News Brief: A Conversation With Indigenous Media Resistance on Mauna Kea

Citations Needed | November 20, 2019 | Transcript


Nima Shirazi: Welcome to a Citations Needed News Brief. I am Nima Shirazi.

Adam Johnson: I’m Adam Johnson.

Nima: We do these News Briefs from time to time, most of the time for our Patreon supporters as a little extra content, but sometimes they are open to all and we like doing that. We like having more for everyone, for all of our listeners, because you keep the show going and your support has been amazing. You can, of course, follow the show on Twitter @CitationsPod, Facebook Citations Needed, become a supporter, get all of those other News Briefs, all of those I’d say 40-plus News Briefs at this point, if you become a Patreon supporter through with Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson.

Adam: We’re excited to have this conversation today. We’re going to jump right into it. For those who listened to the show they know that Episode 90: How Western Media’s False Binary Between “Science” and Indigenous Rights Erases Native People. It sort of spurred a lot of conversation and debate on the internets. We sort of touched briefly in the episode about the kind of science versus superstition narrative as it was playing out with the media, specifically The New York Times and CNN’s reporting on the situation in Mauna Kea and some people from there who run a media organization reached out to us and said, hey, we’re countering these narratives every day, so why don’t we come on your show and actually talk about how activists and reporters in realtime are pushing back against these colonial narratives? And I said, that’s a fucking good idea. Let’s do that.

Nima: We were like, yeah, that actually sounds really fucking great because in the abstract, when you talk about the thirty meter telescope, the TMT, being built, placed on top of Mauna Kea and that there are indigenous protests against that, it is very easy, I think, to kind of lose the thread of why this is important and what is actually being discussed. And so you get back into, as we discussed on that episode, the, ‘Oh well this is, you know, science coming in, the natives are getting restless,’ right? And so we thought we would actually talk to people who are literally on the ground there, on the ground, in the air, I should say. They are at the camp at Pu‘uhonua o Pu‘uhuluhulu on Mauna Kea and so we were lucky enough to speak with them in this extended News Brief interview, so we are going to be joined by Mikey Inouye, a filmmaker with and co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of Honolulu as well as Ilima Long, media coordinator for Nā Leo Kāko‘o and member of Huli, a non-violent, direct action organization that is one of the leaders there on Mauna Kea. We’re going to be joined by Mikey and Ilima in just a moment. Stay with us.


Nima: We are joined now by Mikey Inouye and Ilima Long. Thank you so much for joining us today on Citations Needed.

Ilima Long: Thank you guys so much.

Mikey Inouye: Thank you so much.

Adam: For those who don’t know, this episode is an addendum of sorts. On Episode 90, we talked about the broader media narrative surrounding Mauna Kea and then y’all reached out to us to say, hey, if want to talk about how people on the ground are pushing back against these media narratives, you should talk to us, which is what we’re doing today. So we really appreciate you guys coming on and um, and allowing us to expand on this theme even further.

Mikey Inouye: Yeah, thank you so much for doing this. We really appreciate it. I feel like you guys have like a really large left audience that would get activated on this issue if only they knew more about it. And I think what your show does such a great job of is kind of like deconstructing these awful oftentimes colonial media narratives. That’s what we’ve been trying to do here. And hopefully more folks around the world who are listening to this who like have their own issue, that have the kind of skill sets that we do if they like what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, they can use what we talk about here as kind of a blueprint for starting their own counter media collective.

Nima: Yeah I mean, I think that’s so vital here. Mikey as a filmmaker, Ilima as media coordinator, can you tell us what Nā Leo Kākoʻo is all about? Why it was formed and like what you guys are up to these days?

Ilima Long

Ilima Long: Yeah, sure. So it kind of came about organically when the call went out to come to the mountain to protect it from construction machinery that we knew was coming up the Mauna on July 15th. And we knew that because for some reason the governor and the attorney general and others decided to hold a press conference the week before laying out exactly what their plan was going to be. So that was really helpful.

Nima: (Laughs) Yeah.

Ilima Long: Um, so we made the call, everybody came up and different media folks just showed up. And I’m actually not a media person, short of being the one on different actions that gets stuck being the media spokesperson or writing a press release or something like that, but after a few days of folks being up here, there were some people that we knew — I saw Mikey, I know Mikey from other things and I knew some of these others — we realized that we had this wonderful group of media makers up here. So we asked a couple of the campers who were camped out in the hunters check-in station over here, asked them to move and we made that our new media station. And we basically came together organically. We have filmmakers, we have photographers, we have kind of social media gurus, we have folks that are very experienced with dealing with the press and these are largely Kānaka Maoli, Native Hawaiian people, that are incredibly invested in this issue on a very personal level. And then we also have a couple of other folks who are not Hawaiian, but who were born and raised here are committed to justice and heeded the call as well and are a critical part of our team now.

Adam: So let’s talk about the sort of main points of tension here. Now I know that the 30 meter telescope is not the alpha and omega of the points of conflict in the erasure of Native voices here, but, but I know this is one of the major flashpoints. It’s one of the ones we primarily covered cause it’s garnered such national media attention. Can we talk about the quote unquote “controversy” over the telescope? Who the actors are and how this controversy has been framed by the media and what that framing tells us about the kind of broader perceptions of indigenous people in Hawaii?

Ilima Long: Sure. So at the fundamental level, this is on the pro-TMT side it’s a partnership basically between the State of Hawaii, led by the governor of Hawaii, David Ige, Governor Ige, the University of Hawaii, led by the President David Lassner and then a number of law enforcement agencies that the state has brought together. For our side, this is a number of Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners and folks who have been involved in issues of sovereignty and protecting land for a long time who have come together to make a stand to protect this mountain, which is the most sacred mountain to the Hawaiian people. It’s an ancestor in our origin stories from what would be the fourteen telescope complex built at the summit of our mountain. So we’ve been fighting this issue since 2010 when they first proposed another telescope complex, which was the thirty meter telescope, the TMT, but some of the other telescopes that are up there went through long and hard fights with the community as well, such as the Keck Observatory. So that’s basically, at the fundamental level, that’s the issue. But there’s a broader issue of course, which is what provides the context for this and you have Native Hawaiians, Kanaka Maoli, who are the indigenous people of this land, but who also had our country seized basically from us in 1893. And what I mean by country is we actually were an independent state and some sugar business interests needed more control than they could get with Native rule in place and they conspired with the US military and in 1893 the US landed troops invaded in Honolulu and rigged a fake annexation to the United States. And Hawaiians have been marginalized ever since, not just because we are on the land, but because we put up a huge fight at that time against annexation to the United States. And so that had to be quelled through different means all throughout the territorial period, which is from about 1900 to 1959 and on from there. So we are an oppressed people. We’re an oppressed indigenous people that have never relinquished our national land base, which is basically this entire archipelago and we’ve never relinquished our claims to our land and to our country. And that is the context for this. And I think what Mauna Kea has done is it has really pulled the curtain on the fake State of Hawaii and it’s showing their bluff, it’s showing their cards, it’s awakening of people to want to know more about this history and this information. And here we are about 115 days in of a road blockade, basically on the top of a mountain in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

Adam: To what extent was there any kind of effort, now, obviously the sort of liberal state as it were exists to kind of soften these tensions between the colonial occupation and indigenous rights. I assume there’s kind of a, a kinder, gentler machine gun hand at work here. To what extent was there any kind of effort to reach out to Native Hawaiians and try to like quote unquote “reach an agreement” or was it just sort of steamrolled over and then maybe they would come in later and do some glad handling or astroturf some nonprofits? What’s the sort of liberal side of this colonial project?

Ilima Long: Yeah, there’s certainly that side of this project. So a couple of things that they put in place was a Native Hawaiian advisory council. So this is just part of the standard sort of power equation for these kinds of projects. And that council was made up of Kanaka Maoli who in large did not agree with this telescope proposal, but realized very quickly that their advisory role was no more than an advisory role. So that goes into the TMT’s narrative of consultation with the Native Hawaiian community and things like that.

Nima: But no actual power to make decisions.

Adam: Yeah.

Ilima Long: Yeah, no actual power to make decisions. And it also, after 2015, which was the sort of first direct action standoff on the Mauna, after that, they decided to do some community forums, which were basically invite only and they were closed. They weren’t open forums to the public.

Adam: So they can sort of hand select the kind of good ones or whatever. Right?

Ilima Long: Yeah. The good ones are the ones that they know are not gonna really put up much of a fight. And so then that went into some kind of official report about community consultation as well.

Adam: ‘Consultation, advising,’ it’s all so passive.

Ilima Long: Yeah. It’s just like the Dole Fruit Company got some ‘consultation’ before completely taking over Hawaiʻi.

Adam: There’s two kinds of drivers. There’s drivers who put on their blinker because they’re asking permission and those who put on their blinker cause they’re just letting you know they’re about to cut in front of you.

Ilima Long: That’s basically it.

Adam: This definitely seems like the latter.

Demonstrators gather to block a road at the base of Hawai’i’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea. They fly the Hawaiian flag upside down as a protest symbol. (Credit: Caleb Jones/AP Photo)

Ilima Long: But, you know, also in this day and age, these kinds of projects cannot be successful without compradors as well. And we have those in our community too. So it’s not just this sort of victim narrative. I mean these compradors are definitely victims of colonialism in their own way, but there are Native Hawaiians in positions of power that totally support the TMT and they just toe the line of this is good for business, good for the economy, good for education and those things. So those people do exist. They definitely stay on the DL in this moment. On the other side of that, Hawaiian institutions, organizations, leaders that have either been quiet or pro-TMT before have come out in huge support, which actually just speaks to the size of this movement at this time, in support of us, the protectors.

Nima: Right. So talking about those, maybe not so much on your side, let’s talk about Governor David Ige and the declaration of a state of emergency as well as the claim that Puʻuhonua has quote “fallen apart” and referring to what was alleged to be I guess this sort of a character assassination attempt by saying that there was like rampant alcohol and drug use on the site. Can you push back on some of this or just kind of explain how this all came about and what you all have done to respond?

Mikey Inouye: Yeah, so David Ige is kind of the poster child of success of Asian settler colonialism in Hawaii. Hawaii often gets mistaken for kind of like a blue progressive paradise when in reality the majority of Democrats on this island would be Republicans anywhere else. And a lot of Asian settlers, I’m a descendant of Asian settlers, and my ancestors definitely struggled on the plantations just as much as anyone but at a certain point we had amassed enough labor power to carve out a decent life here. But the unfortunate thing is what a few of us did with that is to basically grab the mantle of white supremacy and carry it to enrich ourselves. And so when we hear this kind of narrative from David Ige about how the Pu’uhonua had fallen apart, that there was just rampant drugs and alcohol and it was like a second Gomorrah and just like a den of debauchery, I was literally shooting an amazing woman singing a song about the queen getting the news of her kingdom smuggled into her by newspaper that wrapped around flowers in her garden while this other auntie was dancing in the middle of the access road half an hour before this declaration that the Puʻuhonua had basically burned to the ground. So I immediately posted a five minute uncut video of that just to show what was going down there and then to give a kind of historical analysis into what he did and how it’s part of a long history of settlers and basically white supremacists writing the narrative of this place and of its people, its original indigenous people and all the old racist tropes that have been used for over a hundred years. He was using all the unruly Native caricatures and also kind of banking on this long-held stereotype that Kanaka Maoli people cannot govern themselves and when given that opportunity they will make a huge mess of it. And what’s so beautiful about Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu is that it is such a perfect reputation of that fallacy. In just a couple of weeks Kanaka were able to create a completely self-sustaining community with a tuition free university, free food, free shelter and the practice of culture, dance, song in an unapologetic judgemental free way and with perfect sanitation with —

Ilima Long: Crossing guards.

Mikey Inouye: Yeah. Crossing guards, kitchen staff, it’s own community enforcement, medics, all of that in just a few weeks. Whereas the fake state can’t even build a rail without making terrible unfixable mistakes.

Nima: Yeah. I mean it just kinda reminds me of the time that I spent down at Occupy Wall Street here in New York that there was this functioning community there and yet everything that you kind of just heard from the outside was about, you know, like, ‘oh no can the bankers walk past safely?’ And it’s like, you know, there were other things going on, you know, maybe that is not, I mean, first off, yes, obviously they’re fine and also just really kind of shifting the focus, deciding that there’s a framework by which others are going to understand this action, this movement, this community that is clearly framed in a way that talks about, ‘Oh no, is there sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll going on down there?’ Because clearly we have to protect it from the normals and it’s so transparent.

Mikey Inouye: Yeah. And what’s interesting about it is like I’m a big fan of your show. I’ve been learning a lot from how much US media and the people in power can so completely distort, not just historical facts and interpretations of history, but the truth on the ground for things that are happening right now. But I had never experienced it firsthand in such a visceral way where I was literally in the place that he was talking about and looking for fire, you know, like what is this? What is this imaginary place that he’s talking about?

Adam: Right.

Mikey Inouye: And so we spent like a lot of time after that just basically dunking on him through various media formats, through photography, through our own press releases, through responses. We did several video tours through our own independent media outlets and through other news journalism outlets.

Adam: I want to talk about that actually. I want to dig into sort of the specifics here of what the local media coverage has been, who may be some of the worst actors are, maybe even some of the who the better actors are — and by local, I suppose in this context, I mean sort of corporate or colonial media — and what are y’all doing to either correct counter or or, um, amplify the sort of correct narrative or the narrative that maybe puts things context. Can we sort of tease out some examples of that and maybe what kind of lessons can be gleaned from that?

Mikey Inouye: Yeah, so I think it’s really important to kind of understand the media landscape in Hawaii. It was always very much a part of the ongoing colonial project. In fact, a lot of the original founders of the news media that we read today was started by the occupiers, the richest and most powerful among them. And so now like we basically have a newspaper that’s been consolidated from so many different other newspapers that now it is just one newspaper owned by a Canadian oil billionaire and that’s the biggest major newspaper. The other alternative media news that is purely digital, which is also owned by another billionaire, Pierre Omidyar. And our TV news stations, like the biggest one is also a consolidated station that is owned by Grey Media, which is a media syndicate much like Sinclair. And so all of our primary sources of information in the mainstream are owned by people who are deeply invested in the capitalist imperialist project here. So of course they’re going to do everything they can to not see what’s actually going on here. And we kind of decided when we were forming this that we were not only going to answer with a counter narrative to that corporate owned media, to that corporate dominated media, we were going to tell the stories that they wouldn’t even think of telling burrowing deep into not just the current issue but also into the history of oppression and the systemic issues that gave rise to this particular moment. But also to the culture and practices that the US Imperial project has attempted to literally kill and how the Mauna Kea movement has breathed new life into that struggle.

Ilima Long: I’m going to jump in too —

Adam: Please.

Ilima Long: And share an example of how this went down. That is the media landscape that we’re dealing with. So for example, when David Ige came out with his press conference, and the press conference that led into the emergency proclamation happened on the evening of the day of the 33 arrest of our elders, and he basically laid out what a bad place Puʻuhonua is and that led into his emergency proclamation, which we were expecting because we knew that he needed to sort of release funds for this huge law enforcement operation and, you know, bring in the National Guard and all that. Some of the players that are part of Nā Leo Kākoʻo, one of them is a social media platform called Kāko’o Haleakalā. And that means to support Haleakalā, which is the name of the mountain in Maui where the community also fought to protect it from the construction of an Air Force solar telescope, an Air Force operated and in service of, solar telescope. So they came, another platform is called Kanaio Kona and they are focused on promoting and boosting Hawaiian education. But when we came, we knew that we needed a platform just for this issue. And so we really strategically worked together to build the platform for the Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu. We’ve got a great logo. We had all of the live streams just go to that. And before we knew it, you know, we had 30,000 people, 40,000 people following the different platforms. So what’s interesting about that is that this is a movement where everybody knows exactly the one place to go when they need information. And that happened very, very quickly. We also have leadership that is incredibly articulate, strong, unapologetic, and very thoughtful in their words. And so people are always waiting for the next statement to come out by our leadership because it’s always so good. So when Governor Ige made that proclamation, we basically organized a press conference right there and the press was already basically camping out up here. So we organized a press conference, made some talking points, one of our young leaders Kahookahi Kanuha went out there and said actually we have an emergency. Our culture is under threat, our mountain is under threat, our people are under threat and we have been for a long time. And what they’re saying about the Puʻuhonua is a lie and we invite all of you to come to the Puʻuhonua yourself and see for yourself. And we invite David Ige and we invite all of these state actors even to come here and see for yourself. And then we issued, you know, we made a cool graphic, Hawaiian National Emergency Proclamation and we basically put his speech out in text, you know, as our own. So that’s, it was kind of fun also, but it was also, there was nothing untrue about it. So we kind of have fun with the media a little bit and we’re able to speak our truth and that’s what we stand on this entire time and every time. And people started flocking to the mountain when the Kupuna had got arrested, the elders got arrested. But as we started to invite everybody to come see for themselves, it was I think the following weekend, we probably had 5,000 people up here. It was overwhelming. We were not expecting it. And they all have their own cameras and their own phones and taking their own pictures and basically just showing what an amazingly organized, full of love place this is. And it just made the state look really, really stupid and like liars and in fact I think that’s what Kahookahi straight up called them in the press conference. Yeah?

Mikey Inouye: Yeah.

Ilima Long: Daivd Ige is a liar, he’s lying and we can be that clear because we can show so clearly that that is the truth.

Mikey Inouye: Yeah and because we’ve been so proactive and responsive whenever they try to recapture the narrative from us, time that they would have otherwise been spending like breaking ground or like ramping up for the next attempt at removing us, they’re now spending on shoveling shit and like just constant damage control because every time they come on the mic and say something ridiculous, we reveal all of the ways that that’s not only not true, but like just —

Ilima Long: A reflection of themselves.

Mikey Inouye: Yes. Yeah, just like really just insidiously mendacious, like just like not only accidentally not telling the truth or not knowing enough, they are like intentionally lying about what’s happening and what’s happened previously leading up to this and what’s happening now.

Adam: I want to talk a bit about the sort of bigger narrative that they’re pushing, which we touched on in Episode 90, some of the feedback we got — it was all white men, but nonetheless, you know, similar to myself, Adam Johnson, a lot of the feedback was, I don’t want to be the white guy ragging on the white guy, it’s kind of lame — but um, a lot of the feedback was, ‘Okay, I get it.’ ‘My heart bleeds.’ They sort of would preface it with a lot of liberal hand wringing, but then they’d say like, ‘this telescope can look into the face of god’ or you know, is that there’s always some sort of romantic scientific reason for it. And I’m sort of curious to hear from you all what your sort of response to that is to these kinds of fence sitting liberals when they do sort of repeal back to like, this may suck, it may be colonial, my heart bleeds, but ultimately capital “S” Science is more important.

Ilima Long: We say the same thing every time. We say astronomy is cool. Right on. We are not against astronomy. We’re against the destruction of our mountain. We’re not even against the TMT. We’re against destroying our mountain to build the TMT. That’s basically what we answer back with. We’ve also been working to have our own Hawaiian scientists at the University up here, Puʻuhuluhulu University, to tape them, to put that out. We have our own rich traditions, scientific traditions that are incredibly intellectual, deep and incredibly useful for reorienting our relationship with the Earth right now and with the heavens as well. So that’s been another one of our responses. I think finally our response has been to amplify the voices of astronomers and scientists who are not interested in forwarding colonial science anymore and that are interested in science that is just.

Adam: Sorry to be clear, we did get a lot of that too. We did get a lot of people saying ‘I’m a scientist’ or ‘I work in astronomy and I support this.’ So like it, it definitely wasn’t uniform and there’s definitely people who, like you said, are kind of don’t want to participate in that because ultimately it has to be subordinate to the broader issue of colonialism, I think. Right? I mean is that?

Mikey Inouye: Yeah, I mean there was a petition that was signed by I think over a thousand astronomers who are in solidarity with Mauna Kea and one of my friends who is an astrophysicist she came down here to pay tribute unexpressed her own solidarity. And again, we used that as an opportunity. I filmed it and we shared it really broadly and it definitely traveled, especially among left circles within the scientific community, at the universities that are financially invested in this telescope being built. And also what I would say to the many people who are like, ‘okay, this is like desecration and this is kind of like running roughshod over indigenous people, but scientific progress,’ many terrible evil things have been done to indigenous black people and all sorts of marginalized communities in the name of science and progress. In fact, like most of the worst things were done for those reasons. And in addition to that, like yeah, I will support any form of technology as long as it has the consent of the people whose land it is happening on. And what we’re talking about here, the thirty meter telescope is an eighteen story building on the highest, most sacred land on the Hawaiian islands with a five acre footprint over the largest aquifer on Hawaii Island with a gigantic septic tank and another chemical waste tank that’s going to be holding toxic chemicals like mercury. And there’s already been a history of hazardous chemicals leaking on the mountain from other telescopes and this is all happening on designated conservation land. So in addition to all of that specific environmental degradation, I think what we have to also keep in mind is that we aren’t going to unlock the information that we need in the less than eleven years we have to radically restructure our global economic system to prevent ourselves from burning and drowning at the same time. None of the secrets in space are going to tell us how to live sustainably with the land rather than against the grain of it. Indigenous people have that knowledge, that deeply scientific knowledge that is hundreds or thousands of years old and that is science. And so anyone who’s saying that the Mauna Kea movement side, the anti-TMT side is being anti-science is actually deeply ignorant of other forms, nonwhite, non Western forms of scientific practice.

Nima: Right. It’s like anti-exploitative, extractive science, but it’s not anti-science writ large, right? Like, I think that’s such a vital point that even hearing about the protests, the framework for those reports are always like, ‘wow, I mean it’s like protesting like a new observatory, like what’s wrong with that?’ And it’s like, but when you actually start to understand that actually means, I mean Mauna Kea is, you know, if you were to measure it from its base, the tallest mountain on Planet Earth, it’s just, you know, not all of it is above water, right? But like putting on top of that what you’re saying, the infrastructure that they are saying is needed to create the TMT is really destructive. And so it’s beyond this, this idea of ‘oh why do you oppose science?’ It’s like no, like making way for science should not be a destructive act. Actually, it should be the opposite.

Ilima Long: Yeah and I think Hawaii is really interesting right now because other struggles that have been going on for a while in different communities are now taking action. You know, going into sort of a direct action phase emboldened and empowered and inspired by the Mauna Kea movement. And these include the Waimānalo community on Oahu that is protesting the development of a big new park complex, sort of sports park complex in their community. And then the Kahuku community, which is on the north shore of Oahu, which is protesting an expansion of a wind farm that is up there. And these are all projects that are to make a small amount of people rich, line the pockets of politicians but Hawaii is sort of at the cutting edge of this kind of, I guess resistance, because we are up against these seemingly benevolent industries like green energy and astronomy and parks.

Adam: Yeah, it’s all so warm and fuzzy. Yeah.

Ilima Long: Yeah it’s all so warm and fuzzy so it adds an added layer of challenge for sure in terms of a counter narrative to these things, but at the same time we’re going to do it. It’s a lot easier, I think, for people to wrap their minds around the evils of an oil pipeline than it is a wind turbine. But we’re sort of peeling back the layers of power that are underneath this and the way that these industries just have no regard for community community concerns and things like that. And so we’re really hoping to turn a new political page here.

Adam: Let’s say I’m thinking about starting an alternative media or I have a kind of proto-version of one, whether it’s incarcerated people, indigenous or any kind of marginalized population that doesn’t have the institutional backing financially. What are some of the lessons you learned that you can kind of share with them and the kind of advice you could give them and maybe what kind of pitfalls to avoid?

Ilima Long: Well yeah, we’ve been thinking about that. Our team is a really good team and uh, I’ve been trying to figure out why, but I think one is if you can get a combination of people who are from that community that’s impacted — I guess lucky for us it’s an entire nation, right? That is our community, is our islands — that are heavily invested in the issue, not just justice or action, but that have a personal investment in the issue. And you can get a range of skill sets to come together. And my position, and I think it has helped with the cohesion, is to liaison also between leadership and the media team. So the media team is not just this separate entity on its own, it’s always in communication and has some degree of awareness of upcoming strategies, you know, the big narratives that we need to push, what’s coming down the pipeline. And someone who can keep that relationship I guess strong and tight as well. I mean that’s really worked for us. We’ve had people come from all over the place, you know, other indigenous media makers, kind of justice oriented or action oriented media makers and we greet them, we thank them, we kind of bring them into a degree but the team that has really stuck is the team that is from here and has a personal investment in this issue.

Nima: So right before we, uh, let you go, this has been amazing, can you tell our listeners where they can find information about this, how they can follow you all? What uh, you know, you mentioned you created social feeds that are pumping out great information. Where can folks find those and follow?

Ilima Long: Okay, I will, I’m going to spell it out.

Nima: Do it.

Ilima Long: Speaking of media, one of the lessons learned was we should have come up with some simpler website names and things.

Mikey Inouye: (Laughing) Yeah.

Nima: You don’t think Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu is easy enough for people?

Ilima Long: (Laughing) Right.

Mikey Inouye: That’s hard for me to type out, especially without the punctuation.

Ilima Long: Yeah typing is hard. Its as hard as the pronunciation. Okay so we have a website, an official website and it’s called It’s the name of the hill behind us, behind our Puʻuhonua, we named it after this hill. It’s and then basically if you search that on any social media format you’ll find those official pages as well.

Nima: This has been so amazing. We’ve been talking with Mikey Inouye, filmmaker and co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of Honolulu and Ilima Long, Media Coordinator for the Nā Leo Kākoʻo and a member of Huli, a non-violent direct action organization that has been one of the leaders of the Mauna Kea movement. Mikey and Ilima this has been amazing. Thank you so much for joining us today on Citations Needed.

Mikey Inouye: Mahalo. Thank you for having us.

Ilima Long: Mahalo nui. Thank you.


Adam: Yeah. That was extremely informative. I think it’s good to do that, to sort of not just not just dump on media, although that’s important. We do enjoy that. It’s also good to hear that a large part of their media strategy was dunking on people, so it works. You know, there used to be a name for it. It was called, like, “fighting back” and, but then we turn it into a, an ironic internet thing. But um, I always like doing that, asking how people are really countering these narratives, not just sort of deconstructing them. But of course we believe, otherwise we wouldn’t have a show, that deconstructing them is an essential part of combating them. But it’s always great to see people provide alternative narratives and especially with some of the, some social media without being too techno-utopian, I do think social media allows that to be distributed.

Nima: I also think it’s so fundamentally important that the voices and leadership of those who are most proximate to these issues be centered in them. I mean, there is no substitute for the power that comes with actually being the ones most affected by these negative narratives and the policies that those narratives are reinforced by. And so, you know, to have indigenous people, to have people of color, to have the people, as you said Adam in the interview, whether it’s, you know, people who are incarcerated or basically anyone who is able to tell those stories, who are experiencing the worst negative effects of how these power structures work, that is always going to be the most effective.

Adam: Yeah. The more people with the name Adam Johnson, the better. Um, okay. The most colonial name ever.

Nima: (Laughing) That’s what we meant. So that will do it for this Citations Needed News Brief. Thank you everyone for listening and of course to our Patreon supporters, we cannot do the show without you, so thank you so very much. Of course everyone can find the show and follow the show on Twitter @CitationsPod, Facebook Citations Needed, or become one of those supporters through with Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson. Thank you again for listening to this News Brief. We will be back soon with a full-length episode. I’m Nima Shirazi.

Adam: I’m Adam Johnson.

Nima: Citations Needed is produced by Florence Barrau-Adams. Production assistant is Trendel Lightburn. The music is by Grandaddy. Thanks everyone, again, take care.

This Citations Needed News Brief was released on Wednesday, November 20, 2019.

Transcription by Morgan McAslan.