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Fundraiser to support indigenous Hawaiian media

indigenous-hawaiian-media

Several times on this blog we’ve featured the work of Native Hawaiian journalist and filmmaker Anne Keala Kelly, including interviews for Resistance Radio (audio) and for the DGR News Service. Kelly is a strong voice for a radical approach to Hawaiian reclamation of their culture, bringing forth core issues of occupation, cultural appropriation, and sovereignty. The future of Hawai’i is closely linked to the ability of the US to maintain its imperial power across the planet, so what may seem a small and remote fight is actually of great importance to global problems of ecocide and oppression.

Kelly is presently working on a documentary, “Why the Mountain”, examining the Mauna Kea TMT resistance and its part in revitalizing a broader Hawaiian struggle for justice and independence. Her indigenous and radical perspectives, in conjunction with her experience making Noho Hewa, should result in a valuable film for furthering discussion and action at home and abroad.

But Kelly needs financial support to complete her work, so DGR is holding a fundraiser. All proceeds will go towards purchasing a new camera so Kelly can most effectively produce this film.

Update: This fundraiser has concluded. Thanks for your support!

Protecting Mauna Kea: Pule Plus Action

Will Falk reports with clarity on what is needed in the struggle to protect Mauna Kea from the Thirty Meter Telescope project. It is critical for defenders to connect with the land and the mountain they love through prayer, but also crucial to translate that love into effective action. The environmental movement has been losing on all fronts for 40 years: not because of any lack of love for the world, but because we aren’t taking this war seriously and are not developing and implementing strategic plans.

Falk shares his perspective as a member, on the ground, of a developing resistance campaign. Different people have different ideas for how to proceed, often based in well-meaning and tradition-rooted ideals of kapu aloha, love and respect. Defenders of the land, holding to these ideals, must recognize that the state and its minions will not behave with the same respect. A successful campaign strategy must take this into account.

I think I’ve demonstrated that the TMT project is enabled by a problematic worldview and should not be allowed to proceed. After Governor David Ige’s announcement last week that he would support and enforce the TMT’s construction, the Mauna Kea protectors want the world to know we never expected the State to help us. We must stop the TMT project and we must do it ourselves. The question becomes: “How do we do it?”

The occupation on Mauna Kea is an expression that the protection of Mauna Kea is the people’s responsibility. We cannot trust the government to stop the TMT. We cannot trust the police. We cannot trust the courts. We have to do it ourselves. In other words, nothing has changed since the occupation began over two months ago. In many ways, the occupation on Mauna Kea reflects all of our environmental and social justice movements around the world.

Read the rest of Falk’s analysis at Protecting Mauna Kea: Pule Plus Action. And for a big picture scenario of what successful resistance might look like, read the Deep Green Resistance strategy of Decisive Ecological Warfare.

Protecting Mauna Kea: Notes From the Summit

Will Falk writes the next entry in his “Protecting Mauna Kea” series after journeying to the sacred mountain’s peak. He contrasts the natural beauty and living community of the mountain to the impositions of industrial artifacts ― multiple telescopes in place already, with the buildings and roads necessary to support them.

Falk addresses the facile claim that the Thirty Meter Telescope is a project for the higher good of humanity, so it doesn’t matter if a sacred place, its inhabitants, and a human culture holding it in reverence are all further damaged:

In response to the “love for the stars” argument, keep in mind that the Ku Klux Klan advertises itself as a “love group not a hate group.” Either we have to trust people like the KKK, or we realize that we cannot trust everyone’s rhetoric. Another way to look at this is to understand that often what is called “love” in this dominant culture is really a poisoned version of what love truly is. Those responsible for the TMT project might love the stars, but that love is poisoned by the destruction their project will create. What is love if it causes you to violate boundaries established by aboriginal peoples? What is love if it causes you to clear an 8 acre space, digging two stories on a formerly pristine mountain top? What is love if it causes you to dangerously perch hazardous chemical waste above the largest freshwater aquifer on Hawai’i Island?

For those committed to standing on the side of life, and in solidarity with indigenous struggles against ongoing genocide, the fight against the TMT demands support and a deeper look, beyond the rosy picture painted by worshippers of science.

Read Falk’s entire essay at Deep Green Resistance News Service: “Notes From the Summit”

Protecting Mauna Kea: Talking Story

From his new perspective as part of the Thirty Meter Telescope blockade, more than nine thousand feet above sea level, Will Falk contemplates our modern jet-fueled culture in which everything is a commodity with no place or relationship truly sacred. He contrasts this to the glimpses he’s already seen into the multi-generational, deeply connected relationships and stories formed by Native Hawaiians with Mauna Kea and the rest of the aina. The dominant culture systematically ignores, denies, or actively destroys those stories and the respect they engender for the landbase. The lessons of ancient wisdom are anathema to a system based on exploitation and short-term profit couched in religious, economic, and scientific trappings.

Falk explains:

I am writing this Protecting Mauna Kea series, in part, to understand how it is possible for a culture to think it is acceptable to desecrate another people’s most sacred site by building a massive telescope on the top of a beautiful mountain. I want to understand what the individual humans responsible for this project think and feel. Are they simply mistaken about the nature of physical reality? Do they really think that digging deeply into a mountain to build a telescope will be harmless? What I have learned, so far on the Mountain, from the protectors, from Kahookahi, and from the director of the DLNR provide, perhaps, an answer.

Quite simply, when you understand a place is full of stories and the beings who provide these living stories, it becomes very difficult for you to destroy those stories. When you understand the language of a place and learn how to communicate in that place, it becomes very difficult for you to destroy that place. When you learn to talk story wherever you are, you can learn to understand, and fear becomes more difficult.

I think the TMT project is the result of a culture that has forgotten how to talk story, has forgotten the living stories unfolding everywhere around us. When you look at Mauna Kea and see a simple mountain – just a collection of earth as I’ve heard some insensitive folks describe it-you will treat it one way, but when you look at Mauna Kea and see, as traditional Hawaiians do, a vast collection of stories and living story-givers, you will treat it in a much different way.

Falk explores the importance of the renaissance in Hawaiian culture and language, rescued from more than a century of active attempts to suppress, erase, and destroy indigenous knowledge in Hawai’i. This reclaiming of identity is helping fuel growing Hawaiian resistance to the illegal occupation by the US, and is currently focused on the TMT project.

Falk, like most of us members of settler culture, can’t know the full experience of a lived spirituality integrated with land: land who nourished and sheltered your ancestors; land who reclaimed and reused their flesh and bones and spirits. But he’s spending time listening to the stories of those who have participated in such long-term relationship with the aina. For those of us without direct access to such stories, his reports are well worth reading at Deep Green Resistance News Service ― Protecting Mauna Kea: Talking Story

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.

“Noho Hewa” on Vimeo as fundraiser to protect Mauna Kea

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We’ve reported in the past on efforts to block construction of the massive Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, due to environmental and cultural concerns. Unfortunately, construction has begun, but with it, so have protests on Mauna Kea and around the world in solidarity.

Anne Keala Kelly, Hawaiian filmmaker, journalist, and activist, has worked for years to expose and resist American imperialist occupation of Hawai’i. Kelly has made her first film, Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawai’i available for free for a short time on Vimeo, as part of an educational campaign to inform the world why people are so vigorously protesting the desecration of Mauna Kea, and as a fundraiser for a new documentary in progress right now. (Read a review of Noho Hewa at the Deep Green Resistance News Service.)

The film is no longer available on Vimeo, but if know someone who has it, please take some time to watch Noho Hewa, then donate to make the new documentary possible: Why the Mountain. With your support, the film will help build resistance around the world to the continued illegal occupation of Hawai’i and the desecration of places sacred to Hawaiians.

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.

Documentary to protect Mauna Kea: “Why the Mountain”

why-the-mountainMauna Kea is under threat by planned construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. Though Hawaiians and non-Hawaiian allies successfully disrupted the TMT groundbreaking ceremony, the fight isn’t over yet.

The award-winning Hawaiian filmmakers Anne Keala Kelly and Mary Alice Kaʻiulani Milham are teaming up to create a documentary in protection of Mauna Kea. They are holding a fundraiser to allow production and mass distribution of a film to galvanize opposition to the destructive and desecrating TMT project. Time is short to stop this industrial expansion, and your contribution is crucial – whether a direct monetary donation or helping by spreading the word.

Our goal is to produce a beautiful, powerful and evocative film to help people everywhere understand why Mauna Kea is sacred to Hawaiians, a fragile ecosystem that needs protection, and portrayed as indispensable to the astronomy industry.

“Why The Mountain” will be a 30-minute documentary film that explores why Hawaiians and environmentalists oppose the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT), and why the astronomy industry is determined to construct this 18 ½ – story building on Mauna Kea.

[…]

Environmentalists argue that because the largest fresh water aquifer for Hawaiʻi Island is on Mauna Kea, the potential for irreversible harm is too high a price to pay.

They say erecting a football-stadium-sized structure, and its accompanying 5,000-gallon container for hazardous chemical waste, is an unnecessary risk. Given the toxic chemicals in use by the existing 13 telescopes on the summit, the TMT only increases the threat to the watershed and endangered and threatened species’ habitats.

Follow the progress of the film project at the Why the Mountain? Facebook page.

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.