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Increasing conservation capacity by embracing ritual: kuahu as a portal to the sacred

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Dear Elders, for those of you who have time to read, this is very good and aligns strongly with so much of FCF’s work.

Increasing conservation capacity by embracing ritual: kuahu as a portal to the sacred

Kekuhi Kealiikanakaoleohaililani, Aimee Y. Sato, Christian P. Giardina, Creighton M. Litton, Smrity Ramavarapu, Leslie Hutchins, Evelyn H. Wight, Michelle Clark, Susan Cordell, Kainana S. Francisco, Heather McMillen, Puaala Pascua and Darcy Yogi



E ulu ¯e

E ulu kini o ke Akua

Ulu a‘e ‘o Ka¯ne me Kanaloa

Ulu ka ‘O¯ hi‘a a lau ka wai

Ka ‘Ie‘ie

Ulu a‘e ke Akua a noho i kona kahu

Eia ka wai la¯

He wai ola

E ola ia‘u i ke kumu

E ola i ke po‘o, ke po‘o pua‘a

E ola i ka pae, ka paepae

E ola i na¯ haumana, na¯ haumana a pau

‘Eli‘eli kapu, ‘eli‘eli noa


In this PuleHo‘oulu (prayer for inspiration),we are calling ourselves and you, the reader, to embrace growth and perpetuation of life’s many sacred manifestations, to honour the guardians of our places and the sources of our knowledge, and affirm the profound responsibility that is conservation management. This chant initiates the process of kuahu, an altar of Native Hawaiian spiritual practice within Ha¯lau ‘O¯ hi‘a, a ritual-based stewardship program in Hawai‘i led by Kumu (master teacher, a primary holder and source of knowledge for the community) KekuhiKealiikanakaoleohaililani. This paper outlines how the kuahu process has advanced learner capacity to embrace the many sacred dimensions of resource stewardship, thereby transforming conservation biology, and related conservation practices, through Indigenous perspectives. We examine themes evoked during the kuahu process at scales spanning the universal, the regional, and the personal. In doing so, we describe how kuahu practice can serve as a coparticipant, catalyst, and portal to sacred conservation, allowing learners to engage and grow more personal relationships with the environment, our communities, and ourselves.

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sacred sites

spirit hotspots

Spirit-led conservation

Spiritual Ecology

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