Comment: On Molokai’s November 26 blockade

On November 26, in waters off the island of Molokai, a group of 14 indigenous Hawaiians gathered in the 4:30 a.m. darkness to risk their lives in a blockade to stop a small cruise ship from entering their harbor. It was an unannounced blockade and no one knew if in fact the ship would stop or run them over.

The owner of the 145-foot American Safari Explorer visited Molokai and saw a great opportunity for his company of six cruise ships. He contacted a few Molokai merchants and started offloading his passengers—part of “the 1 percent”—on November 10.

The business people were celebrating, but the locals—part of “the 99 percent” –- were asking, “Who the hell is this, and what do they want?” We contacted the owner of the ship and asked him to stop his visits and talk story with us so we could work out our concerns. He declined.

Our 30-year-old knee jerk reaction was to protest (occupy) his arrival on the wharf as they boarded their tour vans. For several visits, we occupied, with no results. So on November 26, we decided to “Occupy the Ocean.” The ship turned around and the owner announced on TV news that all future visits would be canceled until talks with the community could be worked on. The very next day (Sunday) the ship sneaked back into the harbor. This time, their vans were blocked on the road to Halawa valley, and they had to turn back again. We are determined that no one forces or sneaks their way onto Molokai.

Molokai is but a speck in the great Pacific continent, but the majority of the population here are native Hawaiians. And as part of the 300 million indigenous world family, we are demanding full and effective participation, and free, prior, and informed consent. We consider ourselves Aloha Aina Warriors. We will fight to protect our island, our land, our resources. It is our kuleana as told to us in the mo’olelo of Haloa that we need to protect Haloa (that which feeds us) and Haloa will provide for our people.