I am active in the initiative to return the island of Kaho‘olawe, a previous military weapons range, to the Sovereign Hawaiian Nation. Participation with the Protect Kaho’olawe ‘Ohana (PKO) has allowed me to support other causes which focus attention on indigenous voices and memorialize the return of Hawaiian sovereignty from Britain in 1843. As part of these efforts, I continue to organize community activities, gather feedback and disseminate educational materials at multi-media events and within scholastic publications.
Hawaiian ethnoecology, or the relationship between Hawaiian people and the environment within a contemporary context, is the focus of my research. Currently I am highlighting the societal importance of the imu (earth oven), and what Hawaiian community members see for the future of natural resources stewardship.
As a professor, I plan to promote research relevant to preserving the interactions Native Hawaiians and other indigenous cultures have with the environment. I believe that implementation of effective policies in the promotion of healthy cultures and environments is possible through connecting, recognizing and facilitating the concerns of my local and global community members.
The roles that I engage within my community contribute to my development as an environmental leader in academia, civil society organizations, government and environmental industry in Hawai‘i.
In September 2013, Katie was awarded a National Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship for 2013-2016. This support will allow her to expand and extend her current investigations of contemporary plant gathering practices in Hawaii to Aotearoa (New Zealand). Through this study, she hopes to share that suppressed indigenous cultures which still use and hold valuable knowledge about plants and landscapes, in rural and urban environments, can inform current conservation approaches. She has also received support for this research from the Kamehameha Schools ‘Imi Na’auao (2012-2014) merit-based scholarship and the Native Hawaiian Engineering Science and Mentoring STEM Program (2011-2014) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. [Updated December 2013]