Categories Archives: Colonialism & Conquest

Science vs. the Real World on Mauna Kea

In his latest piece on the struggle to protect Mauna Kea from the Thirty Meter Telescope, Will Falk daringly takes on the sacred cow of today’s enlightened and rational society: western science. Western science, in its quest for pure knowledge, is portrayed as a value-neutral tool employed for the highest good of humanity, and therefore the entire world. But Falk goes to its roots to expose it as just another manifestation of our human supremacist culture. Contrary to the common view, science has damaged the world far more than it has helped it. Even with a narrow evaluation of the net benefit to humans, science has caused far more harm than good, except for a privileged few.

Even within liberal and activist circles, this is an unpopular view. But if we don’t honestly name root problems, we risk falling into isolated NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) struggles, each fighting off threats with the compromise “You can do it somewhere else, just not here.” It is time for us to identify the culture of civilization and its supporting ideologies, including science, as an unacceptable threat to all life, and it is time for us to stand united in fighting it back anywhere it encroaches on living communities.

Proponents of the status quo frequently shut down such discussions by charging hypocrisy: how dare you critique science using technologies developed by it? As a proactive rebuttal, Falk writes:

Sitting Bull used American made rifles to defend his people from American cavalrymen. Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Nigerian poet who was murdered for resisting Shell Oil in his homeland, wrote in English – the language of his oppressors.

I wish with all my heart that I could live as our ancestors lived – a life free from the deepest anxiety that in a few years everything might be gone. I was raised in the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains of Utah, and I wish with all my heart that I could spend my life walking in Indian paintbrush, columbine, daisies, and lupine consumed in the total wonder and beauty of life. I wish with all my heart that I could sit still in simple expression of the love I feel. But, while everyone I love is under attack, it is simply unforgivable not to do everything within my power to protect them. It is simply unforgivable not to use every tool at my disposal to defend them.

Or as another Deep Green Resistance member puts it: “We’re using our computers to fight injustice. You’re using yours to defend it. Who’s the tool user, and who’s the tool?”

Read the entire essay at Science vs. the Real World on Mauna Kea.

Protecting Mauna Kea: This Is a War

So many good-hearted people want to see change in the world, with an end to environmental devastation, social injustice, and exploitation of women; but aren’t prepared to face the full difficulty of righting these wrongs. Those in power do not enforce their policies of extraction, oppression, and domination by accident or through mutual agreement with those giving up their resources. Rather, to maintain their control, those in power use the persistent and systemic threat of force with judicious enactment of violence when the threats aren’t enough. Much of this is hidden: domestic violence usually occurs behind closed doors; we don’t widely discuss the enslavement of more humans today than crossed in the entire history of the Middle Passage; and corporations maximize their bottom line with governmental police and armies to enforce laws written by the corporations themselves.

On every front we are at war, under siege, and we have been since the beginning of agriculture and civilization. It’s scary to acknowledge this reality, as it has serious implications for how we pursue justice. If exploitation and this horrific imbalance of power are not accidents; if we can’t expect that asking nicely for what’s right will effect change; if we must expect those in power to inflict violence in retaliation for any truly effective action; then what do we do?

The answer to that question is not straight forward, and will be different for each person and each circumstance. But we must bravely face reality so that we can make grounded and informed decisions.

Will Falk writes about this reality in our islands:

Sitting outside the 10 by 20 foot makeshift tent that has served as my home for the last 34 days on Mauna Kea, I watch the tent poles shudder to the concussion of US Army howitzer cannons firing live shells at their training grounds below. When the wind blows just right, from the south, the rattle of automatic rifle fire reaches the occupation. There’s no denying it: A war rages in Hawai’i.

He discusses how this fact might affect the strategies and tactics of those fighting for Mauna Kea and for Hawaiian sovereignty, and what resisters should consider as they decide their course of action. These issues are relevant to all struggles for justice, and his essay is important reading even for those not involved in this particular battle. Please read Protecting Mauna Kea: This Is a War.

Protecting Mauna Kea: Vocabulary for Haoles

Language is important. The words we use matter, and the ways we use them are fundamental to our communication. With this in mind, Will Falk of Deep Green Resistance wrote a primer for members of settler culture to better understand the struggles around Hawaiian sovereignty, and the occupation on Mauna Kea to stop construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The terms I define in this essay — haole, racism, white supremacy and genocide — are experienced in a very real way by oppressed peoples around the world. It is not my place to explain these terms to people experiencing genocide in the most vivid ways, so I write to those privileged enough to be free from these realities. The first step to acting in true solidarity is accepting the truth and to accept the truth we must communicate with the most honest words.

[…]

One thing I’ve noticed in my attempts to work in solidarity with people of color is that many white people hate being reminded of their whiteness. When I was a public defender bemoaning statistical realities like the fact that there are more black men in prison today than were enslaved in 1850 to a roomful of white judges, prosecutors and cops, I was shouted down and told we live today in a colorblind society. When I was at the Unist’ot’en Camp pipeline blockade in so-called British Columbia and our Unist’ot’en hosts explained the need for separate indigenous and settler camps due to the reality that many indigenous peoples felt more safe expressing their opinions away from settlers, there was always a white person who tried to set up in the indigenous camp with the logic that we’re all one human family.

So, the question becomes: Why do white people hate being reminded of their whiteness?

Although uncomfortable, it is crucial that those of us in positions of privilege examine the oppressions from which we benefit. Falk’s essay is an excellent start for understanding the colonial situation in Hawai’i, or the basics of white supremacy anywhere in the world. Please read Protecting Mauna Kea: Vocabulary for Haoles.

Protecting Mauna Kea: They Hate Hawai’i

Will Falk of Deep Green Resistance recently arrived in Hawai’i, and uses his latest essay to examine the “pornification of Hawai’i” ― the commodification of Hawaiian culture, women and the natural beauty of the aina. He draws on analysis by Haunani-Kay Trask of the effect of settler culture on Hawai’i, and compares that to the effect pornography has had on women in this culture.

In this Protecting Mauna Kea series, I want to encourage tangible support for native Hawaiian sovereignty in settler communities. In order to do that, I think it is necessary to understand the hatred expressed towards Hawai’i by the dominant American culture.

Before arriving in Hawai’i, I read and heard from several native Hawaiian scholars about the pornification of Hawaiian culture. I’ve learned right away how true this is. Just like men are conditioned to overlook hatred of women early in their lives through pornography’s propaganda, settlers are conditioned to hate Hawai’i through the pornification of Hawaiian culture.

I flew Hawaiian Airlines to Hawai’i, for example, and the complimentary in-flight snack included a candy called “Aloha-macs.” This product, by a company called “Hawaiian Host,” is self-labelled as “creamy milk chocolate covered macadamias – the original gift of aloha.” Hawaiian Host and the dominant culture seek to transform an ancient indigenous wisdom – aloha – into a candy, sugary trash, something to consume.

As soon as we boarded the plane, I noticed the video monitors displaying clips of beautiful, dancing Hawaiian women. I thought immediately of Trask’s brilliant essay “‘Lovely Hula Hands’: Corporate Tourism and the Prostitution of Hawaiian Culture” where she explains how tourism converts cultural attributes into pure profit.

In both the tourism industry and in pornography, entitlement is sold and reinforced: haoles have the right to buy bits and pieces of Hawai’i to satisfy their desires for relaxation and pampering or adventure and novel experiences; men have the right to buy bits and pieces of women to satisfy their desires for sexual gratification and control. Both industries create toxic mimics of respectful, mutual relationships, and harm those being objectified and sold off.

Read Falk’s entire essay at Deep Green Resistance News Service – Protecting Mauna Kea: They Hate Hawai’i.

Also read a response by a Filipino-Hawaiian-Portuguese woman reflecting on her own experiences under patriarchy and under occupation. She validates the important connections drawn by Falk of the intersections of male and haole entitlement: My Body, the Island.

See all of Will Falk’s “Protecting Mauna Kea” essays, plus other resources, at our page
Protect Mauna Kea from the Thirty Meter Telescope

Hawaiian history for haoles

For the second article in his “Protecting Mauna Kea” series, Will Falk of Deep Green Resistance briefly sketches the history of the Hawaiian islands, describing how this autonomous nation was illegally occupied by the United States.  With no attempt ever made by the US to redress this faulty foundation, its presence in Hawai’i and its control over vast areas of Hawaiian land are ongoing violations of international law.

This history is not trumpeted by the government of occupation and the commercial tourism interests which depend on an image of aloha and acceptance of all comers. So for many haoles, especially non residents of Hawai’i, it comes as a shock to realize that the “50th state” is not legally part of, or under the jurisdiction of, the United States. But the truth about this occupation is not obscure, either; it is readily available to anyone who digs into the history at all. And as Falk writes:

How can the American government and the American people after learning this history, after admitting the wrongs done to Hawai’i still allow something like the TMT project to happen? I think the answer is that learning the history is only the first small step. Knowing the history, we must act.

One of the intentions behind my writing is to try to understand how so many people can recognize problems in the world and then fail to act to solve those problems. I am a haole, so I can only speak as a haole, and I believe too many haoles settle for pointing out their privilege while the more important work involves undermining the forces that grants them that privilege over others in the first place. The history is clear. Hawaiians are being wronged. Now, we need to act.

Read Will Falk’s entire article: Protecting Mauna Kea: History for Haoles. See all of his “Protecting Mauna Kea” essays, plus other resources, at our page Protect Mauna Kea from the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Deep Green Resistance member Will Falk to report on TMT

DGR member Will Falk has written extensively on colonialism, racism, and patriarchy; the interconnections between them; effective resistance; and finding meaningful and ethical ways to live:

In a characteristically insightful and moving essay, Falk explains he is coming to Hawai’i:

…to offer myself in support of resistance to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project that would place a large telescope and stadium-sized structure on the peak of native Hawaiians’ most sacred place – Mauna Kea.

It’s been over a year since I gave up on the possibility that – as a white settler – I will ever truly be able to call stolen native land “home.” Instead of settling into one place, I believe I can be more effective traveling in support of indigenous sovereignty. So, after a wonderfully encouraging conversation with Anne Keala Kelly, I am resolved to go.

Before I go, however, it is important to articulate exactly why I am going. Why is stopping the construction of a telescope on top of a mountain thousands of miles away so important? Why, with all the social ills in the world, are you headed to Hawai’i, Will? Or, to borrow the phrase forming the title of Keala’s current documentary film project, “Why the Mountain?”

Falk goes on to relate the overarching US occupation of Hawai’i to the refusal to listen to Hawaiians who say “no” to the TMT, and to the refusal of men within patriarchy to listen to women who say “no” to sex or other unwanted intrusions. Abuse and violation of boundaries suffuses this entire “culture of entitlement.” The fight against the TMT is linked to resistance against many more of this culture’s injustices and violations.

Falk has a gift for cutting through false “claims to virtue” and the justifications presented for carrying out violations. He exposes a relatively simple choice: will you stand on the side of the living, or allow civilization to continue its abuses? We hope you, with Deep Green Resistance, will choose to stand with Hawaiians against the planned destruction and desecration of the TMT.

Read the entire essay by Will Falk: Protecting Mauna Kea: Why the Mountain? See all of Falk’s “Protecting Mauna Kea” essays, plus other resources, at our page Protect Mauna Kea from the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Is Hawai’i an occupied state?

The Nation recently published a fairly concise summary of the differences between, and controversy over, federal recognition vs full independence as routes to Hawaiian sovereignty. The article reports a surprising swell in support among Native Hawaiians for a complete break; until recently it was believed that most were willing to settle for the more paternalistic option of recognition by the US government without full autonomy.

The debate hinges on the illegal overthrow in 1893 of Queen Lili‘uokalani of the sovereign Hawaiian nation, and the subsequent illegal occupation by the US. Nothing has changed to make the occupation legal, so the growing independence movement is appealing to international law to help get the US out of Hawai’i.

Over the summer, the US Department of the Interior held a series of hearings inviting Native Hawaiians to comment on the formation of a federally recognized nation. The hearings confirmed what many Hawaiians already knew: opposing camps have formed in the debate over Hawaiian sovereignty. One side views federal recognition as a pragmatic alternative to the status quo. The other side, at first thought to be a marginal segment of the movement, seeks the full independence that Hawai‘i had in the nineteenth century. Surprisingly, after decades in which the federal recognition advocates represented the mainstream, the voices for full independence seized the spotlight. The overwhelming response at the hearings to the question of federal recognition was “a‘ole”: no.

[…]

At its root, the debate stems from divergent beliefs about law and power. Independence advocates view international law (and specifically the law of occupation) as safeguards against the continuation of an illegally constituted, and essentially occupying, government—the State of Hawai‘i. They call not for decolonization but deoccupation, as was done in the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) upon the breakup of the Soviet Union. Some federal recognition supporters are beneficiaries of Hawaiian “entitlements” such as the Federal Hawaiian Home Lands homesteading program; others are US military veterans who argue that the United States would never allow a withdrawal regardless of Hawai‘i’s legal status internationally. These views and the paths they imply appear to be mutually exclusive.

The whole article is worth reading for a crash course in Hawaiian history and contemporary resistance: Is Hawai‘i an Occupied State?

Deep Green Resistance supports the independence movement, and efforts by indigenous peoples everywhere to maintain or regain autonomy and control of their lands. Read our Indigenous Solidarity Guidelines to learn how members of settler culture can support indigenous on the front lines of social justice and environmental struggles.

Interview with Anne Keala Kelly on the appropriation of Hawaiian culture

Owen Lloyd of the Deep Green Resistance News Service recently interviewed Hawaiian activist and filmmaker Anne Keala Kelly on traditional practices such as the lū‘au, hula, and giving of lei. They explore how the dominant colonizer culture has appropriated and corrupted those traditions, in part to sell a tourism industry, and as part of the larger assimilation and undermining of Hawaiians.

Lloyd ends by asking the crucial question:

‬What advice do you have for non-Hawaiians wishing to stand with Kānaka‭ ‬ʻŌiwi against cultural appropriation and colonialism more generally‭?

Kelly:‭ ‬Great question‭! ‬And I want to say upfront that we are dealing with a settler-colonial situation in Hawaiʻi,‭ ‬but it’s a prolonged,‭ ‬belligerent occupation under international law because we are a nation state whose citizens never consented to becoming American.‭ ‬Hawaiians,‭ ‬in fact,‭ ‬were very clear in their opposition to being annexed to the U.S.‭ ‬That’s why there was never a treaty of annexation and that’s why what the U.S.‭ ‬has done instead is conduct what may actually be the longest running occupation of a nation state in history.‭ For Americans that’s a tough statement because they’re comfortable lumping us in with what was done to the natives on the continent– they’re okay with the narrative of us as tragic and past. They can talk about the occupation of Palestine, but Hawaiʻi? That implies present tense possibility.

An important interview for anyone wanting to understand the relationship between the occupying settler culture and Hawaiian culture, or how cultural appropriation works in general. Read the entire interview at Consuming Hawaiʻi: Anne Keala Kelly on the Appropriation of Hawaiian Culture.

Tuesday: protest of the Thirty Meter Telescope

Press release from Keala Kelly. For more information, contact her at:

Phone: 808-265-0177
Email: sacredmaunakea@gmail.com
Website: Sacred Mauna Kea
Facebook

What: Mauna Kea Protest
When: Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 7am to 2pm
Where: Saddle Road at the entrance to the Mauna Kea Observatory Road

Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians will gather for a peaceful protest against the Astronomy industry and the “State of Hawaii’s” ground-breaking ceremony for a thirty-meter telescope (TMT) on the summit of Mauna Kea.

Cultural Issues

Mauna Kea is sacred to the Hawaiian people, who maintain a deep connection and spiritual tradition there that goes back millennia.

“The TMT is an atrocity the size of Aloha Stadium,” said Kamahana Kealoha, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner. “It’s 19 stories tall, which is like building a sky-scraper on top of the mountain, a place that is being violated in many ways culturally, environmentally and spiritually.” Speaking as an organizer of those gathering to protest, Kealoha said, “We are in solidarity with individuals fighting against this project in U.S. courts, and those taking our struggle for de-occupation to the international courts. Others of us must protest this ground-breaking ceremony and intervene in hopes of stopping a desecration.”

Clarence “Ku” Ching, longtime activist, cultural practitioner, and a member of the Mauna Kea Hui, a group of Hawaiians bringing legal challenges to the TMT project in state court, said, “We will be gathering at Pu’u Huluhulu, at the bottom of the Mauna Kea Access Road, and we will be doing prayers and ceremony for the mountain.”

When asked if he will participate in protests, he said, “We’re on the same side as those who will protest, but my commitment to Mauna Kea is in this way. We are a diverse people…everyone has to do what they know is pono.”

Environmental Issues

The principle fresh water aquifer for Hawai’i Island is on Mauna Kea, yet there have been mercury spills on the summit; toxins such as Ethylene Glycol and Diesel are used there; chemicals used to clean telescope mirrors drain into the septic system, along with half a million gallons a year of human sewage that goes into septic tanks, cesspools and leach fields.

“All of this poisonous activity at the source of our fresh water aquifer is unconscionable, and it threatens the life of the island,” said Kealoha. “But that’s only part of the story of this mountain’s environmental fragility. It’s also home to endangered species, such as the palila bird, which is endangered in part because of the damage to its critical habitat, which includes the mamane tree.”

Legal Issues

Mauna Kea is designated as part of the Crown and Government lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Professor Williamson PC Chang, from the University of Hawaii’s Richardson School of Law, said, “The United States bases its claim to the Crown and Government land of the Hawaiian Kingdom on the 1898 Joint Resolution of Congress, but that resolution has no power to convey the lands of Hawaii to the U.S. It’s as if I wrote a deed saying you give your house to me and I accepted it. Nobody gave the land to the U.S., they just seized it.”

“Show us the title,” said Kealoha. “If the so-called ‘Treaty of Annexation’ exists, that would be proof that Hawaiian Kingdom citizens gave up sovereignty and agreed to be part of the United States 121 years ago. But we know that no such document exists. The so-called ‘state’ does not have jurisdiction over Mauna Kea or any other land in Hawaii that it illegally leases out to multi-national interests.”

“I agree with how George Helm felt about Kahoolawe,” said Kealoha. “He wrote in his journal: ‘My veins are carrying the blood of a people who understood the sacredness of land and water. Their culture is my culture. No matter how remote the past is it does not make my culture extinct. Now I cannot continue to see the arrogance of the white man who maintains his science and rationality at the expense of my cultural instincts. They will not prostitute my soul.’”

“We are calling on everyone, Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike, to stand with us, to protect Mauna Kea the way George and others protected Kahoolawe. I ask myself every day, what would George Helm do? Because we need to find the courage he had and stop the destruction of Mauna Kea.”

Who is Financing the Thirty-Meter Telescope?

Multi-national funding for the 1.4 billion dollar project is being provided by:

  • The Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation of Palo Alto, California
  • National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Japan
  • The National Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • The California Institute of Technology
  • The University of California
  • The Indian Institute for Astrophysics
  • Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA)
  • University of Hawaii

Links to videos that convey the opposition to the TMT:

Laws being broken on the Mauna
The native perspective and cultural/religious breaches of law

Native Hawaiian Anne Keala Kelly on Resistance Radio

noho-hewa

For the August 3rd episode of Resistance Radio, Derrick Jensen interviewed Anne Keala Kelly, a native Hawaiian filmmaker, journalist, and activist focused on the modern Hawaiian sovereignty movement. Her documentary Noho Hewa, on the illegal occupation of the nation of Hawai’i by the United States, has been screened around the world and is widely taught in university courses. (Read a review of Noho Hewa on the Deep Green Resistance News Service.)

In this interview, Kelly shares an indigenous perspective on genealogy and what it means to be native Hawaiian, the history of Hawai’i prior to European arrival, the history of the illegal occupation and its parallels to other imperialistic moves by the US, and the current condition and effects of military and foreign takeover of Hawaiian lands. She explains that Hawai’i as a linchpin of the global US empire makes the struggle to free Hawai’i central to environmental and social justice worldwide, not just here. Finally, she summarizes the modern movement towards sovereignty and resistance to the occupation.

Kelly tackles a broad subject with at least a dozen major strands, doing a good job of tying together seemingly disparate issues. This interview is well worth a close listen, both for residents of Hawai’i and for anyone anywhere concerned with the ability of the US to project its power around the globe. Hawai’i could be a strategic intervention point against imperialism and its resultant environmental and social destruction.

Download an mp3 of the interview with Anne Keala Kelly, play the embedded audio below, or listen to the interview on the DGR Youtube channel.

Browse all of Derrick Jensen’s Resistance Radio interviews.