Lia "Bear" Kim

Ho’oulu i Punalu‘u : Grow in Punalu‘u

Project Description

Land Acknowledgement: As an Earth Systems major under the Sustainable Food and Agriculture Track at Stanford University, I carry the privilege and responsibility to acknowledge that my research, words, and growth has the potential to make impacts in communities I belong to, the spaces I embody, and the lands I occupy. Stanford University sits on the territory of Puichon, the ancestral and unceded land of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, the successors of the historic and sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. As academic institutions are implicitly territorial, the spaces and land one benefits from as a scholar of Stanford University is important to acknowledge.

Mahalo e ke Akua, e nā kupuna, e kuʻu ‘ohana. Mahalo piha for welcoming me into this place as a non-Kanaka Maoli but as a wahine who will carry Kanaka Maoli children. Mahalo for the privilege of perpetuating the genealogy of my family. I bring with me into this project my elders.

As the earth continues to undergo climate change and experience heightened natural phenomena such as floods, fires, droughts, and diseases, place-specific natural resource management practices are critical in order to remain resilient in the face of ecological and socio-political issues of our time. Indigenous nations worldwide are regenerating, perpetuating, and evolving their epistemologies and knowledge of their homelands through taking leadership in land stewardship, resource management, and education. This reawakening sociopolitical, and instinctively ecological, movement is also occurring in Hawaiʻi.

For my family, our lands are in the ahupuaʻa (land division) named Punaluʻu, on the moku (district) of Koʻolauloa, within the mokupuni (island) of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. Punaluʻu is my family’s homeland. In her ocean channels and the mountain valleys, many of our family members and elders rest and protect us. We are nourished by the ocean life in the near shores of Punaluʻu, and the pigs that come down the valleys. The rain named Kīkē-hala raises our kalo (taro), and the wind called Moaʻe proudly flutters our nation’s flag. There are numerous rivers flowing through our ahupuaʻa, with the closest one to our home being the Punaluʻu River. These names, hunting and diving spots, and the available resources are publicly available knowledge on the web. What is not widely available and must be practiced every day to understand is the specific relations in which the environment, living beings, us, and akua respond to one another. The attuned awareness to dominant patterns in the world, from within ourselves and circling around every living being (animals, plants, microorganisms, winds, rains, expanse of the sky, rocks, streams, etc.), comes from coexisting within that specific place. This type of knowledge functions as an anchor which allows us to adapt to the changing world. In ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi-- the language of Hawaiʻi-- this type of observational practice is known as kilo. Kilo enables us to be guided by moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy), moʻolelo (story), and ʻike Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian knowledge), not the estimates of satellites, western months, and western time. It is the way we continue to take care of our relationship with our ancestors.

Over the past few years, my mentors have taught me that ʻāina (that which nourishes / land) is not only around us but is us. That meant for me that reclaim and restore the ecological and spiritual health of the lands, we must regenerate ourselves. For my senior capstone project, I expressed the changes and patterns I observed in Punaluʻu and within myself as we healed from past physical trauma. In the case of Punaluʻu, that was the continuous use of pesticides, overgrowth of weeds, and neglect. For me, that was recovering from past physical trauma and learning to live with several mental disorders. The exploration led to the creation of a solar powered aquaponics system, a wax pastel artwork, and songs. The epistemological foundation on what is to be done was based on first and foremost Hawaiʻi methods of knowing, such as moʻolelo (history, story), moʻokūʻauhau (geneaology), and kilo (relationship-based observance with accountability). Through this project, our family will be able to get to know the history and significance of this land better, and pass that knowledge on.

About the Artist

Lia “Bear” Kim is from Hauʻula, Oʻahu and Seoul, South Korea. She is the daughter of the Koanui Kuaimoku Woodward family from Hawaiʻi and Kim family from Korea. She is majoring in Earth Systems with a focus on Sustainable and Regenerative Food and Agriculture at Stanford University. Through developing regenerative and small-scale agricultural systems along with music and wax pastel art, Bear strives to elevate indigenous and decolonized perspectives. In doing so, she hopes to inspire new regenerative solutions for socio-environmental issues of Hawai‘i. At home in Punalu‘u, she spends most of her time working with dogs as a dog trainer with Canine Coach Hawai‘I and taking care of her pigs, rabbits, quails, fish, and chickens.

Explore Bear's project online