The new commanding general of the U.S. Army Pacific may be softening his position with regard to live fire training in Makua. The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports:
There may be no Army live-fire training in Makua Valley for years to come, and possibly never again, the new commanding general of the U.S. Army in the Pacific said.
Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski, who took over the Fort Shafter-based command in March, said he’s focusing on providing replacement live-fire training for Hawaii soldiers through range improvements at Schofield Barracks and at Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii island.
“I firmly believe that if those things stay on track at Schofield and PTA, we will not have to live fire in Makua,” Wiercinski said in a recent interview.
Additionally, Wiercinski is putting on hold his predecessor’s plan to convert Makua into a “world-class” roadside bomb and counterinsurgency training center as the Army continues to deal with litigation that has prevented live fire in the 4,190-acre Waianae Coast valley since 2004.
“I’m not going to move forward with disrupting anything or trying to add another element to this until we get the first steps done,” he said. “I don’t want to complicate what’s already in the court system.”
But Makua is still being held hostage as insurance against delays in the expansion of training areas in Lihu’e (Schofield) and Pohakuloa, which pits communities and islands against one another. There have been major changes in the army’s command structure that shifted more training and operations to the U.S. Army Pacific:
U.S. Army Pacific oversees issues such as Makua Valley, but also has taken on greater responsibilities across the region.
Troop levels in Alaska and Hawaii have increased as numbers have dropped in South Korea. A series of sub-commands has been added in Hawaii that has bolstered Fort Shafter’s command and control role as an administrative and deployable headquarters.
In years past, U.S. Army Pacific “never really participated in exercises as a headquarters, never participated in operations as a headquarters,” Wiercinski said.
It was always a service component command, meaning it did all of the administrative functions.
“For the first time in the last couple of years, it’s become operationalized,” Wiercinski said. “It gives (U.S. Pacific Command) an extra set of headquarters to be able to do things at a moment’s notice.”
This shift has meant an expansion of Fort Shafter as the Army Pacific headquarters:
In 2001, Fort Shafter had 1,194 soldier “billets,” or positions, and a total population of 4,077, including families and civilian workers, officials said.
That population now stands at 6,306 military members with a total Fort Shafter census of 13,172, according to the command.
While the U.S. tries to reinforce its military presence in east Asia in order to contain China, it is also withdrawing and realigning forces to Guam and Hawai’i in response to protest in Korea, Japan and Okinawa. The realignment of forces in Korea is having negative repercussions for Hawai’i:
The Eighth Army is becoming a combat unit in a return to its Korean War-era roots.
Fort Shafter will exercise the service component command change with the Eighth Army in August.
For an increase in soldiers in Hawaii, firing ranges have been added at Schofield and a Battle Area Complex for Stryker vehicle training is expected to be completed in late 2012, officials said.
Meanwhile, a new Infantry Platoon Battle Area at PTA that could permanently replace Makua Valley might be ready for use in 2014 or 2015, the Army said.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE
Today’s Honolulu Star Advertiser
reports that a planned Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment center has been delayed due to difficulty in the consultation process regarding the preservation of historic properties:
The reason for the long delay lies with the VA’s difficulty in navigating the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, and Section 106 of that act, which requires federal agencies to take into account effects on historic properties, and consult with state and other preservation agencies over their proposed actions.
Pua Aiu, administrator for the State Historic Preservation Division, said it’s taken a long time to gain consensus on the project because it’s going in on the “relatively pristine” Tripler grounds, an area that’s eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
“And when that happens, (consultation) normally takes a long time,” Aiu said.
Aiu said it’s not unusual for an agency to come in and “they believe their project is really good, and we believe their project is really good, but they have to accommodate the historic preservation rules. It’s a federal law.”
The VA came in initially with a project “that was simply unacceptable to be put on a property that’s eligible for the (National Register),” she said.
Veterans’ advocates say that the facility is desperately needed and criticize the “bureaucratic impasse” that has delayed the project.
There is no doubt that the epidemic of PTSD America’s wars have unleashed on our communities desperately needs attention. But as the New York Times article “A Beast in the Heart of Every Fighting Man” makes painfully clear, PTSD is merely a symptom of the profound moral, spiritual and social “disease” of war and militarism. Treating symptoms will not cure the disease.
And why should Hawai’i's cultural resources, environment and communities have to pay the terrible costs of war, whether they are in Makiki, Moanalua, Lihu’e (Schofield), Makua, or Pohakuloa?
Here is a sample of an excellent article in the New York Times about the Stryker Brigade murders of civilians in Afghanistan:
April 27, 2011
A Beast in the Heart of Every Fighting Man
By LUKE MOGELSON
Last May, in the small village of Qualaday in western Kandahar Province, a young Army lieutenant and his sergeants met with several elders to discuss the recent killing of a local mullah. The desert heat was fierce, and the elders led the soldiers across their village to sit under the shade of nearby trees. Three days had passed since they were last there; during that interval the place appeared to have been abandoned. When they sat down, some of the soldiers removed their helmets, and a few elders their sandals and turbans. A freelance photographer was permitted to make an audio recording of the discussion. The lieutenant wanted to know where everyone had gone. One elder explained: People left because they were afraid.
“Ask them, ‘Do they understand why we shot this dude?’ ” the lieutenant told his interpreter. During their last patrol to Qualaday, soldiers in the platoon had attacked Mullah Allah Dad with rifles and a fragmentation grenade that blew off the lower halves of his legs and badly disfigured his face. The soldiers claimed that Allah Dad was trying to throw a grenade at them. Two days after the killing, however, a company commander attended a council during which the district leader announced that people believed the incident had been staged and that the Americans had planted the grenade in order to justify a murder.
“Tell them it’s important that not only the people in this village know, but the people in surrounding villages know, that this guy was shot because he took an aggressive action against coalition forces,” the lieutenant told his interpreter. “We didn’t just [expletive] come over and just shoot him randomly. We don’t do that.”
Last month, in a military courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash., 22-year-old Jeremy Morlock confessed to participating in the premeditated murder of Mullah Allah Dad, as well as the murders of two other Afghan civilians. In exchange for his agreement to testify against four other soldiers charged in the crimes, including the supposed ringleader, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, the government reduced Morlock’s mandatory life sentence to 24 years, with the possibility of parole after approximately 8. The rest of the accused, who are still awaiting trial, contest the allegations against them.
The story that has been told so far — by Morlock in his confession and by various publications that relied heavily on the more sensational accusations from interviews hastily conducted by Army special agents in Afghanistan — is a fairly straightforward one: a sociopath joined the platoon and persuaded a handful of impressionable subordinates to join him in sport killing as opportunities arose. There may indeed be truth to this, though several soldiers in the platoon give a more complicated account. Certainly it’s a useful narrative, strategically and psychologically, for various parties trying to make sense of the murders — parents at a loss to explain their sons’ involvement and lawyers advocating their clients’ innocence and a military invested in a version of events that contains and cauterizes the problem.
On the day of Jeremy Morlock’s confession, I watched as several of his friends and relatives took the stand to vouch movingly for his character and struggle to fathom how the young man they knew could have committed the crimes to which he confessed. I watched, too, as Morlock himself recounted his failed ambition to follow in the footsteps of his father, a former master sergeant who died in a boating accident not long before Morlock deployed. “If he had been alive when I went to Afghanistan,” Morlock told the judge, “I know that would have made a difference. . . . I realize now that I wasn’t fully prepared for the reality of war as it was being fought in Afghanistan.”
Among the witnesses who testified that day was Stjepan Mestrovic, a sociologist who specializes in war crimes. Mestrovic was allowed to study an internal 500-page inquiry into the Fifth Stryker Brigade’s “command climate,” the purpose of which was to assess whether shortcomings in leadership might be partly to blame for the murders, and to identify any officers who should be held to account. In court, Mestrovic said he was shocked by how dysfunctional the brigade appeared to have been, and he added, “In a dysfunctional unit, we cannot predict who will be the deviant — but we can predict deviance.”
I met with Mestrovic later that evening and asked him to elaborate. Before becoming involved in Morlock’s case, he served as an expert witness at trials related to Abu Ghraib, the Baghdad canal killings and Operation Iron Triangle, a case with some similarities to this one, in which American soldiers in Iraq murdered three unarmed noncombatants. He excoriated the tendency of the Army — and the news media — to blame such crimes on “a few bad apples” or a “rogue platoon.” Close examination of these events, Mestrovic argued, invariably reveals that the simplistic bad-actor explanation “doesn’t fit the picture.”
Of course, while the murders in southern Afghanistan reflect most glaringly upon the men who committed them, the need to revisit these crimes goes beyond questions of culpability and motive in one platoon. As with Abu Ghraib and Haditha and My Lai, it’s hard not to consider how such acts also open a window onto the corroding conflicts themselves. This isn’t to suggest that military personnel are behaving similarly throughout Afghanistan as a result of the conditions there; it is only to say that 10 years into an unconventional war whose end does not appear imminent, the murder of civilians by troops that are supposed to be defending them might reveal more than the deviance of a few young soldiers in a combat zone.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE
The Army has desecrated another set of iwi kupuna (Native Hawaiian ancestral human remains) approximately 600 yards from the site of a previous desecration in 2010.
Thomas Lenchanko, a lineal descendant of families from the Lihu’e / Kukaniloko area and spokesperson for ‘Aha Kukaniloko has demanded immediate access to the site. The families have told the Army that the area is sacred and should be avoided by Stryker Brigade construction projects. But the Army has continued to ignore community concerns and have continued destructive activity in the vicinity, resulting in the desecration.
Chris Monahan, an independent archaeologist hired to review the adequacy of the Army’s cultural and archaeological surveys for its Stryker brigade project found that the Army failed to conduct adequate cultural and archaeological studies of the proposed project areas. Monahan calls for a more comprehensive and rigorous study of cultural sites and resources and stronger protections of these sites.
From: Gilda, Laura Ms CIV US USA IMCOM [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, April 29, 2011 10:05 AM
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; KEONAHALEIWA@aol.com; Alicegreenwood60@yahoo.com; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Clyde Namuo; email@example.com; Kai Markell; Keola Lindsey; Everett Ohta; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Cc: Lucking, Laurie J Dr CIV US USA IMCOM; firstname.lastname@example.org; Yuh, Peter Mr CIV US USA IMCOM; Abramson, Kerry Mr CIV US USA USARPAC; Char, Alvin L Mr CIV US USA IMCOM
Subject: Notice: Inadvertent Discovery of Human Remains at Schofield Barracks Apr27,2011 (UNCLASSIFIED)
The US Army Garrison Hawaii (USAG-HI) is notifying you of an inadvertent discovery of partial and displaced human remains under the provision of Appendix C (Inadvertent Discovery Plan) of the Programmatic Agreement for the Army Transformation of the 2nd Brigade, 25th ID to a Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT).
On Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at approximately 9:30am, possible human remains were inadvertently discovered in the Battle Area Complex (BAX) project area by archaeological and cultural construction monitors for Garcia and Associates (GANDA). USAG-HI Oahu Archaeologist, John Penman, was notified and immediately visited the project location and assessed one molar tooth to be human and several small bone fragments in poor condition. SHPO was notified by phone of the discovery at 12:05am. On Thursday, April 28, 2011, Dr. Sara Collins, physical anthropologist with Pacific Consulting Services Inc. (PCSI), visited the location. Dr. Collins examined the remains and determined they were human, indentifying one molar tooth and approximately 20 small fragments of a human femur or tibia with a minimum number of individuals (MNI) of one (1).
These remains are approximately 600 meters from the May 2010 discovery.
The fragments were discovered during mechanical soil extraction from a borrow pit within the project area. The fragments were discovered within disturbed soil at the edge of a borrow pit. All construction stopped at the time of discovery and the construction contractor was immediately notified that the entire borrow pit is off limits for construction activities until further notice. The original locations of the scattered fragments were marked and the fragments consolidated at the main concentration. These fragments were recovered within a 2 meter diameter area. The area surrounding the discover location was marked of with flagging. A site protection fence will be erected around the area. The GANDA cultural monitors assisted with covering the fragments and conducted protocols as appropriate.
USAG-HI DPW ENV Cultural Resources
Cultural Resources Section, 1513 Kolekole Avenue, Bldg 494, Schofield Barracks (physical)
DPW-ENV Division, 947 Santos Dumont, Bldg 105, 3rd Floor, WAAF,
Schofield Barracks, 96857 (mail)
Joan Conrow has written an excellent synopsis of the military’s depleted uranium (DU) contamination issue in Hawai’i on the Civil Beat website. Here’s an excerpt of her article:
The Army prohibited all training with DU in 1996; however, munitions containing DU remain in wide use.
Although the Army for years denied that it had ever used DU munitions in Hawaii, contractors found 15 tail assemblies from the M101 spotting rounds while clearing a firing range at Schofield Barracks in 2005. Even then the Army did not publicly disclose the presence of DU in Hawaii. The issue came to light inadvertently in 2006, when Earthjustice discovered communication about DU in Army e-mails subpoenaed as part of the ongoing litigation over the use of Makua as a live fire training facility.
The Army subsequently acknowledged that it trained soldiers on the Davy Crockett weapon in Hawaii and at least seven other states during the 1960s.
As a result, some residents have developed a deep distrust of the Army’s statements regarding DU, even though the Army maintains it is committed to transparency on the issue.
It’s unclear how much DU is located in the Islands, or exactly where. Some 29,318 M101 spotting rounds containing 12,232 pounds of DU remain unaccounted for on American installations, according to the Army’s permit application. In Hawaii, the Army’s initial surveys were conducted at just three installations — Schofield, PTA and Makua — and the effort was severely limited by dense vegetation, rugged terrain and what the military characterized as “safety considerations” due to unexploded ordnance.
It’s also unclear just how DU may be affecting human health and the environment in Hawaii, as well as other parts of the world where it was used in combat. Its potentially severe and long-lasting impacts are the core of a growing controversy over its use on the battlefield and its presence in the Islands.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE
Here’s a related article from August 2010 on the Army’s application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an after-the-fact license to “possess” DU at ranges in Hawai’i.
Yesterday, the Army announced that it will end live fire training in Makua valley. This is a win for those who have struggled for many years to save Makua from the destructive and contaminating activities of the U.S. military. The Honolulu Star Advertiser ran a story and so did the Associated Press.
However, it is only a partial victory.
The Army continues to hold Makua hostage and plans to use the valley for other kinds of training. Furthermore, the Army is shifting the bulk of its training to Schofield in Lihu’e, O’ahu and Pohakuloa on Hawai’i island. This is consistent with the recent announcement of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for expanding or renovating training facilities at Pohakuloa.
This was never a “Not-In-My-Back-Yard” movement. Trading one ‘aina for another is not acceptable. Furthermore, it leaves unchallenged the very premise that the training is needed. Training for what purpose? To invade and occupy other countries? Inflict death and destruction in the name of Pax Americana?
The movement to protect Makua moves into a challenging phase as we now push for the cleanup and return of the land. The Army is hoping that non-live fire training will be less likely to inflame community anger. By removing a major flashpoint, the Army hopes to deflate the momentum of the movement. It is more difficult to sustain high levels of energy around the technical and tedious clean up and restoration of a site. So we must be inspired by our vision of the alternative we hope to grow in Makua.
Every gain we make in Makua owes to the thousands in Hawai’i and around the world who have come forward to malama ‘aina, speak out, protest, pray and grow the peaceful and blessed community we wish to see in the world. The Makua movement must not forget its kuleana to the many people who have stood in solidarity with us, as we continue to stand and speak out in solidarity with others.
Army ends live-fire training at Makua
After decades of opposition to bombing the valley, real ordnance will be used only at Schofield and Pohakuloa
By William Cole
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 13, 2011
The last company of soldiers may have stormed the hills of Makua Valley with M-4 rifles blazing, artillery whistling overhead, mortars pounding mock enemy positions and helicopters firing from above.
After battling environmentalists and Hawaiian cultural practitioners since at least the late 1980s, the Army said this week it is acceding to community concerns and no longer will use the heavy firepower in Makua that started multiple fires in the 4,190-acre Waianae Coast valley and fueled a number of lawsuits.
In place of the company Combined Arms Live-Fire Exercises, known as CALFEXes, the Army said it is moving ahead with a plan to turn Makua into a “world class” roadside-bomb and counterinsurgency training center with convoys along hillside roads, simulated explosions and multiple “villages” to replicate Afghanistan.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE
A new study shows newborns in perchlorate contaminated areas have a 50% chance of having impaired thyroid function. Perchlorate is an oxidizer used in rocket propellant that attacks the thyroid. It has been detected in groundwater in Nohili, Kaua’i near the caves where munitions are stored. I think it was also detected in Schofield (Lihu’e). The levels detected in Hawai’i were below the federal limit (around 25 parts per billion) but above the California limit (5 ppb). Needless to say, when asked about conducting further investigations and cleaning up the contamination, the military dismissed the perchlorate contamination as insignificant. The Department of Defense has fought efforts to set tougher standards for perchlorate. Here’s an excerpt from a Press Enterprise article on the California infant health study:
A new analysis by state scientists found that low levels of a rocket fuel chemical common in Inland drinking water supplies appear to be more harmful to newborn babies than previously believed, prompting calls for a tougher limit for tap water.
Scientists with the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment examined records of blood samples drawn from the heels of 497,458 newborns in 1998 as part of a California disease-screening program.
The researchers found that the babies born in areas where tap water was contaminated with perchlorate — including babies in Riverside and San Bernardino — had a 50 percent chance of having a poorly performing thyroid gland, said Dr. Craig Steinmaus, lead author of the study published in this month’s Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE
Article and photos by Summer Nemeth
A piece of rusted ordnance atop a pohaku that was clearly impacted by past training at Lihue.
On Wednesday, July 14, 2010, I received a call from Keona Mark, a cultural monitor with Garcia & Associates (GANDA) who has been working up at Lihue. She invited me to attend a site visit that Saturday (7/17) to see some ki’i pohaku (petroglyph rocks) that are threatened by future Stryker training in the BAX at Schofield Barracks. She had told me that the invitation was limited to 10 people. I asked if others could attend, and she told me I was the last person that they had selected to go.
As soon as I got the call, I began to call others who were on the previous visit to address the desecration of ‘iwi kupuna (ancestral remains) in the “borrow pit” located in the same area (BAX). No one that I talked with received an invitation. That evening, I attended a Wahiawa Hawaiian Civic Club (WHCC) meeting, and asked if anyone had been invited the Saturday site visit. Uncle Tom Lenchanko had received a call from Keona, and had shared his mana’o on the ki’i pohaku issue with her. He said that the sites should not be moved. I was disappointed to learn that Jo-Lin Kalimapau, historian of the WHCC, was not asked to attend, as I was told by Keona that she could not make the access.
At center of photo, ‘Borrow Pit’ in BAX, where ʻiwi kupuna were desecrated during SBCT construction.
Pohaku damaged during Army training at Lihue (BAX).
One option for site protection is sandbag placement.
I had also put in a call to Kamoa Quitevis, former cultural monitor at Lihue and Kahuku, who now works for OHA. He was not informed about this visit, nor was he invited to attend, but he was able to share with me his mana’o on the issue. Years ago, Kamoa, while working at Lihue, had recommended to the Army that these ki’i pohaku remain in place.
On Saturday morning, we drove to the training area and were escorted to a temporary structure where we were briefed on the site visit (I have recorded some video on the briefing that I will share with everyone). I had asked Keona Mark why those of us in attendance were selected to represent the community. She told us that she wanted to invite “open-minded” people to share their manaʻo on the protection of sites that would be impacted in the BAX. I was disappointed that not all 10 invitees were in attendance, and also disappointed that some cultural monitors, who were given an assignment to invite people from their communities, chose to bring their ohana instead. I felt that this was a sign that they were not communicating with others in the community who should have been informed about the situation at Lihue (including plaintiffs in lawsuits relating to Stryker expansion, those who had given testimony on the SBCT EIS, and those with ties to the ʻaina).
Cultural monitors suggested that pohaku be placed here (mauka of training area)
Haleʻauʻau heiau buffer
At the briefing we were told that this site visit was a response to a consultation letter dated September of 2006. According to Laura Gilda of GANDA, the consultation was put on hold because they were unable to clear ordnance at Lihue due to an injunction which halted all work in the project area (I will include the letter at the end of this reflection). I then realized then that my attendance on this “site visit” was actually part of the Army’s checklist to meet requirements for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).
A Cultural Monitor stands next to one of the kiʻi pohaku found in the BAX
Keona Mark, cultural monitor, walking toward a kiʻi pohaku.
We were told that the Army needed feedback from the community on the protection of kiʻi pohaku that will be impacted by SBCT training (some of which are very near to targets where 50cal ammunition would be fired upon).
There were several options that we would need to consider:
1) Leaving the pohaku in place without protection.
2) Leaving pohaku in place with protection (options included soil barrier, sandbags – which would have to be replaced regularly to ensure protection, metal coffin – metal box covering pohaku which could be a hazard to soldiers in the training area, or bury pohaku in place).
3) Moving pohaku outside of the BAX, or above firebreak road. At the end of the tour, we were taken to one of the suggested areas that cultural monitors felt kiʻi pohaku should be moved. We could not enter into this area because it had not been cleared of UXO.
This artifact was in the path of a bulldozer when cultural monitors first discovered it.
One of the kiʻi pohaku moved without community consultation.
One of the many kiʻi pohaku of Lihue located in what is now the BAX
Throughout the consultation we were escorted to different sites on the BAX. We went first to Haleʻauʻau Heiau, but could only stand outside the buffer and peer in. There is unexploded ordnance on this heiau, and further access was considered too dangerous.
There were a few other kiʻi pohaku that we could not see close up because of UXO issues. Instead, cultural monitors would walk down to the area and point out where the petroglyphs were located. We were shown poor quality photographs of the carvings along with sketches and written descriptions (please see the attached packets below).
We were also told that these kiʻi pohaku were aligned with Haleʻauʻau, and it looked like the alignment was also in the direction of Kukaniloko. There was a lot of discussion between those on the tour during the consultation process. Many felt it would be best to move the pohaku out of harm’s way, although I felt that moving the pohaku would permanently disconnect us from discovering the kaona our ancestors had intended for us to learn. I was extremely disappointed to learn that several pohaku and artifacts had already been moved from their original locations without community consultation.
In my short visit to Lihue, I was surprised that these artifacts and cultural sites still exist after almost 100 years of military training. What we were able to see today was just a handful of kiʻi pohaku and Haleʻauʻau Heiau, but according to the map we were shown at the beginning of the day, there is much, much more that we did not have clearance to see.
The Army wants us to see these sites and artifacts as separate entities, rather than parts of a larger complex within a Traditional Cultural Property.
So the questions remain: Was the SBCT EIS really complete if protections for this sacred area and all of its cultural resources were not included? Has the Army completed a thorough cultural survey of Lihue, Kahuku, Mokuleia and Makua? If surveys were complete, why were these results not included in the EIS before a decision was made to transform the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii to an Stryker Brigade Combat Team? If thorough surveys were not complete, why were they allowed to continue construction of the BAX and other firing ranges? Why was this consultation visit limited to 10 people, and why were cultural monitors allowed to hand-pick community representatives rather than inviting those who have addressed concerns for cultural sites in the past? What is the real reason behind delaying this consultation process for 4 years?
This community consultation process is serious – the Army has been able to avoid reaching out to the larger community thus far, and we need to hold them accountable for what they have done and continue to do to our wahi pana!
In order to force them to consult with more of us, we need more kanaka maoli to specifically request to become concerned parties to the section 106 consultation relating to cultural sites in Lihue. I urge everyone to demand access to see Lihue! It is important for you to see this desecration with your own eyes, and to connect with this ʻaina before the Army attempts to obliterate the physical proof of our existence here. To request section 106 consultation status, or to demand access, contact:
Dr. Laurie J. Lucking
Chief, Cultural Resources Section
Directorate of Public Works
US Army Garrison, Hawaii
Army seeks better ties with Native Hawaiians
By Audrey McAvoy – The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Jun 20, 2010 14:14:17 EDT
HONOLULU — The people of Waianae believe the first Hawaiians were created in Makua, a lush valley about 30 miles from downtown Honolulu. The valley is also home to three large heiau, or ancient stone platforms used for worship. So it’s no surprise many Native Hawaiians consider the valley to be sacred.
The Army, though, sees Makua as a prime spot for soldiers to practice firing live ammunition.
These widely divergent perspectives illustrate the gulf between the Army and Hawaiians that have contributed to an often antagonistic and deeply distrustful relationship between the two.
Now the Army is trying to narrow the gap. In a series of firsts, the Army Garrison Hawaii commander hired a liaison for Hawaiian issues, formed a council of Hawaiians to advise him, and brought Army and Hawaiian leaders together to sign a covenant in which both sides vowed to respect and understand one another.
“Instead of going back and rehashing the past, I’m trying to make a fresh start, trying to make that relationship positive, make things better down the line,” said Col. Matthew Margotta.
But the Army did not invite several Hawaiians embroiled in ongoing disputes with the Army to join the council or sign the covenant, prompting critics to question how effective these initiatives will be.
“You want to work together but you only want to work with people who don’t disagree with you. How good is that?” said William Aila, whose uncle was ousted from Makua during World War II and who is fighting for the Army to return the valley.
The military took control of Makua in 1943 when Hawaii was under wartime martial law. Authorities told residents to leave, and the Army and Navy began using the valley for bombing practice.
The explosions damaged homes and the community’s church and cemetery. Interviews for a 1998 oral history commissioned by the Navy showed residents were embittered by the destruction and the takeover that severed their families, who had once fished and farmed in Makua, from the land.
Today the Army still controls Makua under a lease with the state that expires in 2029.
In recent years, the Army and Hawaiians have clashed over the Army’s restrictions on access to sites in the valley. The Army cites safety for the limits, although Hawaiians say they’ve long visited these sites and understand the risks.
Hawaiian anger also mounted in 2003 when the Army’s planned burn of brush raged out of control and scorched more than half of the 7-square-mile valley.
Elsewhere in the islands, Hawaiians and the Army have butted heads over the appropriate use of lands at Schofield Barracks, which is home to several thousand soldiers in the 25th Infantry Division, and Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island.
Last month, several Hawaiians objected when an army contractor leveling land for a new Schofield training ground unearthed an ancient bone fragment. They had opposed the construction of the training ground precisely because they feared human remains would be found if the soil was disturbed.
Hawaiian tradition says bones must stay in the ground until they’re dissolved so the deceased can complete his or her journey to the afterlife.
Margotta says the covenant, signed in March, will contribute to better relations by committing future commanders to partner and cooperate with Hawaiians. This should impose some consistency even as leaders rotate posts every two to three years.
“There’s been commanders out there who have embraced the Hawaiian community and partnered with them and worked with them. And there have been others who have been not so inclined,” Margotta said. “We wanted to codify it for successive generations.”
Col. Douglas Mulbury, who took over from Margotta in a change of command ceremony last week, agrees with the initiatives and hopes to build on them, spokesman Loran Doane said.
Neil Hannahs, the director for the land assets division of Kamehameha Schools, said the council and covenant may help ameliorate conflict by spurring dialogue.
“Let’s just get together and talk before we’re at a point of crisis and conflict,” Hannahs said.
Hannahs is on the advisory council. He also signed the covenant, although as an individual and not as representative of Kamehameha Schools, an education institution and trust established by the will of a 19th century Hawaiian princess.
Aila isn’t optimistic. He wasn’t invited to join the advisory council or to sign the covenant even though he has long clashed with the Army over access to Makua and, more recently, the treatment of human remains found at Schofield last month.
“It’s great for PR,” he said, “to give the impression that things are hunky-dory here in Hawaii. But it doesn’t reflect the reality on the ground.”
The Army would do more to improve relations by leaving Makua, Aila said. He argues soldiers can train elsewhere.
Annelle Amaral, the Hawaiian liaison for Army Garrison Hawaii, said she didn’t invite people to join the council who have “site specific” concerns. She instead gathered Hawaiians who represent fields including education, business, and religion.
She denied the council omitted people who disagree with the Army, noting it includes Rev. Kaleo Patterson. The minister has vocally opposed ballistic missile testing on Kauai and pushed for the “decolonization and total independence” of Hawaii.
For some Hawaiians, the covenant fails to address the fundamental problem as they see it: the Army is part of an illegal occupation that began when U.S. businessmen, supported by U.S. Marines, overthrew Hawaii’s queen in 1893.
“Instead of having a covenant that sort of says you know ‘we promise to be really nice and do our best to protect sacred places,’ I’d rather get a timetable for when they’ll actually stop and leave us,” said Jonathan Osorio, a University of Hawaii professor of Hawaiian studies.
The Honouliuli forest in the Wai’anae mountains is a treasure trove for native species, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. This is also an area where the Army condemned about 2000 acres as part of its Stryker brigade expansion. The Army has out planted endangered native plants in Honouliuli as part of its endangered species mitigation plan for Makua valley. Since Army training in Makua has destroyed most of the forest in Makua and endangered the remaining stands of native forest, the Army collected, grew and out planted specimens of endangered plants into the Honouliuli forest reserve several miles away on the other side of the Wai’anae mountains as insurance against extinction in Makua. Now Stryker expansion into the Honouliuli reserve may threaten the out plantings of endangered species.
The Army contributed $2.7 million from the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program toward the purchase of the land. The Army Compatible USe Buffer Program was established to support conservation zones near military training areas as a buffer against “encroachment” by human activity or residences. While the conservation sounds like a good idea, it helps the Army to continue its destructive training activities in adjacent lands. In the case of the Honouliuli reserve, the conservation land now “buffers” the severely impacted training areas in Lihu’e (Schofield Range), where important Native Hawaiian cultural complexes have been damaged, including the Haleauau Heiau, and where iwi kupuna (human remains) were recently desecrated by Army construction activities.
Posted on: Thursday, June 3, 2010
Oahu’s Honouliuli Forest Reserve now state-protected
Slopes above Kunia provide water, wildlife haven
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writer
KUNIA — More than 3,500 acres of lowland forest in the Wai’anae Range that are a prime source of O’ahu’s drinking water and home to dozens of endangered species are now protected thanks to a purchase involving a federal, state and private partnership.
The Honouliuli Forest Reserve was purchased by the Trust For Public Land from the James Campbell Co. LLC and added to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ forest reserve for watershed and habitat protection.
The reserve served as a backdrop to a gathering in the Kunia foothills of the mountain range yesterday as about 200 people celebrated the completion of the five-year effort.
Dignitaries, staff of state and federal agencies, private organizations and volunteers attended, including U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, state Rep. Marcus Oshiro and Tad Davis, the Army deputy assistant secretary for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health.
The Trust For Public Land raised $4.3 million for the property: $2.7 million from the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program, $627,000 from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Recovery Land Acquisition Program and $980,000 from the Hawai’i Legacy Land Conservation Fund. The fund gets 10 percent of Hawai’i's real estate conveyance tax.
“The most important reason why it’s worth preserving is because it feeds O’ahu’s largest drinking water aquifer ,” said Lea Hong, Hawaiian Islands program director for the Trust For Public Land. “The water we drink and use to water our plants and grow our crops comes from the Pearl Harbor aquifer, which is fed by this watershed at the Honouliuli Forest Reserve.”
The reserve is also home to 35 threatened and endangered species, including 16 found nowhere else in the world, Hong said. The O’ahu ‘elepaio, a bird that is a symbol of Hawaiian canoe making, lives there, along with the endangered “singing” kahuli tree snail, she said.
The goal of the Trust For Public Land is to conserve land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and other natural places.
In Hawai’i, it has helped preserve such places as Moanalua Valley, Pūpūkea-Paumalu and Ma’o Organic Farm. The Honouliuli purchase is among the organization’s largest on O’ahu.
Speakers at the event thanked the many people who worked to bring about the sale and preservation.
But Laura Thielen, who heads the DLNR, also challenged the policymakers to find ways to fund the management of the land.
The reserve will open new demands for trails, gathering places and cultural site access, Thielen said.
“We’re going to need your help,” she said. “You did such a wonderful job on the acquisition and I’d like to challenge all of you to spend the next 10 years on focusing on the management of these places.”
The Army spends about $500,000 a year on management of the land, and an endowment will be established at the Hawai’i Community Foundation to support the state’s management there. Pledges to the fund are $295,000 from The Nature Conservancy, $25,000 from the Gill Family Trusts and $25,000 from the Edmund C. Olson Trust.
Tony Gill, of Gill Ewa Lands LLC, spoke for his family about a two-centuries-long journey for the reserve.
Some 200 years ago, the area was a thriving native forest, Gill said. By 150 years ago, with no eye toward conservation, the trees had been taken and the forest devastated. By the time the Campbells took over 130 to 140 years ago, most of the area was grass, he said.
The Campbells began to reforest the area and got help from the government and the Civilian Conservation Corps, he said. Today the mountain range is covered with forest, and water is returning, but the land isn’t as it once was, Gill said.
“Starting today and for the next 150 years, the Gill family and the Olson family, working with the state and DOFAW (DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife), will do what we can to replenish the mountainside as it once was with native species,” he said, “because that is where our heart is.”
Reach Eloise Aguiar at email@example.com.
Stryker brigade expansion project disturbed Native Hawaiian Burials (iwi kupuna) in the Lihu’e / Schofield Barracks area. Community groups told the Army that the entire area was culturally significant and needed to be protected from military activity. Native Hawaiian cultural monitors rediscovered the Hale’au’au Heiau that the Army had listed as destroyed. This put a cramp on their plans for the Stryker expansion. As as result the cultural monitors were removed from the project. Now new cultural monitors have identified the bones of iwi kupuna. The Army must stop the Stryker project. It is a corrupt, destructive and wasteful project that is driven by political motives to entrench the Army in Hawai’i. Strykers Out of Hawai’i!
From: Doane, Loran Mr CIV US USA IMCOM [mailto:Loran.Doane@us.army.mil]
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 1:28 PM
Subject: Army Protects Discovery at Schofield (UNCLASSIFIED)
Release number: 2010-05-06
May 18, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Army Protects Discovery at Schofield
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii – Army-contracted archaeological and cultural monitors discovered suspected human remains on a Schofield Barracks construction site, Friday, while supervising a routine ground excavation.
Army archaeologists and cultural resource specialists were immediately dispatched to the site to make an initial determination as to whether the remains were likely human. Dr. James Pokines, forensic anthropologist with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, confirmed on Saturday that the remains were indeed human.
Protective fencing has been erected in the area, and all construction activities at the site have been halted until further notice.
Procedures in the form of an “Inadvertent Discovery Plan” were in place and put into action, with site identification, protection and notifications to the Hawaii State Historic Preservation Office (HSHP) and the Oahu Burial Council (OBC).
“Anytime there is construction taking place and in which digging occurs,there is always a possibility that one could encounter an unexpected find,” said Laurie Lucking, Cultural Resource manager for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. “It is for this reason that we have contingency plans and procedures in place so that finds like this can be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.”
The Army will continue to work closely with the necessary state and federal agencies, to ensure compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in order to protect and preserve Hawaii’s rich historical and cultural heritage.
MEDIA NOTE: Media who would like should contact Loran Doane, Media Relations chief, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs at (808) 656-3157 or cell (317)-847-2222.
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