July 14, 2017
Great People Doing Great Things: Building a Village
Faced with the highest rate of homelessness in the nation, a unique public-private partnership may offer families a foundation.
With 487 homeless individuals per 100,000 residents, Hawaii has the largest homeless population per capita in the United States, according to HUD and census data. Oahu alone has close to 5,000 people struggling with homelessness, a number that has generally trended upward for the past eight years.
News stories about Hawaii's homeless convinced Duane Kurisu, one of Hawaii’s most prominent business owners and real estate investors, that he needed to try to help shrink the growing gap between wages and the cost of housing in Hawaii.
Two years later, construction is underway on phase one of Kahauiki Village, a community of 30 single-family dwellings that will be assembled on the city-owned site and rented to formerly homeless families. The homes — prefabricated, steel-framed boxes manufactured by a Japanese company called System House and purchased by Kurisu — are repurposed emergency housing units, originally deployed after the 2011 tsunami in Japan.
But it is a controversial model.
The vision for Kahauiki is plucked directly from Kurisu’s childhood. Growing up in the 1950s in a plantation town called Hakalau on Hawaii Island, his family didn’t have a lot, he says, but they did have security, thanks, in part, to the plantation model, which offered workers low-cost housing.
For many, especially many Native Hawaiians, the sugar industry represents a dark chapter in the islands’ history, inseparable from a legacy of colonization. “Our lands and waters have been taken for military bases, resorts, urbanization, and plantation agriculture,” Haunani Kay-Trask, a well-known Hawaiian scholar and activist, wrote in Cultural Survival Quarterly, the magazine of an indigenous rights advocacy group of the same name, in 2000.
Also in the news, a Hawaiian non-profit hopes to help the homeless with tiny houses.
Display Explains Native Concepts of Health & Illness
The Sequoyah National Research Center, a Native American archive and gallery on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, is unveiling a new exhibit Tuesday. Entitled “Native Voices,” it examines the diverse and holistic ways many Native Americans approach illness and health.
“Most of the time when people think of American Indians they think that they stopped in the 19th century, before ‘civilization began,’ and so we try to bring that narrative into present day issues and existence,” explains Erin Fehr, an archivist at the center who helped organize the exhibit. Part of the Yup'ik tribe, Fehr says getting the word out about events such as these can be difficult because of common misunderstandings about contemporary Native American life.
The SNRC’s current exhibit, Native Voices, comes from the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. It explores contemporary Native American relationships with health and wellness, through text, art, and multimedia works. Fehr’s favorite display table includes the SNRC’s cookbooks from various tribes.
Borderland Tribes Get New IDs for easy movement
As the first federally recognized tribe with a high-tech enhanced tribal card (ETC), Yaqui authorities are now assisting other tribes that hope to obtain a certified ID card for border transit and tribal record-keeping.
Marisela Nuñez, the Pascua Yaqui enrollment and ETC program director, said for the 20,000 tribal members in the U.S., travel between the U.S. and Mexico is an essential part of their heritage.
“For the Pascua Yaqui people, we always travel from the communities into Mexico. We have eight pueblos, which are the original homeland. We have about 60,000 Yaquis there who are family,” she told Phoenix New Times. “So it’s important to have the card, say, if there’s a ceremony or a death in the family.”
The Pascua Pueblo Yaqui Reservation is located southwest of Tucson and about 66 miles north of the port of entry to Nogales. The small town of Guadalupe, near Tempe, also is home to a sizeable Yaqui community.
What Does the Removal of a People Look Like?
The National Museum of the American Indian has launched the first of its series called Native Knowledge 360: AMERICAN INDIAN REMOVAL: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO REMOVE A PEOPLE?
Native Knowledge 360° (NK360°) provides educators and students with new perspectives about Native American history and cultures. Most Americans have only been exposed to part of the story, as told from a single perspective through the lenses of popular media and textbooks. NK360° provides educational materials and teacher training that incorporate Native narratives, more comprehensive histories, and accurate information to enlighten and inform teaching and learning about Native America. NK360° challenges common assumptions about Native people—their cultures, their roles in United States and world history, and their contributions to the arts, sciences, and literature. Native Knowledge 360° offers a view that includes not only the past, but also the richness and vibrancy of Native peoples and cultures today.