Support Letter from State Senator
- Publication of this letter is awaiting permission. The letter calls upon the Governor to delay implementing DLNR emergency rules for Mauna Kea until the Court determines whether or not they are legal—in other words in violation of the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of worship on Mauna Kea.
Packet of Materials given to lawyers who are in support of Hawaiians right to worship on their sacred mountains.
- Aloha e Brothers:
I am writing for Glen Kila, Kumu of Kanenuiakea, internationally recognized Hawaiian indigenous faith. We need your help to immediately file a temporary restraining order against the State of Hawaii and its governor, agencies and representatives to prevent them from desecrating a religious site (Manua Kea) and denying and/or interfering with our worship there.
Mauna Kea is our altar, temple and divine manifestation on earth. Desecrating it is like desecrating Fujiyama or the image of Christ on the cross above any Catholic altar. [It should be considered a hate crime against the Hawaiian people and our values.] Indigenous (native, original, aboriginal) religion is discriminated against at every point of law and culture in America--as it is in other parts of the world. Indigenous religions is not belief-centered with uniform creeds of allegiance and do not favor worship inside man-made buildings but worship outside at unique places of beauty, power and special significance--places were for centuries of continuous worship we have gone to be transformed spiritually according to our religion and culture.
We are asking for an injunction to stop the governor of Hawaii and its agencies and representatives from denying us our religious freedom right to worship at the summit of Mauna Kea and to end all desecration, destruction and occupation of land for which those who trespass on our sacred site have no absolute or simple title.
We know that previous cases involving desecration of Native American religious sites have failed in U.S. courts but there are some unique features about the violation of our religious rights (occupation and unextinguished sovereignty, ways to argue for protection of First and Fourth Amendment rights of indigenous worshipers, etc.). Please look at further development of these points in the attachments.
You each have special approaches in advancing the rights of our people, and we offer to meet with you individually or as a group at your earliest convenience. [A request was sent to the Hawaii ACLU, but there is little likelihood that they will even answer.]
Uncle Keoki for Kumu Glen Kila
P.S. Attachments are in an RTF format and could be resent as PDF if needed.
Key Principles and Concepts in Presenting a Hawaiian Indigenous Religion Case
1. Religion: Until the last several decades this term has privileged belief-centered religions using European languages (Latin, German, French, English, et.al.) that implied a Judeo-Christianity theistic model.
2. United States legal principles concerning religion ignored indigenous religions (Native American, Alaskan, Hawaiian and African) and have given them little or no protections under the Bill of Rights and various court rulings up to and including the United States Supreme Court. [Current trends in international law and United Nations conventions that the United States has refused to sign have recognized Indigenous Religion and championed neglected religious and human rights.]
3. The first fact to recognize is that Hawaiian faith and practice survived and was not extinguished in 1819 when the state religion was disestablished. Kanenuiakea, its kahuna, its kumu, its worshipers, hid from public view because of direct persecution and ridicule. It was defamed as pagan, heathen and idolatrous. Its language of prayer (Hawaiian) was outlawed as were its practices and its practitioners were called sorcerers and “devil worshipers.”
4. On February 29, 2012, for the first time in more than a century Kanenuiakea worship was witnessed by outsiders (non-ohana members) at the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu. Possibly for the first time in its history Kane was worshipped indoors.
5. Kanenuiakea is the indigenous, earth or Gaia religion that has been practiced for centuries before the arrival of the Tahitian navigator-priest Paao in the tenth century CE. Kanenuiakea has been in continuous practice as a religion since the first arrivals to the Hawaiian islands, probably from the Marquesas, for about twenty centuries.
6. All of the religious types of experience are available in Kanenuiakea’s spiritual practices (devotional grace and gratitude, actional rituals and physical embodiment, intellectual-cognitional conceptualization of principles and values, mystical union with the interconnectedness of life and the cosmos).
7. All indigenous religion is practical as it cultivates survival with the best observational knowledge of the culture and is imminental more than transcendental, focusing of the manifestations in and through the natural universe that are so beautiful, powerful, good, pure, et.al, that one experiences something more, something sacred.
8. Kanenuiakea takes the “sun” (Kâne) and man (kane) as the metaphors of sacred manifestation or divine revelation by which to interpret all other manifestations and phenomena. Other metaphors are seen as having value and truth but Kane is experientially known and through its spiritual revelation and experience, other truths are thus acknowledged. But the metaphor of Kane is not the Absolute. In Hawaiian spirituality man’s place in the universe is judged by his understanding of the sacred or divine. There is something beyond, something yet unknown and unknowable which, if referred to at all, is I‘O--a religious term in Kanenuiakea so sacred that it should be used as little as possible. Mystics in almost every religion, even the theistic ones like Christianity and the atheistic ones like Zen and Theravada Buddhism, fall into the silence of the type of spiritual experience that knows something of this Emptiness, Nothingness, Ultimate Reality, this God beyond God.
9. Kanenuiakea is universalistic, affirming the value and truth of not only other historic Hawaiian faiths (Kunuiakea, Kanaloanuiakea, Lononuiakea) but current rebirths of Hawaiian spiritual and cultural values and practices. Its kumu will help and share as others try to find their spiritual roots and develop spiritual practices. There are many paths and levels of understanding as persons of good will practice tradition spiritual values of ALOHA, ‘OHANA, ALOHA ‘ĀINA, MĀLAMA, PONO, KULEANA, KŌKUA, MO‘OLELO, LŌKAHI, MAHALO, and so many more.
10. What is Akua? Take care not to use English. Beware of how capitalization privileges one God as true and other as idols. Read Paul Tillich and the Protestant Principal that denies any human conception of “god” as a form of idolatry. Feuerbach’s notion of all human notions of “god” are one’s own highest projection on the screen of the universe. Imminental religion takes the manifestations of the natural order as revealing of that something more that is divine, god, sacred. Thus, there are many manifestations, revelations, elements of the universe/life/consciousness/sacred.
Special Briefing on Kanenuiakea Religion & Sacred Sites in Hawaii
The Kanenuiakea religion [a huna term, so sacred that is has not been used in public for at least a century] of the Waianae Wahiana (a “sacred place” designation which includes all of the Waianae coast of Oahu, Hawai’i) is the indigenous, earth or Gaia religion that has been practiced for centuries before the arrival of the Tahitian navigator-priest Paao in the tenth century CE. Kanenuiakea has been in continuous practice as a religion since the first arrivals, probably from the Marquesas, variously dated from the fourth through eighth centuries CE. Archaeologists confirm that there has been continuous habitation of the Waianae coast [wahipana] for at least 1200 years.
Kamehameha the Great established his worship of Ku as the state religion when he unified the islands. This was dis-established in 1819, and it has been taught that Hawaii was the first nation to be without a religion. This misinformation is self-serving for those who stole or desecrated indigenous religious properties, as Americans profess belief in the freedom of religion clause in the Bill of Rights.
Even after the state religion, the Ku religion, imposed by the unifier and conqueror of the Hawaiian islands was abolished in 1819, Kanenuiakea practice and worship continued uninterrupted at its sacred sites (heiau and ahu). Just in the Waianae Wahipana more than 30 of these sacred sites have been preserved and remain in use. All are occupied by military, federal and state agencies, corporations, and individuals. There is no “absolute title” to these religious properties (Note the most recent US Supreme Court ruling against the claims of the State of Hawaii concerning title). Several properties allow limited access and restoration, such as the Kaneaki Heiau in Makaha valley.
Kanenuiakea has a formal priesthood, passed down by special adoption and training. It had to go underground [huna] because of direct persecution as the Kingdom of Hawai’i transitioned from an independent, neutral, sovereign nation (recognized by more than 40 nations in the “family of nations”) to a territory and then [disputed] state of the United States of America. During the US-assisted overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the religions of Hawaii (worshippers of at least four indigenous worldviews--of Ku, Kane, Kaneloa, Lono) were outlawed as sorcery and prohibited until 1970, well into the period of US statehood (which many kanaka maoli or Hawaiian Nationals still view as occupation of their Kingdom).
Kanenuiakea is an oral religious tradition with at least a thousand years of continuos practice and transmission, now preserved in the Waianae wahipana. As most religions, its majority of worshippers are devotional, worshipping a personal, creator as Kane--symbolized in many manifestations. Hawaiian is the sacred language and formal prayers and chants have been passed down in a sacred tradition that pre-dates the first arrivals. Sacrifices were strictly vegetarian, and animal or blood-sacrifice is a desecration of a Kane heiau (temple) or ahu (altar). Offerings of fruits, vegetables and flowers grace the altars, only.
Rituals are both traditional (practiced by strict memorization of sacred ceremonies according to time, place, and occasion) and spontaneous. There are also intellectual and mystical dimensions of Kanenuiakea which are now completely huna (taught only to ohana [family] because of past sabv persecution and ridicule).
Just as the US House of Representatives has told the Republic of Turkey in 2011 that it cannot confiscate Christian religious sites and must return them, so also First Amendment rights apply to freedom of worship and protection against confiscation of sacred sites in American territories, states and occupied lands. The sacred sites of Hawaiian worshippers and practitioners must be returned.
On February 29, 2012, for the first time in more than a century Kanenuiakea worship was witnessed by outsiders (non-ohana members) at the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu. Possibly for the first time in its more than one thousand year history Kane was worshipped indoors. The interfaith worship service has participated in by Kahu Glen Kila, a kahuna nui of Kanenuiakea [high priest] and Kumu Pua Gomes and members of her kalau kula, supported by young, apprentice worship leaders. Historian of religions professor George Williams assisted in this unique and historic worship service.
Kanenuiakea Recognition as an Indigenous Religion
Kanenuiakea is a living indigenous, original or aboriginal religion practiced during all of the habitation of the Hawaiian islands by those of Polynesian ancestry and continuing without interruption to the present.
Worshippers of Hawaiian indigenous faiths and practices were persecuted, outlawed, ridiculed and driven into hiding after Western contact, especially by the plantation owners’ puppet government of the Republic of Hawaii and even during the period of U.S. rule and occupation.
Kanenuiakea broke a century of silence and became recognized as a living indigenous religion by the International Association for Religious Freedom, headquartered in Osaka, Japan, and became a member of the world’s oldest interfaith organization.
Indigenous religions have been discriminated against under the interpretation of “religion” as belief-centered (a genuine religion must have a creed--IRS qualification) religious practice, worshiping in a man-made building (church, synagogue, temple). Western concepts of “religion” derived from Western languages and implicitly privileging Christianity’s theologized and rationalized beliefs and practices allow U.S. courts and agencies to ignore the First Amendment and Due Process rights of indigenous worshipers and their religious institutions. When they are reclassified as cultural beliefs and practices, the guarantees of Religious Freedom under the U.S. Constitution (as well as state constitutions and International conventions) can be ignored with seeming impunity.
Almost no protections have been given to Native American indigenous worship in their natural sacred sites. Native Americans have lost many sacred site protection cases all the way up to the Supreme Court. However, they are technically wards of the conquering U.S. nation and have a totally different status than the original peoples of Hawaii. Since the Hawaiian Kingdom was never conquered (its lands and sacred sites won by war) and its lands are thus occupied, the U.S. and its entities have no absolute or simple title to Hawaiian lands. Sacred sites, though seemingly abandoned because of persecution and ridicule, are still collectively owned by its worshipers. International law and the U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 clearly recognizes the legal rights of an occupied people to their sacred sites and access to them. Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and major Asian religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, Taoism) have man-made churches, synagogues, temples and shrines. But there are sacred mountains like Fujiyama and rivers like the Ganges that could not be desecrated by an occupying army without violating international and U.S. law and conventions. Mauna Kea (Mauna e Wakea) is such a sacred site in Hawaii. Its desecration is a violation of the First and Fourth Amendments as well as U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10.
In 2012 the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu partnered with Kanenuiakea and held joint worship services and conducting an eleven week Hawaiian Values Curriculum for its members. More importantly, it reputed the Doctrine of Discovery and the doctrine of Manifest Destiny which justified Euro-American colonialism and theft of First Peoples’ lands. Recently, through their social justice committee they wrote Governor Ige to stop, listen and learn of Hawaiian concerns and rights on Mauna Kea. See letter “Kanenuiakea Support Letter.” Another letter of support was written from the International Association for Religious Freedom. See letter “15-05 Letter in support of Kanenuiakea.”
Notes for an Injunction
Jurisdiction: United States military occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom???
Plaintiffs: Glen Kila, Kumu of Kanenuiakea; Chris Oliveira, George Williams, and all ‘ohana of Kanenuiakea
Whereas two United States Presidents have apologized for the illegal overthrow and occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom and sovereignty was not extinguished;
Whereas the occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom was accomplished by the puppet government known as the Republic of Hawaii and that and all subsequent actions were violations of the sovereign rights of an independent and neutral nation and falsely reported to the United Nations from 1948 to the present;
Whereas the rights of the United States Constitution concerning Freedom of Religion and Due Process are in question and desecration and destruction of Hawaiian religious and cultural sites are continuing with responsible persons and agencies of the state and federal governments doing their duty;
Whereas the slavery concept of race was imposed by the Republic of Hawaii and continued by the United States during its occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom with a concept of “blood quantum” as an economic and political tool for limiting and denying “native rights” and a direct method of cultural genocide and is often used as a way to deny due process for Hawaiians and for the practice of their indigenous religions;
Whereas Hawaiian indigenous, original or aboriginal religions were outlawed, persecuted, ridiculed, and driven into hiding, and the Hawaiian language, which presupposes its deep religious and cultural values, was prohibited from use with Western concepts of religion privileging belief-centered worship in manmade buildings as genuine religion;
Whereas the guaranteed Freedom of Religion under the United States Constitution and United States Army Field Manual 27-10 procedures for occupied territories has failed to provide Hawaiians access to their traditional and historic worship sites or to protect these sacred sites (heiau, au, ahu, ka’ananiau, unu, mauna, iwikupuna) from desecration, occupation, and/or destruction;
Whereas worship at the summit of Mauna Kea (Mauna e Wakea) has been an essential part of the faith and practice of Hawaiian religions, specifically the internationally recognized surviving, indigenous Hawaiian religion, Kanenuiakea, with its worshippers being denied access to perform religious ceremonies done there for centuries;
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court grant Plaintiffs a temporary restraining order enjoining the Governor of the State of Hawaii and all its agencies and representatives from preventing access of those practicing their indigenous faith from worshiping on Mauna Kea (Mauna e Wakea) and from taking an action that desecrates, alters or destroys any sacred sites (heiau, au, ahu, ka’ananiau, umu, mauna, iwikupuna) until absolute title, jurisdiction and due process can be determined.