The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge has welcomed Kamanamaikalani Brenton Beamer as its inaugural Dana Naone Hall Endowed Chair in Hawaiian Studies, Literature and the Environment. Starting August 2021, Beamer will take on the newly established position, named in honor of the revered poet and kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiian) environmental activist. The endowed chair is supported through a $3.2-million gift from the Laurence H. Dorcy Hawaiian Foundation.
“Naone Hall has changed the political and cultural landscape of Hawaiʻi through a lifetime of protecting sacred places and our people’s right to our beliefs and religious practices,” said Hawaiʻinuiākea Dean Jonathan Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio. “Along with her husband Issac, Dana has created legal and conceptual paths for Kānaka Maoli to walk beside our ancestors as we live and work in this modern world. Kamanamaikalani Beamer has followed those trails and inspires our people to become skilled in our traditional practices as well as in policy and law to protect and nurture our ʻāina (land).”
Beamer is a professor at Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies in the Hui ʻĀina Momona Program at UH Mānoa with a joint appointment in the William S. Richardson School of Law and Hawaiʻinuiākea. He has conducted extensive research and penned numerous academic publications on governance, land tenure and Hawaiian resource management.
“The life of Dana Naone Hall, a lei entwined with intricate strands of aloha, literary mastery, unwavering commitment toward the ʻāina, political pragmatism, and her own self-professed ‘problems with authority’—are nothing short of legendary,” said Beamer. “It is a tremendous honor to have been selected by the committee as the inaugural Dana Naone Hall Chair.”
“I want to mahalo the amazing community collaborators and ʻāina-based organizations who made my proposal possible,” Beamer said. “We are going to make a run over the next five years toward a more equitable economy and just society for our people and ʻāina. We are going to continue to speak the truth to power and to produce scholarship that highlights the integral role of our ancestral knowledge in achieving ecological peace and social justice in our world at a time we need it most; we are going to mentor students and uplift the brilliance of our community aloha ʻāina as we work toward liberation.”
The endowed chair was created to teach and inspire students to perpetuate Hawaiian knowledge and contribute Indigenous land and resource management research in Hawaiʻi to push for policy change. Naone Hall, the chair’s namesake, has worked for decades to honor and protect Hawaiian burial sites, primarily on Maui, when planned development threatened access by Native Hawaiians and the public to culturally important locations.
“Dana Naone Hall devoted a lifetime to promote and protect Native Hawaiian culture,” said Jeffrey Peterson, president of the Dorcy Foundation. “The Dorcy Hawaiian Foundation is so very pleased to have the University of Hawaiʻi announce that Dr. Kamanamaikalani Brenton Beamer will be the inaugural chair of the Native Hawaiian Studies, Literature and the Environment, endowed in her name. We are excited about the impact he will make as he helps carry on Dana’s important work. His leadership will infuse future generations with the values and knowledge key to Hawaiʻi’s future.”
Beamer plays ʻohe hano ihu (nose flute) during a special ceremony to commemorate his appointment.
More on Beamer
Beamer has served as director of ʻāina-based education at Kamehameha Schools, which helped prepare him for an ongoing role as director of Stanford University’s First Nations Futures Institute, a development program for Indigenous leaders. In 2014, he published No Mākou ka Mana: Liberating the Nation, which received multiple awards including the Samuel M. Kamakau Book of the Year Award from the Hawaiʻi Book Publishing Association. Beamer comes from a long line of highly-acclaimed educators, composers and musicians in Hawaiʻi. He is the great-great-grandson of legendary Hawaiian composer Helen Desha Beamer and son of award-winning recording artist Kapono Beamer.