Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders, and the environment that they are in relationship with, have been the targets of exploitation, extraction, and destruction. Environmental atrocities throughout the Pacific have demonstrated the ways imperialism, capitalism and white supremacy drive destruction through efforts to dominate and exploit for material gain. The relationship between Pacific people and the environment, which defines who they are socially, spiritually, and ancestrally, continues to be damaged and even severed by these injustices. The purpose of this paper is to provide examples of major environmental injustices in the Pacific and to develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between settler colonialism and environmental injustices. Indigenous Knowledge (IK), with a focus on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), is incorporated to demonstrate not just the deep impact of injustices on Pacific people’s cultures, but also to highlight how this way of knowing cultivates a path to revitalization and community resilience. Cultural practices rooted in TEK, such as the preservation of food systems, promote reciprocity between living beings and self-determination, necessary for community flourishing. With this understanding, Pacific peoples’ relationship with their land offers further evidence of the critical role culture and IK can play in environmental justice policies and practices.
Spencer, Michael S.; Fentress, Taurmini; Touch, Ammara; and Hernandez, Jessica, "Environmental Justice, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders" (2020). Human Biology Open Access Pre-Prints. 176.