Signs of NeoPagan Support for Mauna Kea

Today, Monday, July 22, the sun enters Leo. And finally I am seeing some signs of support for the Mauna Kea Kia’i (protectors) from people in some parts of the neopagan communities.

So, here’s some good news:

The Troth just issued an open letter to Governor Ige of Hawai’i, expressing support for the preservation of Mauna Kea from desecration, and for the struggle of the Kia’i to protect it. I am proud to be a member of this inclusive heathenry organization.

And I just came across this post from Marc, on the blog, Of Axe and Plow, calling for “the wider pagan community” to show support for Mauna Kea and the protectors. It’s a great read!

Update: The Wild Hunt includes an article about Mauna Kea.

That’s it for now. Will add more signs of wider pagan community support as I find them. Ku Kia’i Mauna!

And let’s not forget to show solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico! They are demonstrating in huge numbers today, demanding the resignation of their governor. 

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Mauna Kea and the Moore Foundation’s Hypocrisy

Disclaimer: The following rather harsh critique is strictly limited to the impact of the Moore Foundation’s funding of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) via CalTech and the University of CA–as it affects Mauna Kea–and is not meant as a sweeping generalization of the funding impacts of other grants to other organizations, projects, peoples, or parts of the world. Let’s just be clear about that.

There’s No Place Like Home

Two years ago, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF), published a piece in the Learning section of their website called “Perspective: Grateful for this place we call home,” The photograph accompanying this article is a sweeping panorama of South Bay hills that certainly would not be as lovely should an 18-story telescope be built on the skyline. What follows is a quote from the piece:


“Silicon Valley is the place we call home. Our founders, Gordon and Betty Moore, spent most of their lives and raised their family in this region. It is the place where Gordon co-founded two iconic companies – Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel. And, it is where our foundation is located.

A passion for this region is in our DNA.”


One could be forgiven for thinking that such heartfelt boilerplate is evidence that the grantmaking heads of this foundation are capable of recognizing and honoring the family values and “passion for a region” that the Kanaka Maoli have for Mauna Kea and the rest of their ‘aina. After all, the Kanaka have lived in their island home as far back as 400 C.E. Very old families, one might say.

By contrast, the Moore family has just a few generations of California settler-colonial history and yet claim “DNA-based” ties to their beloved Silicon Valley. I agree, humanity in general has the capacity to become deeply rooted in place–even new places–and can be passionate about those roots. If just a generation or two of settlement history can twang the DNA heartstrings of a Gordon and Betty, imagine the depth, the extent of the love, the connection, the ancestral ties felt by the Kanaka Maoli (and other indigenous peoples) who have hundreds and thousands of years of family history invested in their homelands.

One might think an organization of broad and beneficent vision, as expressed in the Moore Foundation “perspectives,” would be able to “grok” this, but I suppose the unalloyed enjoyment of “passion for a region” is something allowed only to the very, very wealthy.

Speaking of indigenous people, where did the first peoples of the Silicon Valley go? Oh yes, didn’t California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, just apologize in June for the genocidal slaughter of a majority of California’s first peoples, starting in 1850?

As for the legacy of soil and groundwater contamination created by Gordon Moore’s semi-conductor companies, now Superfund Clean-up sites

…Lovely view of the valley, don’t you think?

The Thirty Meter Telescope – 18 Stories of Desecration Planned for a Sacred Mountain

Making science, exploring the universe, discovering new galaxies, teetering on the rim of black hole event horizons–astronomy is the good guy, right? Who could object to it? Well,  blithe star-bitten glamour aside, objections can be made to doing astronomy in a place and in a way that causes immense harm to any indigenous people who revere that place. It’s not the astronomy that’s objectionable, folks, it’s the location, location, location!

This 2017 film chronicles 50 years of gross mismanagement of Mauna Kea and the destruction wrought by telescope development. Only six minutes long.

Below you can see how much this dream of science means to the Moore Foundation. Here is what they have invested in the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)–a project always depicted in magical-thinking public relations “photos” as a structure already built on Mauna Kea, complete with a night sky of stars twinkling in the background–beckoning idealistic astronomers from afar. The same night sky, by the way, that Hawaiians and their ancestors have been accustomed to look upon with unimpeded views and important sight lines, from the summit of one of their most sacred places in all the islands, all the way over to Haleakala (another sacred mountain) on Maui and beyond.

The sums below represent how badly the GBMF and other TMT-on-Mauna Kea proponents want to get their way. Much is at stake. But still more is at stake for the Kanaka Maoli, their descendants, and the Mauna itself.

BGMF TMT FUNDING
Source: Figures taken from the website of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, https://www.moore.org

Toxic Philanthropy

Anthony Trollope, a Victorian novelist once wrote, “I have sometimes thought that there is no being so venomous, so bloodthirsty as a professed philanthropist.” This is from his novel, North America, published in 1862. Times have not changed. I found Trollope’s quote in an article called “Toxic Philanthropy? The Spirit of Giving While Taking” (Lynn Parramore, Dec. 10, 2018). The article discussed Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, a book by business reporter Anand Giridharadas. The article was published on the website of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, co-founded by George Soros. (Link to board and staff page.)

Though the book apparently focuses mostly on a new generation of “21st-century ‘philanthrocapitalists,’” two paragraphs of the review seem relevant to classic brand of philanthropy now affecting Mauna Kea:


“Giridharadas presents searching conversations with well-educated, often well-meaning people floating above and apart from the lives of ordinary Americans, wishing to ease their consciences but failing both to clearly see the problems of society and to notice, for more than a nagging moment, the ways in which their own lives are financed by the fruits of injustice. They end up embracing a warm-and-fuzzy vision of changing the world that leaves brutal underlying structures securely in place.

The author has said what few who have traveled in this world have said plainly, lest their passport be revoked: the efforts of philanthrocapitalists are largely disruptive, rather than beneficial, to public life.”


Ruthless self-examination might be in order for the philanthropic community, especially powerful grantmakers like the Moore Foundation. Such examination and organizational assessment might reveal their own (even if inadvertant) complicity in past and present acts that perpetuate cultural violence and genocide. This is the kind of self-examination that people in other walks of life are just now starting to embark upon.

The communication model known as the Johari Window, particularly that upper right hand corner called “known to others, not known to self,” can be an effective way to approach unacknowledged privilege and entitlement assumptions, factors that cause “good” intentions, and “good” works to pave a “road to hell” for others. Sometimes we cannot see ourselves in the mirror, in the same way that others see us, looking in.

Right now, those who stand on or with Mauna Kea see “in” to the GBMF and its associates, with devastating accuracy.

Checking Your Privilege and Complicity

As of Sunday morning, July 21st, at 7:37 AM PSDT, 698 astronomers (and a few academics in other fields) have signed the letter (1) condemning the arrests of kupuna on Mauna Kea last Wednesday and (2) inviting “the astronomy community to suggest more links and ideas on how to divest from using state-sanctioned violence in the construction of facilities for our field’s future.” This is a long-overdue invitation, from within that rarified community, to consider the ethical implications of how and where they do their science, and at what cost to others.

And as mentioned in an earlier blog post, this week 100 religious leaders also signed a letter of inter-faith solidarity, recognizing the spiritual traditions of Kanaka Maoli as equally valid as their own. Many of the people signing are associated with religious institutions which have their own historical complicity of disregarding native traditions and/or causing colonial and state-sanctioned violence (e.g. missionary work in Hawai’i; stones from sacred heiau used to build churches, etc.). Here is an excerpt from that letter:


“The controversy surrounding the TMT telescope continues to highlight the struggle of native peoples to protect and preserve their sacred sites from desecration.

We the undersigned have a responsibility not to stay silent in the face of injustice. We are not against science or scientific research. But it should be done in an appropriate location.

Building one more gigantic telescope on our sacred mountain might harm the natural environment, and the spiritual integrity. In light of recent arrest of kupuna, in the act of peaceful civil disobedience, the questionable telescope project is certainly harming the deep peace of our Hawaiian community!

Some may disagree, but we believe the mountain belongs to the Kanaka maoli. It is part of their homeland.

And they must have a say about what to do and what not to do on their sacred land! We offer our prayers in solidarity with all our kanaka maoli sisters and brothers who feel oppressed, bullied, and not listened to.”


Let’s remember too that all this is taking place in the context of the present and historical belligerent occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom, an occupation which has ongoing political, cultural, social, legal, economic, environmental, and personal and community health impacts, etc., on Kanaka Maoli since 1893. (Other Hawaiian Kingdom subjects were people from elsewhere who were naturalized before 1893).

To put it clearly, the above describes a state of ongoing, pervasive violence for generations, mostly impacting the Kanaka Maoli, who–if you remember from above–have a deep and abiding attachment and relationship to their ‘aina, their ancestors, and to their spiritual relationships to na akua (the deities) or ke akua (one deity). Multi-generational trauma is a comparatively recent development in psychology, pioneered by Dr. Joy DeGruy and others. It is now widely accepted by in the field of psychology. Trauma can become part our DNA and is passed to our children and grandchildren.

(Did we mention the view yet?)

Though Kanaka are not monolithic in their spiritual beliefs and traditions, it is probably safe to say–given the widespread support given to the Kia’i–that Mauna Kea is foundational and sacred, as a cultural icon, as a place of deep cultural significance, and as a felt, ancestral, spiritual presence (and a place that is the home of other deities as well.)

Back to the Future We Don’t Want: The Cycle of Philanthropic Violence

There’s quite a lot about how the TMT project has tromped on Kanaka Maoli and their indigenous rights and traditions that reminds me of an abuser who insists that you’ll enjoy it if only you’d relax and give in. Or perhaps the forces behind the TMT are inherantly sociopathic, determined to win at any cost, crushing whoever and whatever gets in their way.

Seriously. I am seriously saying this.

Sociopaths begin by charming others. Philanthropists charm others by holding out the prospect of a juicy grant for a project. “Court me as a major donor,” they wink, but nothing is free, and the power that money wields is everything.

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The cycle of abuse is a social cycle theory developed in 1979 by Lenore E. Walker to explain patterns of behavior in an abusive relationship. From http://www.stewardshipreport.com/understanding-the-cycle-of-abuse/

 

I’ve watched the growth of the movement for the Mauna, and against telescope desecration, for many years now. I remember things. So as sort of thought experiment, I’d like us to consider the abusive nature of the TMT project, its impact on the Kanaka Maoli as a series of deliberate non-consensual violations and micro- and macroaggressions causing physical and psychological harm to other human beings. These violations have already caused multi-generational trauma for a large number of people. They already affect multiple generations. (The protectors of Mauna Kea range from toddlers to people in their 90s.)

Some of what I describe below may fit into the pattern of the above chart, some may not. I actually feel that we’re seeing several swirling cycles of corporate, government, and philanthropic abuse happening simultaneously, at different paces, originating from different groups of pro-TMT stakeholders.

For this thought experiment, you can imagine “The Abuser” as a Frankenstein’s Monster, a sort of golem animated and fed by philanthropic, governmental, and corporate privilege AND the sum total of all actions taken to advance that being’s agenda on Mauna Kea.

(1) The Abuser makes an initial threat of violence–in this case, the threatened desecration of a sacred place of ancestral and spiritual significance, in spite of legal, cultural, and environmental objections. It will not listen when you say “no” and it will not stop.

Remember, Hawai’i has a “state” law, §711-1107, against desecration which incorporates the concept of “outrage” as one of the standards for determining that desecration has taken place. Outrage is a way of saying “no!” The law is supposed to make violators listen.

(2) Reports of outrage and harm are dismissed by authorities–or reluctantly heard and reported. No one does much of anything to uphold the law or prevent further violations. Plus, authorities often blame the targets for the harm that is done to them. The blame could sound like this. You wouldn’t have been hurt:

• IF only you wore something different. For example, ” That Kia’i hat? You look like you’re asking for trouble!”

• IF you assimilated more fully. For example, “If you were more like the settler-colonists here, you wouldn’t care and this would be a non-issue.”

• IF you felt completely differently about what is happening. For example, “What educated person would claim to be related to a mountain? Who has DNA with a landscape feature? Surely we don’t do that sort of thing in Silicon Valley.”

• IF you tried to look on the bright side. For example, “Hey, at least The Abuser is promising you a job and money for STEM education. Suck it up!”

And then there’s the dismissal: “You’ll get over it.”

(3) The Abuser questions the status and/or sincerity of the person complaining. This was in play during moments in various hearings when Kia’i were asked, in so many words, “Are you a REAL Hawaiian? Do you really do that cultural practitioner stuff? Prove it.”

(4) The Abuser gaslights, attempting to sow self-doubt:

• “Conservation district regulations have to be taken seriously? Silly! No one pays attention to those. Look at all the telescopes that are here already!”

• “No one actually tried to hit you with a car on the Access Road while you were protecting the Mauna. You must have imagined it.”

• “No one around here would have dismantled your ‘ahu. You must be crazy to think that.”

• “We don’t really want to deny you your constitutional rights of access to cultural and sacred places, we’re just worried about your health and safety.”

• “A bond? What bond?”

(5) In addition to direct threats, The Abuser threatens to harm other things or people if you don’t give in. Examples:

• arrests of kupuna with an implied promise of more arrests to come;

• Ige’s Declaration of a State of Emergency and calls for National Guard and additional police from other islands;

• the project’s potential to harm to na ‘iwi (remains of the ancestors), endangered bugs and plants, pu’u and other features of the Mauna. And so forth.

(6) The Abuser creates a climate of fear. See 5. Also, retaliating against potential or actual allies, as was done to at least one porta-potty contractor, who was threatened with fines.

(7) The Abuser placates:

• “We’ll make a committee to oversee cultural practices on the mountain. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

• “We’ll give more money for STEM education.”

• “I’m like you. I just want to go up to the mountain to pray.” (A reference to Ige’s visit to the Mauna in 2015).

(8) The Abuser retaliates by controling the movement and behavior of the target. For example, cultural practitioners have been denied their access to the Mauna for quite a long time now, in violation of their traditional and customary rights as per the state constitution. Or maybe–if they promise to be good–they could be allowed to travel up the mountain in special, supervised vans. The astronomers, including many foreigners, get complete unimpeded access. But the Kanaka cultural practitioners are treated like unruly children.


 TRADITIONAL AND CUSTOMARY RIGHTS

Section 7. The State reaffirms and shall protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes and possessed by ahupua’a tenants who are descendants of native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778, subject to the right of the State to regulate such rights. [Add Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]


(9) The Abuser lies about the target in order to marginalize, isolate, and undermine social support for the target. Example: “There are drugs and alcohol at Pu’u Huluhulu” to smear the Kia’i as irresponsible people who are desecrating their own sacred space. There’s a world of wrongdoing in this particular lie. This tactic also plays to racism against Kanaka Maoli.

And so on… It’s an ugly portrait of cycles of abuse writ large, but cognitive dissonance, defined as “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change” allows philanthropic elites to avoid recognizing the impact of their actions on people whose rights and interests they dismiss.

Why So Much Good Work Elsewhere, and So Little Similar Concern for Kanaka Maoli, for Mauna Kea, and for Hawai’i?

Now, I’ve been hard on a lot of people here, particularly the Moore Foundation, and yet I do want to be fair. I’ve scanned many pages of Moore Foundation giving histories and they give to a number of causes and organizations that I personally support–or would like to support (had I the funds).

Here are some examples of good work the Foundation has done elsewhere, which demonstrate a history of goodwill, humanitarian values, and a thoughtfulness that could easily be extended to Mauna Kea and its protectors.

Conservation of native habitat and species. “Since 2001, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Bay Area conservation portfolio has been supporting groups working to conserve native habitat and species in the San Francisco Bay Area.” (March 2017)

Since Mauna Kea is a sensitive environment, legally a conservation district, and is already experiencing “serious, adverse impacts” as a result of the industrial-strength astronomy already in place on Mauna Kea, the Moore Foundation could easily reconsider their attachment to Mauna Kea as the site of the TMT, as such a decision would be congruent with their own vaunted conservation consciousness.

Recognition of Indigenous Lands. “The Colombian Amazon stretches across nearly half of the country, and is a priority region for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Andes-Amazon Initiative. Moore funding has supported the creation and consolidation of protected areas, and recognition and management of indigenous lands.” (Feb. 2017)

Again, in the interest of congruence with vaunted concerns about protecting indigenous areas, the Moore Foundation could easily comprehend that Mauna Kea IS indigenous land in need of protection, and act accordingly.

Women in science — making the invisible, visible. “The data on the dearth of women in science is clear and far reaching. Women are underrepresented along the pathway from undergraduate to faculty to leadership positions in most research and scientific communities. This is particularly true for women of color.” (Feb. 2018)

Great. Yay for figuring that out. However, I do wonder why some of that concern for “invisible” women of color can’t be extended to the Kanaka Maoli, people “of color” in Hawai’i, who seem to be invisible to the Moore Foundation and its TMT collaborators? It would be really easy to achieve cognitive congruence by resisting the urge to mentally erase the concerns of people of color who are standing in the way of your pet project.

The importance of accuracy in science journalism. The Moore Foundation showed its concern about “pressing issues of accuracy and honesty in media” by giving support to a report issued by “Knight Science Journalism at MIT”: The State of Fact-Checking in Science Journalism.” (Sept. 2018)

I hope the future of fact-checking in science journalism includes facts about cultural, social, and physical/mental health impacts of large-scale projects in indigenous places, in spite of the objections of residents.

New training on working with government officials guides private foundations to stay in compliance with the law. Here’s an interesting one! A concern for philanthropic compliance with the law, including interactions with government officials. (Jan. 2016).

Now, the Moore Foundation gives to the TMT project through donations to CalTech and the University of California. I am sure this is all right and proper, with the added advantage that this strategy of giving places the foundation carefully upstream from the numerous downstream violations to Hawai’i law on behalf of the TMT. I am no expert in the conservation district violations that would occur should TMT break ground, but I know people who are. I understand there are at least eight serious violations. I’ve also mentioned the Hawai’i state law against desecration (above), with its the criteria of causing outrage, as well as the violations of traditional and customary rights guaranteed to the Kanaka Maoli by the State of Hawai’i. Not to mention arrests for advocating for those laws and rights to be upheld. I am sure there is more that could be said.

So I would think respect for Hawai’i laws and indigenous rights would be an appropriate concern for a foundation seeking to do things in a legal and ethical manner. Such consideration would be congruent with the stated interests and values of the organization.

And just because I’m an unrepentant gadfly, I would also recommend that the Moore Foundation begin to enfold consideration of the Resolution 61/295: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) (2007). This resolution does not have the force of law, and apparently the U.S. has not agreed to sign it. However, the resolution does have the force of moral high ground and integrity. The entire document is relevant to the struggle to protect Mauna Kea, but I’ve picked out three of the Articles, so you don’t have to take my word for it:


Article 8
1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.

Article 11
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.

Article 12
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practise, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.


I would think that any entity as wealthy and powerful as the Moore Foundation could use UNDRIP as part of their criteria for assessing grant proposals which might impact indigenous peoples and lands. It would be so appreciated and set a good example for others in the philanthropic community.

Finally, Forgiveness

The beauty of Kapu Aloha as practiced by the Kia’i is that enduring enmity does not have to be born of conflict. What has been enacted these last several years has provided unexpected, complicated lessons (and a great deal of stress) for all concerned, whether intimately involved or watching from afar. All that the Moore Foundation and other TMT stakeholders need to do is (1) agree to not build the TMT on Mauna Kea or any other place in Hawai’i and (2) sincerely apologize to the Kanaka Maoli. It would be so philanthropic!

Then the beauty of forgiveness and aloha can be extended. Healing can begin. (And all the while, the beauty of Kapu Aloha is thriving and growing at Pu’uhonua o Pu’u Huluhulu.)

As one of the Kia’i said in the Friday press conference, there is no aloha without truth–and what is contained in this blog is part of the truth and a perspective seldom offered to a popular audience. But I admit, I’ve been a bit snarky here and there, so kala mai!

I hold strong hopes for the triumph of the Kia’i and the protection of the Mauna, as well as the construction of the TMT in some other location (they do have a “Plan B”). And strong hopes too that the executives of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation might stand with us and peer into the upper right hand corner of their own Johari Window, clearly seeing the opportunities to correct misalignment with their stated values and mission, making common cause instead of inflicting corporatized cruelty.

Let what happens next be in perfect congruence and accord with Hawaiian values. It’s the only way.

Ku Kia’i Mauna!


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Design by Laulani Teale.

 

 

 

 

Mauna Kea Kia’i: Speaking Truth to Liars

Saturday Breaking News: Hawaiian Homelands agency and the governor reportedly want remove (forcibly) the Kia’i–also access to Mauna Kea is completely denied to all Hawaiians, in violation of the state’s constitution. (Unlawful restrictions have been in place for a long time, actually.)

Update: 642 astronomers have signed the letter protesting the arrest and potential use of force against the kupuna on Mauna Kea. Link here.


The Kia’i (Protectors) of Mauna Kea have established a Pu’uhonua (sacred place of refuge) at Pu’u Huluhulu, across from the Mauna Kea access road. Yesterday the governor of Hawai’i flew to Hilo and met with Hawai’i County mayor, Harry Kim. He did not go to Pu’u Huluhulu and the access road to Mauna Kea to see anything for himself. Instead, he held a press conference of lies and false rumors, designed to discredit the Kia’i and to portray them as lawless, careless, and even criminal. It’s a common racist trope, is it not? This trope is often lobbed at Kanaka Maoli (“native Hawaiians”), whether or not there is even a shred of truth in any given situation.

An additional insult is expressed in the governor’s dissing of the Pu’uhonua itself, and how it–and all the people with it–are held and cared for. This callous insult reveals the depth of Ige’s ignorance and disregard of all matters connected to the Kanaka Maoli and their ‘aina and cultural practices. Sadly, he is not alone in this.

Here is a video of the Kia’i rebuttal to Ige’s lies, in a press conference of their own. It is riveting and thorough. The first speaker is Kaho’okahi Kanuha, who refutes the governor’s lies point by point.

Background: Kapu Aloha and Pu’uhonua

Before I get more into the content of the press conference, I want say more about the concept of a pu’uhonua. The Hawaiian Dictionary (Hawaiian-English/English-Hawaiian) defines pu’uhonua as “(1) Place of refuge, sanctuary, asylum, place of peace and safety” (M.K. Pukui, S.H. Elbert, 1971). Hawai’i island has at least two historical places of refuge, one at Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau (now a park) and the other was in Waipio Valley on the north-east side of the island, the site of the Paka`alana Heiau. These are highly sacred places.

In 2018, during the months-long lava flow in Puna, the local community established a pu’uhonua to help those affected by the disaster. While this flow was happening, I spent hours watching live feeds and videos from the island, including footage of people volunteering at this site, and was immensely impressed by the expert community organizing and heart-felt generosity of the entire operation. These same deft community organizing skills are obvious today at Pu’u Huluhulu, where the sacred practice of Kapu Aloha is also foundational. Kapu Aloha encompasses a commitment to peaceful, non-violent action but is so much more. (FYI- Kapu Aloha and organizing skills were also foundational and evident during the long Kia’i encampment on Mauna Kea in 2015-2016, where some of the Kia’i did endure arrests and other acts of aggression and disrespect.)

Here is an article dated July 11, 2019 which contains a press release from HULI (Hawaiʻi Unity and Liberation Institute) and provides a glimpse into how and why keeping Kapu Aloha is intrinsic to the protection of sacred Mauna Kea.

In other words, before stepping into sacred places or ceremonies, you have to get your own self right, internalize the feelings of sacredness and awe, dedicate yourself to appropriate behavior. That’s how it’s done–in almost every spiritual tradition in the world. And the Kia’i are unwavering in their commitments to such traditions.

In this video, Kaho’okahi Kanuha and Andre Perez explain the establishment of the Pu’uhonua Pu’u Huluhulu, created in collaboration with The Royal Order of Kamehameha. The article that accompanies this video also contains an excerpt from the HULI press release which explains the jurisdiction of the land at Pu’u Huluhulu:

Puʻu Huluhulu is on Hawaiian Homes Trust Lands and is home to an ahu or alter that was erected in 1999 by the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, a royal society established over 150 years ago by Kamehameha V. This ahu, that sits right at the base of the mauna, was built as a safe place so that kupuna or elders who could not make the trek up to the summit but wanted to acknowledge the mauna in their own way in a sacred space could do so. Puʻu Huluhulu therefore makes for a very relevant and appropriate space for this puʻuhonua and this was at the core of the collaborative efforts that took place today between the kiaʻi and members of the Royal Order.

So, here is clear, precise communication from the Kia’i and everything has been done “right and proper.” At least by the Kia’i. And that’s the whole point–those who are pushing for the desecration of Mauna Kea through the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), are mired in lies and deception. They are profoundly not right, and profoundly not proper.

Does Ige not understand how very serious these sacred places and practices are to the Kia’i? He underestimates the Kia’i, and Kanaka in general, every step of the way. A local guy, born and raised in Hawai’i, the son of “ethnic Japanese Americans of Okinawan descent” (Wikipedia), you’d think he’d know better. Even I, over here in California, can listen to videos and live streams from the Kia’i, and thus can understand at least something of the serious need for respect of these traditions. Why can’t a local governor, with staff and a budget, be better informed and far more truthful and respectful?

Back to the Kia’i Press Conference, July 19, 2019

The Chancellor of the Royal Order of Kamehameha is the second speaker to refute the governor’s press statements. He express his dismay that the governor would lie about drugs and alcohol at Pu’u Huluhula as the Royal Order is playing a 24/7 role in monitoring the safety, security, and appropriateness of behavior at the Pu’uhonua. (I am sorry, I have been trying to find the Chancellor’s name.)

The third speaker is Kumu Hula Paul Neves, also of the Royal Order of Kamehameha. He recounts the story of Ige’s 2015 visit to Mauna Kea, the visit I alluded to in a previous blog. (I had heard it soon after it happened, from Ku Ching, who along with Kumu Neves and one other person, graciously extended the courtesy of taking the governor to pray on the mountain, as requested). After detailing this history, Kumu Neves called strongly for the governor to apologize for slandering the Kia’i, including the ‘opio (youth) and kupuna (elders), and to apologize “to all Hawai’i.” This account, in my opinion, underscores the governor’s inability to “get it right” even when his own previous experiences on the Mauna could have prevented subsequent falsehoods.

Dr. Noenoe Wong-Wilson, one of the kupuna of Mauna Kea, was the fourth speaker. She said that due to the governor’s actions that the kia’i are “still under threat by law enforcement” and that access to Mauna Kea is still denied to the cultural practitioners. Imagine someone blocking the entrance to your church or temple, indefinitely. That’s what it’s like for the Kia’i and other cultural practitioners. And while Ige said he will not ask for additional National Guard (300 are already there), but Dr. Wong-Wilson said that the Kia’i “live in constant fear that they will be assaulted by law enforcement” (many have been flown from other islands). Dr. Wong-Wilson also points out that the governor and other public officials are harrassing companies which supply porta-potties and have not allowed one to be placed near to where the kupuna sit, many of whom use canes and wheelchairs. (Twelve are located across the road, and are paid for by the Kia’i, and are cleaned twice a day.)

FYI: In case you missed it, Gov. Ige declared a “state of emergency” on Thursday and requested the help of the National Guard to deal with a popular, peaceful, non-violent community action which so far has consisted of camping out, volunteering with chores, singing, playing music, doing hula, eating, talking, and enjoying fellowship. Usually states of emergency are reserved for hurricanes and earthquakes… In this case, the “emergency” concerns private corporate interests barging in on Kanaka land via a sub-lease! A friggin’ sublease that shouldn’t even exist, legally. Grrr… Okay, ’nuff said!

A fifth woman, whose name I sadly don’t know also, also pointed out that the state agencies are “quick to build bathroom facilities for the visitor industry” while “their own people, the residents…that descend from this land, the rightful owners of these lands, we have to ask our own government to provide us with bathroom facilities so that we can take care of our kupuna… shame, shame on you!” Dr. Wong-Wilson added that the Kia’i are not asking for the public to pay for the porta-potties–they are bearing the cost and just want to be able to place one closer to where the kupuna are spending their time. Dr. Wong-Wilson also pointed out that the Kia’i have complied with every single health and safety request made by the authorities but when they made this request for an additional “lua” (toilet) for the kupuna, it was denied.

This point is significant as one of the governor’s attempts to discredit the Kia’i is that they are causing “sanitation problems.” In truth, government agencies are causing any problems that could conceivably exist, by refusing reasonable requests and harrassing contractors. (And hey, we could get into the human waste problem caused by astronomy personnel, and mercury contamination of the island’s aquifer, caused by industrial waste from the telescopes… but why let a little thing like inconvenient truths get in the way of Ige’s alternate reality?)

Finally, Kealoha Pisciotta, a long-time activist on behalf of the Mauna, also reminded ,

“Mr. Ige, I was on the mountain with you when you came to pray. We made ho’okupu to offer to the akua, for you. Mr. Ige, it is shame, it is shame what you have done. Na akua, they see you now just as they saw you then. The akua is watching over us. That is why we would never disgrace the pu’uhonua or anywhere here. That is the rule, And you know, you need to remember that Kapu Aloha…requires truth. And now, today, you have no truth. And therefore you have no aloha…You’re hurting our heart and you know what, governor, you grew up here, you’re our family and you know the rules and you broke it today. Pau.”

At the conclusion, Lanakila Manguil affirmed that “the Kapu Aloha still stands. The Kapu Aloha is to maintain that we all hold ourselves in highest accord, highest conduct. No one here has ever broken that.” Lanakila also described the 24/7 traffic safety system that the Kia’i have created for people crossing the Saddle Road and for vehicles transversing it. This was to counter another “health and safety” lie told by the governor.

Thus concluded the Kia’i press statements as published via YouTube video.

A Live Stream, Video Tour of the Pu’uhonua

But wait, there’s more! Last night, I was watching a live feed of this same press conference (posted by Kāko’o Haleakalā), and so caught the subsequent commentary by Kaleikoa Ka’eo. He spoke of the nature of the leadership, volunteerism, and community spirit at the Pu’uhonua Pu’u Huluhulu. Kaleikoa is an associate professor of Hawaiian Studies, Department of Humanities, at theUH Maui College.

He was clear that the governor was not being truthful about the situation and provided numerous examples to refute Ige’s deceptions. Kaleikoa mentioned the “unsung heroes” at the Pu’uhonua–people working tirelessly to clean, cook, serve food, care for the elders, pass out water, bring hot food up to the mountain and take the trash back down. He said that community support has been “overwhelming” and a lot larger than even he had expected. He comments: “by David Ige saying those things [press conference lies] he’s really dismissing the real aloha work that’s going on in our community–and this is a community–and if you were to come here and see the support…it is amazing.” He invites anyone and everyone to come and see the leadership and unity that exists at the Pu’uhonua.

According to Kaleikoa, Ige’s claims are a “false narrative” and that Ige “doesn’t see the true humanity of who we are.” Kaleikoa pointed out that the whole TMT construction process “has really been one of making our people invisible.” Instead of acknowledging the Kanaka, whose own lands have fed and sheltered Ige’s family for at least a couple of generations, Kaleikoa says that Ige’s “eyes and his heart turn to protect the interests of foreign nationals.” Ige courts foreign power elites rather than acknowledge Kanaka Maoli as “true real human beings that still exist to this day” in their own lands. I interpret this as a mindset that allows Ige to conveniently (for him) dismiss the rights and claims of Kanaka Maoli, even those left to them in the “state” constitution.

Kaleikoa then gave a tour, showing the impressive cleanliness and streamlined nature of the entire operation. Talk about unity and leadership! Not to mention collaborative community spirit! And walking the walk… and all kinds of good things like that.

Not only are drugs and alcohol prohibited, but cigarettes are prohibited too. THAT’S how serious the Kia’i are about maintaining health and safety. The Pu’uhonua is extremely safe and sanitary, and of course family-friendly (lots of kids). There was no garbage or debris in sight. The Pu’uhonua has a system to sort and remove garbage, recyclables, and compost. I saw the traffic and pedestrian safety control methods in action, including lights, traffic monitors, etc. I think it is safe to say that this intersection is the only place in all Hawai’i that is monitored for safety 24/7. There was an array of twelve, well-maintained porta-potties, the medical tent, information tent, volunteer coordination table, coconut donation table, the Royal Order members who circulate among the Pu’uhonua, a huge amount of food, and so forth.

Honestly, I have never, ever seen a large gathering (from several hundreds to over two thousand) managed with so much efficiency, love, dedication, consideration, and over-all community spirit. As a disaster prep geek, who took Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) twice–the second time in Kea’au (2016)–this footage made me want to weep with joy. I know–I know–that this kind of skill set and attitude is in short supply in most communities here on the continent.

On a personal note, I have followed the Mauna Kea/Stop TMT issues for well over a decade, thanks to a long-term partnership (now ended) with one of original Kia’i, a kupuna involved in the court cases that halted work on the TMT, time and time again. Thanks to this relationship, I had an intimate “ring-side seat” even though I was thousands of miles away most of the time. I have been well schooled and well informed, and because I also use my own eyes and ears, I have seen how Kanaka Maoli rights and interests–and humanity–have been on the chopping block since day one of the TMT debacle. And though I’ve since broken up with the man involved, I never broke up with the Mauna. Back in California, I’ve still kept my antenna up for developments. My heart has been with this struggle for a long, long time. And so it is in that spirit that I am blogging and signal boosting at this time.

Others are doing far more. At least two hundred astronomers signed a letter deploring the use of police force against kupuna on the Mauna. And one hundred religious leaders also signed a letter of solidarity with the Kia’i (you can read the entire statement at that link). It was delivered to Ige’s office yesterday, while he was lying and hand-wringing over a non-existent emergency.

And hey, apparently TMT project manager, Gary Sanders, is perfectly willing to build the durn thing in the Canary Islands instead. Won’t you politely give him a call at (626)395-2997 or email him at sanders@tmt.org and let him know–again, politely–that Kanaka Maoli and many in the rest of the world would be so happy if the telescope didn’t desecrate Mauna Kea.

Please help. Read, signal boost, write letters, send money for bail for the kupuna who were arrested. Whatever you can! Thank you!

Ku Kia’i Mauna! We Are Mauna Kea.

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Design by Laulani Teale.

Open Letter to Governor Ige, Hawai’i

July 19, 2019 — Sent via email to the Governor’s office concerning his threat to use force against the Kia’i, Protectors of Mauna Kea.

Dear Governor Ige,

As a frequent visitor to Hawai’i for twenty years, as well as a former resident of Hawai’i Island, I must say that the entire manner in which you and your office are handling the matter of Mauna Kea–from approvals which spurn common sense and decency to the recent declaration of emergency and threat of force made to the Kia’i– is extremely disturbing and inappropriate, to say the least. I will not come back and spend tourist dollars in such a place.

I take also take note of District 5 Councilmember Matt Kaneali`i-Kleinfelder’s concerns about the impact of your decision to declare a state of emergency on July 17, 2019. And I take note too of the valid points raised by 200 astronomers who are protesting the arrests of kupuna, and who are questioning the premises behind the construction of TMT on sacred Hawaiian land. There is a whiff of corruption as well as the ugliness of violence in how the State of Hawai’i, led by your office, is handling this matter.

I happen to know that several years ago, you visited the mountain in the company of two elders who were involved with the contested case hearings. At the time, they had hopes that you “got” the spiritual nature of the mountain, as well as the quest to preserve it. Sadly, those hopes were soon shattered.

The world is watching, Governor Ige, and what you do now sets Hawai’i on a path that even moneyed interests such as TMT and its partners might regret later.

The Kia’i have been peaceful, cooperative, and graceful in their interactions with the police. There is no need to declare a “state of emergency” or marshal forces which are costly and potentially violent.

In addition, I wonder why you are not upholding the state law against desecraction, or why you refuse to admit that public outrage against the proposed TMT construction on Mauna Kea meets the criteria for determining that desecration is taking place? Section 2) is quite clear on this. If you stand for upholding state law, why are you not upholding this one?

§711-1107 Desecration. (1) A person commits the offense of desecration if the person intentionally desecrates:
(a) Any public monument or structure;
(b) A place of worship or burial; or
(c) In a public place the national flag or any other object of veneration by a substantial segment of the public.
(2) “Desecrate” means defacing, damaging, polluting, or otherwise physically mistreating in a way that the defendant knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the defendant’s action.
(3) Any person convicted of committing the offense of desecration shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than one year, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both. [L 1972, c 9, pt of §1; gen ch 1993; am L 2002, c 198, §1]

Please correct your course and navigate by some other star than the fell one that motivates you at present.
Sincerely,
Amy Marsh

Resources: Saving Sacred Mauna Kea

Thursday, July 18 Update: Hundreds of Astronomers Denounce Arrest of Native Hawaiians Protesting Thirty Meter Telescope


Friday, July 19 Update: The resources below are from a pinned post attached to several live feeds from Mauna Kea.
ORGS TO SUPPORT:
KAHEA’s Aloha ‘Āina Support Fund, which prioritizes frontline logistical support for non-violent direct actions taken to protect Mauna Kea from further industrial development now: https://org.salsalabs.com/…/don…/aloha-aina-support-fund
HULI! https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/huli/ or http://www.paypal.com/paypalme2/hulinvda
BAIL FUND: http://hawaiicommunitybailfund.org/
Maunakea tees from http://www.hifinest.com. with 100% of proceeds to go to HULI for frontline efforts of Maunakea PROTECTORS.

Dear Readers,

This is urgent. I appeal to my national and international readership on behalf of Mauna Kea.

In the spirit of solidarity and signal boosting for the Kia’i (Protectors) of Mauna Kea on Hawai’i Island, I want to share several resources for those who want to learn more and/or help from afar. The protection of Mauna Kea is a deeply emotional, cultural, spiritual, long-term justice struggle for the Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiians). The struggle to protect this mountain from desecration and environmental destruction has been going on for decades. Decades.

I’m not posting ’cause this is a hot, new issue about to go viral on social media. This is not a new cause for me. As an ally, I’ve been peripherally involved in supporting the protection of Mauna Kea for at least sixteen years. (However my story is not important, except to me.)

Right now, our focus should be solely on the Kia’i and what we can do to assist them, and the Mauna, the sacred mountain. Here is footage of some of the arrests of thirty or so elders today. 

VIDEO: Kupuna Arrested, Saddle Road Closed – Mauna Kea Update

I’ll paraphrase what one of the Kia’i said on camera today: Mauna Kea is the piko, the center, right now. What happens there matters, more than you can know. Here are some things you can do and learn, which would be helpful.

Resources and Things You Can Do

First, Kapu Aloha. Learn what you can about Kapu Aloha and do your best to stay within that during your activism. Here’s a “101” video from ʻŌiwi TV that will inspire you. As a settler-colonist ally used to entitled and confrontational action (Berkeley-style), I have to say this is one of the most difficult things I’ve had to continue to learn. And I’m not “there” yet. But Kapu Aloha is essential and it is demanded in the sacred struggle to protect the sacred Mauna. How you do something matters as well as what you do.

Here is something more about Kapu Aloha, via Hawai’i Public Radio.

Learn what the issues are. KAHEA-the Hawaiian Environmental Alliance has several pages of important background. You could start here, with Sacred Summits.

Donate to a Legal Defense Fund. As I mentioned above, this morning about 30 or so kupuna (elders) were arrested by police. More arrests are sure to follow. Give to the Mauna Kea Legal Defense Fund which is operated by KAHEA–the Hawaiian Environmental Alliance, an excellent group.

Understand that Hawai’i has a law against desecration, including that which causes public outrage. Pay special attention to (2) below:


§711-1107 Desecration. (1) A person commits the offense of desecration if the person intentionally desecrates:
(a) Any public monument or structure;
(b) A place of worship or burial; or
(c) In a public place the national flag or any other object of veneration by a substantial segment of the public.
(2) “Desecrate” means defacing, damaging, polluting, or otherwise physically mistreating in a way that the defendant knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the defendant’s action.
(3) Any person convicted of committing the offense of desecration shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than one year, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both. [L 1972, c 9, pt of §1; gen ch 1993; am L 2002, c 198, §1]

Offer Prayers. This blog, HE WAHĪ PAʻAKAI: A PACKAGE OF SALT by Emalani Case, has twelve prayers you can say for Mauna Kea and its protectors. Prayers really help.

Do Lots of Other Things. Emalani Case’s blog also has a post which describes thirty things you can do to be helpful even if you can’t go to Pu’uhuluhulu and the Mauna Kea access road to stand with the others who are standing there now.

For example, #21 says: “Educate yourself and educate others. Learn about colonialism and settler colonialism so that you can recognize their tactics and call them out.” This is very important for those of us who are allies, but not Kanaka. We need to call ourselves out, whenever possible. It’s not easy. I’ve got over sixteen years worth of mistakes to learn from.

Follow Emalani Case’s Blog. And go ahead, read both the entries above. Seriously. You’ll learn so much.

Learn the historical, political, and land use facts of Hawai’i, which provides the  context of the struggle re: The Hawaiian Kingdom Blog. You could start with this one pertaining to the destruction of Mauna Kea’s summit which has already taken place.

KAHEA also has a timeline of legal actions pertaining to Mauna Kea, since 2011.

Watch Mauna Kea: Temple Under Seige —for free. This is a documentary about an earlier struggle to prevent desecration on the Mauna.

Learn the words to the chorus of this song, at least: Kū Haʻaheo E Kuʻu Hawaiʻi by Kumu (teacher) Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu. Go to http://kanaeokana.net/portfolio-items/ku-haaheo-e-kuu-hawaii/

Use social media to stay up to date. Right now, the situation is changing moment by moment, day by day. You might want to check out some of the Facebook groups, like this one.

Wear the message that Mauna Kea is sacred. Here’s one link.

Finally, help me Signal Boost! Share any or all of the links above–or even this blog. “Likes” and shares will help get the word out. We need to get the info out and active. Let’s help each other to reach a mass tipping point in stopping the desecration that is so deeply hurtful to na Kanaka Maoli.

I will add more to this post as I find more links. For now, I hope this gets you started. Thank you so much for your interest and your help.

Protect Sacred Mauna Kea

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Design by Laulani Teale.

Signal Boosting–Protect Sacred Mauna Kea

7/17/19 Update: People are no longer chained to the cattle guard, but many kupuna (elders) are now being arrested. Some are in wheelchairs.


 

67164068_273348043532117_8470085410800795648_oKia’i–Protectors–have literally chained themselves to a cattle guard in the Mauna Kea access road, and are blocking it, to prevent further desecration of the sacred mountain of Mauna Kea. The Big Island News video (link below) shows commentary by professor Kaleikoa Kaʻeo and Walter Ritte, both well known activists and cultural practitioners, as they are chained to the cattle guard. They are still there, last I heard.

VIDEO: TMT Opponents Chained To Cattle Guard On Mauna Kea Road

Want some backround? Watch Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege, a stunning documentary in full and for free. This tells the story of an earlier struggle to protect Mauna Kea from desecration. Many of the same people are still involved, though some have passed on. And younger activists are coming up all the time.

So for the record, I don’t just hang out with Loki and other Norse and Celtic deities, I also stand (in awe) with Poliahu and her people in this struggle, and have since the mid-2000s.

#KuKiaiMauna #SacredMaunaKea #AoleTMT

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Artist: Laulani Teale. Used with permission in the context of support for the Kia’i.
Photo on 7-17-19 at 1.22 PM
Showing support from Lake County, CA. One of my activist friends on O’ahu suggests that people make signs, take photos, post them on social media, and note location to show widespread internatinal support.

Sunrise Ceremony

Something unseen prodded me awake at 4:11 this morning. I wasn’t going to argue. So off I went after feeding the cats, to a ceremony of forgiveness, honoring the Pomo women, children, and elders who’d been massacred at Badon-napoti (“Old Island’), later known as “Bloody Island.” This was the 20th year of this event, organized and hosted by the descendents of a six year old girl who had survived the slaughter by hiding in the reeds around the island. Her name was Ni’ka (Lucy Moore).

The promised storm had not yet arrived here in Lake County, CA so the curving road north was blessedly dry. I hoped the ceremony would be as well–I had no raincoat, no umbrella. I felt sleepy and solemn and spoke to my deities and ancestors as I drove, stating my intentions for participation: “be quiet, be reverent, stay in sacredness, honor the local people.” I asked my ancestors to attend the ceremony with me.

The gathering was on Reclamation Road. Once I turned off Highway 20, I felt like I was driving in Hawai’i again, on one of those rough country roads that require about ten miles an hour, fifteen at most. I arrived in the last darkness before dawn. I parked the car and took out my flashlight. I needn’t have bothered. It wasn’t long before sunrise.

I stood on the cracked asphalt road. Mr. Clayton Duncan, Lucy Moore’s great grandson, was speaking on the microphone.  I knew this because I’d heard him on KPFZ FM. We had never met. When I wasn’t looking at the speakers or singers, I was looking at the oaks on the hillsides and at the small California poppies at my feet. I wondered if I’d see them open.

There were beautiful songs, stories, and a visiting Tibetan woman conducted a healing ritual. I closed my eyes. I wanted so much to sit down, but I stood and probably swayed a bit as I listened. I had a stupid busy mind though and I had to struggle with my tendency to veer off into all sorts of needless trivia. It was better after I closed my eyes. I eventually felt entranced and a little more grounded. There was a moment when I felt my cat, Meowington, around me.

There’s a deep generosity in this ceremony. I think that’s all I can say about it right now. I need to give what happened time to work its way in. However I will also say there was deep generosity in the nourishing breakast provided to us at the gymnasium down the road, and the heart-felt circle of introductions and prayer which preceeded our meal. People had been cooking since long before dawn…

I will go again next year. I feel a lot of gratitude for this experience.

SunriseCeremonyMay18