Categories Archives: Culture of Resistance

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Good news: ‘Alala releases to the wild planned

Corvus_hawaiiensis_in_grass

The ‘Alala, or Hawaiian crow, is on the verge of extinction, with the last sighting in the wild in 2002. A captive breeding program has been underway for decades, but the last attempted release in the 1990s was unsuccessful. The program will be trying releases again over the next five years, hoping for more success by releasing the birds into fenced areas.

Deep Green Resistance works for land restoration and protection. We’re very excited about the possibility of bringing these bird backs to the wild, where once again they can fulfill their traditional responsibilities to the rest of their community as seed dispersers and omnivorous foragers.

Wherever you live, many species are in peril…but there are also efforts to protect them. We urge you to get involved however you can.

Listen to a medley of ‘Alala calls courtesy of Wikipedia:

Read more about the planned introductions.

Pesticides in paradise: how do we fight back?

The problem of pesticides

The islands of Hawai’i, especially Kauai, are frequently described as “ground zero” for GMOs. As an unwilling host to parasitic chemical agriculture, the land is bombarded with pesticides and chemicals at concentrations unseen in most other places; the test and seed crops grown by agribusiness can be dosed at much higher levels than crops meant to be eaten. The effects on the aina and its people are predictable: sterilization of the soil, massive pollution of the waters, and widespread negative impacts on human health. Though much of this harm is inherent to agriculture, even organic agriculture, the severity is drastically worse in these modern operations.

Indirect action

Legal response

Residents on Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island responded by passing laws reducing the harm the chemical companies are allowed to inflict on us, but this has two big drawbacks:

  1. It operates from a framework of limiting, but still permitting, the companies to poison and destroy life, rather than establishing a normative expectation of healthy landbases and sustainable operations, with all actions evaluated against that.
  2. It doesn’t proactively address the constitutional structure in place in the US, deliberately set up to facilitate corporate extraction of resources. Under the hierarchy of preemption, local municipalities are explicitly denied the power to enforce protections stricter than those allowed by the state and federal governments. Unsurprisingly, agribusiness immediately used the court system to strike down most of the restrictions fought for and won by the people.

Symbolic response

Photo: Pasha Yushin | OrganicHawaii.org

Photo: Pasha Yushin | OrganicHawaii.org

The response by the people in early August was the “Aloha Aina Unity March” through the streets of Honolulu to protest the diverse manifestations of civilization in the islands, including pesticides, the TMT construction project, lack of home rule, and militarization. Though it roused an impressive turnout of 10,000, this sort of symbolic protest is unlikely to be effective without organization into a credible threat to those in power. Simply asking them nicely to do the right thing won’t get us anywhere.

Direct confrontation

CELDF

A more strategic approach via the legal system is offered by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). They help localities draft bills declaring and enforcing the rights of communities and of nature against corporations. Their tactics expect and leverage legal challenges to the passage of such bills, using any pushback to highlight the undemocratic nature of our system, galvanizing and radicalizing further opposition. A CELDF representative visited multiple islands in 2013, presenting their strategy and offering assistance if a group on the ground wanted to put forward a bill or initiative. That remains as a promising possibility if anyone wants to organize towards it.

Deep Green Resistance

transmission-sabotage
Another approach is that advocated by Deep Green Resistance: trace all these problems back to the root problem of civilization, especially industrial civilization. While strengthening local communities and rebuilding sustainable practices, work to end the ability of the rich to steal from the poor, and of the powerful to destroy the planet.

Given the small number of people willing to question civilization, let alone confront it, and given the desperately short timeline we face before the planet is pushed to irreversible and catastrophic collapse of its life support systems, DGR believes it necessary for some people to carry out direct attacks on critical infrastructure. By disrupting the underpinnings of systems of control, including communications, energy transportation, and electrical distribution, hypothetical underground groups would directly erode the power of those working against life, and make them more likely to concede to demands by the more “reasonable” of us in aboveground groups.

It’s uncomfortable, and even scary to contemplate life without the conveniences of civilization to which we’ve grown accustomed, but we should keep in mind:

  • These conveniences come with costs usually unseen until we actively investigate: exploitation and murder of life here and abroad, human and non-human, in the present and in generations to come. Nothing civilization can give us is worth the death of the planet.
  • Hawaiians lived good lives here for centuries before European contact. Depending on what you most value ― family, intimate connection to community & aina, a clean environment, and meaningful work; or short-lived labor-saving devices, fleeting visits to places far and wide, and flashy gadgets ― one could argue Hawaiians lived much better lives than we do now.

Resources

For more on the issues in Hawai’i around industrial agriculture, chemical company influence, and GMOs, see:

For more on potential big-picture solutions, see:

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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!

Why the Mountain

Why any mountain?

Appalachian mountains, destroyed
by mountaintop removal
streams buried under rubble
of valley fills…
… who are we, humankind
to remodel the flesh of this earth –
– cutthroat surgeons
sinfully rich reshaping
mounds and curves…

Tainting soil and groundwater
toxic metals
selenium sulphate magnesium
degrading water quality of
streams and rivers
left over pollutants
disposed of
‘slurry injections’ into the earth
poisoning groundwater
animals plants people…

Coal mining on Walden’s ridge
mercury spewing
into the atmosphere
smell the coal burning
concentrating, millions of times higher
than in untainted water
once released, irretrievable
mercury compounds never disappear….
.. not so our mountains;

Ancient mountain forests
home to hundreds… thousands
birds and animals, insects and plants
threatened to extinction
ancient guardians
ripped and torn
open-cut-mining stripping the land
every plant and tree decimated
all creatures driven out
or worse
driven to extinction…
who are they, we….
to tamper with the integrity
of ecosystems
unleashing, instead
volumes of contaminants and toxic particles…

I weep at humankind’s audacity
its psychotic need to claim control recreate
and reshape the flesh of this earth;
The Alps
from Nice to Vienna
struggling in the face of major threats
–pollution and habitat loss
in the name of tourism and mankind’s intrusion
such exploitation of age-old mountain
is criminal…

I might never visit the lush beauty
of Hawai’i nor breath in the spiritual vibrations
of Mauna Kea Mountain…
I might never feel the potent sacredness
of those ancient lands
but I weep to think of future times
when my children’s children should do so
and are confronted with
such a phallic symbol
as a thirty meter telescope atop Mauna Kea…
I ask… why the mountain-
why any mountain?
please… protect them
raise your voices
defend Mauna Kea
of humankind’s psychotic need
to claim control recreate
and reshape the flesh of earth;

by Sharon Lee Goodhand, © July 22 2015
supporter of Deep Green Resistance

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: Stopping Murder-Suicide

Will Falk’s third installment in his series on protecting Mauna Kea addresses this culture’s conflation of spirituality with superstition. Many proponents of the massive Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project dismiss out of hand the cultural concerns of Hawaiians who defend the sacredness of Mauna Kea and decry the construction of yet another telescope as desecration.

I often get an explanation like this, “I support indigenous people, of course, but the telescope is for science. Isn’t it a little…superstitious to block an astronomy project for a mountain?” Spirituality, I forgot, is anathema in many leftist circles.

It shouldn’t be.

I understand that many in this culture have been wounded by their experiences with religion. Some religions have, on the whole, been disasters for the living world. But, to write off all spirituality because of the actions of a few religions, is not just intellectually lazy and historically inaccurate, it erases the majority of human cultures that lived as true members acting in mutual relationship with their natural communities.

Falk explores how spirituality, a culture’s way of relating to the world, influences how members perceive others and thus how they act toward them. Many civilized religions, including the Catholicism into which he was indocrinated from birth, see the material world and natural human urges as impure and shameful. They share with science a conception of a hierarchy of beings, with God and angels (or the mind and intellect) superior to human bodies, which in turn are superior to other animals, plants, insects, and “unliving” objects such as mountains. Conveniently, both science and the major religions of civilization provide justification for human exploitation of the rest of the world.

Falk felt betrayed by the hypocrisy of Catholicism and its antithetical stance towards affirming life. In what he now recognizes as a mistake, he extrapolated his disillusionment and anger to all spirituality. He makes a powerful case in this piece that we must seek out, embrace, and protect those spiritualities which actually benefit communities of humans and non-humans:

To stop the TMT project, to stop the genocide of indigenous peoples, and to save the world, I believe we need to empower spiritualities that learned how to live in balance with their land bases. We need to empower indigenous spiritualities around the world.

Read the entire article at Deep Green Resistance News Service – Protecting Mauna Kea: Stopping Murder-Suicide. See all of Will Falk’s “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

why-the-mountain-fundraiser

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.