Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Indigeneity and Militarism

Check out the speech below given by Kanak Maoli activist Ikaika Hussey, a student at the University of Hawai'i. Here are two articles about a seven-day protest he organized in 2005 against the intrusion of the United States Navy into the University of Hawai'i.

"Students and faculty oppose Navy research," Friday, April 29, 2005

"UH protesters declare victory as sit-in ends," Thursday, May 5, 2005


Indigeneity and militarism: aloha aina contra empire

In his book “Imperial Grunts,” U.S. conservative writer Robert Kaplan notes the historic interrelationship between the US wars with the first nations of North America and the modern US imperial experience from Indochina to the present: “Injun Country” is the term which he hears from soldiers abroad in Afghanistan and Iraq, a reference to the undomesticated world which the US aims to tame.

The term is important in two respects. First, it signals the American tendency to see the world outside of North America as subject to its assimiliating tendencies, just as it attempted to do with Turtle Island. In this manner, the anti-Indian wars of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries are the template for the new Indian wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and possibly Iran, North Korea, the Mindanao, and China. From this perspective, the unique identities and soveriegnties of the world’s peoples are just open spaces for the projection of US military force, to make way for WalMart, McDonalds, and MTV.

But in another way, the term is important, for it a sign of the resilience and resistance of the world’s peoples against US expansion. In North America, Indian Country has become a way of talking about the places where the US assumes it has control and domination, but the first peoples do not agree. Indian Country is free country – under the jurisdiction of the gun, but still fighting. And so I derive both a sobering appreciation for the power of military power from this term, but also a deeply-rooted faith in the ability for the first peoples of this world, the peoples of the eagle, the condor, and the frigate bird, to sustain our fight against empire, and be victorious in time.

The experiences of indigenous peoples vis-à-vis the militarized empire are multiple and unique. That is, in fact, one of the foundational ideas that indigenous peoples bring to the world: we are not singular, but plural; we obtain our life and very existence from the specificities of our particular ancestors, our particular gods, our named and worshipped sacred sites. As a indigenous person of Hawaii, I can really only speak for myself and my immediate ancestors; I couldn’t casually speak for my next-door neighbors, let alone the peoples of other Oceanic nations, or of the Americas. So in making these remarks, I will try to speak from our own experience in Hawaii, and only by extension refer to other indigenous experiences.

My country, Hawaii, has been under US occupation since the end of the 19th century. US interest in Hawaii is primarily geostrategic. We have the dubious distinction of being used as the headquarters of the Pacific Command, the largest of the U.S. unified commands. In the 161 military installations throughout Hawaii, every aspect of U.S. military activity takes place, including ocean, land, air, and space operations; training; storage; command & control; research; housing; and even specialized rest & recreation facilities for the military. The military-connected population is 17% of the population; by comparison, Native Hawaiians comprise barely 20% of the island population.

On my home island of O‘ahu, the metropolitan island of Hawaii, the US military controls one-quarter of the land in terms of base territory and formal military jurisdiction. Much of the remaining three-quarters is also injected with militarization, with federal highways connecting the bases, discounts for servicepersons in restaurants and theatres, military bases used as place names, military service projects in public schools, and servicepersons living in our communities because of a cost-of-living-adjustment which allows them to outprice local people from the rental market. Oahu is one of the most militarized places in the world, together with fellow Pacific nations such as Guam.

By contrast, to bring out the impact of the military presence on the indigneous economy and culture of Hawaii, let us focus on a place that we have all heard of: Ke Awalau o Puuloa. Many know this place as Pearl Harbor. In our history, Puuloa is known as the food-basket of our islands, with a remarkable series of 36 stone and coral fishponds built along the shore, allowing our people to maintain and replenish a steady supply of fish protein, all within walking distance. In the traditional land apportionment system, each district along the shore of Ke Awalau o Puuloa had access to this incredible resource, because we recognized that this wealth should be shared. Puuloa is also known as the dwelling for our spiritual protector Kaahupahau, a benevolent shark who protected the people of the surrounding Ewa district from other predators.

Juxtaposed against the current (mis)use of Puuloa, we can see how native subsistence wealth has been damaged to make way for US imperial ambitions. Today, Puuloa is a Superfund site, meaning that the Environmental Protection Agency has declared it one of the most polluted areas in the United States. The shared access to the economy of the oceanic resource has also been interrupted, with barbed walls and military police preventing entry to our fishponds.

This story isn’t unique to Puuloa, nor is it unique to Hawaii. At the most recent meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigneous Populations, the indigneous delegates considered the impact of militarism on their territories and peoples. Below is a portion of a longer conference report covering a variety of issues; this excerpt is the full text concerning militarism.

[According to indigneous participants,] militarization often involved the use of weapons and vehicles that polluted ancestral and sacred lands, forests and water, and harmed wildlife. Participants expressed their strong opposition to the dumping of toxic military waste, and even nuclear waste, on their lands, which rendered them unproductive and forced people from their traditional lands. Unexploded ordnance and landmines from conflicts or training exercises also contaminated indigenous peoples’ lands and caused injuries, ill-health and even death to the civilian indigenous population.

One issue that was raised frequently by indigenous people during the session was the use of militarization as a pretext to gain control over the natural resources in indigenous traditional lands without adequate compensation. A large number of participants from many different countries and regions cited cases of the use of the military to ensure access to land, minerals, oil and other resources on their ancestral lands.

Indigenous representatives also voiced their opposition to development projects, which they said were used as a justification for controlling areas that belong to their communities, as well as a justification for the presence of large numbers of soldiers on those lands. Many indigenous representatives spoke of long histories of forced resettlement for military use of their lands. Often this was done with neither consultation nor redress.

A number of participants cited the war on terror as a pretext for militarization, in particular in Arab regions. It was noted that a large military presence was often accompanied by human rights abuses by the military, including rape and sexual harassment that disproportionately affected women and children in indigenous communities. Indigenous representatives gave examples of the resulting climate of violence and fear. They cited a number of cases of military forces committing human rights abuses with impunity. Several indigenous participants expressed their concern about military recruitment of indigenous youth, which, they said, was a threat to their way of life. Whilst in some cases, recruitment might appear to be voluntary, indigenous youth who were living in poverty might see military service as their only option to earn a living.

As you see, the themes raised by indigneous nations are familiar to many of us in this conference. Clearly, many nation-states regard indigneous rights as a lesser right to the interests of developers or the military – this tendency is an example of a recurring problem that indigenous peoples face, which is the reluctance and often outright refusal for states to recognize indigneous land and sovereignty claims. The international law doctrine of self-determination, enshrined in the United Nations charter and in human rights instruments, is poorly applied, if at all, to indigneous peoples. Our movement for demilitarization and peace must be cognizant if this fact. It would also be appropriate to remind the body of the lessons learned in the Pacific, where some in the Nuclear Free Pacific movement objected to the tendency for the Pacific Islanders themselves to raise the issue of decolonization and independence. The natives demanded that demilitarization be coupled with a push for sovereignty, thus the name Nuclear Free & Independent Pacific was born. But this was indeed a line struggle, painful yet necessary.

Aloha Aina

In closing, I’d like to share our indigenous term for describing our movement in Hawaii. We use the words “aloha aina,” literally “love of land,” but also meaning patriotism. It is a word that was born out of the late-19th century struggle against annexation, and was also reinvigorated with meaning in the 1970s movement to stop the bombing of Kahoolawe island. The term also incorporates a vision for ecological sustainability, for community, and shared responsibility for our island homeland. We could never accept the harming of the land which have so much “aloha” for. Nor could we countenance the use of our land, which is the source of all life, to perpetrate violence on others. Our vision is for an independent Hawaii and a demilitarized Pacific that opposes all empires.

Mahalo nui, aloha aina.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Voicing Indigeneity: A Visit to Hogwarts

A professor from our department, Robert Alvarez, asked us to visit his class on Organic Social Movements and we were happy to talk to them! The podcast is long so I suggest skipping the first 12 minutes when I am talking because the conversation really centers around the topics Madel brings up, militarism and sovereignty and takes off. I thought it was great, I learn so much from Madel and Miget. We had fun taking our show on the road and and there are some questions and answers at the end.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Summit on Decolonization and Native Self-Determination

FAMOKSAIYAN: “Our Time to Paddle Forward”
Summit on Decolonization and Native Self-Determination
April 20-22, 2007

On 14 & 15 April 2006 more than 100 Chamorro scholars, activists, and community leaders gathered at the Sons and Daughters of Guam Club in San Diego to share their work and research, and to participate in discussions relating to the future of their people and native homelands. The name of this gathering was Famoksaiyan: Decolonizing Chamorro Histories, Identities and Futures. This initial meeting of native leaders inspired such a great deal of research questions and possibilities that concrete action plans were soon implemented on an international forum.

Over the past year we have held regional meetings in Berkeley, Long Beach, Oakland, Camas, and Guam and helped plan a number of historic events. In October of 2006, several members of Famoksaiyan organized a trip to New York City to testify before the United Nations Committee on Decolonization, about the question of Guam’s continuing colonial status. During that same month a representative of Famoksaiyan presented at the National Pacific American Leadership Institute before a delegation of three hundred distinguished leaders and professionals in Hawai’i.
In November 2007 a town hall forum and report on the United Nation’s trip called “Remembering Our Roots: Decolonization in Guahan” was held in Berkeley, and was attended by Berkeley students and bay area residents interested in learning more about Chamorros and their struggles. In January of this year, Famoksaiyan participated in and helped coordinate the forum “Decolonizing Our Lives: A Progress Report on the Status of Human Rights on Guam” which brought more than 250 community members together at the University of Guam, to learn what different organizations are doing to facilitate Guam’s political and cultural decolonization.

The Future:
As part of Famoksaiyan’s continuing commitment to building progressive networks within the Chamorro community and among Pacific Islander, Native American, Puerto Rican and Chicano organizations throughout the world, with the shared goals of decolonization and self determination, we are pleased to announce:

Famoksaiyan: Summit on Decolonization and Native Self-Determination
April 20 -22, 2007 in Berkeley and Oakland, California.

This year we are interested in strengthening existing networks, building new ones, and more importantly, giving those interested the skills to promote the work of decolonization and cultural and historical revitalization in their politics, their creative work and everyday interactions. We are pleased to announce that this year’s conference will include: Chicanos, Pacific Islanders, Puerto Ricans, Native Americans and others interested in improving the opportunities and life conditions of indigenous peoples throughout the world. The conference is open to the public, and there is no fee to attend.

We therefore invite individuals or organizations to submit proposals for workshops, presentations or working groups related, but not limited to the following suggested formats:

1). A workshop designed to teach important skills: creative writing, how to talk to your family about decolonization, web development or graphic design, Chamorro language, etc.
2). An informational session designed to teach attendees or enhance their understanding about historical or contemporary issues such as: Guam history, the military build up in Guam, the state of Guam’s environment, US/Guam territorial relations, etc.
3). A working group which will strategize or develop plans and goals around a particular topic or issue such as: sustainable economics, how to reform media, how to revitalize Chamorro language, coalition building with other Pacific Islander groups, etc.
4). Updates on ongoing artistic or community projects such as films, research studies, events, grants, etc.

Your submission should include a proposal (no more than one page), describing the nature of the working group or panel presentation that you intend to organize, along with your contact information (mailing address, telephone and email). Please list which topic most appropriately describes your presentation:

1) Decolonization 2) Self Determination 3) Education 4) Research 5) Healthcare 6) Public Policy 7) Law 8) Employment 9) Community Activism 10) Stewardship/Leadership 11) Cultural Preservation 12) Language

The deadline for submissions is April 1, 2007. Proposals will be accepted after this date, only if space is available. Please email your submissions and any questions to Miget (Michael) Lujan Bevacqua at mbevacqua@ucsd.edu or to Migetu (Michael) Tuncap kupua@berkeley.edu

Si Yu’us Ma’ase. Biba i mannatibu! Biba Chamoru! Na’la’l’a mo’ña i taotao Marianas!

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Voicing Indigeneity #10 - The Wrath of Ross

It is our tenth podcast! Ross Frank is our distinguished guest for this podcast where we talk about the conference last weekend and what we learned about ourselves and others in the world of Ethnic Studies.

Photo 488

Photo 459

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Lost Podcast Found!

Yesterday afternoon Miget, Jose and I ran up to my office with Leroy and his Pikachu gameboy to make a second podcast. We talked about decolonial studies and the papers and ideas we planned to present and it was all good, Jose is a wonderful musician and he sang a song for us, beautifully!

Serious and Pikachu!



I posted that I lost the podcast - then I was trying to burn some podcasts onto a cd for my mom (she does not internet) and I saw this one that was labeled Songs of Indigeneity but it wasn't, when I played it, hola Jose! You know Mercury is out of retrograde and here is proof if you needed it. Hope you enjoy this bonus from the lost files!

A special stealthy picture from the panel Jose, Madel & I did at the conference, the aptly titled "The Ghosts of the Past Prey Upon the Souls of the Living" where we are listening to feedback:

Photo 457

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Harry Potter and the 45th Generation Roman

Hey, it's Angie and Miget podcasting while we are manning the registration desk at the 5th Annual Crossing Borders Ethnic Studies Conference at UCSD - Ghosts, Monsters and the Dead. Madel couldn't make it but we give it our best! Now it is time for the Monster's Ball but I will post pictures later!


Feeling pretty blue about Madel's absence!

Neon absence of Madelsar.

We are stoic. Look for a new podcast tomorrow, with Madel we hope.

Indigenous Gothic