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"Fore!"Indigenous Women
In A Hole As One

By Richard Oxman

14 March, 2005

"In Hawai'i we have live fire bombing, we have toxic waste, we have Agent Orange buried in our water sources. The military doesn't have to answer for any of the toxic waste that they dump into our water systems. We drink the toxic waste, we breathe it." -- Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa

"Not only has the land been raped, our Mother has been raped." -- Haunani-Kay Trask

"In the United States, disagreements are supposed to be resolved in a court of law. When that fundamental right is denied, justice is sought through social upheaval and civil disobedience, or from the barrel of a gun. We are entitled to a better solution that that." -- Mililani Trask

"The State of Hawai'i is serving as a pimp for the prostitution they're pushing on the Marianas Trench, Rich, that's why you shouldn't move there." -- Oxman's one of his dad's clearer moments

In the Winter 2005 Cultural Survival Quarterly (Volume 28, Issue 4) there's a special focus on indigenous women, sharing their stories and challenging the way we look at the women's and indigenous peoples' rights movements. I highly recommend that readers check in with these "Women the World Must Hear." (1)

In one segment four Maasai teenagers tell why international attempts to stop female circumcision are putting Maasai women at greater risk than what they would ordinarily experience...which is way bad enough. In another, Eulynda Toledo-Benalli addresses the horrific memories/impact of Indian boarding schools. In addition, Anuak refugee women, Armenians, Sweden's Saami women, and Quichua people are spotlighted. There is much more.

But the group that held my attention the longest was the one representing traditional Native Hawai'ian culture. In the "Defending Paradise" section, activist Mililani Trask annotates the Apology Bill and the Akaka Bill, while Professor Lilikala Kame'elehiwa and Leiali'i Mano'i from the University of Hawai'i delineate why their movement will not...go away.

I have an early-twenties son on Maui (a twinkle still, for sure, 'midst the tears). But I will not visit the island. It's not that I wouldn't under any circumstances. Simply...I try not to. The horror of Hawai'i's history is deeply embedded in my soul. It's a beyond words spite of the abominations inflicted upon it. And anyone who goes over there to casually golf, imbibe Mai Tais, down Ahi, etc. contributes to the ongoing desecration.

Mindless, mass-based corporate tourism does not tread lightly on foreign soil. (2)

Don't tell me 'bout how the people depend upon the tourism. I used to live there. A long time. And for too long a time I sucked the tourists dry, depriving the indigenous people of their land and more. No. No more trashy, ornamentalized hula dance for me.

People always ask me what they can do. Well, in case you haven't noticed...I've touched upon that already here. But I have another idea. Why not investigate on your own...what, say, golf courses have done, and continue to do to the islands and their people? You don't have to investigate the military-related indiscretions, the nuclear-related problems, etc. Keep it simple. It'll be quite enough, I assure you, this walk on The Green. (3)

My attitude is that you may not be able to do more than simply make a face when certain subjects come up. Well, whatever the case may be, that's certainly a decent place to start. For sure, zero will come from anything that doesn't have proper disgust attitudinally set in place. And there are plenty of everyday things that we're not sufficiently informed/freaked out about...warranting the risk of friendships/acquintances/opportunities.

Travel to Hawai'i is one case in point. Golf is another. (4)

In traditional Native Hawai'ian culture, women have always been leaders. The indigenous Hawaii'ians' movement for cultural and land rights and "environmental justice" finds them at the forefront of the action in 2005.

And in Hawai'i they think that all issues are women's issues; women expect --as per tradition--that the men will obey them when they're told what to do. They are in quite a different position than most other women in the world. But they need help too.

And you can help them all by simply NOT doing certain things. For now.

Force must be applied. And it will continue to be applied in increasing doses by someone...whether by desperate housewives, devoted activists or demons.

I'm not screaming "Fore!" for no reason. (5)

Richard Oxman, who will never forget the scents, sights and sounds of Hawai'i, can be reached at Forgiving is another matter, oui?


(1) It's a good complement for articles on women's efforts to mobilize internationally (See
as an example). Indigenizing the Academy: Transforming Scholarship & Empowering Communities (by Devon Abbot Mihesuah and Angela Cavender Wilson on University of Nebraska Press) is a good work for those in academia...if they want to become more informed. On a very personal note, however, I don't believe that the efforts at international mobilization or academic education (as per Bell Hooks' "education as the practice of freedom") will do the trick. See Laura Carlsen's recent rundown of the erosion of Women's Rights in Latin America (

(2) There is a relationship between the size of an environmental footprint and the size of a penis-brain.

(3) You can start with
so that your research has a global perspective. It should stiffen your resolve. There's also a wonderful audio of a speech that Haunani-Kay Trask gave at the University of Colorado-Boulder 9/29/93 on "Environmental Racism in Hawai'i and the Pacific Basin." David Barsamian's Alternative Radio outfit, I imagine, should still be able to bring that up for you from their archives; it's an absolute smash. Oahu is only 607 square miles (much less than the area covered by Boulder County in Colorado), but it had 70 planned (or built) golf courses when I lived on Maui; only 5 were open to the public! Most were owned by Japanese investors, and fees for membership were sold on the Japanese Stock Market at a quarter to a half a million bucks a shot!!! Others were owned by the U.S. military. The Trask take on population density, cultural prostitution, endangered species, burial grounds, resources degraded/wasted, etc. will blow your mind. Golf courses play a major role in all this...with Hawai'i accommodating at least 7 million visitors per year. That's 7 and a half for every resident, 35 for every Hawai'ian. Imagine half the U.S. population descending upon Colorado (a much larger land mass) to get a sense of the impact. Tourism and its appendages is NOT a safe industry. I don't think most readers would ever be able to sleep again if I went into the military-related/nuclear-related horrors she depicts.

(4) From the Trask family of Hawai'i I learned much over the years: Forests serve as a kind of natural dam, storing rainwater in the leaves and soil. Natural water circulating from forests feeds rivers and streams. In contrast, golf courses have only one-fourth the water retention capacity of an equivalent forest area. Most rainwater simply runs off the greens and fairways. This produces flooding downstream. On the contrary, the water flow to rivers and creeks downstream from golf links drops to a dribble during periods of drought. During golf course construction, rainfall sends mud pouring from the barren ground into streams. This often makes the water inappropriate for agricultural or residential use.

An 18-hole golf course requires three to four tons of various germicides, herbicides, and pesticides every year to keep the green and fairways healthy, to combat weeds, and kill insects. Some of these chemicals are carcinogenic, while others are known to cause deformities and nerve damage. There have been reports of massive fish kills in fish hatcheries polluted by toxins in the water from golf courses. The nitrogen and phosphorus in the
fertilizers will mix with rainwater and eventually flow into a reservoir. The high nutrient content of water will stimulate the growth of algae. Consequently, this requires the water treatment plant to use higher volumes of chlorine to cleanse the water.

Golf courses use pesticides containing organic phosphorus. After application, the pesticides evaporate in the air and are absorbed by the human body via the skin and lungs. Caddies and greenkeepers often experience health problems because of the air pollution. Golfers themselves breathe in the toxins as they walk the course before the newly sprayed pesticides have settled down. Winds sometimes carry the chemical agents to surrounding neighborhoods, and people living near golf courses worry that their health may also be affected. Golf has an image as a healthy sport, but it may be quite different in reality.

A research group in Canada also identified the problematical factors of golf courses. Soil samples were taken from greens and fairways, and sediment samples were taken from waterways and analyzed for the presence of mercury. Greens had the highest mean mercury concentration, and the majority of greens exceeded Canadian environmental levels set for mercury in soil. Sediment from a golf course lake had higher mercury levels than a lake
located 5 km from the course. Mussels from both lakes were analyzed, and those from the golf course lake near the greens had methylmercury and total mercury levels an order of magnitude greater than those from the reference lake. Fish in both lakes contained methyl mercury, but the level was higher in fish collected near the golf course greens. The construction of golf courses in scenic natural sites, such as forest areas and coral islands, also results in the destruction of biodiversity. The negative impact on Hawai'i and its surrounding waters is beyond belief.

Golf courses handled a different I'm told (by golf pros) they are in South Africa. But, regardless, that's not going to happen.

And...The Green Realm aside, as Mililani Trask notes, "...Native peoples suffer from dire poverty, homelessness, and serious health problems. These types of social indicators are red flags that violence looms on the horizon if justice is not provided."

(5) 'Fore something worse happens, please. It's kind of on the order of what Ward Churchill has been trying to put out there for years. What we are not facing up to with our mild dialogue.

To read Richard Oxman's recent writings See











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