It is somewhat amusing when you think of the fact that soon we will have several gorillas' living in the West Maui forest on a 70-acre parcel. Amusing in a sense that at one time, all this land was owned by the Kanaka Maoli (natives of Hawaii). The Cameron family whose roots originate from the first missionaries that came here in 1820, to "save" my ancestors, made millions on pineapple and building hotels and other investments, now will donate land to house gorilla's no less.
This fact was brought to my attention recently on a visit to MCCC, having a spiritual and cultural session every week with inmate Tony Kekona. He has been in maximum security for the last 24 years. He asked me, "Eh Uncle, how come the gorilla get all this land and space to roam in just a short distance from Kahakuloa, where I was born." "My cell is 6 feet by 8 feet, I don't even have a chance to touch the grass or to go outside for recreation and "see" the mountains." "Am I not human?" "I can do sign language, just like the gorilla, look" and he made a "shaka" sign.
Now when you look at this scenario with the prospective of Mr. Kekona, it is really not amusing. There are so many prisoners "packed in cells" at MCCC which is presently overcrowded with no land to build a new prison.
There are several hundred families and individuals that are living on the beaches of Maui and majority of them are Kanaka Maoli. A lot of land is owned by Maui Pine and Alexander & Baldwin that are being bought, sold and given to charities but the people that live on the beach or sleeping in their cars are ignored.
I have nothing against monkeys but there is a human need for land and for Kanaka Maoli it is doubly important because for us, land is the base of our culture. One would think that the descendants of these missionaries who came here for religious purposes in the first place, would have some compassion in their hearts and return some of the land to the true owners, the Kanaka Maoli who are landless. Not bring non-human specie to a foreign land like Maui and raise it, on prime land while we, as natives of this land who have been here for thousands of years are now landless. We too are becoming an endangered specie and need "saving". There is a God and let us pray that better sense prevails on this matter and the people of Maui speak out.
Kahu Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr.,