Native Books is a place with pride and respect for Hawaiians and Hawaiian culture. Because of this pride and respect, we want to share information about culture, language, and traditions with those who are interested in learning. We include ourselves in this learning process.
Native Books is a metaphor for knowledge acquisition and exchange. At one time, the most literate nation in the world, the leadership of our Island nation valued innovation, adaptation, robust dialogue, and active participation in a changing world. Things have changed. “Know Hawaiians, Know Hawai’i.” a thinly veiled kaona by educator Pūlama Collier from Maui, reminds all of us to commit to recentering our core relationships with the natives of this place, and with this ‘āina. Native Books is a tool to assist all who want to acquire those relationships and deepen existing relationships to place, and to the essence of indigenous thinking as articulated by kanaka ‘ōiwi.
Kanaka ʻōiwi epistemology is shared through information and knowledge presented in a variety of forms and methods including the written word, ʻike kūpuna, discussions, podcasts, live streams, out of print and reprinted publications, game playing, songs and music, and most of all gatherings. We gather to affirm and share the wisdom and brilliance of humanity as evolved by the last humans to settle the planet.
As ali’i descendant Kenney Brown would share, the core tenant of Hawaiians is aloha, and as “the people with the least amount of ancestral memory loss” — Hawaiians remember and live aloha as the evolution of our species. Native Books is here to offer kōkua to reclaim our understanding of humanity through access of knowledge and information grounded in aloha.
Founded by Maile Meyer in 1990, an avid reader and entrepreneurial spirit, after being asked several times why she was interested in a book business when “Hawaiians don’t read.” Meyer was inspired while attending the Hawaiian Leadership Development Conference. The conference, run by sister Manulani Meyer in Hilo (the birthplace of the Meyer sisters’ mother Emma Akana Aluli) was filled with kanaka and people who shared essential Hawaiian values and were hungry to access written materials by our kūpuna.
A simple motto, getting “good books in good hands,” inspired the earliest years of Native Books.
Over the next ten years, countless community events found Meyer in the mix with a table of books, mostly published by Bishop Museum Press and the University of Hawai’i Press. Native Books distributed books to booksellers, schools, and libraries as well as brave walk-in customers at the corner of School and Aupuni Street in Kalihi.
Native Books’ focus was “mai ke kumu a ka welau” —from the trunk to the tip of the leaf— a directive to carry every book in print about every and any aspect of Hawai’i.
Native Books also held rare and out of print book auctions, and supported the “Aupuni Artwall,” a community gallery featuring Kanaka ʻōiwi contemporary artists.
Welina mai, to a Hawaiian place of business!
Native Books ʻOhana