Pacific Indigenous Women Set Sail for Future Collective Work

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Mililani B Trask: Trustee Hawaiʻi Island

On June 7-8, 2024, the Pacific Indigenous Women’s Network (PIWN) hosted a two-day event in conjunction with the 2024 Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture (FestPAC) at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center titled, “Weaving a Transpacific Indigenous Women’s Network.”

This event brought Pacific Indigenous sisters together to weave a network of relationships across the vast expanse of the Pacific. On June 7, we convened to hear our elders’ call to respond to the challenges confronting our communities.

On June 8, PIWN hosted an Indigenous women’s conference, dedicating the entire day to deliberating on community concerns that profoundly impact our collective wellbeing. This conference explored avenues for collaborative action, emphasizing the consolidation of partnerships and the strategic mobilization of resources to better serve our cherished island and oceanic homelands. Informal discussions continued following the two-day conference for the duration of FestPAC.

Photo: PIWN Conference Participants
The Pacific Indigenous Women’s Network hosted a conference during FestPAC to chart a roadmap for their work in the coming years. – Photo: Courtesy of PWIN

Indigenous Women from Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia, the sub-regions of Te Moana Nui Ākea (the vast Pacific) gathered at the FestPAC in Hawaiʻi, on Oʻahu Island for two weeks to discuss and chart a roadmap for our collective work together in the coming years.

Unlike other groups who gathered for regional meetings, the PIWN (Pacific Indigenous Women’s Network) began by allowing the attendees themselves to create an agenda for the coming weeks discussions.

As a result, our kūkā sessions were broad ranging and reflected the realities of each Pacific sub-region, including differences in climate change impacts, aquatic endemic species threatened with extinction or over-harvesting, the expanding threat of deep-sea mining, and militarism.

We were honored to host many aliʻi wāhine from the Pacific as well as saina (elders) Laura Torres Souder, a keynote speaker, and Maga’haga Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero, governor of Guåhan.

One significant outcome of our discussions was the decision to broaden the Pacific Indigenous Women’s Network (PIWN) structure by adding a “Kūpuna Council” as an advisory body to the governing board. This will ensure that the board has the cultural wisdom of kūpuna and the hands-on experience they have acquired during their lives.

A report is being prepared for distribution to PIWN sisters and supporters which will also be shared with government and UN partners. If you are interested in the Pacific Indigenous Women’s Network please check out our website: https://piwn.org/ .

Aloha,
Saina Mililani