Hawaiian rights scrutinized, not considered, during TMT contested case

A response to Ian Lind's Civil Beat column, "Dangerous Intersection of Social Policy and the ‘Sacred.’"

Bianca Isaki
Environmental groups oppose gutting of environmental funds

15 environmental groups have written an open letter to the State House and Senate finance committee chairs urging them not to appropriate money from, or modify in an any way, several vital environmental funds.

Sovereignty pains

The journey toward self-determination for Native Hawaiians does not come without its own form of growing pains.

Will Caron
Aston Hotels & Resorts responds to Local 5 claims

A week after the local labor union filed unfair labor practice charges against Aston, the hotel company responded with the following statement.

Statement from Aston Hotels & Resorts

Local 5 has filed several unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) related to the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel and Hotel Renew. We are currently working with the NLRB on resolving those charges. As this is a pending matter, we cannot discuss the matter further other than to say that most of the charges relate to our former employee handbook policies and some miscommunications between employees that have since been corrected.

Like most employers, we are adjusting older employee handbook policies to reflect very recent changes required by new NLRB decisions in mainland cases, and the recent NLRB General Counsel memorandum on employee handbooks which was released just last month.

The current dispute between Local 5 and Aston is the result of Aston’s refusal to agree to Local 5’s demand that Aston waive its team members’ right to decide for themselves in a secret ballot election conducted by the NLRB and whether they need to pay a significant part of their paycheck in union dues.

Aston has a unique business model based on its non-union status that has provided consistent work opportunity and benefits to its many employees through good times and difficult times without any involvement by Local 5. We look forward to continuing our excellent relationship with our team members that recognizes and responds to the legitimate needs of our team members and guests.

Kauai delegation delivers strong message to Syngenta, Swiss lawmakers

A group of Kauai residents has been in Switzerland educating the Swiss public and shareholders of Swiss company Syngenta about the company's use of pesticides in Hawaii and its lawsuit against Kauai County, much to the chagrin of the company itself.

Will Caron
Rally for justice: GLBT and beyond

Today's rally for justice in multiple forms comes on the eve of the Supreme Court hearing on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage ban laws.

This afternoon, Monday, April 27, from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m., on the steps of the State Capitol (facing Beretania), the GLBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii and the MoveOn.org Honolulu Council will host “Looking Beyond Tomorrow: A Rally in Support of Justice.”  Similar rallies and events are taking place across the nation today.

On the eve of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments on the constitutionality of same sex marriage bans, the rally will support justice in a variety of forms, including marriage equality, houseless rights, justice for indigenous populations, economic justice and environmental justice.  Community leaders will come together to talk about the pressing social issues of our time, and there will be a call to action for citizens to get involved and make a difference on issues like equal pay, rights for our houseless and protecting our precious ‘aina.

Some of the speakers include:

Overarching LGBT issues: Michael Golojuch, Jr. (Emcee)
Homeless Rights: Kathryn Xian
Labor: Morgan Evans (Pride@Work)
Hawaiian Justice: Kumu Hina Wong-Kalu
Upcoming legislative issues: Representative Chris Lee
Economic Justice: Jenny Lee
Transgender Rights: Kaleo Ramos
Protecting 1st Amendment Rights: ACLU Hawaii
Protecting our ‘Aina: Elliot Van Wie
Poetry Slam Performance: Jenna Robinson

Mauna Kea and the awakening of the lahui

Multiple generations of campaigners are rallying around Mauna Kea as a symbol for the larger issues of self-determination and Aloha ʻĀina in what is becoming one of, if not the, largest mobilizations of Hawaiian activism in decades.

Will Caron
Speech: Lanakila Mangauil on the TMT

Transcript of activist and Kū Kiaʻi Mauna organizer Lanakila Mangauil's speech, delivered at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs' Thursday, April 23 meeting, concerning the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Aloha Mai Kākou.

This movement is something that has opened the eyes of the world. Being on that mauna and seeing so many young people involved is really beautiful. However, our cheeks are soaked with the tears of our kupuna who have come up to give us their blessings.

I am a product of the efforts of your generation to re-introduce Hawaiian culture into our education system; mahalo nui. And it is just like bruddah Kahoʻokahi said: Yeah, you basically created these avenues for us, so now you deal with us [laughter from the room]. We are the products of your prayers; of your sacrifices; of your hard work. We were taught and trained in the traditions of our kupuna, as well as guided to be able to survive in this Western world.

How we have conducted ourselves on the mauna, of all things, is what calls attention to us; the world is watching how we conduct our Kapu Aloha. Thousands and thousands of people have already visited the mauna in just these few weeks. We have spoken to hundreds of visitors to our islands who have come up the mauna; and we talk with them, we educate them. We’ve comforted kupuna who have come up the mauna, but can do little more than cry. We comfort them because we know that they went through their suffering for us; we are the products of your prayers.

We are starting to look at our world in a different way. Yes, we need to be concerned about the way oil prices are affecting our economy. However, our goal should not be to inflate the amount of money we have so we can buy more oil. Our goal should be to think better so we can get rid of oil. In one generation petroleum byproducts were a beautiful new discovery; one generation later, right now, they are a great thing that we rely on and use; but for our generation, we’re the ones who have to deal with the effects of all that. And now our oceans are toxic and our air is polluted. Those technologies, those byproducts—they’re not clean. They’re killing us. I look at our keiki, those even younger than us, and I wonder what the heck is going to happen to them.

The idea of, and the perspective on, progress is much different for many in our generation than it was for those in generations past. We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to learn our ʻāina, how the land actually works, and to put it first. What the generation before has called progress, I call suicide.

Are we against technology and science? No. But we want science that is relevant, clean and practical. We’re not against the TMT. Just don’t put it on our mauna. We’ll help you guys find another place to put it. Just not here.

Raymond Carlberg is the Canadian TMT project leader, and he says Hawaii wasn’t even considered a potential site for the TMT when the team started scoping out locations in Chile and Mexico. After accepting an invitation from groups in Hawaii, the summit of Mauna Kea eventually became the preferred site for TMT. Who the heck gave the invitation? So, the idea that Hawaii was the first choice? ʻAʻole.

I’ve spoken with other scientists—people who love their science, but also love and respect their planet—and I’ve asked them what they would do in this situation. And they said to put the telescope into orbit instead. ʻAe! Then you don’t have to worry about it destroying the environment, or pissing off the native people. It’s a bigger cost? OK. We’ll help you fundraise.

My point is humanity needs something else right now. More tangents and more distractions that cause us to look even farther away from our kuleana right here is not what we need right now. Going up there and searching the universe? Maybe one day, when we’ve earned the right to.

You say we need to be looking for a new planet and a new home, I say if we cannot even take care of this one that we don’t deserve it. If we can teach ourselves to be loyal to our home, to take care of our environment as our kupuna did; to become intricate parts of our environment—not an outside entity acting on and corrupting our environment, but an actual part of our environment—then we may actually earn that right. But until that day; wrong mountain, wrong time, wrong people.

Mahalo nui.

(Read more about the OHA meeting in which this speech was delivered here.)

Photo by Will Caron

Mauna Kea: The “Sacred” and The Destruction of Hawaii’s Next Generation

Op-Ed from Williamson Chang, Professor of Law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Richardson School of Law.

Williamson Chang
Speech: Kaleikoa Kaʻeo on the TMT

Transcript of activist and Associate Professor at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Kaleikoa Kaʻeo's speech delivered at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs' Thursday, April 23 meeting, concerning the Thirty Meter Telescope.

As our ancestors taught us: we are the land, and the land is us.

We are in a time of enlightenment for our people! We have risen; we have awakened; we have remembered; and we’re going to restore ourselves!

I support Mauna Kea; I support this ʻāina; I support our lāhui; and I support our right to define ourselves, to provide ourselves with self-determination, to determine our own future, to tell our history, to speak our language, and to have our place in the sun in this world! That kuleana belongs to us, as the people of this land.

And how dare anybody else assume that they have the right to decide for us our history, our language, our place and our sacred sites? That smells of supremacy—and that’s what it is, let’s tell the truth—for those who want to dehumanize us and treat us as if we are not a real people; as if our history is not true; as if we provided some kind of consent; as if, somehow, they inherited the title to that mountain. Those are all false statements.

No consent, no treaty, no title, no TMT—it’s really that simple.

The truth is, the young up there on that mountain? They know all of this! The truth is so powerful, it leads people to do what is necessary; to take the steps necessary to reclaim ourselves as the ʻōiwi, as the kānaka, as the maoli.

As the great George Helm said: “Call me a radical, for I refuse to remain idle and allow the foreigner to prostitute the soul of my being—my culture.” So call me whatever you may! But Aloha ʻĀina is an ideology of love: love for this place, love for our lāhui, and love for our fellow man.

The great Gandhi himself said: “One of the seven sins is science without humanity.”

How can you dehumanize us, and call yourselves scientists? Is it our mountain, or not? Either we’re human beings, or we’re not; either we have a place to decide what is sacred, or we don’t! It’s that simple.

But if you’re going to deny that to our people, I’m saddened, I’m hurt. I hope, one day, you will see the Hawaiian people as a real people in this land, deserving of human rights and the ability to decide for ourselves our destiny! The power of love and truth will make this occur.

And let me just end with a quote related to the ATSD (Advanced Technology Solar Telescope) on Maui. When the head of the solar observatory came to our school about eight years ago, I sat right across from him and I asked this person—his name is Craig Foltz, of the National Science Foundation—and I asked him directly: “What is the humanity of this project? You tell me, as a Hawaiian—I can take the pain, I can bleed, if it’s going to save some lives—tell me what it is.” And he looked me directly in my eyes and said: “It’s just pure selfish research.”

That is the honest truth. Pure. Selfish. Research. You see, that’s how they see us.

The great Gandhi also said: “Love and truth are the most powerful philosophies we can follow.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.”


(Read more about the OHA meeting in which this speech was delivered here.)

Photo by Will Caron