This article examines how Okinawan Indigenous identity is influenced by “minor” Trans-Pacific interchanges between the Native Hawaiian sovereignty movement and Native American discourses on Indigeneity. Drawing from interviews with fellow Okinawan diaspora artist Denise Uyehara, the author explores their parallel responses as fourth generation Okinawan Americans to the recent resurgence of Okinawan Indigenous cultural history, practice, and identity. Uyehara’s collaboration with Native American artists in the performance Archipelago (2012) with Adam Cooper-Terán (Yaqui/Chicano), Ancestral Cartographic Rituals (2017) in collaboration with the late Payómkawichum, Ipi, and Mexican-American artist James Luna (1950–2018), and the immersive theatre project Shooting Columbus (2017) collaboration with The Fifth World Collective, is put into conversation with Kina’s painting series Sugar and Blue Hawai‘i (2010–2013) about Hawaiian sugar plantations and her trilingual illustrated children’s book Okinawan Princess: Da Legend of Hajichi Tattoos (Bess Press, 2019) written by Hawai‘i Creole author Lee A. Tonouchi.
This article focuses on selected art works by third-generation Zainichi Koreans Haji Oh and Soni Kum, and Okinawan-based Chikako Yamashiro to explore ways in which these artists have continued to develop innovative, interdisciplinary practices to explore contact zones and liminal spaces in the East Asian context. Drawing on Françoise Lionnet and Shu-mei Shih’s notion of minor transnationalism, it argues the creative interventions of the three artists shed light on complex histories of minor transnationalism and at the same time alert us to ways in which the legacies of colonialism, migration and war continue to evolve in the present in Okinawa, Jeju Island, and Japan. Deploying different media, practices and techniques, all three artists aim to deterritorialize dominant visual and historical narratives and draw inspiration from minor literatures in ways that disrupt binary and vertical relationships, making visible minor to minor connections and ways of envisioning horizontal networks.