Associate Professor Noelani Goodyear–Ka‘ōpua



He Kanaka ʻŌiwi Hawaiʻi au. ʻO Oʻahu kuʻu one hānau. My genealogy also connects my ʻohana to Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi and Maui islands, as well as to Southern China and the British Midlands. My academic work is one part of a lifetime commitment to aloha ʻāina—politically-engaged loving care for Hawaiʻi and for Indigenous relationships with place. I value and prioritize collaborative and community-engaged scholarship. I continue to be interested in Indigenous social movements, participatory & activist research methods, and Hawaiian sovereignty. My work is increasingly influenced by a pressing concern about the intersections of energy and food politics with Indigenous social and political health.

My previous research projects have involved documenting, analyzing and proliferating the ways people are transforming imperial and settler colonial relations through Indigenous political values and initiatives. I have been involved in and written about the creation of Native Hawaiian culture-based schooling. My first book, The Seeds We Planted: Portraits of a Native Hawaiian Charter School(University of Minnesota Press, 2013), discusses some of the tensions of designing and implementing Indigenous culture- and land-based educational initiatives within and against settler state structures.

I have been privileged and humbled to co-edit two forthcoming books that deal with Hawaiʻi-based transformative social action. A Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements for Life, Land and Sovereignty (Duke University Press, 2014) is a collection co-edited with Ikaika Hussey and Kahunawai Wright that explores late-20th and early 21st century Hawaiian organizing. The original essays and photographs collected in this volume present a multilayered view of the ways that sovereignty—ea—is conceptualized and practiced.  The Value of Hawaiʻi, volume 2, co-edited with Aiko Yamashiro, brings together personal and political narratives aiming to spark critical and hopeful discussions about ways to improve life in the islands. The contributing writers are a diverse group of Hawaiʻi residents who are engaged in transformative initiatives in fields such as public health, farming, political advocacy, climate change and energy policy poetry, business, film-making, Indigenous food systems restoration, education and futures studies.


The following elements are central to my teaching practice: 1) collaborative, project-based learning, 2) on-going assessment of my students and myself, 3) respect for diverse learners, 4) centering previously marginalized voices and epistemologies, including those of Indigenous Oceanic peoples, 5) learning-by-doing, as expressed in the Hawaiian proverb, “ma ka hana ka ‘ike,” and 6) connecting classroom learning with communities beyond the university.

Courses Taught

Hawai‘i Politics (POLS 301)

This course in Hawai‘i politics focuses on major institutions that have shaped island life over the last two centuries. Throughout the course, we will investigate the intersectionalities of power that operate through the various institutions we engage.  This strong grounding in historical context provides class participants with a foundation for developing their own analyses on contemporary issues. The course is grounded in Native Hawaiian perspectives, but it draws on a range of voices and emphasizes constructive dialogue between indigenous and settler perspectives.  Our understanding of Hawai‘i Politics is further deepened by comparison with parallel issues and phenomena in the wider Oceania (Pacific Islands) region. Topics include: government, education, land, water, energy, food, race and class.

Fall 2012 POLS 301 Syllabus [PDF]

Native Hawaiian Politics (POLS 302)

This course provides a critical study of issues in contemporary Native Hawaiian politics, with an emphasis on application and active engagement. This semester, Spring 2013, we will be focusing on four key areas that impact Hawaiian lands and communities in the present: land use, sovereignty, education, and energy. Within these broad areas, students will be able to select issues that are particularly meaningful to them and to their communities for more in-depth study.

Spring 2013 POLS 302 Syllabus [PDF]

Indigenous Politics (POLS 304)

Through this course, participants will develop our collective and individual understandings of the field of indigenous politics, particularly as articulated by indigenous political leaders and intellectuals. According to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, there are over 370 million indigenous people in over 70 different countries. We will not be able to fully survey this diversity, but you will get a sense of the breadth and dynamism of the issues and movements that constitute this political field. We will read and talk about how leaders constitute a common global indigenous agenda, while also advocating for locally–situated movements. We will begin by grounding ourselves in contemporary Kanaka Maoli issues here in Hawai'i Nei and then move outward to consider selected indigenous nations of Oceania and the Americas. We will consider the way a global network of indigenous political movements has coalesced since the late twentieth century, and we will discuss historical and contemporary entanglements between indigenous peoples and states. As we zoom in to focus on the political struggles of the Haudenosaunee, the Zapatistas, the indigenous peoples of Micronesia, Samoa and Hawai‘i, we will specifically engage questions of sovereignty, land usage, and indigenous forms of governance.

Fall 2009 POLS 304 Syllabus [PDF]

Political Inquiry and Analysis (POLS 390)

An introductory survey and analysis of methods used in empirical research related to politics. This section focuses on qualititative research methods, with an emphasis on ethnography, oral history and social criticism. Students conduct original research using these methods as part of the requirements for this course.

Fall 2009 POLS 390-003 Syllabus [PDF]

Introduction to Indigenous Politics (POLS 620)

This course provides an introduction to the genealogical, activist and academic concerns of the field of Indigenous Politics, particularly as it is taught within this particular location--UH Mānoa. It is also an International Cultural Studies Certificate (ICSC) Program Graduate elective course. You should leave the course with an understanding of some of the main trajectories that Native & Indigenous Studies have followed over the last four decades, as well as the key concepts that inform the field today. These include: indigenous/indigeneity, colonialism, settler colonialism, heteropatriarchy, survivance, sustainable self-determination, aloha ‘āina, wasase, recognition/reconciliation, resurgence, and anarcha-indigenism, to name a few.

Fall 2012 POLS 620 Syllabus [PDF]

Contemporary Native Hawaiian Politics (POLS 684)

What is the state of ‘the Hawaiian movement’? What visions, ethics, and strategies define Kanaka politics in the 21st century? These essential questions provide a springboard for this course. Our discussions and readings will be organized around five areas in the landscape of contemporary Native Hawaiian politics: land, education, governance, militarization/demilitarization, and cultural identity. In each section, we will investigate both historical contexts and a range of current issues. This includes, but is not limited to, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (popularly known as “the Akaka Bill”), 'Aha Moku councils as state resource management reform, and Hawaiian public charter schools. As a group, we will develop our thinking about contemporary Kanaka politics by utilizing Hawaiian concepts to ground our analytical and ethical explorations. For example, how do concepts like ‘ea’, ‘lāhui’, or ‘kuleana’ offer forms of political analysis and practice that allow us to understand and imagine different ways of thinking and practicing politics in Hawai'i?

Spring 2012 POLS 684 Syllabus [PDF]

Politics of Hawai'i (POLS 686)

Land, Water, Sex, and Identity in Hawai'i
In the Hawaiian language, the word “ai” can variously refer to the acts of eating, sex, or rule. We take these various forms of ai/'ai as pathways through which to think about the power–laden relationships constituting the political, economic and cultural terrains of Hawai'i, past and present. We will pay particular attention to 'āina (land), wai and kai (fresh water and sea water). Kanaka Maoli have long studied and celebrated the interdependent relationships of kanaka and our non–human relatives, and we have recognized these mutually dependent relationships through protocols and philosophies around food, reproduction and governance. By considering acts of ai/'ai as culturally and historically–situated, this course examines intersections of place, gender, class, race, and identity. Considering the human oppression and environmental destruction that has taken place in Hawai'i over at least the last 150 years, we will discuss and envision ways our collective social and political lives may need to change in the coming decades.

Seminar: Indigenous Theory (POLS 720)

According to Jeff Corntassel, "Being Indigenous today means engaging in a struggle to reclaim, regenerate and continually renew one’s relational, place-based existence, in opposition to the ongoing, destructive forces of colonization and capitalism." Fundamental to renewing our relationships is the restoration of indigenous knowledge systems and practices as well as acknowledging and accepting one’s responsibility and authority to care for the land, water, community, and ancestors. In the Hawaiian language we call this kuleana. This course takes a broad brush-stroked look at the process of regenerating indigenous knowledge systems, our land based and water based practices, and the kuleana associated with this renewal and restoration process. Arguably, one of the biggest challenges we face in Hawai‘i as we work to regenerate our indigenous knowledge systems and land and water based practices is the US military industrial complex. Kyle Kajihiro describes the US military as a giant he‘e (octopus) whose body sits atop Hawai‘i and whose tentacles extend across the Pacific affecting everything in its path. This course will focus on the intersection of these two endeavors – first we will begin by establishing a shared understanding of indigeneity as a concept, a political identity, and a place from which theory is produced. We will then move into a more sustained look at the various ways indigenous scholars approach the production of indigenous theory.

Spring 2012 POLS 720 Syllabus [PDF]

Decolonial Futures (POLS 777)

What futures are indigenous peoples envisioning to replace colonial/neocolonial relations? In what ways does invoking the figure of ‘the indigenous’ in representations of the future retrench oppressive dynamics of power? What roles can scholars play in both the critique and creation of alternative futures? What political, economic and cultural tools or models exist already? These essential questions provide a springboard for this course, in which “decolonial” will not be limited to thinking about formal processes for decolonization under international law. Rather, we will try to imagine worlds beyond states and capitalism. We will look at the ways representations of indigenous pasts and futures come together in various proposals for a better world. Our discussions and readings will be centered on Oceania.

Spring 2011 POLS 777 Syllabus [PDF]


Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, N. The Seeds We Planted: Portraits of a Native Hawaiian Charter School. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, N., Hussey, I. & Wright, E.K. eds. A Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements for Life, Land and Sovereignty. Narrating Native Histories series. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014.

Yamashiro, A. and Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, N., eds. The Value of Hawaiʻi: Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions, volume 2. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2014.

Articles, Book Chapters and Reviews
Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, N. Domesticating Hawaiians: Kamehameha Schools and the Tender Violence of Marriage. In Indian Subjects: New Directions in the History of Indigenous Education.  Brian Klopotek and Brenda Child, eds. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press, forthcoming.

Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, N. & Baker, M. “The Great Shift: Moving Beyond a Fossil Fuel-based Economy.” Hūlili journal: Multidisciplinary Research on Hawaiian Well-Being, 8 (2012): 133-166.

Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, N. “Kuleana lāhui: Collective responsibility for Hawaiian nationhood in activists’ praxis.” Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action, 5, Special issue on Anarch@Indigenism (2011): 130-163.

Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, N. “Defining indigeneity; possessing land,” a review of Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity by Kehaulani Kauanui. In Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 51, no. 1 (2010): 113-114.

Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, N.  “Rebuilding the ʻAuwai: Connecting ecology, economy and education in Hawaiian schools.” AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 5, no. 2 (2009): 46-77.

Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, N., Kauai, W., Maioho, K., & Winchester, I.  “Teaching Amid Occupation: Sovereignty, Survival and Social Studies at a Native Hawaiian Charter School.” Hūlili Journal: Multidisciplinary Research on Hawaiian Well-Being, 5 (2008): 155-201. 

Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, N. & Kaʻōpua, L. “Dialoging Across the Pacific: Kūkākūkā and the Cultivation of Wahine Maoli Identity.” Pacific Studies, 29, no. 3/4 (2007): 48-63. 

Blog posts
"Settler colonialism destroys to replace": On the Mauna Kea mural and telescopes. Indigenous Theory Mānoa blog. Post date: October 17, 2013

On healing, settler colonialism, and Hawaiʻi: How can we use Idle No More's momentum to push for changes in education? on the University of Minnesota Press blog. Post date: 10 April 2013.

Indigenous Narrative Methods: A Hawaiian Perspective on The Disorder of Things. Post date: 21 March 2013.


Curriculum Vitae (PDF)