In Memoriam: Haunani-Kay Trask, 1949-2021

Haunani-Kay Trask, professor emerita at the University of Hawai’i Manoa, died on July 3. She was 71 years old and had suffered from cancer.

Dr. Trask was born in California but grew up on the island of Oahu. She earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a Ph.D. in political science, all from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Trask started her extensive academic career at the University of Hawai’l in 1981 as an assistant professor in the American studies department with expertise in feminist theory and Indigenous studies. She is credited with co-founding the contemporary field of Hawaiian studies and went on to become the founding director of the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the university. Professor Trask was the author of From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai’i (Latitude 20, 1993). She also was co-producer of the award-winning documentary film Act of War: The Overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation.

“Professor Trask was a fearless advocate for the Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) and was responsible for inspiring thousands of brilliant and talented Hawaiians to come to the University of Hawaiʻi,” said Dean Jonathan Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio. “But she also inspired our people everywhere to embrace their ancestry and identity as Hawaiians and to fight for the restoration of our nation.”

Professor Trask retired in 2010. This past April, Dr. Trask was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Filed Under: In Memoriam

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