Pohakuloa lies in the center of Hawai’i Island. It is surrounded by the majestic mountains of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. All lands of Hawai’i have incredible significance to Hawaiian culture and history. Pohakuloa is currently under a massive attack of desecration, dishonor, and abuse. Crown lands (Queen Liliu’oklani lands that were taken during the time of the Overthrow) were offered to the U.S. Military for Training purposes, even though hundreds of cultural activists, residents, and kua’aina of Hawai’i opposed this action in early 1950s. Every branch of the U.S. Military currently seeks training in one of our most sacred places. The effects of ‘training’ with weapons and nuclear reactors creates a toxic stew of Depleted Uranium (DU). DU is exposed to the islands, our ‘aina and the people daily. DU is a significant health hazard; besides the external radiation health effects is the internal effects, that can cause kidney failure, cancer, & even death.  The potential for health effects from internal exposure is related to the amount of DU that enters a person’s body. If DU enters a persons body, it will remain in the body. 

We, as concerned native Hawaiians and residents of Hawaiʻi, alarmed by the ongoing and newly announced military build-up at the Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA). Under the control of the U.S. Army and located on Hawaiʻi Trust "Ceded" Lands, PTA is the largest live-fire range and training complex (132,000 acres) in Hawaiʻi or anywhere in the Pacific region.

What is presently happening at Pōhakuloa is what was happening on the Island of Kahoʻolawe when the U.S. Armed Forces and other countries used this sacred ʻāina for live-fire training and as a bombing target from 1941 to 1990. 

PTA is five times the size of the Island of Kahoʻolawe with an artillery impact area of 51,000 acres that has been heavily bombarded for nearly 60 years that it is considered an extremely hazardous zone because it contains a significant amount of unexploded ordinances. These lands will be rendered too dangerous for any future civilian use---as we have witnessed previously with both the Island of Kahoʻolawe and Mākua Valley on the Island of Oʻahu.

The current military activities at Pohakuloa are in violation of this United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Likewise, foreign countries participating in Rim Pacific (RIMPAC) war-game maneuvers are also in violation and should not be causing further desecration to Pōhakuloa and other parts of our Hawaiian Islands. 

Through Kahoʻolawe, we experienced even larger lessons about how we have a kuleana to properly care for our precious Hawaiian Islands. Our kūpuna (elders) understood and honored this kuleana as Aloha ʻĀina, a loving care for the natural elements, resources and forces of life.

Accordingly, it is about living in harmony with our ʻāina, kai (ocean) and everything else we are connected to.

We are the people of Hawai’i, have to shift our consciousness of humanity, by truly understanding our purpose as people of this land.

Mary Ann PahukoaComment