Ellen-Rae Cachola

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ABSTRACT: This study used a walking tour to examine Filipino diasporic settler awareness of the structural violence that Kanaka ʻŌiwi endure in Hawaiʻi. Military infrastructures and hotels in Waikīkī evidence the Westphalian state that occupies indigenous commons, recruiting natives and immigrants to participate in the settler-colonial state as dehumanized subjects. Naming settler colonialism as a Westphalian governing system illuminates how local occupation is integral to occupations in other parts of the world. This framework offers a common language for indigenous and diasporic settlers to create new models of local and international relationality.


Debates on the discourse of settler colonialism illuminate multiple perspectives on the Westphalian system of government that creates relationships of dominance and submission between diasporic[1] settlers[2] and indigenous peoples to a land. These debates elucidate established structures of power that socialize and teach people to internalize and participate in relationships that disavow those at the bottom of the Westphalian state’s Eurocentric system while internalizing the values and aspirations of those at the top. Drawing from Anthony Hall (2005), Nandita Sharma and Cynthia Wright (2008-2009) place critical attention on an international system that requires indigenous and people-of-color activists to play into “possessive individualism” in organizing strategies that replicate complicity in “legal motifs of landownership that emerged from specific historical conditions in Western Europe and Creole nationalisms of America” (as cited in Sharma an Wright 2008-2009, 131). Indigenous organizing must contend with the settler colonial state they are embedded in and resist, in order to re-assert control over their lands. I use this framework to illuminate the hegemony of settler colonialism in Hawaiʻi as part of the transnational Westphalian inter-state system that links Pacific Island and Asian countries, such as Hawaiʻi and the Philippines, possessions of U.S. Empire. In “Decolonizing Antiracism,” Bonita Lawrence and Enakshi Dua (2005) critique anti-racist scholars for failing to centre indigenous epistemologies and values in their understandings of racism, both ignoring and participating in the ongoing process of indigenous colonization. I take up the challenge of this criticism by writing from the perspective of a diasporic settler who recognizes the system of oppression that occupies Kanaka ‘Ōiwi lands on the southern coast of Oʻahu, and passes down this cognizance to other diasporic settler youth. Dean Saranillio (2013) explains that the purpose of this awareness is not to identify “who is and is not a settler, but rather to question the political and pedagogical work that settler colonialism does to open one’s visual world to the consequence of aligning oneself with the settler state” (Saranillio 2013, 282). Attending to this perspectival shift, I analyze data collected during a walking tour that reveals the transformation of the southern coast of Oʻahu into a militarized and commercialized landscape that diasporic settlers have benefitted from in the form of employment and access to upward mobility. I argue this transformation is part of a broader process that establishes a Westphalian form of government in Hawaiʻi, which extends into other Pacific and Asian countries. This translocal narrative can contextualize the discourse of sovereignty of Kanaka ʻŌiwi in ways that resonate with diasporic settlers, rethinking the latter’s alignment with the dominant American narrative in Hawaiʻi. Indeed, diasporic settlers might see the violence against Kanaka ʻŌiwi parallel the type of violence occurring upon indigenous peoples in their own ancestral countries and histories. But, I do not want to equate the experiences of diasporic settlers with peoples indigenous to a territory. Rather, the approach of this article is to focus on the structure of government that produces immigrant/indigenous hierarchical relations in a particular place. This structure is not unique to a single place but has been established across many places, and continuously produces diasporic peoples who would become settlers upon another’s indigenous lands.

This article will first define what the Westphalian state is and how it manifests itself through the institutional and teleological functions of the military and tourist institutions of the southern coast of U.S.-occupied Oʻahu. Data for this analysis was gathered through a walking tour that I organized as an Ilocano diasporic settler mentor for other Filipino diasporic settler youth who were enrolled in a high school in Kalihi, Honolulu. The purpose of this walking tour was to teach diasporic settler youth how to read the landscape as a medium that features militarization and commercialization, particularly through the Waikīkī hotel industries that employ some of these students’ parents. This teaching experience revealed how the settler state recruits indigenous and immigrant settlers to participate in its development. The structural violence that the military and hotel industries cause on indigenous lands, and the case of sexual harassment against immigrant women at Hale Koa hotel, reveals how the settler state abuses both indigenous and diasporic settlers of color. The knowledge of what else exists besides the settler state in their host land may not be clearly evident to diasporic settler youth. For the indigenous people of Hawai’i, courage to resist settler colonialism stems from the fact that they can genealogically connect themselves to land that their ancestors lived upon and governed according to a different political jurisdiction. Within indigenous discourse, the land that settler diasporic youth stand upon is technically not theirs. Rather, diasporic settlers were brought to that place to contribute to the settler jurisdiction. Invoking diasporic settler connection to indigenous jurisdictions requires forging meaningful connections to their own ancestral lands and histories rather than be limited to settler identities and histories. This unfamiliar terrain means connecting the histories and cultures from another part of the world, to the histories and cultures of resistance under settler state. To address this gap, I conclude with thoughts on how focusing on the problem of the Westphalian state can lead to re-envisioning another international and intercultural model of relationality that indigenous and diasporic settler populations can participate in to co-create inter-state systems that resist the violence of the militarist/capitalist system of government that was imported into the Pacific.

Settler Colonialism as the Westphalian State

The Treaty of Westphalia (1648) was signed by European princes to bring peace after the Thirty Years’ War. Once controlled by the Holy Roman Empire, the treaty delineated the sovereignty of nation-states. According International Relations Scholar, L.H.M. Ling, the goal of the Westphalian model of governance was to protect territorial sovereignty and inter-state commerce (Ling 2014, 11). The units of sovereign nation-states would maintain and build upon military installations left behind since the Holy Roman Empire to protect their individual borders (Verie 1648). Nations were responsible for creating their own industries and for trading with other nations. The institutionalization of inter-state trade between nation-states innovated mercantilism into capitalism. In Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici (2004) describes how enclosures were created to destroy self-subsistent societies, thereby dispersing populations into urban, manufacturing centers where they are dependent upon wages. This process coincided with the rise of state-supported militaries, who occupied the territories of populations resistant to changes in land tenureship (Federici 2004). Despite acts of resistance, the desires of capitalist elites would endure through brutalizing the commoners. In Security, Territory and Population, Michel Foucault (2004) argues that war was a necessary feature of the Westphalian state because if one nation exceeded its territorial boundaries or upset inter-state trade, the militaries of surrounding nations would be called upon to regulate the excessive or disruptive rogue state (Foucault 2004, 244, 299). Thus, the perpetual preparation for war was a necessary component of the Westphalian nation-state and inter-state system.

The experience of enclosing the commons in Europe would export into non-European lands, such as indigenous North America and the Pacific. Louis Althusser (1970) describes the modern cities of European nation-states, with institutions such as banks, schools, churches, media houses, the military, the asylum, the clinic, and the factory. The creation of European settler towns in indigenous North America would construct similar institutions and also name the land they occupied according to European people’s places of origin (Ford 2010, 5; Smith 2002, 53). These settler towns became contact zones where settler and indigenous peoples would trade and interact. They became sites of competing narratives of place. Settlers driven by capitalist culture desired more land, creating campaigns to dehumanize indigenous populations so that they would be annihilated from the lands that settlers wanted to control, or to assimilate them into their settlements. The Anglo-American settler state grew across the North American continent, fueled by the ideology of Manifest Destiny. By the end of the 1890s, the Anglo-American empire reached the Pacific border. American industrial production was booming at the expense of the low-paid working classes. The American economy could not absorb enough of its production and turned to international markets to sell its goods. Island territories such as Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, Hawaiʻi, and the Philippines came into the purview of capitalist classes to expand its markets (Foner 1975). The establishment of American militaries and businesses in these territories prompted new questions about the rights of the people who lived there. The U.S. Supreme Court decided that each would have different political statuses in relation to the United States. However, what was common among the court rulings was that their governments would allow U.S. military facilities to be hosted on their lands, and support trade with the United States (Ramos 1996, 240-241; Torruella 2007, 304; Thompson 2010, 254). This brief history of American imperialism narrates the establishment of the Westphalian orders in the Pacific and contextualizes the settler colonial government in Hawaiʻi as an explicitly Westphalian form of government that is related to the occupation of indigenous North America and other U.S. island territories.

Methodology of Reading Settler Colonialism

Chicana muralist Judy Baca (2009) writes about land as a medium that records memories and stories. She writes, “The land was […] recording all that had occurred there in the field. I needed only to listen to the land to hear the story.” She discusses her experiences walking along the shores of the cape now known as Plymouth Rock. She encounters a granite monument inscribed with a phrase, “The people of Provincetown were overcome with joy that at last their town would be recognized as the first home of the Pilgrims.” In response, she writes, “I cannot help but wonder why they were thrilled given the profound consequences to the indigenous people of that landing […] I am anxious to feel this land and its memories, which had such profound consequences to millions […]. I find myself worrying as I walk trails here, that children in the inner cities of the U.S. walk on concrete everyday never placing their feet in soil enough to learn to listen to the land” (Baca 2009).

Baca’s methodology inspired my process for organizing a walking tour of Waikīkī for Filipino diasporic settler youth from Farrington High School in Kalihi, Hawai‘i. Farrington is situated in a working-class neighborhood of Honolulu and is comprised of students of various ethnicities, the most prominent being Filipino (56%), Samoan (13.3%), and Part-Hawaiian (9.1%) (Evaluation Section, Planning and Evaluation Office 2005, 2). Between 2013 and 2014, I worked as a mentor for an afterschool leadership program at Farrington High School. This community reflects a youth population that resonates with my own experience as a daughter of Ilocano[3] immigrants born and raised on Maui and growing up with other students of diverse Asian, Hawaiian, mixed-race, and Pacific Islander descent. During my undergraduate years, I developed a critical consciousness around militarization and demilitarization movements by working with American Friends Service Committee-Hawaiʻi Office. It was not until graduate school that I developed political consciousness around local identity politics, sparked by the Hawaiian sovereignty discourses of Haunani K. Trask and the Asian Settler colonial discourses of Dean Saranillio, Candace Fujikane, and Eiko Kosasa. These discourses were instrumental in developing my conceptual awareness of Kanaka ʻŌiwi reclamation of lands and culture as acts of decolonization that challenge Asian immigrants to rethink Americanized narratives of place and identity. Asian descendants of laborers who were recruited to work in the Euro-American owned plantation, hotel, and military enterprises in Hawaiʻi originated from poverty and political turmoil in their own lands, and were taught to aspire according to capitalism as hope for a better life. The walking tour to Diamond Head and Fort DeRussy was a way to “listen to the land.” I wanted to communicate the questions and values of being a politicized diasporic settler to other Filipino youth through the walking tour.

Data Collection

The walking tour was inspired by DeTours (Grandinetti 2014), alternative tours of places on Oʻahu led by demilitarization activists Kyle Kajihiro, a 4th-generation Japanese local man, and Terri Kekoʻolani, a Kanaka ʻŌiwi woman. DeTours draws upon environmental justice tour methods, bringing people to militarized sites to see and experience the environmental and social costs of militarism in Hawaiʻi (Kajihiro 2008). I was inspired by this way of teaching the ethics of development and decided to use my position as a mentor to organize a tour of Waikīkī, located on the southern coast of the island of Oʻahu. The tour started at Diamond Head State Monument, then moved to Fort DeRussy in Waikīkī to re-iterate histories of the destruction and transformation of Kanaka ʻŌiwi commons into commercialized and militarized sites. I gathered content from inscriptions on plaques at each site, from historical information found on websites, and news articles. At Fort DeRussy we focused on Hale Koa, a U.S.-Army-owned hotel, which was a site of sexual harassment case involving a military-veteran-turned-parking-manager and his staff of Asian women. These examples illuminate the intertwined relationships between militarization and tourism on indigenous commons as part of American empire-building in the Pacific. The Hale Koa case in particular became a lynchpin to discuss the history of militarization and presence of Westphalian settler-colonial systems that links the occupation of Hawaiʻi to other Asian Pacific countries such as the Philippines. This connection demonstrates how indigenous discourses of decolonization through demilitarization of land open up discourses for diasporic settlers-of-color to discuss their own historical experiences of colonization and militarization, positioning the Westphalian state as a common problem that indigenous and diasporic settlers can address collectively.

The Commodified Landscape of Waikīkī

The Westphalian settler colonial structure in the southern coast of Oʻahu transformed the food-secure landscape of the indigenous commons into dried-up real estate for commercial and settler development. Early Hawaiian settlers arrived on Oʻahu around 600 AD and transformed the marshes of old Waikīkī into hundreds of taro fields, fishponds, and gardens. They constructed an irrigation system in the 1400s, taking advantage of streams descending from Makiki, Mānoa, and Pālolo valleys. Waikīkī became a productive agricultural area. By the time of European arrival, Waikīkī had already been a center of population and a political power on Oʻahu (Young 2013). With its fishponds, taro fields, and groves of coconut trees, Waikīkī became an important residence for Oʻahu aliʻi (chiefs) and a large population settled along the shoreline. According to the Diamond Head National Monument brochure, at least four heiaus (temples of worship) were built between Diamond Head Crater and Waikīkī.

The ʻApuakehau stream flowed from Mānoa Valley and entered Waikīkī by flowing along western border of what was once the fertile ʻAinahau estate of Princess Likelike on the eastern side of Waikīkī. The Kuehaunahi streamed flowed from Pālolo and emptied near what is now ʻOhua and Kalākaua Avenues in Waikīkī. The Piʻinaio Stream from Makiki emptied at Kālia, a wide delta, where Fort DeRussy is located today (Young 2013). Kālia was also the site of 13 acres of fishponds filled with ʻamaʻama (mullet) and awa (milkfish). These fishponds were known as “royal ice boxes” because of the amount of food they provided for the aliʻi and their guests and were also home to the mo’o deities—lizard or dragon guardian spirits of fishponds—who protected their caretakers and punished those who abused their responsibilities (Kanahele 1995, 130). Following the Great Mahele in 1848, many fishponds and dry-land agricultural plots were still being farmed, but at a reduced scale. During this time, Kanaka ʻŌiwi began to be displaced from their ancestral lands as plots were sold to private individuals. In the 1860s and 1870s, Japanese and Chinese immigrants replaced taro with rice fields and raised fish and ducks (Kanahele 1995, 129).

Construction of Fort DeRussy began in 1909 and Batteries Randolph and Dudley in 1911. Walter Dillingham, a land developer, saw the real estate potential of Waikīkī if the wetlands were dredged. In 1920s, Dillingham directed the creation of the Ala Wai Canal to cut off the natural flow of the Makiki, Mānoa, and Pālolo streams into Mamala Bay (waters off Waikīkī beach), benefitting real estate owners in the area. In the 1950s, more high-rise hotels were built along Waikīkī beach. Kaʻiulani Avenue, Kalākaua Avenue, and the Outrigger, Royal Hawaiian, and Moana Hotels, paved over where the ʻApuakehau stream emptied into Mamala Bay. When it rains, the natural flow of the ʻApuakehau stream returns, flooding the Outrigger Hotel parking lot (Chan and Freeser 2006). The severing of streams that fed the indigenous Hawaiian commons was instrumental to drying up the lands of Waikīkī, transforming it into real estate useful for the emerging tourism industry. In 1901, the Moana Hotel was the first hotel built in Waikīkī, followed by the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in 1927. In 1908, the U.S. military acquired 72 acres of land and started draining the fishponds of Kālia.

The Army Corps of Engineers began the construction of four military reservations between Honolulu and Pearl Harbor in 1908 (U.S. Army Museum of Hawaiʻi 1976). The coastal defense of Honolulu dates back to 1809 when Kamehameha I built a fort at the entrance to Honolulu Harbor, also known as Fort Upton, housing Battery Hackson, Battery Hawsin, and Battery Hasbrouck. According to the Hawaiʻi Army Museum Society, Kamehameha I incorporated western military technology and strategies to unify the islands. In analyzing the power struggles within social movements in the Hawaiian community during the 1970s, Kanaka ʻŌiwi activist Soli Niheu stated: “in movements that have only one leader, that is the often the beginning of the end. Even with Kamehameha, the centralized power contributed to the destruction of our people to a certain extent” (Niheu 1999, 57). Niheu infers that Kamehameha I’s rise to power contributed to the early foundations of the Westphalian state in Hawai‘i in which his lineage’s centralized rule over the islands could integrate the islands into global systems of trade. Although indigenous peoples of Hawaiʻi actively protested the United States’ encroachment over their sovereignty, they were also being swept into the process of western imperialism spreading across the Pacific. By 1920, there were five forts and over a dozen gun batteries between Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head. One was Fort Armstrong at Kaʻakaukukui Reef near the Honolulu port quarantine station. Battery Tiernon was built in 1909 (Willford and McGovern 2003, 15). A second was Fort DeRussy, located on Waikīkī Beach. Here, Battery Randolph was developed in October of 1911 and Battery Dudley was built at its right flank in August 1911 (U.S. Army Museum of Hawaiʻi 1976). The third was Fort Ruger, which incorporated the Diamond Head volcanic crater to anchor the eastern end of the defense.

Among the Kanaka ʻŌiwi, the traditional name of Diamond Head is Lēʻahi, which translates to “brow of the ahi fish.” The fish’s profile is seen from the shores of Waikīkī below. Lēʻahi also has a second meaning, “wreath of fire,” because indigenous Hawaiians lit navigational fires at the summit to assist canoes traveling offshore (Diamond Head National Monument 2012). There were five heiau or temples located on the summit or around the crater. The heiau at the summit, where the Fire Control Station is located, was dedicated to the god of the wind, Laʻamamao (Schuler 2008), to protect against strong updrafts that could put out the navigational fires of the early Hawaiians (Diamond Head National Monument 2012). In the 1700s, the name Lēʻahi was changed to Diamond Head when western explorers mistook the calcite crystals in the crater as diamonds (Schuler 2008). Diamond Head was selected to house Fort Ruger because its crater walls served as a natural defense. From its summit, ships could be seen from Koko Head to Pearl Harbor. Fort Ruger began in 1908 with the construction of Battery Harlow on the outer slopes of the crater. This fort hosted mortars on the outside of the crater in order to cover Honolulu and enemy landings coming in north of the crater (Willford and McGovern 2003, 16). The mortars at Battery Harlow were aimed to fire over the crater and far out into the channel south of Oʻahu. With a range of eight miles, the mortars could reach Honolulu and Pearl Harbors. The target locations were plotted and transmitted from the Fire Control Station at the summit (Diamond Head National Monument 2012).

The Fire Control Station at the summit of Diamond Head was built between 1908 and 1911 as part of this coastal defense system. The station served as an observation post for spotting enemy ships approaching Oʻahu. In 1908, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a trail up the steep interior face of the crater. This trail led to the Fire Control Station Diamond Head at the summit. The station was camouflaged in the crater walls, and was designed with tunnels and underground command posts into the mountain; it was considered an engineering marvel of its time. The batteries at these forts housed large caliber artillery to defend Oʻahu from an ocean attack coming from the south. The U.S. military used the summit as an observation station, with instruments and plotting rooms. On the second level, observers could triangulate targets using signals from the observation station on nearby Mount Tantalus. Information would be gathered from the third level station and then sent to Battery Randolph at Fort DeRussy in Waikīkī to inform the direction of the heavy guns (Diamond Head National Monument 2012). Most forts and batteries on Fort Ruger in Diamond Head were deactivated by 1943 and Fort DeRussy was decommissioned in the 1970s. These military institutions and infrastructures were part of the U.S. Southern Defense complex recommended by the Taft Board to protect Honolulu and Pearl Harbor (U.S. Army Museum of HawaiʻI 1976). The goal of expropriating Kanaka ʻŌiwi from their commons was to assert a settler jurisdiction to develop Hawaiʻi as one node amongst a U.S. imperial network of military bases expanding across the whole Pacific.

Immigrant Experiences Under the Westphalian Settler State

The militaristic and commercialistic infrastructural and institutional development of Oʻahu’s southern coast also negatively affected immigrants who came to settle this land under United States jurisdiction. The Hale Koa Hotel is one site of violence against immigrants. The Hale Koa Hotel, located next to Fort DeRussy in Waikīkī, serves U.S. military personnel and their dependents when they stay on the island. This is the location where Filipina staff workers Ernestine Gonda and Joyce Alcover accused hotel parking manager, human resources manager, and military veteran John “Jack” Lloyd of sexual harassment. Between 2004 and 2005, Ernestine Gonda worked for Lloyd in the Hale Koa Hotel. She reported to the human resources manager that Lloyd constantly harassed her by rubbing her back, offering to take care of her financially and giving her an Easter card illustrating a man with an erection. The manager challenged Gonda’s claim, accusing her of dating Lloyd in the past and stating that she had no proof of such harassment. She responded that dating Lloyd was not her interest, and that her complaint about the sexually explicit card, signed by Lloyd, was evidence enough. She sent her complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) at the U.S. Army’s Fort Shafter in Honolulu (Wu 2007). There, she was told it was too late to take action, even though the harassment was ongoing. She approached the Army Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Command, owners of four military hotels worldwide, but they also did not respond to her complaints. Critics claim that Lloyd’s position as an EEO counselor for the Hale Koa hotel influenced the suppression of Gonda’s claims in the Army bureaucracy. Sexual abuse and rape in military institutions and culture often do not lead to any action by military authorities. This pattern was brought to light in the Tailhook Scandal of 1991 when 83 women and seven men reported sexual assault during a conference of naval officers at the Las Vegas Hilton (Morris 1996, 657). The organization Stop Military Rape found that while 66% of women in the military report sexual assault and 27% report being raped, only 2-3% of alleged perpetrators are ever court-martialed (Lydersen 2007). In order to avoid further harassment by Lloyd, Gonda took a pay cut to become a cashier in another department. Yet she continued to be harassed by Lloyd, which drove her to leave the hotel (Lydersen 2007).

In 2002, Joyce Alcover also reported that Lloyd made lewd comments, kissed her hand, and grabbed her. She filed documents with the EEO. Lloyd remained at his job in the garage. When he discovered that Alcover reported him, he used his authority to reprimand her. During her pregnancy, Alcover was not allowed to switch shifts or reduce her workload when she experienced sickness. Eventually Lloyd was reassigned, but he continued to taunt her (Lydersen 2007). UNITE HERE!, a labor union representing the hotel workers at Hale Koa, heard multiple complaints against Lloyd. A community movement of labor and immigrant rights advocates emerged to support these women. According to the organization Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE), Alcover’s voice helped others to come forward with their own testimony about sexual harassment by Lloyd. Four workers, of Vietnamese and Filipina ancestry, filed class-action complaints on alleged sex and race discrimination (Lydersen 2007). An independent Army investigation confirmed the allegations of sexual harassment filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Hale Koa agreed to hold sexual harassment awareness workshops, but community interfaith leaders were not invited to shape the agenda. A settlement stated that Lloyd could no longer work at the Hale Koa Hotel and changes were to be made at the management level and in the human resources department (Wu 2007). Despite this victory, the structure of militarization still stands. Hale Koa continues to operate, embodying the tourist-military infrastructure that normalizes the presence of militarism and capitalism on Oʻahu. Meanwhile, Pearl Harbor, Kaneohe Marine Corp Base, Fort Shafter, Schofield Barracks, as well as other military facilities throughout the islands continue to occupy indigenous Hawaiian commons, sustaining the grip of U.S. Empire over other indigenous lands.

Languages of Resistance that Bridge Resistance

Naming the settler state as a Westphalian state assists indigenous and diasporic settlers to analyze objectively how this system of government affects both groups. The hotel/entertainment industry in Waikīkī was created to cater to visiting troops on Rest and Recreation (U.S. Army Museum of Hawaiʻi 2002). Despite Haunani K. Trask’s critique of the hotel industry as the “prostitution of Hawaiian culture” (Trask 1993), immigrants and indigenous people continue to work in these industries to survive. Tourism is accepted as a job for local populations even though the work is one of customer service to paying foreigners, establishing an unequal power dynamic between hosts and guests. Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua argues that change should be meaningful to the day-to-day lives of people (2011, 35); given that people may feel complicit in the problem, change can only occur if they can see pathways for them to participate in the alternative. She describes movements that demand a “multiplicity of approaches across gender and ethnic lines, and strengthening international indigenous networks” (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua 2011, 52). This language of resistance would help “understand and alleviate multiple axes of oppression,” as they emphasize the “collective mobilization of the people themselves, in direct action for their own liberation” (Goodyear-Kaʻōpua 2011, 53).

Goodyear-Kaʻōpua’s language is relevant in the context of Hawaiʻi, where the language of demilitarization and sovereignty is not just for indigenous Hawaiians, but also for diasporic settlers who make their home in Hawaiʻi. The violence of the tourism-military complex is not limited to Hawaiʻi, but is also present in other lands touched by United States militarism and occupation. Authors Saundra Sturdevant and Brenda Stoltzfus (1992) have chronicled the presence of military bases in the Philippines, Okinawa, and South Korea. War and civil unrest have displaced indigenous peoples who become the impoverished men, women, and children recruited into the sex-trafficking industries of urban centers, catering to the Rest and Recreation of troops and tourists. Bar and brothel economies contextualize the instances of sexual violence and feed into patriarchal cultures that repress men, women, and children for the economic development of towns situated next to military bases (Sturdevant and Stoltzfus 1992). Vernadette Gonzalez describes how United States military bases that link the Philippines and Hawaiʻi have been transformed into tourist sites. They create public nostalgia for the military narratives of these places, obscuring how war creates traumas of violence and dispossession. Gonzalez describes how these touristic-military economies recruited the aboriginal Aeta populations around Subic Bay region. The Aetas are culturally and economically marginalized by the modern Philippine state. Yet it was the United States military that provided them jobs, such as guides for jungle warfare trainings and touristic activities, that emerged after the closure of U.S. military base in Subic in the 1990s (Gonzalez 2013, 182-183).

Analysis of militarization brings attention to the structural coercion of regional populations that have been increasingly caught within the networked industries of American empire. Since 1997, the International Women’s Network Against Militarism has gathered women activists from the countries of South Korea, Japan, Okinawa, the Philippines, Australia, Guam, Republic of Belau, Marshall Islands, Hawaiʻi, U.S., Puerto Rico, and Vieques to discuss how national security is being defined in terms of militarization and corporate development in and across their nations. In order to rupture the hegemonic discourse of security as militarized security, they created the concept of genuine security, arguing that “the physical environment must be able to sustain human and natural life; people’s basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, health care and education must be met; people’s fundamental human dignity should be honored and cultural identities respected; people and the natural environment should be protected from avoidable harm” (Women for Genuine Security 2007). This network highlights the work of historical and contemporary communities across many militarized nations who believe that the harm of militarization can be avoided if we prioritized systems of government that do not depend on warfare, violence and exploitation.

The IWNAM’s process of coming together has been challenging. The structure of inter-state system creates inequality between people of different countries. People with U.S. or European passports can move easily between countries, than people with Philippine passports. Philippine currency holders must pay exorbitant amounts of money to convert to the Japanese yen or U.S. dollar. There are language hegemonies: English language is known as a global lingua franca, making it difficult of non-English speakers to participate in fast-paced conversations. These built-in inequalities were confronted at international gatherings because women from privileged positions would embody particular assumptions, but in fact, were behaving in oppressive and hegemonic ways with others. Challenging and questioning taken for granted privileges between dominant and subordinate identities in the group were part of alliance building processes to experientially and politically understand what it would take to build solidarity as women toward a different meaning of security (Cachola, Kirk, Natividad, Pumarejo 2009). Similarly, L.H.M. Ling defines the hyper-militarization of the world as a product of imbalance in international relations. “Multiple Worlds” are the worlds of subalterns of different countries and cultures that have been disciplined, converted, and exploited by “Westphalia World.” “Westphalian World” are groups of people in every nation who depend on the labor of, and are intimate with, subalterns. But, the Westphalian World disavows the subaltern’s capacity to govern themselves in order to justify and maintain systems of domination and exploitation against them, within and outside their borders. The symbol of the yin and the yang visualizes the interplay between “Multiple Worlds” and the “Westphalian World,” where a part of each is within the other. However, Ling conceptually describes the imbalanced yin and yang of the global order due to the “Westphalian World” encroaching upon more space than “Multiple Worlds” (Ling 2014). Ling suggests Thich Nhat Hanh’s concept of interbeing to address this imbalance: rather than “Multiple Worlds” absorbing the tendencies of rigid separation and ignorance of the “Westphalian World,” “Multiple Worlds” can choose to perform a different kind of relationship based on transforming “Westphalia World” through committed, ethical engagement (Ling 2014, 22). This model of international and intercultural relationality is exhibited in the IWNAM’s own process, as they seek to create a different kind of culture of international relations, among women who come from Westphalian Worlds and Subaltern Worlds, that begins to transform each individual who participates in the gathering; that individual would then take that ethic—a non-hegemonic way of seeing and being with difference—to their own country contexts.

If we consider the distorted yin and yang symbol to represent the discourse of indigenous sovereignty as the “Multiple Worlds” being dominated by the settler colonists as the “Westphalian Worlds,” we can then also recognize that there are aspects of each within the other. The goal of the walking tour in Waikīkī was to begin talking to diasporic settler youth about the hegemonic nature of the Westphalian settler state on the indigenous lands of Oʻahu and how our communities have participated in that domination. Yet we should not be afraid to heed indigenous discourses because their message also informs who we are and where we come from, knowledge that we might have forgotten, ourselves former subalterns that have been disciplined, converted, and assimilated into the Westphalian World. Diasporic settlers can heed the call for indigenous sovereignty by opposing militarization of indigenous lands, not only by passively listening to indigenous voices, but also by actively engaging in consciousness-raising among diasporic settlers, asking them to examine their own relationship to the settler state and how they operate in and benefit from it. Can knowing the violence of this system on indigenous people cause diasporic settlers to make ethical decisions and to interrupt their participation in the system? Can this project cause diasporic settlers to rethink their own trajectories of success and create new narratives of what it means to settle on someone else’s lands? Will it cause settlers to reflect on their own colonial indoctrination in their host land, and even cause them to examine indigenous histories in their ancestral homelands?

There was no survey at the end of the walking tour to measure its effectiveness in conveying these values to the youth. However, one student who participated in the walking tour later took part in a poetry slam team comprised of young women of haole (White), Chinese, and Black-Filipino descent that represented Hawaiʻi in the Brave New Voices 2014 competition. Mentored by a Kanaka ʻŌiwi poet, they performed a piece as non-indigenous Hawaiians, speaking in both English and Hawaiian, about the need to learn Hawaiian history and the failure of the education system to teach them. The powerful poem expressed their alienation from Kanaka ‘Oiwi history, but also an affinity to the indigenous jurisdiction as non-indigenous youth born and raised in the islands (Gordon et al 2014). Perhaps the call to learn Kanaka ʻŌiwi history was also a call to reclaim the suppressed history of who they are.


Anti-colonial and anti-capitalist activists need a language of resistance that can bring indigenous and diasporic settlers together against a failed system of government that continues to produce inequalities and injustice both locally and internationally. Placing attention on the Westphalian nation-state and inter-state system as the name of the unjust settler-colonial system can facilitate an objective focus on a structure of government as the producer of relations of dominance and submission between social groups in and beyond a defined territory. In Hawai’i, this system is evidenced through the physical, institutional features of hotels and military facilities on the landscape, networked across multiple lands across the Asia-Pacific region under American imperial jurisdiction. As the Hawaiian sovereignty movement has been naming settler colonialism as an impediment to their sovereignty and access to land, this conversation has called upon diasporic settlers to decolonize themselves and their own youth. Diasporic-settler modes of decolonization are unique to their experience within the settler state as they must confront their own indoctrination by the state and trace their own genealogies to indigenous histories and ancestral lands, to resist and dismantle the legitimacy of the Westphalian system that reifies structural violence and displacement today. These moments create a space where indigenous and diasporic settlers prepare themselves for co-creating a world that departs from the Westphalian standard.


1. I draw from James Clifford’s notion of diaspora as among the varieties of indigenous experiences. Diaspora refers to peoples dispersed from their own indigenous lands, who have extended kin networks outside of their “traditional lands,” and who survive and even thrive through colonial and postcolonial orders (Clifford 2007).
2. I use “diasporic settlers” to refer to the indigeneity that exists within “immigrants” who also have heritages of being self-sufficient and close to the land, but may have been distanced or alienated from this knowledge due to processes of colonization and globalization. In this paper, diasporic settler refers to Filipinos or other immigrants of color that come from Asian or Pacific Islander countries.
3. Ilocano is an ethno-linguistic group from the northwest coast of Luzon, Philippines. Filipino is a catch-all term that reflects the collective of ethno-linguistic groups that are part of the Philippines. Filipino also refers to the national language of the Philippines, which is informed by Tagalog and other dialects.

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Ellen-Rae Cachola is the grand daughter of Ilocanos who settled on Maui to work in the plantation industries. Her writings can be found in Through the Archival Looking Glass, Peace Review and Walang Hiya. She currently lectures at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Department of Ethnic Studies.

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