Dec. 19, 2016 photo and meeting report at Pohakuloa


On 12/20/2016 8:13 AM, Jim Albertini wrote:
Aloha kakou,
   Here is a brief update on our visit to Pohakuloa  Monday, Dec. 19, 2016 that was requested on Sept. 30, 2016 in a letter to the base commander by Jim Albertini for specific purposes: religious ceremony and presenting ho’okupu at the ahu at the base of Pu’u PaKele as part of Makahiki season; visit to the firing ranges were Davy Crockett Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons were fired from; visit to the PTA drone field and briefing similar to what was provided to the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce.
     Sixteen of us attended from the community: Kahu from Hilo Royal Order, Kuali’i Camara, Hawaii Puna Councilwoman Jen Ruggles, Donna Grabow, Candace Wharton, Danny Li, Ron Fujiyoshi, Gary Harrold, Millicent Cummings, Andrew Brewer, La’akea Caravalho, Keahi Tajon, David Sansone, Geoff Shaw, Stephen Paulmier, and myself.
      At 9AM at the PTA main gate we were informed by Base Public Relations officer, Eric Hamilton, that only 15 people would be allowed on base and that no cameras or recording devices would be allowed, and that we would NOT be going to any site visits.  He said an email was sent on Friday, Dec. 16 to Jim Albertini from the base commander stating these things but Jim never received it.  Mr. Hamilton informed us we would be meeting with Base Cammander, LTC Christopher Marquez, Deputy commander Gregory Fleming, Sgt. Major Campbell, Mr. Bill Moore, military/community liaison, base archeologist Dr. Juli Taomia, and Environmental biologist Lena ? (last name not recalled).  IDs had to be presented to enter.  People presenting Hawaii Kingdom IDs were initially rejected at the gate but the Base commander eventually allowed the people to enter. Ester Mander decided not to enter when hearing that no access to sites would be granted.  Several other people for various reasons couldn’t make it to PTA.
     From a phone call with Mr. Hamilton on Tuesday, Dec. 13, when Jim Albertini called to provide a list of names of people coming, Jim sensed that we may not be allowed to go to Pu’u KaPele to make Ho’okupu.  Hamilton said the area is restricted and the base commander had been in touch with the KaPele ohana.   There was no indication we would not be allowed to the other sites.  As a result of that phone call a short statement  on the right of religious practice was prepared to be signed by any who wanted to sign in the event we were blocked from going to Pu’u KaPele.  The statement read:
Statement of Dec. 19, 2016 – Right of Religious Practice
We, the undersigned, do not recognize the U.S. military’s authority to prohibit religious access to Pohakuloa – the Night of the Long Prayer.  It is the right of people to practice their religion by placing ho’okupu on the ahu at the base of Pu’u Ka Pele.
      After nearly a 3 hour meeting where the military officials made their case to develop a “procedure” for access to religious sites that would need to be approved up the chain of command  (Army Col. Garrison Commander on Oahu and Army Hawaii Pacific Commander Major General on Oahu), and military presentations were made on historic sites and environmental matters, the above statement was circulated among our attendees.  It appeared that all, or nearly all, of those of us attending signed the statement which was then presented to Commander Marquez.   Before departing the base a group photo was taken which we hope to get a copy from Mr. Hamilton.  A future meeting date has been set.  Monday, Jan. 9, 2017 at the Keaau Community center beginning at 6PM to discuss procedure and hopefully a specific date for access to Pu’u KaPele to do ho’okupu as part of Makahiki ceremony.  Base Commander Marquez and his team will come to the meeting for this discussion and a working group to plan next steps about access to cultural and religious sites, including Pu’u Koli (the center point of the island) and Pu’u Ke’e ke’e.
 Jim Albertini
Other points of discussion from my notes:
Kahu of Hilo Royal Order of Kamehameha cited sec. 80 of the Organic Act about protection of religious sites.  Ron Fujiyoshi spoke about the importance of protecting the right of religious practice.  Making ho’okupu. And Ron asked  “Is there already a procedure set up for cultural descendants who have iwi buried on the land?”  The answer from Dr. Julie Taomia was vague.  Questions were raised about Crown and government lands.  It is clear that the ahu at Pu’u Kapele is on lands leased by the military from the State of Hawaii but it is not clear if it is crown or government lands. This needs to be clarified. Keahi Tajon said hewanted to be sensitive to the concerns of the KaPele family but stressed the need for establishing “standard procedures” for visits to sites and for religious practice.
Deputy Commander Greg Flemming said there are no long term effects from DU at PTA.  We questioned that and suggested forums in both Hilo and Kona with speakers from the military (Tim Keller safety officer) and the community –Dr. Lorrin Pang, Dr. Mike Reimer, etc.
The PTA cultural advisory committee has turned into the PTA advisory committee.  it’s not clear if there are current Hawaiian cultural monitors, like Kealoha Pisciotta, was years back.
On the broader issues of stopping live fire, DU, etc. it was said to get Federal, State, and county officials involved.  Tulsi Gabbard’s name was brought up.
Dr. Julie Taomia’s presentation — In 1995 a cultural section was established at PTA. There are lots of lava tubes from Mauna Loa on PTA.  82,000acres of the 133,000 total acres at PTA are outside the high risk areas.  52% of the 82,000 acres have been surveyed .  1200 sites have been identified. Sec. 106 of the national Historic preservation Act requires that historic properties be identified. .There are 37 sites not registered. 800 sites may be potentially registered. .  it is general practice to leave artifacts in place.   The PTA impact area is now 57,000 acres.  The impact area was larger in an east and west direction. Julie is the contact for site access, but the Base commander must approve all access. NAGPRA (Native American graves protection) involves iwi (bones), section 106 of NHPA deals with other sites, and NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) deals with environmental matters and endangered species.  Julie said there are 7 or less sites on PTA (not yet formally evaluated) as sites for religious practice –shrines.  2 or 3 sites are on adjacent state land, not on PTA as previously thought.
Lena ? (Biologist) Phone 808-315-1340   PTA is 210 sq. miles in size.  That’s the size of Guam.  PTA has endangered plant and animal species that exist no where else on the planet.  Some of the areas have been fenced off as protection.


Jim Albertini Malu ‘Aina Center For Non-violent Education & Action P.O. Box 489 Ola’a (Kurtistown) Hawai’i 96760 Phone 808-966-7622 Email Visit us on the web at