Protectivism as decolonial work: Abigail Laden, Allies of the Movement to Protect Mauna Kea: Non-Indigenous Solidarity in Kanaka Maoli Protectivism, MA dissertation, University of Hawai’i, 2020


Abstract: As Indigenous-led movements across the globe work to protect sacred land, environmental resources, culture, and rights; non-Indigenous allies and accomplices take on supportive roles in these efforts towards protection. The coined term “protectivism” speaks to this Indigenous-led activism that is rooted in the right of original peoples to protect their sacred places and ancestral lands that are now being exploited through development by settler colonial capitalism. While this term is being used for the first time in this particular way within this thesis, I did not create the concept by any means. This word is drawn from people within the movement who define themselves over and over as “protectors, not protestors” (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua 2017:188). This MA thesis explores the roles and experiences of the allies of the Movement to Protect Mauna Kea on Hawaiʻi Island, as kiaʻi mauna (guardians and protectors of the mountain) protect their sacred mountain from the desecration that would be caused by the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). This thesis explores the benefits and complications within solidarity, analyzes current literature in this field, and highlights the interviews of seven allies who stand in solidarity with Kanaka Maoli protectors. Under the guidance of my community mentor, Aunty Pua Case, and in a two-fold collaborative process, beginning with Kanaka Maoli mentors and then expanding to collaborate with the ally community, I explore what solidarity entails on Mauna a Wākea. As a non-Indigenous ally myself and a collaborative researcher, I utilize my own experience to be consistently reflexive throughout the research and writing process. The allies I interviewed reveal themselves to be respectful of Kanaka Maoli leadership, aware of histories like settler colonialism, are critically self-reflective of their positionality, and focus on maintaining support roles within the movement.

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