By Finau Fonua
When Native American woman Juliana Brown Eyes received a call from her father confirming that her grandfather was Tongan, she immediately began looking for her Tongan relatives on Facebook.
"About four months ago my father went and got a DNA test, it's able to pinpoint exactly where your DNA and blood comes from," Juliana told Matangi Tonga.
"When he got his test back, it pinpointed his blood straight from Polynesia, Tongan Islands, and it also gives a list of people you may be related to. He found that the spelling of his father's last name was Kaho."
"He called me up and told me 'Get on to Facebook and find all the Kaho's that you can find and message them and ask them if they can find a man named Richard Kaho."
Hailing from the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe in the Pine-Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Juliana's 43 year-old father Julian Brown Eyes had been searching for his Tongan father for many years after being told by his mother Vana Louise Brown Eyes that his father was Tongan.
Juliana's grandmother Vana Louise passed away in March 2016.
"Growing up my grandmother hiked all the way to San Francisco in the '70s. She was an only child and both her parents died when she was young. So she hitchhiked all by herself to San Francisco. And she came back with my dad!"
Hidden away in the desolate landscape of America's Mid-West, Pine-Ridge Reservation is probably the most unlikely place to find a Pacific Islander.
"My dad is a big man compared to all the plains native people on the reservation. My dad has really big shoulders - like a Tongan."
The Pine-Ridge Reservation was set up over a century ago for exiled Ogalala Lakota Sioux Indians who had famously humiliated the United States military when they defeated Colonel Custer's cavalry.
"Were called the Horse Nation. Our tribe was one of the last tribes to resist the US government so we pretty much got the crappiest land out of all the Native Americans. My tribe, the Lakota tribe, defeated Colonel Custer and that's why they put us in this small reservation."
"We didn't know any people in South Dakota who were islanders. South Dakota is in the middle of nowhere, there's no islander people in sight,"
"Every time I would see or meet an islander I would ask them if they knew the last name Kaho, if they knew that family."
Soon after her father's genetic discovery, the Brown Eyes family finally connected with their long lost Tongan family. They reunited in San Francisco, Julian meeting his father, Toluafe Richard Kaho, for the first time in late 2016. Richard, who comes from Ha'apai, lives in the United States.
Photo by Alexus Kills Enemy
"We finally got into contact with my grandfather. He had 12 uncles and aunties, and he had so many second and third cousins. It was a lot, and we could really feel the love."
"Before then, my father had no aunties or uncles or cousins or anything [on the father's side]. We felt alone, we felt like we didn't have any family. He basically searched for his father for 43 years and he always knew he was an islander, he always felt that connection."
The family now goes by the name Brown Eyes Kaho.
Juliana is a talented artist, photographer, musician and guitarist for a blues band called 'Scatter Their Own'.
Standing Rock Protest
Talking to Matangi Tonga by telephone Juliana told us about the challenges of her life on the Pine-Ridge Reservation. Earlier last year she was arrested for taking part in a protest against a pipeline construction.
Juliana was among the first protesters to participate in the Standing Rock Protests, a protest against the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline in a neighbouring North Dakota Indian reservation because the Ogalala Lakota Sioux people believed it would disturb the reservation's water supply.
"I was among the first ten to be arrested...at that point there were was only 80 people there. It got all of our tribal members really angry".
The protest eventually gathered thousands of participants, and in December last year the building of the pipeline was stalled.
"That was a big victory for our people. They stopped working but they plan on continuing it. There still needs to be a movement."
Juliana described the problems faced with living a reservation and the injustices face by the Horse Nation.
"Our people right now are struggling with poverty. There's a lot of poverty, there's a lot of negative downsides to living on an Indian reservation."
"They basically put us on a reservation that kept getting smaller and smaller because they would find gold or because find oil. They kept finding things and they kept oppressing our people."
Unfortunately for the Standing Rock protestors, the Dakota Access Pipeline construction has now resumed after a recent executive order to continue construction by new U.S. president Donald J. Trump.