Ninia Parks Elsey

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Ninia Parks Elsey

1998 Global Fellow
Founder of Nana I Na Maka Hou with Toni Auld Yardley

Ninia Parks Elsey 1998 Global Fellow

Bold Idea 

Pursue cultural preservation and environmental justice by protecting a historically significant valley on the island of O‘ahu, Hawaii.


"Nana I Na Maka Hou"—in English, "To See Again Through The Eyes of Our Ancestors"—is an organization dedicated to encouraging a reconnection with Hawaiian culture and ecology with a specific focus on preservation and environmental justice. A partnership between a cultural practitioner elder and younger environmental lawyer, this project in Cultural Resource Management and Environmental Justice set out purposefully seek environmental justice through a cultural lens. To save culturally relevant and ecologically unique areas "Nana I Na Maka Hou" used environmental law to battle the destructive behavior of tour companies when cultural legal complaints were more difficult to file. With the help of protestors, media attention, and the community they convinced the Native Hawaiian state agency and five public and private groups to contribute money to buy the valley now serving as a Native Hawaiian Cultural Center.

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