Māhea Ahia named 2024/25 Henry Roe Cloud fellow

June 17, 2024

It is our pleasure to announce the 2024/25 Henry Roe Cloud fellow, Māhealani AhiaThe Henry Roe Cloud Fellowship honors the legacy of Henry Roe Cloud (Ho-Chunk), a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Nebraska and graduate of Yale College, 1910. Since 2010, the Roe Cloud Fellowship has helped to develop American Indian Studies at Yale by facilitating the completion of the doctorate by scholars working on pressing issues related to the American Indian experience. 

Māhealani Ahia is a Kanaka ‘Ōiwi scholar, activist, songcatcher and storykeeper with lineal ties to Lāhaina, Maui. As a PhD candidate in English with a graduate certificate in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, her dissertation “Shapeshifting Hawaiian Biography: Life and Afterlives of Kihawahine” connects ancestral narratives with issues of mana wahine (feminist power and leadership), settler-colonialism, diaspora, repatriation, and non-human relations. This biography centering the 16th century daughter of Maui’s ruling chief Piʻilani unsettles western ideals of biographical genre. For upon her death, Kihawahine was ritually deified into a guardian akua moʻo (reptilian water deity) and over generations assumes multiple body forms (monstrous lizard, dog, spider, alluring woman) which invite deep examination of Hawaiian history, religion, politics, culture, art, and language.

With a background in writing and performance from U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Irvine, Māhea is committed to creating artistic and academic projects that empower Indigenous feminist decolonial storytelling. Her most recent community curation “Seeking Asylum: A Mad Detour” dramatizes indigenous historical trauma within a decolonial walking tour of former Hawaiʻi State Mental Hospital. Māhea serves as editor of Hawaiʻi Review, ʻŌiwi: A Native Hawaiian Journal, Mauna Kea Syllabus Project, and the Maui Special Edition of Mānoa Journal.