top of page

For the Love of the Mauna Transcript

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

ADRIENNE: Hi I’m Adrienne, I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. A writer, a blogger, and scholar, auntie, living in what is currently known as Rhode Island.

MATIKA: And I’m Matika! I am from the Swinomish and Tulalip peoples and I’m a photographer, and a doer of many many things.

ADRIENNE: There’s a lot happening in the world right now. And we’re still in a global pandemic and winter is coming.

MATIKA: (laughs)

ADRIENNE: But today and for the next 3 episodes we want to take you back to January of 2020 and tell you a story we think is really important. This is a story about land, about culture, and about connections to place.

MATIKA: And it’s a good story. Last January, our whole team got on the plane. (music begins) I got on the plane with Alma Bee, she was just 8 weeks old, it was her first plane trip. And we went to Hawaii, and Hawaii was like, just like you imagine it to be, it was sunny and warm and it smelled good and it felt good and we did all the Hawaii things that you do when you go to Hawaii. You know, like eating spam musubi from the ABC store where we got our (unknown), (laughs) and you know we went to the beach and we were just having a fun little time together in real life, in person. And, the truth is though that’s not why we were there and that’s not what this story’s about. This is the story of the movement to protect Mauna a Wakea and Hawaii is not a vacation land. Hawaii is the homeland of Kanaka Maoli people. Right now they’re fighting to protect one of their most sacred sites and that’s why we flew all the way across the ocean because we felt like it was essential to make the trip to talk one-on-one with the activists and elders who are dedicating their lives to the movement. So, let me set the scene for you know, we’re like in Hawaii, we’re in this really warm tropical place then we drove up to the Mauna to pu’u huluhulu, the resistance camps and as we were driving up the weather started to change it was suddenly cold, the mist was thick and we arrived during evening protocol to see folks doing their oli in jackets and bare feet and I got this sudden feeling that I was in a sacred place and that I needed to be respectful and needed to follow the protocol of that place. And, you know we sort of arrived like hoping that we would get to meet people but we didn’t’ really know who we were going to meet and I feel like we got really lucky to talk with a number of really amazing powerful folks who shared story with us and we were actually able to visit the kupuna tent and talk story with a bunch of elders and the really shared amazing stories with us.

ADRIENNE: It felt really important to be in that tent with everyone and hearing all of the stories and grounding of why we were there. And, it brought me back to Standing Rock in a lot of ways and it’s it’s not often that we get to be in the center of a movement like that. One of the amazing people we got to talk with was Auntie Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, one of the kupuna or elders of the movement, a professor, educator, cultural practitioner, and Native rights activist. She is a lifelong protector of the aina, the land, she is so well respected in the community that her voice and knowledge on the movement is requested by media, policymakers, visitors and in courtrooms. And she was so generous with her time with us, we interviewed her in our mobile minivan studio as the rain poured down outside. Just minutes before she had to head to the airport to fly to Oahu for meetings and direct actions. She told us the power of the land where we set.

AUNTIE NOE NOE: Aina, Land is an inseparable part of our identity as Hawaiians. And along with the land comes spirituality because these things, these inanimate things that cannot be produced by a human, are what we call the gods. So, we revere the very rocks we walk on, the very rocks that you’re standing. And there is no sense of I or me in the Hawaiian culture. You know, our smallest unit is the ‘ohana, or the family. And we are just part of that whole. And that family is defined however the family is defined, it’s not necessarily a western nuclear family concept. Land is inseparable from us. People who have Hawaiian blood, who were born away from the islands for several reasons, different reasons, or who have to move away, most times for economic reasons have this inseparable relationship with the land and when they are away the yearn for it – in ways that are indescribable for them. They, they feel the tug and the pull of this particular land which is called Hawaii, a series of little islands. And it is, it is in a way that any Native people I guess feels for their own land, when they are removed from it. And so, to see it abused in this way is painful to the soul. It’s painful to our native soul, yea and that’s why we stand.


MATIKA: Let’s being this story with Lanakila Mangauil who helps us to understand what this movement is all about.

LANAKILA MANGAUIL: Aloha my name is Lanakila Mangauil or Joshua (Hawaiian Name) Lanakila Managauil. I was born and raised on the north side of Hawaii island in a small town called Honoka’a. I’m a unique generation that was blessed to grow up in a time coming out of the results of the Hawaiian renaissance movement and I’ve been an educator teaching in our Hawaii school system, and community, and internationally for over ten years now, and have been active in this particular movement since about 2013 and kind of became a little move synonymous as leadership starting in 2014 and kind of initiated this step of direct action for protection of the mountain.

There’s a number of different components to the foundation of why we are standing to protect this mountain. Umm on one level for us as Indigenous peoples. Here Mauna a Wakea is our most sacred mountain. It is the tallest mountain on earth from the sea floor to its summit. And for us its part of our genesis stories, our creation stories, it was the first child born of Papahānaumoku and Wākea, which is the earth mother and the sky father. And this was their first child that was born and then the siblings, the younger siblings of the islands themselves continued to emerge forth and eventually also the sibling who is Hoʻohokukalanithe star mother, she is the next who then birthed the kanaka the human and was brought here to the earth. And so, we see the mountain as the eldest of all of our siblings. As the hiapo or the eldest child it does all this work to gather the nutrients and to feed them to all of us younger siblings. And we maintain that relationship. It’s also very sacred to us as being one of the highest points in all of Oceania. It is a burial ground, especially for a lot of our high chiefs, high priests, and particular families that are related to the deities of this mountain. They are for generations upon generations the bones of ancestors are laid to rest on this mountain. It is a tradition of our people too that we don’t mark graves. They are hidden away. The fact that you look and you don’t see stone heads, or markers, doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. It is a tradition to hide the bones. So there is a burial ground to elevate our ancestors into the heavens. It is also very symbolic for us because we see the mountain also as a piko which is an umbilical. The mountain is the umbilical of this honua planet that stretches into the (Speaking Hawaiian) and the (Speaking Hawaiian), the black of space is, is the placenta. And the imagery of that is the mountain channels all this mana of the universe to come down through it and it shares it for the growing embryo which is this earth. So the image of all these things being built in this area is, is, is, we see it almost like cancer in the umbilical cord. In that practice it is also a tradition of our people to bring the umbilicals of our babies to the mountain. We come, particular families and particular, those who want to connect with the mountain when the umbilical falls off of our babies, that is come and laid to rest on the mountain too. So we have a spiritual tether to this place and so it is a practice of our people that no matter where we go in life, if we know the origin where our piko lies, we know that it grounds us to these places where we can draw mana from. Also, it is the place where the god of life, the sustainer of life which we refer to as Kanenuiakea or Kāne had his sacred children. The sacred daughters of Kāne are Lilinoe, Waiau, Kahoupokane, and Poli’ahu. They are the four primary maidens of the mountain. Their kino or physical manifestation, is Lillinoe is the mist and the fog bodies of the mountain, Waiau is the lake, lake Waiau sits high at the summit, Kahoupokane is the subterranean waters and the thunderstorms, and Poli’ahu is draping snows of the mountain. And in that we see, we recognize that they are the hydrology of this mountain. And so, Mauna Kea is actually also registered and as well as Mauna Loa they are both registered ice mountains within the core of the mountains it’s permafrost and that’s what helps hold the lake up there and what also has been from the Ice Age gives us these artisan wells that permeate down and feed into all the springs all over in the lowland. So from either my side of the island all the way down to the, the, the white sandy shores here in the west side and all those hotels area, the springs, it’s all coming from this mountain. So it’s very very critical to the aquifer here. So in the tradition of our people it was very very seldom that anybody ever came up into this, up onto the mountain, particularly to the top, to the summit. That’s what we refer to as (Speaking Hawaiian) the realm reserved for the gods. So it’s only on very very very important occasions would a chief or an ali’i actually ascend to the summit and the protocols and the discipline and the demand of that was extreme. So that the main protocol that we all observe was really to stay off of the mountain. So it wasn’t a very regularly visited area. There’s only one thing that we technically gathered from the mountain, and there’s only one or two places on the mountain and that’s where we had the ko’i or the adze, the basalt stone quarries and they’re very small areas and there’s only two points where we gathered and they’re further down the slope. So the basic foundation is that we did not go into this area because we also understood the uniqueness and the fragility of this place, the ecosystem here, which in turn is the deities that we speak of too. The need to make sure to maintain the purity and the stories it is spoken that Poli’ahu who is the youngest daughter and the most divine of Kāne the kapu, or the mandate was to maintain her purity, to maintain her virginity, because she was also the oracle of Hawaii. In the stories it speaks of it that way, the mountain was forbidden because Poli’ahu was the highest maiden and no mortal could touch her. But in translation of that, we’re understanding that those particular water bodies, the waters of the mountain were to remain pure. Which is also the foundation of what the word kea means. We say Mauna Kea, some people say white mountain but kea is not just the color white. It’s about, it’s a gleaming untainted white because the root of kea is purity. So we left this area as untainted and pure because that’s the highest waters. And so the everything that flows down from that would would maintain that. And now we can back this all up with also paralleling that with modern science understanding of the, you know, the Mauna Kea is considered a high alpine desert ecosystem at its summit. And there is a very very unique species of plants and animals. It goes along with the evolution of the Hawaiian islands. You know when it comes to endemic species and such too. You know the isolation of our islands have created such diversity and evolution of plants and animals so even unique to this mountain are some species that can be found nowhere else on earth, not even on our, Mauna Loa, they’ve evolved into their own unique species. So their space is very limited, especially on the summits where we are facing all of this encroachment of development. The certain species of insects and fauna up there are severely threatened because they already are very scarce just in the landscape. There’s only so much acreage up there that can sustain these lifeforms. And that’s exactly what they’re trying to intrude into to. The previous telescope constructions on the mountain, they’ve, they’ve decimated so much of the ecosystems. It’s even noted in a lot of the EIS[1]s that they’ve done prior of how destructive the construction and development up there has been to the ecosystem. We’re technically trying to uphold the law here. Because even under, under the U.S. occupation too under the state of Hawaii, Mauna Kea is actually also held as conservation lands and it’s been a bunch of corruption since back in the sixties that has just kind of, kind of circumnavigated these laws and softened down the impacts and language of laws to make it as if these astronomical construction project are not, or that they’re doing everything possible to, to mitigate and to soften the impact but it’s, the data show right there and an open shows you up there how destructive it has been. And so really at this particular time it is a matter of stopping any further development, upholding law, because if there’s anything within the U.S. system, the rules of conservation fall directly in line with our traditional practices of the mountain as well. So, in that I always try to bring people back to reminding that’s the foundation where we stand. It’s for me first and foremost an environmental movement. It’s the health of our natural environment that is crucial to our cultural rights and our rights as Indigenous peoples. It’s not quite our rights for us to take care of the land, no we got to take care of the land because without the land we have no culture. Our culture cannot exist without these places. But environmental protection of water, protection of natural habitats, protection of sacred sites and cultural practices we get caught up in what’s happening right off tier. So these conflicts with the state and the county because of obstruction of roadways and du-du-du we get so lost in that sometimes we forget the root of why we are here. For many of us it is our goal to see this project stopped. No more further development on the mountain, that’s really where we are putting our foot down. There is already 13 existing telescopes on the mountain, there’s about 24 structures altogether and about 10 miles worth of roadway that has been carved onto the mountain. But at the summit asphalt and all these different types of things, there’s been massive power lines embedded into the mountain as well too. There’s a lot of cumulative impact as well as the opening of this mountain as a public road that now opens the way for tourism, heavy impact of nearly, there’s nearly in count between, between 500 to 1000 people coming up this mountain every single day. And that happens on the daily unless of course there’s a winter storm or something. But it’s unbelievable how much traffic comes up here and there really is very little to any management of them up there so they get up there and just walk all about and the University of Hawaii who has the lease of this mountain and they are the ones who basically have done nothing for the conservation effort and just opened up this mountain for tourism and astronomy. And so, we are just kind of in the resurgence of our people coming back and reclaiming this place and for our right to protect this place as it needs to be both for culturally, spiritually, and environmentally.

MATIKA: In order to fully understand the history of this movement we really need to understand the history of Hawaii. And to get the full story we talked with Dr. Keanu Sai who talked with us for you know, hours, and he gave us the whole history of the Hawaiian Kingdom. And, you will hear from him in the next episode but to get to the immediate context we talked with Jamaica Osorio who tells us the history of Hawaii.

ADRIENNE: And can I just talk about Jamaica for a second, so she is an incredible and accomplished poet and also now a scholar at the University of Hawaii where she studies the intersections of queer theory and Hawaiian (Hawaiian word) or traditional stories. And it’s just like so amazing to me to hear her and see her now and see how much she has accomplished. Because I first met her when she was a high schooler and came to College Horizons and we were already blown away by her power then. And just could not even believe how amazing she was when she was that young. And then she applied to Stanford when I was the Native recruiter in the admission office. So I was the one who got to read her application and send her the admissions letter and she came to Stanford for undergrad. So now to see her as a fully grown scholar and activist is just beautiful.

MATIKA: Let’s jump right in (chuckles).

JAMAICA OSORIO: (Introduces self in Hawaiian). I was born and raised on the island of Oahu in the (Speaking Hawaiian), my parents John and Mary Osorio, they met when my Mom was in her twenties. But I spent almost my entire life on Oahu living in town and now I live (Speaking Hawaiian) just on the, on the foot of (Speaking Hawaiian), the some people call them the three peaks. In 1778, Captain Cook arrived in Hawaii when he came there was flourishing and civilized collective of people who were living and working and growing and making art together. We weren’t without our problems but we existed quite fruitfully. With his arrival came the introduction of a host of diseases that we didn’t have immunities for and it began this sharp and steady collapse of our population. And I don’t think we actually talk about the collapse of our population enough and it’s devastation really in terms of our culture, our practice, and our understanding of like history and politics and how all those things shifted. So, we go from being about a million people in 1778 to about 33,000 people in 1893, so just decimated. But (Speaking Hawaiian) will tell you in that time we also developed our own constitution and a kingdom and we were recognized by the League of Nations. And so, we had a recognized, whatever the hell that means, nation-state in the International arena. In 1820 our homies from the ABCFM – American Board of Foreign Missions – if those are all the right letters they came and they sent us their missionaries to teach us about Jesus and Jehovah and really started transforming the way we relate together, relate to each other and our land. I think of that as a really critical moment in terms of our culture and our past. Going from practicing multiple, vibrant, a diversity of relationships into really being kind of pushed through the institution of marriage and monogamy, to kind of reorganize our entire political and home structure to fit more neatly into an American western society. In 1893 there was a quote revolution staged by a small group of American businessmen called they committee of safety where they overthrew our queen, they propped up their own fake government called the provisional government and then they started to liaison with the United States to annex Hawaii. That was always the plan, they didn’t want to be their own country, they wanted to be part of the United States, mostly to support in their own business ventures. But the United States didn’t have the votes for an annexation. And I’m sure (Speaking Hawaiian) went to great detail about how this worked out but essentially what happens is they create this new BS kind of way of usurping a country and the write a joint resolution that’s called the Newlands Resolution, because a joint resolution is a piece of domestic law that doesn’t require a three-fourths majority in the Senate and there are lots of reasons they didn’t have all the votes. Sugar growers in the south didn’t want Hawaii to become a state because it would compete with their business, there were also a lot of people in the United States who were like what are we going to do with all those Asians and Brown people, they’re just going to become Americans? Like we already have our own Black and Brown problem in America, we can’t just bring a whole another bunch of Brown people and call them citizens. So, it’s not like we had a lot of real friends in America who wanted us to be sovereign they just didn’t want to deal with the Brown problem is my understanding for the most part. So they didn’t have the votes, so they create this guise of an annexation and they add quote, annex Hawaii in 1893 (CORRECTION: 1898). We remained a territory from 1893 until 1959 when they staged a vote for statehood. Again the folks who study our human history will remind us that because all of that was violently illegal in all sense of international and American law we remain an illegally occupied nation-state. It’s a military occupation and essentially American needs to leave in order to follow it’s own laws but we all know how America does with their own laws. I’m not really a scholar of this period but I kind of imagine the period between like the early, like World War Two and the Hawaiian renaissance as this like, this deep period of mourning and grief, and even if we look, if we go back even further and say like, the early nineteen-hundreds to like 1960s, Hawaiians are really struggling with this question of are we going to be American, are we going to assimilate, how do we prepare our children and our grandchildren to succeed and live generative lives in this future. How are we going to deal with the fact that we are constantly being devalued for all things Hawaiian are not valuable. My grandfather’s generation is really characterized by I think that deep period of mourning. Many of them didn’t learn how to speak Hawaiian, many of them did not practice their Hawaiian traditions, with the exception of a few things like music, remained really powerful throughout my grandfather’s generation. My grandfather knew hundreds of old Hawaiian songs. So there are some things that you were allowed to practice that were still valuable, that were still beautiful enough that we could do and still become Americans. And then my father’s generation started to come of age and my dad writes about this a little, the defining work my grandfather’s generation was World War Two. And, the way my father imagines it is that World War Two really kind of in a lot of ways galvanized an American identity and brought people – even people of color – right and in Hawaii brought people to understand themselves as American. And especially in Hawaii where we were attacked where there was this kind of camaraderie that was developed like we were attacked too, we will band together, we will protect our country. Well my father’s defining War of his generation was Vietnam, and it had a very different effect on his generation in a more dissociative effect, and I think, Vietnam coupled with the growing kind of activism in the United States around American Indian rights, and the Civil Rights Movement really started to light a fire under a lot of Hawaiians in terms of Hawaiian rights and sovereignty. In fact, a few Hawaiians in that time went to go study from the Black Panthers. And learned all this amazing stuff about non-violent direct action and civil disobedience and came back and brought that work back to Hawaii. And, we are really living as the legacy of that work, of the early 1970s folks who fought to protect (Speaking Hawaiian) who fought evictions in Kalama Valley, or fought evictions all around the islands. So all this is happening kind of growing, it becomes less and less of a bad word to call yourself and activist in the 90s. In the 80s (CORRECTION: 1968) the first telescope goes up without permission, without consent, without permits, they get permits after the fact, and that’s kind of like, that’s the genesis to this story of telescopes or scientific advancement and Mauna Kea specifically. I mean we can tell a much bigger story about the way that development has really ravished Hawaii. But if we want to talk about why do Hawaiians not trust scientists, why do Hawaiian not trust twenty-first century scientists and the development of Mauna Kea, we can begin with the 1980s (CORRECTION: 1960s) and building of telescopes without permits. All of the first few permits, all of the first few telescopes all got permits after the fact and then it was just one after the other after the other. Eventually the state of Hawaii does an audit and clearly demonstrates that the mountain has been clearly mismanaged, on an environmental and ecological standpoint. And then if you put the whole cultural rights thing on top of it, it’s just an entire travesty. About ten years, oh god, maybe eleven years ago now, in 2008 or 2009 the thirty-meter telescope was proposed for Mauna Kea. And it was immediately met with opposition. And I think that’s a really important thing for people to understand, is that people have been fighting telescopes on that mountain, really since the 1980s (CORRECTION: 1980s), but specifically this telescope for ten years. They’ve shown up in court, they’ve shown up on the mountain. And time and time again the state of Hawaii, kind of just makes up it’s own rules and brings its bulldozers and brings their TMT’s private security, also known as the Hilo Police Department or (Unknown 21:22) whoever else you want to talk about. And a lot of this came to a head in 2014 and 2015 when a few people from my generation ascended the mountain and they stopped the groundbreaking ceremony.


LANAKILA: The call was to have ceremony down here at the bottom of the mountain when all the dignitaries and representatives came up to do their stuff, they would see us that our people are still here. But for a few ofus young guys, I don’t know if I can do that, just sit here and watch these guys just drive by me (laughing) so really there was no thought ever, no plans and none of us have really ever engaged in frontline direct action kind of thing. So it was a new thing for us. For me and some of my friends I think the biggest idea that we got was to get up there and get behind in the background with our signs and then the cameras so that they would see them. And the whole scenario thing plays out that day, some of us went up and we ended up actually just kind of jumping in the road (chuckles), we found ourselves in that position and later at the summit we were actually blocking the road so we couldn’t get to the groundbreaking site. So, we just kind of stood in line and then the dignitaries and everybody were behind us so there was a big traffic jam, the called it the blockade but we were blocked. So, there’s a number of, a lot of these different videos you can see on youtube now too from the 2014 TMT groundbreaking. There’s a lot of videos that show the discussions, our mayor at the time was coming out and trying to dialogue with us. The governor of the time was actually present but he never got out of the vehicle at all. And we actually held there for over four and a half hours. When eventually what happened, we, they were, there was a port-a-potty up behind us and people wanted to go to the restroom. And we were like of course you can go to the bathroom, but we found that they were actually sneaking people past us and bringing cars on and taking them over to the groundbreaking. So a bunch of us began to walk, and just walk around the blockade and make our way over in which case I was actually struck by one of the ranger vehicles. And he actually tried to run me over. Because it was a deliberate, he charged me with his vehicle, stopped short of me, and before I could move he actually accelerated again and I had to jump up to get out of the way. And then, on the hood, and continued driving with me for about, fifty feet with myself on the hood.

MATIKA: Oh my god.

LANAKILA: And so that’s why there was another one of our leaders (Unknown) that’s where we met, he was kind of up and out on the side and the guy hit me with his car and he panicked and jumped on with me, onto the car, trying to get this guy to stop, cause I couldn’t jump off the car. This guy’s going. Some other people up ahead eventually got the car to stop and that’s where we got off and I just… quite upset.

ADRIENNE: Understandable.

LANAKILA Just kind of took off and found my up and over the other, the summit of the mountain and kind of crashed the party. And that video is kind of – pretty much the spark – that kind of got it on the much broader communities’ radar of this whole thing, across the whole (Speaking Hawaiian) and they were doing a live broadcast of their groundbreaking and we came in and


LANAKILA: Stopped the whole thing. That’s quite the epic video that launched the consciousness and it was later on, that was October of 2014, it’s now February of 2015 when the machines were coming up the mountain. We were lucky that we got a heavy snow, all of a sudden, that cut them off. And then with an early March is when I got a call at 5 o’clock in the morning, somebody was on the mountain – a little spy for us – told us the machines are coming up the mountain. So I got up here by myself that morning and this is pre facebook live, I’m having to make a video and try to upload it and as I’m driving over here and get up to the visitors center and they have the roads shut down because they have equipment moving on the road and I begin to climb up the mountain. So I climbed up almost to the summit that day and I was sending out videos pleading with people that we can’t give up, we have to do something, six hours later when I reached the summit. I guess they opened up the road, machines had already been dropped off on the mountain and about three other vehicles, people came. So, there was just a small handful of us in the beginning when we went up there, we kind of decided we had to hold, have to be present, we can’t let them move these machines, and there’s literally five of us. And before we even, we thought we were gonna go home for a couple of days, pack, get ready, come up and make a stand. Didn’t get to happen because the next morning we got a call that the machines were moving they were gonna start grating the ground already.


LANAKILA: I shot back up there again, luckily I had a car this time, and we got right in there and filmed them. Already caught them right off the bat, illegally moving. By law in Hawaii whenever you are going to do any kind of earth moving of raw land you need to have an archaeologist and a cultural monitor present at the movement of any of these things. They had no cultural monitor, and I caught the archaeologist sleeping in the trucks up above. So, the video came out with me just running down there calling them “hey, hey! You’re not supposed to be moving, you’re not supposed to be doing any of this right now.” And they all just kind of stopped working – hiding from the camera – and they packed up and they left. And that was the last time they got to their machines. After that, we put that out there, we were on the mountain, still was just the first couple of weeks so, just, kind of just doing my own thing, and some people following on and getting in and creating it. And just more people coming. So I was kind of put into that place of a leader in the movement just because I was the first one to do it. (Intermittent Laughter). But it’s been important to recognize to that this particular stand was started by us young people.

JAMAICA: This is really where the movement started on the international scene, right? This is where people started saying Mauna Kea, this is when we see Jason Momoa with his no shirt on and the triangle in front of his face saying we are Mauna Kea. Probably one of the greatest activations of our people since – god – I don’t know the fake annexation in 1898 when thirty-thousand of our kupuna signed annexation petitions saying they didn’t want to be annexed. The greatest numbers, people came out, I think there were like a thousand people on that mountain protecting it from desecration and that was huge, it was a huge win and it stopped construction on that day, it stopped the movement of construction vehicles and then some of our most committed folks went into almost like a year-long contested case hearing. So these are people like (NAMES) and dozen of others who literally gave up a year of their lives to fight a contested case hearing and I could barely get through watching one day of it on like the livestream. So, I have a lot of aloha for them and oftentimes we forget to celebrate that work and the cool thing about this movement is that we are working both outside and inside these institutions of power and decision-making at the same time. Because, we’ve learned a lot since the fight to protect Kaho’olawe in the 1970s. So, flash-forward to now, we knew that the state wasn’t going to back down, at this point TMT wasn’t going to back down, and we were honestly just waiting. A few years ago there was a standoff on Maui at the Danny Noi telescope on (NAME) and I won’t go into great detail about what happened because I wasn’t there but the Danny Noi telescope is a military telescope so there’s all kind of other craziness that goes on with that but a few Hawaiians, a group of Hawaiians went to go stand off at that telescope. And, people were injured badly, like one guy ended up in the hospital with I think traumatic brain injury, because of the way the cops handled the situation. And it was really traumatizing for us to watch this. After that happened, maybe about a year or two ago, we started gearing up to prepare for another standoff on Mauna Kea, the state of Hawaii had said both kind of outdoors and to their own people that they didn’t want to see another standoff like they did on Mauna Kea in 2015 where cops were kissing protestors. They wanted cops to behave with more strength, the way they did on Maui. And that was, that was not really comforting for us to hear, we knew that they had purchased a significant amount of riot gear, we knew that Maui island police were actually flying to the Big Island to train. Big Island police in riot control, we were doing our homework that entire time but we knew at some point their would be a call and we would have to go up on the Mauna. In early June it became, not June, early July, late June it became clearer and clearer that that call was coming soon. And I don’t know the first, first week, maybe second week of July we got a call saying that construction vehicles were gonna start moving on July 15th. And we got this secret text message saying if you love Mauna Kea come meet us at this place on Kona. No other details to be given out until them, bring warm clothes, we’ll see you soon. Ya, so it was like, ok, and a few of us, we had an idea that we were probably going to be asked to camp so we packed up all our camping gear, got on a plane. We arrived in Kona on July 12th in the afternoon. We met everyone at this beach park and it was probably one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. We get there, and people start walking into this beach park pavilion and they just keep coming. You know I expected, fifty, sixty, seventy people and they just keep coming and you start seeing people you haven’t see in years. Talk about All My Relations, you’re standing in this place with people who love the same mountain as you, who drink the same water as you, and all these loved ones from all different parts of your life start to walk in who you never expected would be there. And so we have a meeting and they tell us, ok guys, we have a plan. They are coming on Monday, this is, at this point this is Friday evening around sunset. We are gonna go camp on pu’u huluhulu, I look around, pu’u huluhulu. That’s a parking lot, what you mean we are going to camp at pu’uhuluhulu. I look around (NAME) says ok, we need to get numbers, we have maybe 250 people there at this meeting, he’s like we need to figure out how many people are ready to go right now. If we go tonight how many people will we have? And I am ready for everyone to raise their, hand, I’m charged, I’m here to protect our mountain. He says show your hands if you can go, like 25 people raise their hands. And it was this somber thing because it was clear everyone wanted to go but there is a part of me that being from a different island, made it easier for me to go because I had nowhere else to be. Like this is my bag, this is everything I have responsibility towards in this week, take me wherever you need me. And so, you could almost see the look on (NAME) face was a little sullen. You know it’s ok, if we get ten we get ten, if we get twenty we get twenty, we get going. And so, about twenty-five maybe thirty of us travel to Mauna Kea that evening. We wait til it gets dark, it’s about 10pm. We go to Mauna Kea, the Mauna Kea access road right across the street from pu’u huluhulu. And (NAME) says ok no one is setting any tents, no structures. Many people slept in their cars, a few of us got in cots. Slept under the starts, we got really lucky there was no rain, probably for the first two weeks we were on the mountain there was no rain. So we wake up on the thirteenth on the morning with a little more of a plan (NAME) we contacted the royal order Kamehameha and they decided to let us consecrate pu’uhonua on these grounds. So for those who don’t know pu’uhonua is a sacred place, easiest, the most simplest translation is that it is a place of refuge. So that if you were, you were to be killed for committing some kind of crime or maybe someone just had it out for you, if you made your way to pu’uhonua you could argue your claims to whoever was at that pu’uhonua and you would be spared. You couldn’t be killed there. So it’s this, both this cultural but also political site of refuge. So it was this brilliant move on the part of (Speaking Hawaiian) to create this space that would be sacred to all of us and would require our highest and best behavior. You know that (Speaking Hawaiian) that we always talk about, highest form of conduct, if you are going to be in a sacred place, if you call a place pu’uhonua you’re basically, you’re calling it a heiau, a temple, a place of worship, a place of safety. So that really forced us to rise to the occasion. And understand the seriousness of what we were doing. But it was also a note to the state of Hawaii, and saying if we’re going to consecrate this as a pu’uhonua this is our jurisdiction. You can come in and communicate with us but you don’t run this show here, this is our aina. So on the fourteenth, this is Sunday, July 14th, we marked the boundaries of pu’uhonua in (Speaking Hawaiian) offered (Speaking Hawaiian) to kind of cleanse the area and prepare the area to be pu’uhonua. And by that point we maybe had 100 people. We were slowly kind of growing, people who were at that first meeting kind of got their affairs in order, got their camping gear, and that’s when we started actually building tents. Which was great because it was cold, and then the rest is all over youtube.



MATIKA: That’s all we have for you today relatives. Thanks so much for tuning in, we love you, stay tuned for the next part of this series out soon. (whispering) All My Relations

Follow us on social media:

Support the show:

Listen to the next episode ​here​!

[1] Environmental Impact Survey

1,863 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page