The following is a transcript of the video above, from our webinar on “Remaking the Economy: Owning Our Future.” View the full webinar here.
Kamuela Enos: “Indigenous” is like a catch-all term for a whole bunch of cultures that are not the same. But we’re not white or Brown, in terms of the dominant system. So, I do think it’s a nuanced conversation. One of the core things that is coming up for me in how to approach it—what I’m learning from the people who are mentoring me, and my mentors, and the people who are mentoring me in the next generation that I have the responsibility to employ—is that the systems that people use hold metrics and practices and use-cases that are critical to understanding. Because they have thousands of years of R&D, and how people were able to live within a carrying capacity of a very specific ecology and geography. I think something is lost when you have to go at scale and you use broad strokes to describe what labor and other things can look like. And it’s this history behind these conversations that are happening now about “what are equitable workplaces,” and that’s super important.
I think it’s equally important and rigorous to look at ancestral practices through the lens of economic development. There are great examples of organizations in Hawai`i and other Indigenous network communities that aren’t necessarily co-ops, but they are networks of practitioners holding systems in place that are currently seen as cultural practices, where there’s an opportunity for true solidarity and to see how their work is actually understood as labor. How did their ancestors create equitable workplaces? What were their processes for distributing wealth? And to have that not be fetishized or even romanticized, but to be understood as labor models that have [been] proven to keep people fit and healthy, and landscapes along with them, until extractive forces came in and took them out.