Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2008


International and Intercultural Communication | Peace and Conflict Studies


This paper presents a major lesson I learned from my research on the roles of non-natives in the Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) sovereignty movement, one that should prove instructive for activists in other movements: when the federal and state governments, immigrants and settlers, and the Kānaka Maoli people compete to define Hawaiian identity and control access to Hawaiian people, land, and culture, who counts as “Native Hawaiian” matters. Yet, with so much at stake, even when common sense tells nonnatives we know what “native” means and it is not us, many forces collude to encourage nonnative appropriation of Hawaiian identity—identity theft. In order to make useful contributions to the movement as a non-Kanaka Maoli scholar and activist, I had to learn to recognize and respect the boundary lines that were being drawn and redrawn around Native Hawaiian identity in everyday movement practices, and to refuse the false comfort of the label “Hawaiian-at-heart.”


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Taiwan International Studies Quarterly. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published as:

Kraemer, Kelly Rae. 2008. "Don't Call Me "Hawaiian-at-Heart: Self-determinatino and Identity Theft." Taiwan International Studies Quarterly 4(2):183-210.