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  • Rapa Nui
  • Forrest Wade Young (bio)

During the review period, Rapa Nui indigenous politics were principally political ecological in scope; they involved struggles to control cultural and material resources and ancestral territory and to regulate island population growth. This review highlights four major contests: the struggle for the self-determination of Rapa Nui patrimony; the continued fight of the Hito/Hitorangi family to regain their ancestral land from the Hotel Hangaroa Eco Village and Spa; political organization to establish a law to restrict Chilean and international migration to the island; and the battle to resist state and transnational forces seeking to develop the ocean surrounding the island into a marine park.

The political reclamation and occupation in March 2015 of the "sacred places" (vahi tapu) that state and transnational forces had developed into the "Rapa Nui National Park" (Parque Nacional Rapa Nui) for global tourism (Young 2016a, 240–243) [End Page 195] had become embroiled in complex state strategies of criminalization of Rapa Nui leaders by August 2015 (Young 2017, 173–175) but stabilized in favor of Rapa Nui movements for self-determination as the review period began. In July and August 2016, the foundations of the co-administration of the park were established: on the second of July, the Rapa Nui–determined organization Ma'u Henua was officially created; and on the second of August the board of directors was elected by the Rapa Nui people (Análisis Informativo, 26 Aug 2016). Ma'u Henua represents itself as an "indigenous community" in partnership with the Chilean state National Forestry Corporation (Corporación Nacional Forestal, conaf) to administer the park; it reports ultimately not only to conaf but to the Rapa Nui–determined organization Honui, which is an assembly of representatives of the recognized thirty-six indigenous "extended families/clans" (hua'ai) that constitute the Rapa Nui people (Parque Nacional Rapa Nui, 2017). In a self-determined election, 792 of 1,004 registered Rapa Nui voters elected the following board of directors of Ma'u Henua: Camilo Rapu (President), Tavake Hurtado Atan (Vice President), Pepe Tuki Hito (Secretary), and Petero Hey Icka (Treasurer) (UCVmedios, 25 Aug 2016). Anakena Manutomatoma, one of the Rapa Nui representatives on the Chilean government–organized Commission for the Development of Easter Island (codepia), which supported the creation of Ma'u Henua, noted that the partnership is understood to be temporary; the full agreement calls for a complete transfer of administration to the Rapa Nui people during September 2017, following a year of co-administration (Análisis Informativo, 26 Aug 2016). The transfer and strength of Ma'u Henua administration was a result of complex negotiations. conaf representatives tried to "severely restrict" the participation of the Rapa Nui people in the co-administration and did not specify a transfer date in its initial draft of an agreement; however, Honui leaders successfully challenged the draft by quoting a speech of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet that agreed to a transfer during an island visit in April 2016 (UCVmedios, 25 Aug 2016). In an official plenary meeting on 19 January 2017 at the Chilean National Library in Santiago, Chile, between Ma'u Henua, codepia, conaf, and other state representatives, evidence was presented that the transition was thus far successful; revenues collected from tourism under the Ma'u Henua administration of the park had on average doubled and exceeded expenditures, and the number of protected "sacred sites" (vahi tapu) had increased from five to twenty-five. While at times there was disagreement between representatives of Ma'u Henua and those of conaf, the transfer of administration was seen to be progressing toward the agreed-on goal of a complete transfer of power in September 2017 (Prensa Rapa Nui, 26 Jan 2017).

In contrast to the progress on self-determination of Rapa Nui patrimony, in October 2016 the Hito/Hitorangi family—who had been seminal in the 2010–2011 struggles of the Rapa Nui people to reclaim lands developed by the Chilean state and private interests that culminated in state violence [End Page 196] against the Rapa Nui people (Young 2012)—reasserted conflict with the Hangaroa Eco Village and Spa. Large banners placed in front of the hotel have long obstructed...