From a Native Millennial Daughter: #ProtectMaunaKea
By. Sage Quiamno
I can distinctly remember the odor of coconut scented sunscreen invading my nose, wafting in the air — toxic and foreign, the sun beating down my brown skin, drops of sweat dripping down my face as I marched down the streets of Waikīkī with thousands of my fellow kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiians). I was 14 years old at that time and this was my 3rd or 4th time protesting with my lāhui (people), but this time was different. This time we were being stared at by sunburnt tourists sporting their “Hawaiian shirts”, strugglingly to calm their screaming keiki (children) in animal shaped floaty tubes as we marched in unison chanting,
“I ku mau mau! I ku wa!” (Stand up together! Stand up and shout!)
I could feel their disdain and disgust because we were blocking streets to the beaches, causing a “fuss” with our chanting, and ultimately being a huge “inconvenience” to their long awaited vacation that they’ve been saving up months for. First, with disdain because we weren’t the smiling, aloha-greeting Hawaiians they knew and loved, the ones who welcomed them with leis and warm hugs at their luxury hotels. Second, with disgust because we were passionately angry, uncooperative, and above all else — resistant and resilient.
This distasteful look wasn’t foreign to me though, it was a face I knew all too well. As a young Native Hawaiian kid, you are quickly reminded every day that your ancestral land, that your people have stewarded for centuries, is no longer yours to enjoy. In fact, you are “trespassing” on “private property” owned by “so-and-so” from “somewhere”, when you were just trying to get to the beach.
Fast-forward to today, nothing has changed. Generation after generation of Native Hawaiians continue to march for the same reasons — sovereignty for a stolen nation, access to our water, and the preservation and protection of our sacred land, similarly to the Native Americans on the contential U.S. Now there are hundreds of kanaka maoli peacefully protesting and preventing the construction of TMT (thirty meter telescope) that is being built on Mauna Kea, a sacred and culturally significant mountain on the island of Hawai‘i (Big Island).
Our kūpuna (elders) formed a sit-in line the first day and were arrested, our alakaʻi (leaders) chained themselves to cattle guards for over 11+ hours, a hundred mana wahine (powerful women) formed a linked chain, all in the span of 3 days and only more Native Hawaiians are heading up to the mauna (mountain) to support, including myself. Some of us are willing to die in the name of aloha ʻaina (love of land), especially because Governor Ige has announced this situation as a state of emergency and ordered a proclamation for the National Guard to forcibly remove individuals “by any means necessary.”
So if you’re reading this and have ever vacationed in Hawai’i or wanted to visit Hawai’i: I urge you to educate yourself on the history and legacy on the kanka maoli who protecting Mauna Kea and resisting continued development on our sacred land right now. Donate to HULI, an organization on the front line to provide nonviolent direct action training, action support, media coordination, legal support and logistics support. Also, follow Protect Mauna Kea and show your support and outrage on social media.
Words cannot describe the crushing pain, being a descendent of ancestors who fought and died due to U.S. impersonalism, and then going home to Hawai‘i to watch people vacation, honeymoon, retire, timeshare and tourist trap their way through a stolen island nation. We were born heartbroken, but we continue to fight to protect our people, our culture, and our ‘āina. We’ve shown our aloha to the world for generations and now it’s time for the world to show us aloha.
For those of you in Seattle or if you are remote and would like to donate–we are hosting a grassroots organized #ProtectMaunakea fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 14th at The Collective Seattle. E komo mai (come in) help raise funds to cover the legal fees of the kiaʻi (protectors) who are fighting battles on the mountain but also in the courts. The event is ‘ohana (family)-friendly and centered as a place of learning, education, and a showcase of cultural practices.
Stand in solidarity with us in our movement to protect the sacred. Support Mauna Kea. Kū Kiaʻi Mauna!
“Our story remains unwritten. It rests within the culture, which is inseparable from the land. To know this is to know our history. To write this is to write of the land and the people who are born from her.” — Haunani-Kay Trask, From A Native Daughter