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Star Voyagers

In his next journey across the Pacific, Hawaiian navigator Nainoa Thompson will chart a course for sustainability.

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Photo by: Aaron Lee

Looking up at the night sky and trying to find patterns and meaning in the stars can be dizzying. But for the Native Hawaiian navigator Nainoa Thompson, a practitioner in the ancient art of “wayfinding,” the stars have been a map across the vast archipelagos of Polynesia and through the rough seas of cultural rebirth.Now Thompson has embarked on the longest and most challenging journey of his life: raising awareness about threats to the oceans and the environment by circumnavigating the globe in a traditional 60-foot transoceanic Hawaiian canoe.“The canoe is a metaphor for the earth,” he says, “which is an island in an immense ocean of space.” Noting that oceans connect all the peoples of the earth with each other and with the environment, he says the core message of the four-year voyage is “to mālama honua, care for the  Earth—our natural environment, our children, and all humankind.”A symbol of indigenous wisdom and sustainability, the double-hulled Hōkūle‘a has been recognized by some of the world’s greatest spiritual leaders. Both the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu blessed the …

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