, but it is very beautiful and the seeds are used as prayer beads in some hindu sects.)
I’ve spent five years now interviewing indigenous people impacted by assimilation education policies for an ongoing project called @signsofyouridentity. that’s taken me to canada to talk to survivors of indian residential schools that operated until 1996, to australia to interview members of the stolen generations who were taken from their mothers in the 1970s, and through about 25 communities in the u.s. — where we have made virtually no government-led efforts to address our own continuing history with cultural genocide. i arrived in hawaii earlier this month to find many of the same stories here — language bans in the public school system, suppression of cultural practices, creating shame in young children over their ethnic identity — but also a fierce, multi-generational movement to push back against colonial educational practices and build hawaiian-led school systems. pele, the remarkable woman in this photo, grew up like most hawaiians her age: not speaking hawaiian at home. there was a point in the 1980s where there were fewer than 50 fluent speakers under the age of 18. so pele and her husband learned hawaiian when they went to college, and are now raising three children who speak hawaiian as their first language. their oldest daughter, kalamanamana, is 17 and will head to dartmouth in the fall. #signsofyouridentity @insidenatgeo @opensocietyfoundations
For #internationalwomensday, i’m sharing this photo of one of the bravest women i’ve ever known, ugandan lgbtq+ rights activist kasha nabagesera. she founded the first lgbtq+ rights organization in uganda (and opened the first g*y bar), and has spent her life working to protect and empower lesbian and trans women in uganda. here is to more power, safety, respect, and health for women the world over, and love to women like kasha who do the critical work to achieve those goals every day. ✨
Well, i may have driven into a river bed earlier this week on the pala reservation in southern california, which is not quite how i planned on spending my evening, but it did allow me to sit quietly and watch the rain roll in as the sun went down and meet about a dozen local families who all stopped to make sure i was okay on their drive home. tribal police have now towed me out of snow, mud, and a mostly (but not entirely) dry river, so i think i owe several reservations some kind of donation for their help, and for not making too much fun of me.
1,750 miles from riverside, ca to fargo, nd. these signposts are scattered across the campus of the sherman indian high school — one of 53 schools still operated by the us government’s bureau of indian education. indian boarding schools today are a far cry from the institutions they were meant to be when they were first created in the late 19th century, but these signs still feel like a poignant reminder of how far many students are from home. @signsofyouridentity
Committing to going through my archive and organizing my embarrassing jumble of hard drives this year (if i make a resolution on instagram y’all will hold me accountable, right?). starting a decade ago, with some old film from a trip to guatemala, and an afternoon spent with doña caterina while she roasted coffee beans in san juan cotzal, guatemala. doña caterina is part of the ixil community, in a region that was heavily targeted during the guatemalan civil war that ran from 1960-1996. the guatemalan army destroyed 440 mayan villages in a two year window, and were later found to have killed nearly 200,000 guatemalans, 83 percent of whom were mayan. to this day, many of the villages that remain are heavily female, with women managing labor, food production, families, and community organizing.