Dr. Hokulani K. Aikau is Kanaka ʻŌiwi Hawaiʻi and an associate professor of Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Politics. She is the author of A Chosen People, a Promised Land: Mormonism and Race in Hawaiʻi (University of Minnesota press, 2012) which examines the intersections of race, religion, and Native Hawaiian identities as they are articulated with and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She has also co-authored with Karla A. Erickson and Jennifer L. Pierce of Feminist Waves, Feminist Generations: Stories from the Academy (University of Minnesota Press, 2007). Through funding from the Sea Grant College at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, her current research is a collaborative project with Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi, a Native Hawaiian nonprofit organization, working to restore loʻi kalo (wetland taro farming) in the ahpuaʻa of Heʻeia, in the moku of Koʻolaupoko, on the island of Oʻahu. Dr. Aikau is also mom to Sanoe, ʻĪmaikalani, and Hiʻilei.
Dr. Aikau’s research and teaching interests and commitments stem from her experience as a Kanaka ʻŌiwi who grew up in a deeply religious community of Polynesians living in Utah. As an ‘off–island’ Hawaiian, she was surrounded by stories of ‘back home’ and engulfed in the sounds and smells of the islands each week when various Polynesian families shared food, stories and music on Sunday afternoons at their home. These gatherings were an essential part of how she came to know what it meant to be Hawaiian.