Honoring Papahānaumoku on Earth Day

Papahānaumoku on Earth Day

Indigenous people have always considered Mother Earth or Papahānaumoku in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi to be our living, breathing kūpuna for which we must care. It wasn’t until contact with Western colonizers did kānaka lose their sense of self-sustainability and the islands became just ʻāina, not our actual ancestors. My favorite ʻōlelo noʻeau remains he aliʻi ka ʻāina, he kauā ke kanaka (the land is a chief, man is its servant), which is a proverb I try to live by everyday. Western influence and colonization across the globe has historically led to the increase in damaging fossil fuels, fracking, pillaging of sacred land, and a greater threat of life-threatening climate change. Throughout my short life, we’ve seen super storms that ravage populations, countless animal populations going extinct, mass deaths of coral reefs, widespread deforestation, and environmental racism that targets mostly communities of color. On this day where we celebrate and revere Papahānaumoku (previously spoken about here), I can only hope that one day, we’ll care for our planet in the ways she deserves, relying not on capitalist and colonizing beliefs of taking what we want no matter what the cost, but instead on Indigenous practices of nurturing and loving our ʻāina for the life she gives us. One way we can exercise massive love for our Papahānaumoku is by electing officials who believe in the threat of climate change and environmental racism and who work to enact policies that allow us to leave our planet better than how we found it. Last year, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (one of my personal heros) wrote and created an inspiring video about her plans for the Green New Deal resolution that will combat environmental threats, establish a new economy that benefits all people, and work to save our Papahānaumoku. Although Senator Bernie Sanders, our best chance at a president who believes in the threat of climate change, won’t be in the White House in 2021, we the people have to collectively hold our representatives and elected officials accountable for how they will allow big corporations to contribute to mass global warming. On this Earth Day, let’s all work together to make sure our planet is in the best shape she can be for all future generations!