Reflection on Lā Hoʻi Hoʻi Ea 2018, Hawaiian Sovereignty Restoration Day

My name is Ellen.  As an organizer of WVWS, I have come to connect my activism against a world of war and military dependence, into the healing of the oppression in my body.

As an Ilokana (a Filipino ethnic group) living in Hawaiʻi, we learn that the Kanaka Maoli struggles for sovereignty since 1893 is inextricably connected to their resistance to their native lands being used for military training, weapons storage, and settler colonial cultural expansion. 

I have come to confront the taking of Hawaiʻi by the U.S. was to use these islands as a stepping stone to militarily oppress the Filipino people's own desire for Independence and self-determination after the Spanish American War.

But as history has come to unfold, Philippines and Hawaii have been colonized. Our lands and bodies used for corporate exploitation and imperial nation's expansionism.

This history is felt within the body today.

As a woman organizer, I witness my sisters struggling with health and economic sustainability, as we join the hard work of movements refusing to comply with wealth accumulation and instead fight against the hand that abuses our lands and our bodies.  Friends die in poverty, with no money to their names, because they have chosen a life of transforming and modeling radical alternatives to our capitalist captivity. Elders suffer with health issues, but who don't have support to access health care. Or have the willingness to show vulnerability because warriors are necessary to fight the threat of militarism & settler violence/ignorance that relentlessly rolls onto shore.

Ancestral trauma and pain can claim places of our bodies where we have not acknowledged hurt.

For many women, this place of pain has been in our reproductive organs, the place where we practice creativity, to bring new human life to this earth. Where we bring in the next line to our lineages, to extend our survival for another generation. 

Histories of militarism and war has assaulted women, our vaginas, our wombs, as the site where men bring their wounds from battle, and unload their traumas into their women.  Women are treated as ravaged bodies where terrorism of families, whole communities and nations take place. Women are taught to be silent, to not say anything, in order to survive the transition into a new dominant order. What is the sound of our voices when it is going through these experiences, but commanded to be quiet, filled with other narratives more important to be told, or labeled inconvenient?

WVWS participated in LHE 2018 again, like previous years, to connect the histories of militarization in Hawai'i to that of the Philippines, Guahan, Okinawa, Korea, and Black America. We see sovereignty as a world when our lands are used to intervene, stop and heal the systemic dependence on militarism and imperialist development that connects this place to other places in the world, such as those places that we all have ancestral ties to.

We see sovereignty as the recognition and practice of it in our own bodies, relations and communities. How can we stop being addicted to the pain that has been inflicted upon us, and reproduced through us?  How can we look to that which has been in pain, and to listen to what it is saying? How can we restore its dignity and voice?  When we break through the shame, fear, uncertainty of speaking about these things, a message, history, knowledge and experience about how all our nations want peace can be heard. The challenge is how to pay attention and let those lessons lead our creation.

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