The practices of life-giving land protection of the Wet’suwet’en reminds me that blockades are like beaver dams. One can stand beside the pile of sticks blocking the flow of the river, and complain about inconveniences, or one can sit beside the pond and witness the beavers’ life-giving brilliance – deep pools that don’t freeze for their fish relatives, making wetlands full of moose, deer and elk food and cooling spots, places to hide calves and muck to keep the flies away, open spaces in the canopy so sunlight increases creating warm and shallow aquatic habitat around the edges of the pond for amphibians and insects, plunge pools on the downstream side of dams for juvenile fish, gravel for spawning, home and food for birds. Blockades are both a negation destruction and an affirmation of life.
Without a single cloud floating in the Mauna Kea sky, kia‘i (protectors) assembled on the morning of July 17, 2019 at Mauna Kea Access Road to stop construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). The resolve to protect Mauna Kea from TMT was as clear as the skies above–no telescope was necessary to see this. In response, the State of Hawaii deployed police, equipped with riot batons, tear gas, guns and a Long Range Acoustic Device, to open the access road for construction crews to ascend to TMT’s build site at the northern plateau. It was the largest police operation in Hawai‘i in recent memory with officers from multiple jurisdictions across the islands. This execution of force coincided with Hawaiʻi Governor David Ige’s Proclamation to declare a State of Emergency and, in doing so, declare those safeguarding the Mauna as a threat to the state. But kia‘i were prepared, stood their ground and continued to defend this sacred mountain.