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Friday July 03, 2020
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Coats for Mauna Kea

Ann Arborites help keep Hawaiian protesters warm.

by France Kai-Hwa Wang

From the November, 2019 issue

The first box of Ann Arbor winter coats has made its way to Hawaii, with more coats on the way.

Wait. Ann Arbor is sending winter coats to Hawaii?

"The self-styled Protectors (Kia'i) are making a last stand against the eighteen-story Thirty Meter Telescope and also demanding accountability on the part of the State of Hawaii for its long record of misuse of the Ceded Lands--the lands taken by the federal government at the time of annexation to the United States," says U-M associate professor of English and American culture Susan Najita.

In July, as Najita was conducting research in Hawaii, thirty-five Native elders, many in their seventies and eighties, were arrested for blocking construction equipment from going to the summit of Mauna Kea--Hawaii's most sacred mountain. Since then, thousands (including celebrities Jason Momoa and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) have gathered there to protect the mountain from what they consider desecration.

However, Native Hawaiians do not know cold weather like Ann Arborites know cold weather.

"The encampment is located in exposed, subalpine conditions," Najita explains. "All the Protectors have is their commitment to Kapu Aloha, a discipline of commitment to peaceful and loving thought, words, and action--and their ability to sustain this over the months ahead as winter comes on."

Together with American Citizens for Justice, an Asian American civil rights group, Najita is collecting new and used winter coats (especially large sizes for Native Hawaiians), jackets, vests, sweaters, thermals, hats, gloves, and mittens to send to the protectors in a drop box at U-M 3700 Haven Hall. Tucked into each pocket is a handwritten note of aloha from Ann Arbor, "Malama pono i kou kino"--"Take care of your body."     (end of article)

[Originally published in November, 2019.]


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