Megan (Pumehana) Cabral

Megan (Pumehana) Cabral

Founder, Queer Kanaka


Summer 2021

M. Kaleipumehana Cabral (Pumehana) identifies as a queer Kanaka and child of the diaspora. They are one of our Summer 2021 Impact Grant recipients. Learn more about their work and support.

Tell us – what excites you about your work?

What excites me most about my work is (re)creating and (re)claiming our ʻāina, our land, and sharing aloha ʻāina (love of the land) with our local Hawaiʻi communities. As Kānaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiians), we see no difference between us and ʻāina. It is a symbiotic relationship where we take care of each other. I help create, teach, and assess ʻāina education curriculum and trips where elementary students get to live aloha ʻāina by visiting/working at our local farms and fishponds. They learn about the ways our kūpuna (ancestors) were sustainable, and how we can reclaim that now. As an MSW (Master of Social Work), I also try to incorporate awareness and healing of our generational trauma due to the oppression of our culture and language. I also see this directly linked to my work with the LBGTQ+ communities in Hawaiʻi, where we are also healing from this.

What feels rich and abundant in your work right now?

The aloha ʻāina movement feels rich and abundant not only in my work but in Hawaiʻi as a whole. We are taking back our agency as a sovereign nation that was illegally annexed. There has been an activation in youth, adults, and elders around learning and perpetuating our culture that we can easily see with movements like our fight to protect Mauna Kea. There is a thirst for ʻāina education, as well as (re)claiming our māhū (LGBTQ+) communities. I co-founded a QTIBIPOC collective here and we had a vision of eventually branching out our offerings to include māhū gatherings where we worked on ʻāina together. I see these connections happening now in other spaces, as well as more open conversations in conferences and events around the importance of māhū folks. This is something I plan to join and help perpetuate through events and presentations in the near future.

Who do you dedicate your work to?

I dedicate my work to the elders who were never able to learn half of what I have learned and/or have taught, who were beaten for speaking Hawaiian in school and treated as “savages.” I dedicate my work to our keiki o ka ʻāīna (children of the land) who have begun to (re)grow our language and culture, which they will pass down for seven generations to come – and beyond. Lastly, I also dedicate my work to the ʻāina, our original ancestor who feeds and nourishes us.

“Over tourism is killing our people and ʻāina, and we need help in order to abolish this extractive economy we have been forced into.”

Who inspires you, who are you learning from, what books are you reading?

Dr. Haunani-Kay Trask has been a huge inspiration for me. When I was in the diaspora and living in the continental United States, she was one of the first Native Hawaiian activists I learned about and was guided by through her books and speeches. She recently passed and I have been reflecting on the impact she had on me by circling back to what I found as her most influential book, From a Native Daughter. In addition to this book, I am also reading moʻolelo (traditional Native Hawaiian stories) about our gods and goddesses and learning our creation story. Last but not least, I am constantly inspired by Native Hawaiian musicians such as Sudden Rush (a Hawaiian hip-hop group) and George Helm (an activist who has since passed and was instrumental in fighting for the protection of Kahoʻolawe).

What is your own wellness practice? How do you find balance?

I find balance by making sure I have regularly scheduled wellness practices throughout each month. Up until recent years, I was the type of person who would support others to the detriment of my own health. I would wait until I completely crashed, with my physical and mental health at rock bottom. I still struggle with these habits, but I much more actively prioritize filling my own cup before – and in order to fill – others. Some weeks I may not do anything intentional, but then I will check in with myself and make sure I circle back to practices like swimming, napping, visiting the botanical gardens, searching for new music, and getting out of the house to spend time with loved ones. I remind myself that there are always ebbs and flows and when we fall off balance, that is natural.

How can people reading this support the work you are doing?

They can learn about Hawaiʻi, our history, and our social justice movements. Folks can also refrain from coming here and discourage their friends from doing the same. Over tourism is killing our people and ʻāina, and we need help in order to abolish this extractive economy we have been forced into. Additionally, folks can donate to Native Hawaiian organizations (feel free to contact me directly for ideas on where to start), and/or donate to me directly to help support my work both professionally and personally. Through my work, I now understand the necessity to connect with our kūpuna (elders/ancestors), ʻāina (land), language, and cultural practices – as best we can. I slowly became more involved with them, which led to a stronger sense of self and belonging. I have changed completely since moving back home to Hawaiʻi, becoming a social worker, and developing + sharing a culture of aloha ʻāina (love of the land). I think this type of communion can be our church, our therapy, our way of healing self, and those we are connected to. In addition to these connections, I also highly value talk therapy, meditation, movement, writing, and music. I’ve come to see the importance of prioritizing these things at least as much as I prioritize work or “productivity.”

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