Revealing Hawaiian ‘secrets’, facilitating Hawaiian acquiescence

In July 2009, Chinook helicopters whisked a group of Kanaka Maoli leaders to Makua valley, purportedly to visit cultural sites and gain an understanding of the Army’s cultural preservation efforts.  As the choppers descended on the valley from the sea, you could imagine Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries over the signature slow, dull thud of the Chinook rotors.   When the Hawaiian leaders got off the chopper, however, they were mobbed by a flock of reporters who snapped photos and video to tout the Army’s outreach efforts to Native Hawaiians.   The incident caused significant pilikia (trouble) in the Hawaiian community.  The image of renowned leaders in the Hawaiian movement were used to sell the message that Kanaka Maoli support the Army’s return to training in Makua.

At the time, it was not known that this publicity stunt was part of an aggressive community relations campaign by the Army to win over Kanaka Maoli support for its training.   In March 2008, the Army awarded a hefty two-year “Facilitation Services Contract” (W912CN08C0051) to Annelle Amaral, a former state legislator, long time women’s rights advocate and leader in the Hawaiian community. The first year award was $246,272 a year, up to a total of $492,544.

A half-million dollars ought to buy a lot of facilitation services.  The question is what is the scope of work under the contract, and why did she, a civil rights leader in the community, accept a contract that in essence helps the military better control the Hawaiian community as they are being assaulted with desecration, environmental destruction and land grabbing.  Over the past several years, Ms. Amaral facilitated a number of public meetings on military environmental impact statements, including the controversial Stryker brigade EIS hearings where some of us were arrested for bringing signs and visual displays into the meeting.  Perhaps it was this willingness to be tough with activists that won her this half million dollar deal.  But it was terribly sad and deeply troubling to have Kanaka Maoli facilitators doing the dirty work of shutting down their own people and shielding the military from the well-deserved wrath of the community.

It seems from the article below, the services also include “proactive” outreach where leaders in the Kanaka Maoli community build ties with military leaders. While teaching the military about Hawaiian culture can seem harmless enough, even beneficial in some instances, the problem arises when these activities are part of an orchestrated campaign to mask real conflicts and grievances and to blur the contradictions between the interests of the military versus the Kanaka Maoli community.  It is also a way to identify and organize those individuals in the community who support the military’s position, and attempt to neutralize or marginalize potential opponents.  In community organizing, this is called “counter organizing”.  In military doctrine it is “counter insurgency”.  The goal is to establish control of a population.

Whether or not Ms. Amaral truly believes that she is helping Hawaiians by sensitizing the military to Hawaiian concerns, at the end of the day, her services help the Army to divide the community and suppress opposition, in essence to deliver her own community to military control.


Way of the Warrior: Native Hawaiian lecture series reveals ancient secrets

Sep 6, 2009

By Bill Mossman, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii – The much-anticipated Native Hawaiian lecture series got off to a rousing start, Friday, as military leaders were introduced to one of Hawaii’s best-kept secrets: the ancient fighting art known as lua.

Practiced by the chiefs’ elite fighting forces in olden times, lua went underground for decades before resurfacing in recent years, thanks in part to event guest speaker Dr. Mitchell Eli.

An olohe (master) lua, Eli is a former student of Charles Kenn, the man credited with preserving the martial art for today’s generation of students.

“One thing about Hawaiians is that we are very good at keeping secrets,” explained emcee Annelle Amaral, Native Hawaiian liaison for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI), to about 120 guests as they dined at the Nehelani, Schofield Barracks. “We have had to keep secrets, under self-preservation and the need to protect that, which is sacred … for too many generations.

“But what we have learned in contemporary days,” she continued, “is that within the telling of secrets, in the sharing of the knowledge of our kupuna, we have made our young people proud of their kupuna, made them proud of who they are.”

When it was his turn to speak, Eli first thanked the U.S. Army for a forum in which to share the history of lua. Then, after briefly discussing his background and familiarity with the Wahiawa community, Eli informed the Army’s senior leadership that they would be treated to a 35-minute film that would best explain the Hawaiian martial art.

Hosted by Green Beret Terry Schappert, the action-packed film, which first aired back in May on the History Channel, featured Schappert’s introduction to lua – a complex fighting system specializing in bone-breaking and joint-dislocating strikes with the hands and feet, as well as mastery over a slew of ancient weapons.

For Eli, a chiropractor who rarely speaks about lua in public, the film was an opportunity to demonstrate that members of differing cultures could come together for a common cause. Or as he put it, the video production was made possible through “the combination of good works between our culture, the military and those who assisted us.”

Following the presentation, Col. Teresa Parsons admitted the film was an “eye-opening experience” for her.

“I’ve always seen replicas of the war instruments, but I never knew of the skill sets of the Hawaiian warrior,” explained Parsons, who’s in her third tour of duty in Hawaii and currently working out of Tripler Army Medical Center. “I’m in awe, and have a new respect for another aspect of the Hawaiian tradition.”

Parsons was particularly fascinated by the leiomano, a handheld weapon fashioned with serrated tiger shark teeth on one end and a spear on the other. In the film, lua warriors demonstrated how the weapon could be used for lethal blows that tear away at not only flesh and sinew, but even bone.

“They made some serious holes with that weapon,” she commented. “I don’t even know if today we could repair the injuries that they have the ability to cause.”

Sponsored by USAG-HI through a $5,000 donation from the Kamehameha Schools, the event brought together the military community, including host Col. Matthew Margotta, commander, USAG-HI, and Hawaiian leaders from various Royal Hawaiian Societies charged with preserving Hawaiian culture

Societies in attendance included the Royal Order of Kamehameha, Hale O Na Alii, Ahahui Kaahumanu and the Daughters and Sons of Hawaiian Warriors, also known as Mamakakaua.

“We intentionally set up our tables so that there would be military and Hawaiians at them,” Amaral noted. “This will hopefully help when it comes to exchanging ideas with one another.”

The evening program began with Rev. William Kaina of Kawaihao Church offering the pule (prayer), in which he thanked the Soldiers in attendance for their dedicated service. Noted kumu hula Wayne Kahoonei Panoke followed. He offered a chant to introduce members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha, Chapter VIII, who were dressed in full regalia.

The members then offered a lei as hookupu (gift given in exchange for spiritual power, or mana) to a picture of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole – as did Col. Margotta, who honored the Hawaiian monarch with a maile lei.

According to Amaral, Prince Kuhio is not only credited with restoring the Royal Societies following the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, but with also being olohe lua to Kenn

Amaral added that she’s hoping to have Nainoa Thompson speak in September, when the second of a four-part lecture series resumes. Thompson is a Native Hawaiian navigator famous for commanding two double-hulled canoes, the Hokulea and Hawaiiloa, on voyages from Hawaii through Polynesia. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the Kamehameha Schools.

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