Creating Green Jobs at Hōlani Hāna

Through First Nations’ Climate Change and Environmental Justice work, which started in July 2022, First Nations has been working to learn more about the intersection of climate preparedness and workforce development as part of the Green Jobs in Indian Country project.

Through this project we aim to assist Native communities in their investment in and creation and expansion of “green jobs,” jobs that produce goods or services that benefit the environment and align with Indigenous values. In the first round of funding 10 Tribes and Native nonprofits received support to augment green jobs in their communities, one of which was Hōlani Hāna Inc. (Hōlani Hāna).

Hōlani Hāna, established in 2009, is a pu’uhonua (cultural refuge) in East Maui with a vision of elevating the well-being of families and communities through the perpetuation of Hawaiian values, practices, and landscape. Francis “Palani” Sinenci, one of the founders, works to reclaim and reestablish the dying artforms of kūkulu hale and uhau humu pōhaku (traditional architecture and masonry).

Through their Green Jobs project, Hōlani Hāna aims to increase culturally-rooted revenue-generating opportunities and create green jobs for Native communities in Hawai’i by strengthening Indigenous Hawaiian architecture, construction, and masonry as viable industries on the leading edge of green building and community resiliency. Their long-term goal is that each of the Hawaiian Islands has a skilled lima (hale building team of 5 people) led by a master practitioner and supported by culturally-rooted administrative, project, and fiscal management systems. They see kūkulu hale and uhau humu pōhaku as regenerative Native-led industries that provide culturally-rooted jobs that enable their lāhui (Nation) to thrive and move away from extractive industries that compromise the wellbeing of current generations and the inheritance of future generations.

This video captures the story of Hōlani Hāna through Executive Director Kauwila Hanchett’s perspective.

First Nations looks forward to amplifying stories of green workforce development and providing additional support to tribes and Native nonprofits to grow healthy Native economies.