*List of resources to support citizens affected by fires in Maui and Canada at the end of the article
The wildfires that have killed 115 people in Lahaina, Maui are allegedly caused by the mismanagement of Hawaiian Electric power lines. There are 388 people missing, 6,000 people are staying in hotels, and somewhere between 1,800 and 1,900 homes have been destroyed by the fire. But none of this matters to the rich and wealthy colonizers.
Modern day colonization is not uncommon, it just isn’t transparently genocidal. Devastation is now a desensitized experience— unless you are the one experiencing it.
You might hear about the displacement of people, whether that cause of displacement be forced by other humans or the elements—just human beings seeking asylum and some sort of safety. It is the reason why Indigenous people are only 6.2% of the global population— paired with being “cut off from resources and traditions vital to their welfare and survival” according to Amnesty International.
Hawai’i is just one example of the displacement of Indigenous people and the affects are heavy: “military bases, large corporate industry, tourism, and religion, colonial powers have essentially wiped out most of the Hawaiian culture, forcing [Native Hawai’ians] to assimilate and forgo their own sovereignty.”
The White House finally stated they would aid displaced communities impacted by the fires $95 million—through “bipartisan infrastructure”. Although not all of this money will go directly to the hands of victims, “the Biden-Harris Administration has approved more than $16 million in assistance to 4,200 households”.
The fires in Lahaina began August 8th and this response from The White House came out August 30th.
On another hand, “Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have created a fund called the ‘People’s Fund of Maui’ to put money directly in the hands of residents who were displaced and affected by the Maui wildfires.” according to Hawaii News Now. This ensures that anyone over the age of 18 who had homes in Maui would receive $1,200 a month.
Oprah also owns 2,000 acres of land in Hawaii—1,000 acres being in Maui.
The people of Lahaina were forced out of their homes and almost immediately had realtors and celebrities tried to buy the land off of them.
“Even before fire, Lahaina was a rapidly gentrifying town and there's been widespread concern since that Native Hawaiians and local-born residents who have owned properties in their families for generations might feel pressured toc sell.” according to CTV News—a network in Canada.
Canada also recently suffered through wildfires which deeply impacted air quality across countries and displaced over 25,000 Indigenous people. But displacement is not the only issue here. Missing and murdered Indigenous people—more specifically women and girls—is a disturbing reality that many Native communities face and wildfires have only emphasized this.
It is not life-saving or sympathetic for the wealthy to try buying land owned by Indigenous Hawaiians of Lahaina in a time where they are most vulnerable.
There needs to be more effort in the search for those missing because of the wildfires; because of the amount of Indigenous people already missing; because it is clear how little the United States as a system of oppression cares about us as people.
We need to actively care about one another.
RESOURCES AND WAYS TO HELP:
Maui Rapid Response via
People’s Fund of Maui via
Community Voice “Rebuild Lahaina Not as a Tourist Spot But a Place for People to Live” via
Hawaii Way Fund (working to match donations) via
Hawai’i Community Foundation via
“Lahaina/Kula Wildfire GoFundMe + Venmo Links” via https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1eg69dC9cpNfrCtUK7Ao5kH5MqA4sEdUc9p-G1tvwoTg/htmlview?urp=gmail_link
“Help Maui Rise: Directly Aid ʻOhana Displaced by Fires”
By SUMMER SMITH
Photography courtesy of Alan Dickar, Associated Press.