In 2016, while volunteering to protect the Native vote in North Dakota, I was also able to join the protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock—the largest gathering of indigenous people in recent history. People were coming from everywhere, and my daughter and I joined other Hawaiians already there.
In indigenous America, if you’re having a meaningful gathering, everybody’s out there: kupuna (elders), keiki (kids), makua (parents). That’s how it is. Elders lead, and we draw on their wisdom and spiritual strength. The children are learning. We have a responsibility to the next generation, so we do everything to teach those that are here and prepare for those that aren’t yet born. My daughter brought her ipu to participate in drumming. It was cold, but she understood that standing up for what’s right often isn’t comfortable.—Makalika Naholowa’a, from rural central Arizona