"Except as required for defense purposes in a time of national emergency,
the government shall not deliberately destroy any object of antiquity,
prehistoric ruin or monument ..."
- Makua lease provision held by the U.S. Military
The new Stryker/Military Transformation proposal by Senator Inouye will
exacerbate the already desperate situation of many Hawaiians, who comprise
a good portion of those without permanent housing and at least half of the
present prison population.
"All of the Hawaiian poor come to Wainaie, all of the homeless come to
Waianae," said Sparky Rodrigues. "If the military comes in here with their
cost of living allowance with the Strykers' new expansion, then rent will
go up, and they'll bring in 30,000 people. Property values will go up. More
Hawaiians will be forced onto the beach as homeless, and they are going to
The system is already poised to worsen the problem and serve as a drain on
the state's social services Rodrigues explained. "Child Protection Services
is looking at homelessness as child abuse. So they're not going to build
schools, and there is an oppressive environment, they can't get jobs, can't
pay for the house."
Rodrigues and his wife, Leandra Wai Rodrigues, were arrested in 1996 on
Father's Day at Makua. Their family and others were all evicted.
"Everything that was left behind was bulldozed and destroyed. Actually they
took all our good stuff, and gave it to other people," Leandra lamented.
"It was a huge community of homeless, about 60 families and we ended up
creating our own self governance," explained Sparky. "The welfare office
was sending families that couldn't afford rent to Makua because it was a
safe place. Our goal was to look for long-term solutions to homelessness.
Our goal was to go there, and then go back into society. They [social service agencies] aren't interested in a long term solution, their solution
is to pass laws and arrest people." He added, "calling the folks on the
beach 'squatters' changes the whole way of looking at it. If they are
traditional practitioners or want to live a traditional lifestyle, they are
Hawaiians. The use of the word 'squatters' makes it okay for the government
to bring in the bulldozers and arrest them."
CLEAN UP AND THE RANGE READINESS PROPOSAL
Clean up is not the military's strongest suit. Of the whopping federal
defense budget of $265 billion, only a fraction will be spent on cleaning
up exploded ordnance at test sites, let alone sites in the process of
decommissioning, like Wisconsin's Badger Munitions Plant, in which the
Ho-Chunk Nation seeks some part in its recovery. An Associated Press news
story of Jan. 16 stated that according to congressional auditors "removing
unexploded munitions and hazardous waste found so far on 15 million acres
of shutdown U.S. military ranges could take more than 300 years." The clean
up cost is now estimated at $35 billion and climbing rapidly from an
estimate of $20 billion a year ago.
In the present environment and with leadership like Senator Inouye, it
looks like the reverse: Build up, not clean up, is on the horizon. Under a
bill called the "Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative", the
Department of Defense is pushing Congress to give more waivers to the
military for clean up. Last year, the Defense Department succeeded in
gaining exemptions for the U.S. military to the Endangered Species Act and
the Marine Mammals Protection Act. The Defense Department now wants
exemptions from the Clean Air Act, Superfund Laws and others, all under the
premise of national security.
At hearings this spring on the Range Readiness proposals, U.S.
Representative Edward Markey, D-Mass., said, "There is no reason to incur
'collateral damage' to our public health while meeting our military needs,"
referring to the present problems with military contamination.
All told, the Department of Defense is the nation's largest toxic polluter
with over 11,000 toxic "hot spots" on 1,855 military facilities nationwide.
If we are to look at Hawaii's prospects as to what is in the pipeline,
there may be some cause for concern. Sparky Rodrigues noted the irony.
"They spend billions making Weapons of Mass Destruction but pennies on
clean up." In short. being homeless in Hawaii isn't as glamorous as being
sleepless in Seattle, and by the next millennium, and the next conflict,
there may be more Hawaiians in prison than on the beaches.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.