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Hawaiʻi

After Wildfires, Native Hawaiian Farmers Resist Attempt To Shift Blame

Fires that began on August 8 have devastated the landscape of Maui, Hawaii, taking the lives of at least 115 people and leaving thousands displaced and thousands of residences burned to the ground. Native Hawaiians, who are already the most impoverished populations in Hawaii and are falling victim to rapid gentrification, are expected to be hit the hardest by the long and short-term effects of the fires. To add insult to injury, a group of Native Hawaiian farmers are witnessing a coordinated attempt by the government and land developers to shift the blame of the fires away from the root causes of colonialism, and on to Indigenous water rights.

The Imperialist History Behind The Maui Fires

On August 8, a wildfire began in Lahaina, Maui, that spread to affect over 3,200 acres of the island. As the former capital of the Hawaiian kingdom, Lahaina is a significant historical and cultural site for Native Hawaiians (Kanaka Maoli). So far, over 110 people have been killed by the wildfires, at least 20 people have been injured, and over a thousand people are still missing. At the center of this disaster is the long and ongoing struggle for water and land rights for Native Hawaiians.
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