Lā 120: Aloha ‘Aina patriots have right to be on Mauna Kea

Star Advertiser July 22, 2015   by Sydney Iaukea a Ph.D.

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Which “emergency” are we talking about?

After the June 24 rock incident on Mauna a Wakea, Gov. David Ige pledged, “We will do whatever is necessary to ensure lawful access.”

This proved to be the state Board of Land and Natural Resources “emergency” rule changes passed on July 10.

But telling a community when, where, and for how long it can engage in cultural practices promises a violence that will now presumably be enacted through these “emergency rules” regarding Mauna Kea.

This same agenda has allowed the continued desecration of the most sacred place in Hawaii, and implies a deep dislike of the culture.Watching the Board of Land and Natural Resources vote on these “emergency rules” was excruciating. After eight hours of public testimony from longtime advocates and the next generation of Aloha ‘Aina patriots, all of whom cited state conservation laws, the public trust doctrine, existing regulations regarding ceded lands, as well as the international laws of belligerent occupation and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the BLNR nevertheless approved exclusionary rules aimed directly at Aloha ‘Aina patriots practicing ku kia‘i mauna. Two members voted no — the only hopeful gestures during a depressing sequence of events.

Although the enforcement date has not been set, the guidelines restrict access to the mountain and increase the powers of the BLNR chairperson. One board member told the security detail that the BLNR “got their back,” and even said they should have police powers. And now Ige seems not to have ruled out calling in the National Guard.

The BLNR and the state are operating under a host of misconceptions. One is that force can correct what they see as aberrant behavior. Another is that the native culture should be seen and not heard. The Aloha ‘Aina warriors on Mauna a Wakea are Hawaiian kingdom patriots and have a right to be there. They are versed in Hawaiian kingdom law regarding the national lands of ka pae ‘aina. They are versed in international law and see Hawaii as an occupied sovereign state. They are even versed in state laws dealing with conservation and preservation, and in the revised statute on desecration.

During the testimony, many speakers offered to work with the BLNR and the state generally to resolve this issue and participate in the process, especially since the DLNR’s mission is to “enhance, protect, conserve and manage Hawaii’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations.”

Hawaiian national consciousness has risen over the past decade. Increasingly during this new and exciting time, those standing up for our rights do so with full knowledge of the past wrongs, and with a full commitment to ensuring corrective action. They act with a deep sense of Hawaiian identity and ancestral knowledge. How can we not be excited by this, and why shouldn’t we all embrace this time of returning light to Hawaii?

But what happens now? More than likely a standoff.

Meanwhile, approximately 4,000 astronomers will be attending the International Astronomical Union meetings on Oahu this August. Despite this, the Aloha ‘Aina patriots will maintain their vigil, defying the BLNR rules.

What the state can’t seem to realize is that these Hawaiians have the kuleana to Aloha ‘Aina. They have a deep commitment to the land, and the political know-how, passed through generations, to act. Recognizing this light as it rises from the mountain will teach all of us what it really means to love Hawaii.

Sydney Iaukea holds a Ph.D. in political science and is teaching Hawaii and American politics at the University of Hawaii this summer. She is the author of “The Queen and I: A Story of Dispossessions and Reconnections in Hawai‘i,” and “Keka‘a: The Making and Saving of North Beach, West Maui.”

Photo www.darrenmillerphotography.com