Filmmaker Ciara Lacy intended to use her thirteen-minute short documentary This is the Way We Rise to explore the creativity of one of Hawai'i's most promising Native talents. What transformed Lacy's simple act to showcase the academic slam poet, Dr. Jamaica Hoelimeleikalani Osorio, moved by happen-chance, to featuring the activist Dr. Jamaica Hoelimeleikalani Osorio.
Jamaica was in the process of joining other Native Hawaiians in the fight to protect the sacred sites atop Mauna Kea, Hawai'i, a dormant volcano targeted for construction, at the time Lacy was making the documentary. A fascinating twist to Lacy's storyline makes for a documentary short with a double purpose and true grit of an activist's side of life.
Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on Planet Earth when measured from its underwater base. It is home to one of the most sacred collections of sites in the Hawaiian Islands. Scientists from at least eleven countries have had measuring tools atop the mountain for research but the Hawaiian people have yet to see the compensation spoken of for their allowances. It was enough for the Hawaiian community to say no to another country who wanted to add one more telescope to the sacred site. Their argument is that adding another or another research project will continue to desecrate the sacred mountain.
Lacy says, "I watched in awe as the protection of sacred sites atop Mauna Kea, a fight spanning over 50 years, set my [Lacy a Native Hawaiian] community on fire." Adding, "Native Hawaiians paraded by the thousands in protest...it was an empowering moment of mass unity...this film is for those who stand on the front lines."
Lacy continues, "This film serves as a powerful record of not only one person's journey towards actualization but also that of a people. We say, Ku kia's mauana! ~ defend and protect Mauna Kea for our ancestors, for those alive today, and for future generations."
Jamaica brings her poetry to life throughout Lacy's narrative in order to share the significance to fight for the preservation of sacred national territories. Jamaica's poetry is an Ode to Hawaiian Culture and the reasons Native Hawaiians should fight to preserve it.