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County honors Edwin ‘Ekolu’ Lindsey for his cultural and environmental efforts

By Staff | Oct 10, 2019

Edwin “Ekolu” Lindsey spoke at the event at the County Building on Sept. 30.

WAILUKU – In a ceremony held last week Monday (Sept. 30) on the Ninth Floor of the County Building in Wailuku, Mayor Michael Victorino proclaimed “September 27 October 3, as Edwin ‘Ekolu’ Lindsey Day throughout the County of Maui.”

It was a solemn, yet joyful occasion. Ekolu, a West Side cultural, community asset, was surrounded by family, friends, colleagues and supporters when the announcement was made.

Mayor Victorino extended “his deepest appreciation and thanks to Ekolu for inspiring and empowering our communities to preserve, protect and restore cultural, historic and environmental resources and traditions for generations to come.”

The proclamation recognized the 54-year-old Lahaina man as the 21st century steward of the Lindsey family legacy

Ekolu is the president of Maui Cultural Lands (MCL), a grassroots nonprofit founded in 2002 by his parents, the late Edwin “Ed” Robert Naleilehua Lindsey Jr. and his vibrant wife, Puanani.

Working with an international corps of conservationists, its mission, for one, is to restore Honokowai Valley to its original indigenous glory.

He is the po’o (leader) of Polanui Hiu, a Community Managed Makai Area, established in 2010 in the near shore waters off his family home in south Lahaina, with the purpose of nurturing the reef and marine ecosystem back to life using modern day science hand-in-hand with traditional Native Hawaiian practices.

The proclamation also recognized Ekolu’s outreach to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students “from across the country, providing place-based experience in preserving and restoring habitats and cultural practices mauka to makai.”

Lindsey was recently honored with the 2019 Hawaii Chapter of the American Planning Association’s Grassroots Initiative Special Recognition Award.

The proclamation continues with the acknowledgement of his inherent values: “Ekolu Lindsey believes that by working with people of like minds, like hearts and like spirits, our cultural resources and places can begin to heal and find balance.”

Alana Yurkanin of The Nature Conservancy agreed, saying, “Ekolu is one of those leaders who does not take credit for his accomplishments and instead insists on widening the spotlight to include the people, places, ancestors, creatures and values that played a part in his – in all of our – success. He reminds us that we are all in this canoe together, and to truly malama ‘aina, we must work together, celebrate each other and see beyond ourselves.”

“The Mayor’s Proclamation came as a complete surprise,” the Native Hawaiian told the Lahaina News; and, true to form, it is never just about him.

He is the keeper of the Lindsey family trust, following in the footsteps of his ancestors, a long line of respected leaders in Lahaina, up to and including present day aunties, uncles, cousins and extended family members.

It’s in his blood.

“My dad passed in 2009, and with his passing came the kuleana to carry on his work, his legacy, our legacy. I accepted the kuleana not fully understanding what it was that I was doing. Having a solid family foundation gave me the strength to move forward and figure it out,” Ekolu said.

John Duey is his uncle. He and his wife, Aunty Rose Marie Duey, are leading forces on Maui with a reach extending from the mountains to the lo’i as water protectors of Hui o Na Wai Eha.

They joined Ekolu and fellow family members at the ceremony held last week in Wailuku.

John described his nephew’s deep resolve: “Ekolu has filled large footprints in protecting and reviving all things native. His father, Edwin Robert Lindsey Jr., and his grandfather, set those footprints before moving on, leaving him to continue their kuleana, and that he has surely done.

“I am naturally very proud of him,” John continued, “but, remain in awe about his mom Puanani’s unlimited commitment to those many hours of cultural and community building. We are lucky we have them and many others who help him do his kuleana.”

Mary Anna Enriquez has been a long-standing Lindsey ‘ohana champion. She is a dedicated, lifetime educator, sailor and voyager. She was a crew member aboard the Hikianalia during several legs of the Malama Honua Worldwide voyage.

Her respect for Ekolu and the Lindseys runs deep.

“Ekolu did not seek any of the causes, issues, organizations of which he is involved. It seems that he was born into fulfilling a commitment made long ago, likely before he was born, to carry forth a message, to bring the action necessary to right the mistakes and move us forward to be able to Malama Honua while taking care of each other.

“He doesn’t seek recognition or honor,” Enriquez added. “He’s too busy doing and being, paying attention to how to be a servant to the land following He Ali’i Ka ‘Aina, He Kauwa Ke Kanaka (The Land is a chief; man is its servant).”