Report Back from Creating Futures Rooted in Wonder – Part 1

Posted on October 5, 2015

0 am publishing this just over a two weeks after the closing round table and circle of folks holding hands at the end of the four day gathering “Creating Futures Rooted in Wonder: Bridges Between Indigenous Science Fiction and Fairy Tale Studies.” I guess a good place to begin is with the following tweet from Walidah Imarisha quoting Kamuela Enos summarizing Marie Alohalani Brown‘s words from the closing reflections round table discussion:

“We have to indigenize the space-time continuum.” Kamuela Enos at Creating Futures Rooted in Wonder symposium Sept. 19, 2015, Honolulu HI

Nontheless, I will try and offer a linear replay of my experiences, since I happen to have this program in front of me that offers some way to navigate an experience that feels very non-linear and not so simple to make sense of upon reflection.

Dinner and a Movie…

I arrived to the island of Oahu via Honolulu airport on September 16th, 2015 according to the capitalist modern/colonial calendar. I decided to walk to campus instead of transferring to a 2nd bus and thus showed up a few minutes late to dinner with Gabriel Teodros who had happened to tell me about the conference after we ran into each other at a day long event at the Duwamish Longhouse the tenday before. You see, I already had plans to arrive to Honolulu on October 23rd to check out graduate school. I am considering applying for a PhD in Political Science at University of Hawaii Mānoa , with a focus on Indigenous Politics and Alternative Futures. This is a bit strange for me to consider since I did my undergraduate thesis on abolishing education as a colonial institution (thanks, CHID!). In any case I was very excited about the conference when Gabriel told me he would be performing and leading a workshop. It was quite the wonderful introduction to UH Mānoa and the topics I am interested in focusing on and folks I am interested in building with, whether it be as a grad student or otherwise. So…as I was saying…we showed up late, or perhaps just in time, for dinner…

Just before our opening meal of kalua pig, vegetable laulau, lomi salmon, okinawan sweet potato, and pineapple, Bryan Kawada offered the following words:

He lani ko luna, he honua ko lalo, he ʻai, he iʻa. Ua lako ka hale iā ʻoukou, ka poʻe ʻōiwi, ka poʻe kamaʻāina, a me ka poʻe malihini i huakaʻi hele mai. No laila, e ʻai a māʻona i ka mea ʻai, ka ʻai kolekole, a me ka hua o ka ʻōlelo.

Which he then translated saying it all meant something like:

There is the sky above, the earth below, vegetable food and fish (these are the two things that you need to have a complete meal, though they are technically category names, if that makes sense. so salt can be fish, as can meat.). Our house is well-supplied because of all of you, the native people, the people who have come to know this land, and the visitors who have traveled from so far. So please eat your fill of food, kole fish (which is a metaphor for talking story), and words (and the Hawaiian word for word means something like fruit or seed of language).

After enjoying a delicious meal and meeting several of the wondrous conference participants and organizers (including the absolutely indispensable Aiko Yamashiro) , it was off to the free film screening of The Pā Boys by Himiona Grace

Afterwards we were graced with the presence of Himiona Grace himself…or some projection of his image and voice via some Microsoft technology that shall not be named. One part of the conversation that stood out to me was that some international film distribution company that he did not want to name bought rights to the film and “mysteriously” has so far decided not to distribute it anywhere. My hunch is that the film is of high production quality and shows a very Māori story from a Māori gaze and whatever distribution company purchased it has decided they don’t want that getting around too much. Representations of indigenous peoples by indigenous peoples are perhaps seen as too great of a threat to the orientalism on which much of the major international media companies rely on for the majority if not all of their works, not to mention for the reproduction of the very same violent authority structures that guarantee their continued role as lords of major media distribution channels. In other words, I think it likely that whatever company purchased rights to The Pā Boys and tucked it away did so to sabotage its distribution and safeguard their ability to continue to colonize the imaginations of the world with their junk media. Good thing at least a couple of entities have gotten their hands on it and uploaded it to youtube (see above). If it ever does  get taken from youtube, maybe it will also be available on vimeo and/or via torrenting…arrrggg!

The next day many of us headed to the lo‘i (kalo or taro garden) based in the School of Hawaiian Knowledge…. [to be continued in PART 2 on Meeting the Lo‘i, Disney, Fairies and Ferguson, Comic Books, Virtuality and Time Travel to Ancient Futures and Beyond… ]

[After more than a week of trying to finish and publish this report-back all in one post I have decided better to do so in segments since there is just soooo much going on here. The next part will be published as soon as possible and will be linked here.]

PS – #ProtectMaunaKea … maybe see you there on Wednesday?