Presley Keʻalaanuhea Ah Mook Sang, a Hawaiian language instructor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said she first came up with the idea to start a community-led school or “teach-in” after witnessing the crowd swell in that first week from hundreds of protesters to thousands.
…The classes at the community-run Puuhonua o Puuhuluhulu University focus on topics including indigenous rights, history and a variety of other subjects taught through a Hawaiian perspective.
….The school quickly grew to a daily schedule of four one-hour blocks with five concurrent classes.
…”The morning is more indigenous peoples and native rights and towards afternoon is more Mauna-focused,” Ah Mook Sang said.
…Since 1968, the University of Hawaii has been leasing the land at the summit of Mauna Kea. The area is on “crown lands,” land that belonged to the Hawaiian kingdom before it was overthrown in 1893 and is now managed by the state with the intended purpose of benefiting Hawaiians. The crown lands are still debated, as many Hawaiian groups believe they were illegally stolen. The university has been accused several times over the years of mismanaging the land, including in the ‘90s when the Sierra Club filed a complaint about the trash from the observatories.
Puniwai said teaching at Puuhuluhulu is a way to show she doesn’t condone her employer’s actions and to show her support for the protest.
…As for Ah Mook Sang, she’s hoping to keep the spirit of Puuhuluhulu alive and maybe see it expand to the other islands, where there’s already interest in forming branches of the community-led school.