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Declaration of Pacific Law carried forth with Moananuiākea Voyage

Southeast Alaska Native leaders call on other Pacific leaders to sign declaration, a symbol of collaboration and commitment toward shared goals surrounding climate justice.  

As the Moananuiākea voyage circumnavigates the Pacific Ocean over the next four years, communities around the Pacific Ocean will welcome their canoe, the Hōkūleʻa, to port. All are invited to join Southeast Alaska Native leaders in signing a declaration of sovereignty, relationship and collaboration across Moananuiākea and the ancient water highways and corridors that connect all Pacific peoples.

A globally-focused, Indigenous-led venture of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), the Moananuiākea voyage for earth launched on June 15 from the port of Juneau, Alaska. The voyage will circumnavigate the Pacific Ocean over a five-year period, carrying a mission to inspire the next generation of navigators and amplifying a movement to care for the ocean its navigators will travel.

A collective of supportive organizations and individuals from across Alaska, known as the Alaska Planning Crew, embraced the Moananuiākea voyage’s Alaska leg from its initial heritage sail around Southeast Alaska to a tribal welcome and global launch ceremony hosted on the traditional lands of the A’akw and Taku Kwáan people. The Alaska and Hawaiian planning crew collaborated to create a Declaration of the Sovereignty, Relationship, and Collaboration Across Moananuiākea and the Ancient Water Highways and Corridors that Connect Us, shared with the world during the Global Launch.

Leaders from across Southeast Alaska, Hawai’I, Samoa, Tonga, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Taiwan, as well as many other representatives and several attendees came together at the global launch ceremony to sign the declaration, honoring the connection between Pacific peoples and the ocean that connects us, while ceremonially strengthening relationships across the Pacific Ocean. The ʻAha Moananuiākea Pacific Consortium and the Federation of United Pacific Peoples came together during this time to help advance the work of Indigenous caretaking of the Pacific.

“Despite thousands of years of our stewardship, Indigenous voices throughout environmental management and conservation regimes have been, and continue to be, consistently marginalized, ignored, and removed from decision-making positions and authority,” said ‘Wáahlaal Gíidáak, steering committee member and First Alaskans Institute Director of Policy, who also serves on the Sealaska board of directors.

“The need for a unified Indigenous voice to protect our oceans grows in urgency each year. The rate of disappearance of vital communities will double if Indigenous populations are no longer able to rely on our ways of life to fulfill essential needs. No matter where our Indigenous peoples live, they are born with an inherent responsibility to steward our ways of life and our homelands.”

Following the signing, the declaration was presented to PVS president Nainoa Thompson. “We would like you to carry this on the voyage,” said ‘Wáahlaal Gíidáak. “We hope to inspire other nations to join us and sign the declaration.”

Thompson acknowledged a need for unity in the Pacific: “The world needs that voice. And the strength of that voice is when we are in the collective. Not in the actions that divide us. This is an honor and a privilege for Hōkūleʻa to take this to anybody that wants to join.”

Find the declaration here.