The emotionally charged meeting, attended by several hundred people, lasted about 30 minutes longer than the scheduled three hours. It featured defiant, impassioned testimony mostly rooted in the grievances that have simmered in the Hawaiian community dating back to the 1893 overthrow of the monarchy.
Most of the several dozen attendees who testified Monday said they strongly opposed the Interior Department moving forward with the proposal. Citing various U.S. laws and statutes, they further argued that the agency has no jurisdiction to guide such a government-to-government relationship because the Hawaiian Kingdom remains the islands’ sovereign power.
“We are an independent, neutral kingdom,” testifier Kilikina Kekumano told the Interior Department’s panel. “We are still sovereign.”
The process “violates the human rights of our people,” Hawaiian activist Mililani Trask added. “We are not tribal and we are not continental. … We are not a domestic dependent nation. … We are not Indians.”
Dozens of Native Hawaiian speakers expressed anger and mistrust with the federal government Monday during the first of a series of meetings that could lead to the group being recognized similarly to an American Indian tribe.
“I’m hearing a lot of ‘No’s’ so far,” said Sam Hirsch, an Interior Department spokesman.
About 140 speakers opposed the move, with many saying it would be a barrier to their goal of returning the Hawaiian Islands to the indigenous community that ruled before Hawaii became the nation’s 50th state.
“We do not need you here. This is our country,” said Ao Pohaku Ku, of the Spiritual Nation of Ku Hui Ea Council of Sovereigns.
I must say that the writer gets it wrong it describing the “goal of returning the Hawaiian Islands to the indigenous communitythat ruled before Hawaii became the nation’s 50th state.” The kingdom was of course a multi-ethnic country, with subjects/citizens of many races and ethnicities having equal rights to vote and participate in government, all those born here being so automatically, and others following a process of naturalization; and some modern version of that is the only way it can be effectively independent again in the future. Kanaka o’iwi can have special roles and protections because most of us fully recognize the importance of that, but to describe “returning the Hawaiian Islands to the indigenous community that ruled before Hawaii became the nation’s 50th state” is factually incorrect and practically unhelpful.
So before the “five threshold questions that will be the subject of the forthcoming public meetings regarding whether the Federal Government should reestablish a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community” can be answered by the community, the only question that should be posed to the DOI at the public meetings is:
“Since the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel did not respond with evidence to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs CEO Dr. Kamana‘opono’s questions dated May 5, 2014 that the Hawaiian Kingdom does not exist as an independent and sovereign State under international law, I have to presume the Hawaiian Kingdom continues to exist. Therefore, my question to you is by what authority is the Department of Interior claiming to be here in Hawai‘i, being a foreign sovereign and independent State, since the Department of Justice has already concluded that Congress could not have annexed the Hawaiian Islands by a joint resolution?”
The federal government announced Wednesday it will take a first step toward recognizing and working with a Native Hawaiian government at a time when a growing number of Hawaiians are questioning the legality of the U.S. annexation of Hawaii.
The U.S. Department of the Interior will host a series of public meetings during the next 60 days with Native Hawaiians, other members of the public and Native American tribes in the continental U.S. to discuss the complex issue, Rhea Suh, assistant secretary for policy, management and budget for the department, said during a conference call with reporters.
“This does not mean we are proposing an actual formal policy,” Suh said. “We are simply announcing that we’ll begin to have conversations with all relevant parties to help determine whether we should move forward with this process and if so, how we should do it.”
Update: Below the fold, here’s the full DoI press release, with hearing dates…
Dr. Keanu Sai will be John Kane’s guest on “First Voices Indigenous Radio,” from WBAI-FM this Thursday, June 19, 3-4 a.m. Hawai’i Time for the entire hour.
The show will air live. It can be streamed live at www.wbai.org and will be available in the WBAI’s station archives immediately following the broadcast. The show also will be aired by the 45 stations that carry FVIR around the U.S. and Canada and will be available shortly thereafter – in perpetuity – in the show’s archives at www.firstvoicesindigenousradio.org.
Update: The show is now available at WBAI archive to play or download. Later it will be available long-term in the FVIR archive.
Olelo Community Media Center · 1122 Mapunapuna St.
For Hawaiians, ʻāina is kin. For settlers, it is real estate – an asset.
For both it is power. Umi Perkins’ work looks at the theoretical basis of the land tenure system created in the 1840s and 1850s by Kauʻikeaouli and his inner circle, in particular native tenant rightsand their real-world implications today for Hawaiian political revitalization and sovereignty
Fourth in a series of presentations on new research into Hawaiian Kingdom history
Please join us in studio for this presentation
Sponsored by Ka Lei Maile Alii Hawaiian Civic Club, with funding from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Ample parking in the Olelo Community Media Center parking lot and on the street
For more information: email@example.com, phone (808) 284-3460
Reestablishing our Hawaiian nation is perhaps the most important kuleana of hoa kānaka (Hawaiian patriots) living today. This kuleana requires each of us to contribute to rebuilding our nation to better care for our lāhui and pae ‘āina.
The question I posed to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was intended to move the discussion in a positive direction that accounts for the crucial answer to that question.
That question is also related to my belief that OHA must ensure that all paths to rebuilding our nation are explored. Our lāhui should also be given the opportunity to thoroughly understand the implications of the various choices so they can make informed decisions about which path(s) to pursue.
For this reason, I remain committed to OHA organizing a symposium on international redress pathways that may be options for our lāhui to consider. Similarly, I support the U.S. Department of the Interior’s efforts that may open a federal pathway for our lāhui to consider.
He then offers a set of diagrams and says he hopes they help “clarify that we are committed to a process that places decision making with our lāhui.”
“The Department of the Interior is considering publishing an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to help determine whether the Department should develop a formal, administrative process to reestablish a government-to-government relationship with a future Native Hawaiian governing entity,” said Jessica Kershaw, press secretary for the US Department of the Interior.
The article follows with expected reactions from those who support or oppose, but the independent position is sourced to the conservative/libertarian so-called Grassroots Institute, which has a convergence of position with some of the independence-minded when it comes to this issue.
But Grassroot Institute of Hawaii president Kelii Akina said it’s unconstitutional.
“The government cannot just create an Indian tribe. And Hawaiians were never an Indian tribe. We were citizens of all races in a constitutional monarchy,” he said.
The Interior Department issued a notice of proposed rule-making Friday, before the holiday weekend, to solicit comments on how to “facilitate the re-establishment of a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community.”
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs will hold a special meeting tomorrow, Thursday, May 29 at 10 AM at their Nimitz headquarters to gather public comment on OHAʻs nation-building efforts — the possible first step in what may lead to a delay in the process.
The idea for the meeting — scheduled for 10 AM in the boardroom of OHA’s Nimitz Highway headquarters — apparently arose May 19 during a closed-door meeting with the OHA trustees and CEO Kamana‘opono Crabbe.