Executive Director, Founder
Raised on Moloka‘i, Uncle Walter Ritte has been a pillar of social activism in Hawaii for over 40 years. He was recruited into activism at an early age by cultural icons like Uncle Charlie Maxwell and Aunty Frenchy DeSoto. With his devoted wife, Loretta, by his side, Walter joined the kūpuna of Maui and Moloka‘i in forming Hui Alaloa, a community organization dedicated to the preservation of Hawaiian rights and the protection of natural resources. Uncle Walter solidified his place in Hawaiʻi’s history when he and eight others defied the U.S. Military to return to the Hawaiian ‘āina of Kahoʻolawe, an island which had long been seized and occupied by the U.S. Navy for military testing and target practice. In an unprecedented act of courage, “the Kaho‘olawe Nine” became the first Native Hawaiians to step foot on the beaten and ravaged island without military permission in decades.
Ritte would return to the island, and on one such occasion he and Richard Sawyer evaded capture for 35 days. Upon being found, they would be arrested and found guilty of trespass. Ritte’s dogged-determination and persistence paid off though, and Kaho‘olawe would eventually be returned to the Hawaiian people. Ritte has subsequently dedicated his life to the protection of Hawaiian rights and the preservation of natural resources. He is a master fishpond practitioner, and is largely credited for invigorating the revival of traditional fishpond restoration activities in Hawaii through his work with fishponds on Moloka‘i. He is currently the executive director and founder of ‘Āina Momona.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jon Osorio, Ph.D
Dr. Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio is a full professor and Dean of Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge. Dr. Osorio received his PhD in History from the University of Hawaiʻi. At Kamakakūokalani, he has developed and taught classes in history, literature, law as culture, music as historical texts, and research methodologies for and from indigenous peoples. His recent publications include The Value of Hawaiʻi: Knowing the Past and Shaping the Future, which he co-edited and authored, and Dismembering Lāhui: A History of the Hawaiian Nation to 1887. He is also a composer and singer and has been a Hawaiian music recording artist since 1975.
Dr. Watson was born and raised on the island of O‘ahu to which she has long ancestral ties. She obtained her degrees from Washington State University and the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa. Her legal background is in environmental law. Her PhD studies focused on indigenous epistemologies and traditional natural resource management. She previously worked in administration at the University of Hawai‘i on special projects related to culture and research issues. She currently runs her own consulting company, Honua Consulting (www.honuaconsulting.com) that focuses on biocultural resource planning and management in Hawai‘i.
Trisha Kehaulani Watson,