Three activists from the Indigenous communities of Okinawa, Guam, and Hawai’i will be speaking in Seattle later this month about efforts to remove U.S. military bases from the native lands in the Pacific.
Tina Grandinetti, Kisha Borja-Quichocho Calvo and Ruth Aloua are visiting several Pacific Northwest cities for the “Oceania Rising: Peace Pivot to the Pacific” speaking tour. The Seattle event is at El Centro De La Raza in Beacon Hill from 7 to 9 p.m., Feb. 21. The tour includes events in Port Townsend, Olympia and Portland.
The three speakers are members of Women’s Voices Women Speak, a Hawai’i-based organization that focuses on demilitarization, peace and nonviolence.
The U.S. military bases take up land, create radioactive contamination, desecrate sacred Indigenous sites and pose security threats to the islands themselves, said Zoltan Grossman, a faculty member in geography and Native studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.
Tina Grandinetti is a PhD candidate at RMIT University in Australia and a 2017 member of the WVWS delegation to the International Women’s Network Against Militarism gathering. Originally from Hawaii, she is biracial Uchinanchu and she is focused on the solidarity against imperialism.
Kisha Borja-Quichocho Calvo is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Hawaii – Manoa. She is Chamoru and has worked to curb the military buildup in Guam.
Ruth Aloua, a Kanaka Maoli from the Kona District in Hawai’i, is an advocate for nonviolence between people and the environment.
Grossman said activists in the movement also hope to raise awareness of the effects of the military bases in Washington state, including Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The bases are a part of the larger pivot in U.S. military strategy from Europe to Asia, Grossman said.
“Few residents are aware of these concerns,” Grossman wrote in an email. “Nor are we aware how the military presence prevents colonized Indigenous peoples from exercising self-determination.”
Much of the U.S. government’s land in Guam are over or adjacent to the northern aquifer, Guam’s major source for portable water. Despite federal protection, many wells were shut down due to chemical contamination, according to the think tank Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability. U.S. nuclear and weapons material have been historically stored in Guam since the World War II. The material poses dangers to both human health and the environment, Nautilus reported.
The military has also not made a significant effort to locate unexploded munitions that litter the island, which poses significant safety threats to residents of the island, according to Nautilus. These munitions are most commonly discovered during civilian construction work. Additionally, the U.S. military, rather than transfer inactive property back to former landowners, frequently transfers these bases to other federal agencies.
The event is to raise public awareness rather than raise funds, although they will be accepting funds to offset speakers’ travel expenses.
“Oceania Rising” will be in Olympia on Feb. 19 and in Portland on Feb. 20.
Update: This story has been updated to remove the reference to a Whidbey Island stop. While Whidbey Island is referenced on the event’s Facebook page, but the main page does not list it.