dana naone hall
Dana Naone Hall at ʻIolani Palace (Photo credit: Masako Cordray)

A $3.2 million gift from the Laurence H. Dorcy Hawaiian Foundation will establish a new endowed Hawaiian studies chair at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge. The Dana Naone Hall Endowed Chair in Hawaiian Studies, Literature and the Environment is named in honor of a revered poet and environmental activist.

“Through this endowment, we will teach new generations of Hawaiians about their ancestors who honed social, environmental and cultural management skills over a thousand years,” said Hawaiʻinuiākea Dean Jonathan Osorio. “Powerful, fearless community leaders like Dana Naone Hall have been key to the perpetuation of Hawaiian knowledge over the last 50 years as they worked tirelessly to protect our oceans, streams and forests from urbanization and tourist-driven development.”

Naone Hall graduated from Kamehameha Schools and earned a BA in liberal studies with an emphasis on contemporary poetry from UH Mānoa. She was the editor of Hawaiʻi Review, UH Mānoa’s flagship literary journal, and has published poetry in national and international literary journals. Among her many contributions are 2017’s Life of the Land: Articulations of a Native Writer, winner of an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation; and editorship of Bamboo Ridge’s winter 1985 issue, “Malama, Hawaiian Land and Water.”

Naone Hall wrote in the introduction of her book Life of the Land: Articulations of a Native Writer, “In speaking on behalf of these special places, I sought to leaven polemical language with poetic expressions of aloha ʻāina. I also wanted to convey as much pertinent information as possible to aid those in decision-making positions.”

“We are humbled and honored to have this new endowed chair honoring such an influential and inspirational educator and advocate,” said UH President David Lassner. “As an endowed chair, it will have an impact stretching across generations, creating a new cohort of Dana Naone Hall emeriti chairholders. These leaders and future alumni from our programs will infuse new energy into the application of Hawaiian knowledge, enriching not only our Hawaiian communities, but our world.”

Naone Hall 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.

“This chair will contribute continuous research in indigenous land and resource management in Hawaiʻi building a platform for policy change in keeping with its namesake,” Osorio added. “Naone Hall shaped history by leading changes in practices and laws through her protection of a Maui Native Hawaiian burial site. She brought environmental and cultural values into political activism, culminating in the protection of sacred places.”

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Naone Hall responds to support of motorists on Kaʻahumanu Ave. in Kahului (Photo credit: Masako Cordray)