Striving to Be Pono (Balanced, Equitable, and Hopeful): Conceptualizing an Indigenous Writing Process from a Native Hawaiian Cultural Perspective

Tammy Kahalaopuna Kahoʻolemana Martin, Alexis Merculief, Rebecca Ipiaqruk Young, Lauren White, Sarah Momilani Marshall, Cary Waubanascum, Evan J. White, Helen Russette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Community-based and culturally grounded research, led by Indigenous scholars, is critical for the prevention and intervention of health risks such as substance use and misuse in Indigenous communities. However, Indigenous scholars encounter numerous adversities to success in academia. This manuscript describes an Indigenous Writing Retreat (IWR) guided by Native Hawaiian worldview and ontology held in Hawaiʻi in Spring 2022 to empower eleven Indigenous scholars and four mentors through cultivating their Form (intellectual knowledge) and Essence (expression of true intention and authentic feeling). Intentions of this gathering were as follows: (1) Hoʻoulu a Hoʻomōhalahala ʻIke: inspire growth/develop knowledge and insight; (2) Hōʻola i ka Nohona Kanaka: give life to cultural identity and native intelligence; (3) Hoʻopono: cleanse and let go; and (4) Hoʻohana Pilina: relationship building with each other, land, and spirit. Intentions were achieved through six methods: (1) academic writing; (2) Indigenous Cultural Orientation and Protocol; (3) honor and pay respect for people and land; (4) cultural tools and ceremony; (5) create a “Safe Space”; and (6) community building. This story conveys the IWR impact on scholars, mentors, and community hosts, including kūpuna (Elders)/leaders/cultural practitioners via a survey, email exchanges, and “talk story” sessions with them. Four relational actions (recommendations) for future IWRs are presented using the acronym PONO: Preparation, Observation, Navigation, and Oneness. This IWR is offered as a gift to all Indigenous nations to inspire and guide relational exchanges and cultivate Indigenous leadership in substance use research, collective well-being, and resilience by centering Indigenous worldviews and methodologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-458
Number of pages24
JournalAdversity and Resilience Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Equity in academia
  • Health equity research
  • Indigenous scholarship
  • Native Hawaiian worldview

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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