Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kānaka Maoli Scholars Against Desecration

Kānaka Maoli Scholars Against Desecration

Second Statement on Naue, March 24, 2009

As Kānaka Maoli scholars we write to follow-up on our statement from September 13, 2008 publicly condemning the state-sponsored desecration of a Native Hawaiian burial site at Wainiha, Kaua`i resulting from the construction of a new home at Naue Point by California real estate developer Joseph Brescia. Both the state abuse of power and the desecration continue unabated and must come to a halt.

In the late 1980s, in response to a massive burial site disturbance at Honokahua, Maui, Kanaka Maoli came together to challenge the laws that allowed this type of sacrilege. As a result of this history, five Island Burial Councils were created and are administratively attached to the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) of the Department of Land and Natural Resources to address concerns relating to Native Hawaiian burial sites. By Hawai`i state statute, the composition of each island Burial Council must consist of a majority of Kānaka Maoli. The preservation criteria established by state law favor the "preservation in place" of burial sites that contain a "concentration of skeletal remains," or are "pre-contact" or "historic period" burial sites associated with important individuals and events.

At Naue, there are 30 known burial remains within less than half of an acre, with a high likelihood that more remains are present. Naue is a significant historical site that is frequently acknowledged in hula, oli, mele, and other Hawaiian knowledge sources. Accordingly, the Kaua`i- Ni`ihau Island Burial Council appropriately voted to preserve in place the burial site on the property claimed by Brescia.

In complete contradiction to both their own state law, and the April 3, 2008 determination adopted by the island Burial Council to preserve the burials in place, the SHPD improperly approved a "Burial Treatment Plan" for Brescia without the required consultation with the island Burial Council. The Burial Treatment Plan was submitted by Mike Dega, the archaeologist hired by Joseph Brescia as a consultant in support of his building a private home atop of the burial site.

The SHPD's own rules empower the island Burial Council to determine the disposition of previously known burials. The island Burial Council's decision on this issue is supposed to be binding. Yet, SHPD deputy administrator Nancy McMahon sanctioned the use of vertical buffers and concrete caps on the burials to make way for installing the footings of Brescia's house. Her authorization for such an intrusive "preservation" measure is a fundamental repudiation of the power allocated to all of the island Burial Councils.

By ignoring the decision of the island Burial Council, her actions undermine both the very concept of historic preservation and the reason for the founding of the island Burial Councils. Tragically, before a court could intervene, and based on McMahon's unauthorized agreements, Brescia's team managed to install massive house foundations on a portion of the cemetery.

The Kaua`i Planning Commission's approval of Brescia's house plans included a specific condition issued in a letter dated December 12, 2007 that "No building permit shall be issued until requirements of the State Historic Preservation Division and the Burial Council have been met." The requirements of the island Burial Council have not been met; the Council recommended that there be no building upon the cemetery. SHPD covered up the island Burial Council's decision by trying to pretend that vertical buffers and concrete jackets constitute "preservation"; they do not.

During the consultation required by the preliminary October 2008 court ruling, on November 6, 2008, the island Burial Council recommended that the SHPD reject the revised Burial Treatment Proposal submitted by Dega. Therefore, Brescia still has not met the requirements of the island Burial Council and thus, the building permit should be revoked. Because the Kaua`i Planning Commission's December 2007 approval was specifically conditioned on Brescia's meeting the island Burial Council's requirements, there is no real approval of Brescia's house plans. The island Burial Council made clear the proposal to build on the burial site was culturally unacceptable to its members, which is why the Council rejected the revised Burial Treatment Plan. The Kaua`i Planning Commission should be held accountable to rescind the conditional approval it gave, since its requirements were not met.

In the midst of this ongoing desecration, last month, on February 4, 2009, the SHPD wrote a letter to Dega acknowledging his sixth proposed Burial Treatment Plan. This is the same Burial Treatment Plan that McMahon circulated to Native Hawaiian Organizations for consultation as part of a court order by Judge Watanabe on October 2, 2008. The outcome of this consultation with Native Hawaiian Organizations was their sweeping rejection of the proposal. Without any regard for this rejection, the SHPD letter to Dega states, "at this time we cannot accept the Burial Treatment Plan without some revisions which are to be addressed below" and then outlines seven concerns for him to deal with such as detailing a landscape plan for burials outside of the house footprint. In other words, the letter basically instructs Dega to revise the Burial Treatment Plan in order for SHPD to approve it. This is unacceptable; if McMahon's decision is reaffirmed despite the outcome of the consultation with Native Hawaiian Organizations that clearly rejected the proposal, it would set a dangerous precedent and strip the island Burial Councils of any meaningful authority.

To date, 5th Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe has denied requests for a temporary restraining order and has even refused to grant a temporary injunction to stop further construction until the full civil suit is adjudicated by the state court. The civil suit - Joseph Brescia v. Ka`iulani Huff, et al. - currently in progress is a travesty. Brescia is suing at least 17 individuals-almost all of whom are Kānaka Maoli -implicated in protecting the burial site from his construction work. Beside trespass, Brescia has accused them of five other counts: private nuisance and harassment, tortious interference with contract, civil conspiracy described as "terroristic threatening", intentional interference, ejectment, and slander of title. We stand in solidarity with the defendants. Brescia has no one else to blame but himself; he knowingly took the chance of building his house over a grave site when the essence of the island Burial Council's action was to preserve all burials remains in place.

We must remind the state agencies that their own law, Hawai`i revised statute 711-1107 on Desecration, specifically states that no one may commit the offense of desecrating "a place of worship or burial," and the statute defines "desecrate" as "defacing, damaging, polluting, or otherwise physically mistreating in a way that the defendant knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the defendant's action."

We call on all people of conscience to join in our condemnation of the desecration of the ancestral remains by:
  • holding the Kaua`i Planning Commission accountable for upholding theirown condition by finding Brescia in violation of it by starting to build;
  • demanding that the SHPD honor the Kaua`i-Ni`ihau Island Burial Council's original decision to preserve the burial site without any construction;
  • insisting that the SHPD respect the outcome of the court-orderedconsultation process and reject the Burial Treatment Plan;
  • supporting an end to the illegal construction supported by the state; and
  • protesting Brescia's lawsuit targeted at those who have served to prevent the further degradation of the bones of our kūpuna.

Hokulani Aikau, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Political Science, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa

Carlos Andrade, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa

Maile Arvin, M.A. candidate, Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California San Diego

J. Leilani Basham, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawai`i at West O`ahu

Kamanamaikalani Beamer, Ph.D., Mellon-Hawai`i Postdoctoral Fellow, Kohala Center, Hawai`i

Kealani Robinson Cook, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, University of Michigan

Lani Cupchoy, Ph.D. Candidate, History, University of California, Irvine

Lisa Kahaleole Hall, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Women's Studies, Wells College

Sydney Lehua Iaukea, Ph.D., Mellon-Hawai`i Postdoctoral Fellow, Kohala Center, Hawai`i

Lilikalā Kame`eleihiwa, Ph.D., Professor, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Anthropology and American Studies, Wesleyan University

Kanani K. M. Lee, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Geology & Geophysics, Yale University

Jon Kamakawiwo`ole Osorio, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa

Lessa Kanani`opua Pelayo, M.L.I.S. Candidate, B.A., University of California, Los Angeles

Kekailoa Perry, J.D. Assistant Professor, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa

Keanu Sai, Ph.D., Lecturer Kapiolani Community College

Noenoe K. Silva, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Political Science, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa

Stephanie Nohelani Teves, Ph.D. Candidate, Program in American Culture,
University of Michigan

Ty Kāwika Tengan, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Anthropology and Ethnic
Studies, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa

Haunani-Kay Trask, Ph.D., Professor, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian
Studies, University of Hawai`i, Mānoa

Liza Keanuenueokalani Williams, Ph.D. student, New York University

Erin Kahunawaika`ala Wright, Ph.D. Director of Native Hawaiian Student
Services, Hawai'inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge

Contact: J. Kehaulani Kauanui
Ph: 860-638-1264


Please cc: all letters and emails to: J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Center for
the Americas, Wesleyan University, 255 High Street, Middletown, CT 06459.

Write the Kaua`i Planning Commission, State Historic Preservation Division
Officials, Governor Linda Lingle, Joseph Brecia, and the Mayor of Kaua`i.

See addresses below:

Ian Costa
Director of Planning
County of Kaua`i
4444 Rice Street, Suite 473
Lihue, HI 96766
(no email available)

Laura Thielan, Chairperson
State of Hawaii, Department of Land and Natural Resources
State Historic Preservation Division
601 Kamokila Blvd., Room 555
Kapolei, HI 96707

Pua Aiu, Administrator
State Historic Preservation Division
601 Kamokila Blvd., Room 555
Kapolei, HI 96707

Nancy McMahon, Deputy Administrator
State Historic Preservation Division
601 Kamokila Blvd., Room 555
Kapolei, HI 96707

Governor Linda Lingle
State of Hawai`i
Executive Chambers
State Capitol
Honolulu, Hawai`i 96813

Joseph Brescia, President
Architectural Glass & Aluminum
1151 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 101
Alameda, CA 94501

Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr.
Mayor, County of Kauai
4444 Rice St., Suite 235
Lihue, HI 96766

Friday, March 20, 2009

Raven's Eye is here

so yall know whats up?

Raven’s Eye!!!!!!!!

Beautiful, inspiring, amazing writing and art from us, women and genderqueer folk…

We have been organizing ourselves for years on the internet. We have started blogs, and e-zines, social networking spaces, list serves, conferences, conversations, groups, websites, cd’s and more. We are incredibly prolific, visionary, each of us coming to this space with individual and collective visions of self-expression, survival, sexuality, business, teaching, learning, community, organizing, solidarity,art, dreams, healing, and love.

Check it out.

Every day we will be posting more and more work by us, highlighting the diversity, the community, the changing landscape of our lives.

We are creating a space where our voices, work and lives are centered and celebrated.

Join us. Become a writer with Raven’s Eye. Participate in the conversations. Tell every one you know.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind: Claudia Jones

Jones was known for giving out book lists to women she met on the street, in the laundromat and everywhere else.  Our radical reading group honors this legacy.

Jones was known for giving out book lists to women she met on the street, in the laundromat and everywhere else. Our radical reading group honors this legacy.

Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind: Session 3

Claudia Jones---Co-Sponsored by the People's Durham Initiatve

March 31st 6pm

Potluck at Lex's House ( for directions)

In her crucial book on the political life of Claudia Jones, Carole Boyce Davies describes Jones as "Left of Karl Marx." Jones is literally buried in the same cemetery as Marx, to his left, but Boyce Davies is also suggesting that Claudia Jones a rarely remembered black feminist Trinidadian communist organizer who was deported during the McCarthy Era for her radical beliefs and activities, is also left of Marx politically because her black feminist approach and her empahsis on cultural transformation challenged the limits of Marxism.

In her essay "An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Women" (download here) Claudia Jones articulates her understanding of how black feminism can transform the left in a revolutionary way. Join us, in Durham or wherever you are in reading and discussing this essay this month (because every month is women's history month!!!!)


BrokenBeautiful Press

Monday, March 9, 2009

SPEAK!: Words of Radical Womyn of Color

Greetings loved ones,
I am THRILLED to let you know about the release of a CD created by SPEAK! a Radical Womyn of Color Media Collective that I have been learning and growing in for the past few years. SPEAK! the self-titled CD is an amazing resource and I'm so proud to be a part of it because I truly believe that it is fierce and transformative in the tradition of This Bridge Called My Back. I know that being part of this process has changed my life.

The CD is available for purchase at The CD is part of a pilot grassroots fundraising project to fund young mothers of color to attend national gatherings within the progressive movement starting with the Allied Media Conference in Detroit this summer.

I am super super proud to be part of this project (even though I am freaked out about the recorded sound of my own voice). One of the featured poems on this CD is "Wishful Thinking" a poem that (as most of you know) I wrote for the National Day of Truthtelling in Durham, NC. I.e. it's a poem a wrote for you.

Your support for this project means everything to me.


p.s. To listen to an interview with Adele...the loving genius diva who first spoke and facilitated the idea that became this CD click here:

p.p.s. here is the official press release...SPREAD THE WORD!

UNITED STATES — March 7, 2009– SPEAK! Women of Color Media Collective, a netroots coalition of women of color bloggers and media-makers, is debuting March 7, 2009 with a performance art CD, accompanied by a collaborative zine and classroom curriculum for educators.

Speak! members at the Liquid Words studio

handful of Speak! members at the Liquid Words studio

Compiled and arranged by Liquid Words Productions, the spoken word CD weaves together the stories, poetry, music, and writings of women of color from across the United States. The 20 tracks, ranging from the explosive “Why Do You Speak?” to the reverent “For Those of Us,” grant a unique perspective into the minds of single mothers, arrested queer and trans activists, excited children, borderland dwellers, and exploring dreamers, among many others.

“We want other women of color to know they are not alone in their experiences,” said writer and educator Alexis Pauline Gumbs of Broken Beautiful Press, one of the contributors to the CD. “We want them to know that this CD will give sound, voice and space to the often silenced struggles and dreams of women of color.”

The Speak! collective received grant assistance from the Allied Media Conference coordinators to release a zine complementing the works featured on the CD, as well as a teaching curriculum for educators to incorporate its tracks into the classroom environment.

“Speak! is a testament of struggle, hope, and love,” said blogger Lisa Factora-Borchers of A Woman’s Ecdysis. “Many of the contributors are in the Radical Women of Color blogosphere and will be familiar names… I can guarantee you will have the same reaction as to when I heard them speak, I was mesmerized.”

To promote the initiative, the Speak! collective is coordinating listening parties in communities across United States, creating short YouTube promotions illustrating the CD creation process, and collaborating with organizers and activists online and offline.

The CD is available for online ordering at on a sliding scale beginning at $12. All inquiries for review copies should be directed to us at Proceeds of this album will go toward funding for mothers and/or financially restricted activists attending the 11th Annual Allied Media Conference in Detroit, MI from July 16-19.


Please spread the word on your blogs and websites!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sweets for the Sweet: Queer Intergenerational Language Practice

Hey everyone,
This is a video from a panel that Julia Wallace, Bea Sullivan, and your very own Moya Bailey and Alexis Pauline Gumbs collaborated on.
Enjoy! And embrace the queerky!
<3 QBG Lex

Sweets from the Sweet: intergenerational language (re)production from J. Roxanne on Vimeo.