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More Land for the Military than for Hawaiians; PART ONE

It's summer in Hawaii, the state is considering another generous land
donation to the military and has made homelessness a crime. Under the cover
of the term "Military Transformation" and with the blanket of 9/11, the
military is taking a wide berth in land stealing. And, recently enacted Act
50 makes criminals out of people who have been displaced by the military
itself, many of them Native Hawaiian.

"They bombed the houses in the 1940s and took over the entire valley,"
explained Sparky Rodrigues, one of many Makua residents still waiting to
move home. "The government moved all of the residents out and said after
the war, you can move back - and then they used the houses for target
practice. The families tell stories that the military came with guns and
said, 'Here's $300, thank you,' and 'You've got to move.' Those people
remain without their houses, and for years, many lived on the beaches in
beautiful Makua Valley, watching the bombing of their land.

"Tomorrow morning they're going to detonate a 1,000 pounder, a 500 pounder
and a 100 pound bomb," Rodriques mused. Such detonations are part of the
military cleanup of the site before, apparently, any new maneuvers. "We've
gone in and observed them detonate those bombs," said Rodriques. More than
once, live ammunition has washed up on the beaches at Makua.

Malu Aina, a military watchdog group from Hawaii reported:

"Live military ordnance in large quantities has been found off Hapuna Beach
and in Hilo Bay. Additional ordnance, including grenades, artillery shells,
rockets, mortars, armor piercing ordnance, bazooka rounds, napalm bombs,
and hedgehog missiles have been found at Hilo airport in Waimea town,
Waikoloa Village, in North and South Kohala at Puako and Mahukona, in
Kea'au and Maku'u farm lots in Puna, at South Point in Ka'u, and on
residential and school grounds. At least nine people have been killed or
injured by exploding ordnance. Some unexploded ordnance can be set off even
by cell phones."

Since the end of World War II, Hawaii has been the center of the United
States military's Pacific Command (PACOM), from which all U.S. forces in
the region are directed. Hawaii serves as an outpost for Pacific
expansionism, along with Guam, the Marshall Islands, Samoa and the
Philippines. PACOM is the center of U.S. military activities over more than
half the earth, from the west coast of the U.S. to Africa's east coast,
from the Arctic to Antarctica, covering 70 percent of the world's oceans.

The military controls more of Hawaii than any other state, including some
25 percent of Oahu, valuable "submerged lands" (i.e. estuaries and bays),
and until relatively recently, the island of Kaho'olawe. The island was the
only National Historic Site also used as a bombing range. Finally, after
years of litigation and negotiations, Congress placed a moratorium on the
bombing, but after $400 million already spent in cleanup money, much
remains to be completed.

The U.S. military controls 200,000 acres of Hawaii, with over 100 military
installations and at least 150,000 personnel. Among the largest sites is
the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA), a 108,793-acre bombing range between the
sacred mountains of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in the center of the big
island, Hawaii. At least seven million rounds of ammunition are fired
annually at that base alone. The military proposes to expand the base by
23,000-acres under the "Military Transformation Proposal" and plans to
bring in Stryker brigades to the area. The military is hoping for up to
79,000 additional acres in new land acquisition. Pohakuloa has the "highest
concentration of endangered species of any Army installation in the world,"
according to its former commander Lt. Col. Dennis Owen, with over 250
ancient Hawaiian archeological sites. Those species and archeological sites
are pretty much "toast" under the expansion plans.

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HAWAIIAN MILITARY BUCKS AND THE HOMELESS

There are some benefits to being a senior senator like Daniel Inouye. The
$1.5 billion dollar pork-barrel proposal to expand Hawaii's military bases
would include more than 400 Stryker vehicles (eight-wheeled, 19-ton,
armored infantry carriers), new C-17 transport planes and additional
arsenal expansions.

Adding more military personnel and bases is always a good way to boost a
state's economy. After all, a recent Hawaii Advertiser article featured
Pearl Harbor businessmen lamenting the number of troops "sent out" to Iraq,
and the downswing in business at the barbershops and elsewhere. The
message: "New troops needed to fill up those businesses!"

Inouye, who is the ranking member of the Defense Appropriations Committee
has been a strong advocate for more military in Hawaii. Yet, in his vice
chairmanship of the Indian Affairs Committee, he has been a stronger
advocate for diminishing Native Hawaiian sovereignty, rights and land
title. New proposals (the so-called Akaka Bill) would strip Hawaiians of
long-term access to land, and follow the suit of the infamous Alaskan
Native Claims Settlement Act, barring future recourse for justice.

In the meantime, the 2 million acres of land originally earmarked for
Native Hawaiians (under Hawaii's statehood act) are being transferred to
private interests and to the military. Some 22,000 Native Hawaiians remain
on waiting lists for their homestead awards, and an estimated 30,000 have
died while on the list awaiting their homesteads. The Hawaiian lands end up
with the military or developers. "We can barely pay house rent, and they
build apartments," said one Hawaiian from the Wai'anae coast. "With
inflation now, its hard to buy tomatoes, carrots ... You cannot eat 'em,
those buildings."

Hawaii has now adopted one of the nation's severest penalties to discourage
individuals from living on public property. Act 50, a recently passed law,
bans individuals for an entire year from the public areas where they are
given a citation. The act stipulates that people found illegally occupying
public property such as beaches and parks are subject to ejection, and if
they return within a year they face arrest, a possible $1,000 fine and/or
30 days in jail. Many Hawaiian families live on the beaches and in public
parks. The Beltran family, among others, has lived on the beach at
Mokule'ia for 12 years, claiming the right to live there as ancestral, but
each week they must get a permit to camp. "We have a right to be here,
because our ancestors were from here," Beltran explained to a reporter. "I
cannot go to the mainland and say that's my home. "I cannot go to Japan and
call that my home. This is my home, right here. I will never give this
place up."

(Continued in Part Two)

Winona LaDuke, Ojibwe from the White Earth reservation, is program director
of Honor the Earth, a national Native American environmental justice
program. She served as the Green Party vice presidential candidate in the
1996 and 2000 elections. She can be reached at wlhonorearth@earthlink.net.