Everything Ancient Was Once New: Indigenous Persistence from Hawaii to Kahiki
In Everything Ancient Was Once New, Emalani Case explores Indigenous persistence through the concept of Kahiki, a term that is at once both an ancestral homeland for Kānaka Maoli (Hawaiians) and the knowledge that there is life to be found beyond Hawaiʻi’s shores. It is therefore both a symbol of ancestral connection and the potential that comes with remembering and acting upon that connection.Tracing physical, historical, intellectual, and spiritual journeys to and from Kahiki, Emalani frames it as a place of refuge and sanctuary, a place where ancient knowledge can constantly be made anew. It is in Kahiki, she argues, and in the sanctuary it creates, that today’s Kānaka Maoli can find safety and reprieve from the continued onslaught of settler colonial violence, while also confronting some of the often uncomfortable and challenging realities of being Indigenous in Hawaiʻi, in the Pacific, and in the world.
Each chapter of the book engages with Kahiki as a shifting term, employed by Kānaka Maoli to explain their lives and experiences to themselves at different points in history. In doing so, Everything Ancient Was Once New proposes and argues for reactivated and reinvigorated engagements with Kahiki, each supporting ongoing work aimed at decolonizing physical and ideological spaces, and reconnecting Kānaka Maoli to other peoples and places in the Pacific region and beyond in ways that are both purposeful and meaningful. In the book, Kahiki is therefore traced through pivotal moments in history and critical moments in contemporary times, explaining that while not always mentioned by name, the idea of Kahiki was, and is, always full of potential.
In writing that is both personal and theoretical, Emalani weaves the past and the present together, reflecting on ancient concepts and their continued relevance in movements to protect lands, waters, and oceans; to fight for social justice; to reexamine our responsibilities and obligations to each other across the Pacific region; and to open space for continued dialogue on what it means to be Indigenous both when at home and when away. Combining personal narrative and reflection with research and critical analysis, Everything Ancient Was Once New journeys to and from Kahiki, the sanctuary for reflection, deep learning, and continued dreaming with the past, in the present, and far into the future.