Forty years ago, on January 4, 1976, nine persons landed on the island of
Kaho'olawe as part of the A.L.O.H.A. (Aboriginal Lands of Hawaiian Ancestry) protest to draw attention to the injustices suffered by Native Hawaiians due to the illegal role of the U.S. in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. Six (Kimo Aluli, Ian Lind, Ellen Miles, Steve Morse, Gail Kawaipuna Prejean and Karla Villalba) were detained and escorted back to Maui by federal marshals. One, George Helm left with a journalist before the marshals landed. The remaining two, Noa Emmett Aluli and Walter Ritte, explored the island for
two days before being arrested and issued letters barring them from the island (which were later by-passed). While these two witnessed the needless destruction, they also experienced a pervasive spiritual presence. The Protect Kaho'olawe 'Ohana (ʻOhana) was formed to build a movement to "Stop the Bombing" and end all military use of the island.
The tragic loss of two members, George Helm and Kimo Mitchell, in March 1977 as part of the ongoing protests, fueled the movement to persevere until the bombing was ultimately stopped on October 22, 1990 (25 years ago).
"I was proud to be guided by the kūpuna of the generation before us." said Dr. Noa Emmett Aluli, a founder of the ʻOhana. "Building upon the foundation laid by
George Helm before he passed - it's been 40 years of working as an extended family for Aloha ʻĀina throughout our islands - stopping the bombing of the island; healing the island; reviving the Makahiki ceremonies; opening access to our fishing grounds on Molokaʻi; protecting our iwi kūpuna at Honokahua, Maui; defending Pele from geothermal development; working for Ea, our own self-governance, through state, national and international pathways."
"The lessons of aloha ʻāina that we learned as an ʻOhana for Kahoʻolawe, are
applied in our work to guard the sacred summit of Mauna A Wākea," said Craig Neff, an ʻOhana leader who was arrested as he took part in a ceremonial gathering at Mauna A Wākea. "Kahoʻolawe taught us how to pray, work and take political action together to fulfill our kuleana, our responsibility to connect, heal and protect our sacred places."
Looking to the future, the ʻOhana has worked with the Kahoʻolawe Island
Reserve Commission (KIRC) and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on a plan, I OLA KANALOA! LIFE TO KANALOA! to more fully restore the island and establish a cultural learning center. These organizations will work collaboratively with community partners to focus resources to stem erosion, restore native flora and fauna and sustain a healthy marine ecosystem for the island. Significantly, an initiative to utilize the unique resources of Kahoʻoawe to nurture the mastery of Hawaiian science, cultural and spiritual skills and practices will be launched. As part of the plan, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has provided $129,100 to Kohe Mālamalama O Kanaloa - Protect Kahoʻolawe Fund for the training of cultural practitioners as they engage in the stewardship of the island in 2016 and 2017.
As provided for in state law (HRS 6-K) the plan envisions the island being part of
the first lands transferred to the sovereign Native Hawaiian governing entity by 2026.
For an account and recollection published on Civil Beat by Ian Lind, click here.