I RARO I TE ATARAU KAROHIROHI: E WHAKATERE HAERE ANA NGĀ WAKA I TE MOANA-NUI-Ā-KIWA
(BY THE SHIMMERING LIGHT OF THE MOON: SEA VESSELS ARE NAVIGATING THE SHARED WATERS AND KNOWLEDGES OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN)
This past June, eight Indigenous trainees and two Tuakana (Māori for “mentor”) fellows embarked upon the transformative journey of a lifetime: a fully funded, comprehensive health research training experience developed by and for Indigenous scholars. This ten-week journey from June to August 2016 took place in Washington State; Oahu, Hawai’i; and the North Island of New Zealand (Aotearoa).
The Māhina International Indigenous Health Research Training Program is a partnership between the University of Washington, University of Auckland and University of Hawai’i. Māhina is a five-year project funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (T37MD008625-01) and housed at IWRI under the direction of Co-Principal Investigators Karina Walters (Choctaw), PhD; Tessa Evans-Campbell (Snohomish), PhD; and Co-Investigator Bonnie Duran (Opelousas/Coushatta), DrPH.
The training adventure began with a cultural exchange with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in northeastern Washington State and the Samish Indian Nation, Anacortes, Washington (see Summer 2016 Newsletter).
Trainees then traveled to Hawai’i where they visited the Waianu Farm in Waiāhole, O‘ahu; Keiki O Ka ‘Āina Family Learning Centers; and had a hula lesson with Kekaiulu Hula Studio Hawai`i. They also had a chance to visit the Hokulea—a full-scale replica of a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe—and learn about sea vessel navigation. Program trainees had a session about historical trauma and social determinants of health specific to Native Hawai’ians with Dr. Keawe Kaholaokula, Māhina Co-PI for University of Hawaii, Department of Native Hawaiian Health. Our amazing Māhina coordinators in Hawai’i, Shelley Soong and Samantha Herrara, organized these visits.
In Aotearoa, the students settled into living in Auckland, and visited community organizations serving Māori and Pasafika (Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Islands); research centers; and scholars. These visits focused on a variety of issues including water and land rights; Native American, Māori and Hawaiian cultural traditions and preservation; culturally competent educational and family strengthening programs; evidence-based programs; traditional food and health; and traditional research methods that are suited to the specific research needs of Indigenous communities.
A transformative learning highlight of the trip was a week-long intensive workshop with Māori researchers Dr. Cherryl Smith (Ngāti Apa, Whanganui, Te Aitanga a Hauiti, Ngāi Tūmapuhiārangi) from Te Atawhai o te Ao Māori Research Center and Dr. Leonie Pihama (Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Māhanga, Ngā Māhanga a Tairi), Director of the Te Kotahi Research Institute at the University of Waikato. The trainees learned about the concept of Kaupapa Māori:
The Principle of Collective Philosophy that refers to the collective vision, aspiration and purpose of the Māori communities.
In addition to the various visits and workshops, the trainees spent a good bulk of their time engaged in their research internships with Māori researchers. Each of them spent concentrated time with their mentors and ran lab experiments, wrote research reports, conducted literature reviews, analyzed research data or visited numerous community organizations.
The site visits, academic experiences and research internships all helped to develop the skills and characteristics that emerging Indigenous scholars require to adequately work in partnership with Indigenous communities. As a capstone to their experience, the trainees all completed individual digital stories in a workshop led by IWRI Media Director Chris Charles (Cowichan, Nanaimo and Duwamish) to share their learning and their commitments to becoming Indigenous scholars with the goal of improving the lives of Indigenous peoples.
Congratulations to the ten fabulous scholars:
University of Washington
Gordon Kaeookalani Maeha (Native Hawaiian)
Jacqueline Kay Johnson (Makah)
Rosamaria Frutos-Lopez (Warm Springs, Mexican)
Northwest Indian College
Angelina Brandi Keryte (Navajo and Pueblo)
University of Hawaii at Manoa
McKenna (Kiki) Dooley (Native Hawaiian)
Kai’ulani Ka’alekahi (Native Hawaiian)
Mapuana Antonio (Native Hawaiian)
Malia Petelo (Native Hawaiian, Samoan)
University of Auckland (Tuakana Fellows)
Tuiloma Lina Samu (Samoan)
Ashlea Gillon (Ngati Awa)
By Anjulie Ganti, MSW, MPH, Project Director