David Shapiro’s “Volcanic Ash” column in today’s Star-Advertiser:
The telescope protests atop Mauna Kea have spurred increased political activism by Native Hawaiians, but it’s heading in different directions.
At last weekend’s Aloha Aina rally in Waikiki, leaders urged more Hawaiian involvement in state and county politics to preserve lands they consider sacred.
Molokai activist Walter Ritte said sovereignty remains the long-term goal, but Hawaiians must assert themselves in state politics to save diminishing resources.
“We’re losing them much too fast,” Ritte said. “By the time we get to our long-term goals, we’re not going to have any natural resources to pass to our future generations.”
He was rebuked on Facebook by nationalist leader Bumpy Kanahele, who accused Ritte of never supporting Hawaiian independence and asked mockingly, “You still believe in the American Dream?”
“Desecration, evictions, homelessness, poverty, abuse … overcrowding, traditional and customary rights will never win in the federal and state judicial system,” Kanahele declared. “I guarantee you when we form our own independent Hawaiian government, all these separate fires will stop.”
Kanahele is urging nationalists to focus on “taking over” the upcoming constitutional convention sponsored by the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which they’ve shunned until now.
Four Native Hawaiians and two non-Hawaiians filed a lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Honolulu seeking to block a “race-based” and “viewpoint-based” election planned this fall as a step toward establishing a sovereign Hawaiian government.
The lawsuit, which was filed against the state of Hawaii, Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees and other “agents of the state,” argues that the election violates the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act by using race and political qualifications to determine voter eligibility.
The Native Hawaiian Roll Commission recently published a list of 95,000 Native Hawaiians eligible to vote for delegates later this year to a governance aha, or constitutional convention to be held next year. The election is being overseen by an indepedent group, Na‘i Aupuni, which is funded by OHA grants through the Akamai Foundation.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Keli‘i Akina, Kealii Makekau, Joseph Kent, Yoshimasa Sean Mitsui, Pedro Kana‘e Gapero and Melissa Leina‘ala Moniz. They are represented by Michael Lilly, a former state attorney general, who brought the suit on behalf of Judicial Watch, a nonprofit.
Notices are arriving in the mailboxes of more than 95,000 Native Hawaiians this week as the first step in the election of delegates to a constitutional convention that will consider options for Hawaiian self-determination.
“Native Hawaiians who have not registered yet but want to vote in the elections have until Oct. 15, 2015, to register,” the independent nonprofit Na‘i Aupuni announced in a news release. “Na‘i Aupuni encourages all Native Hawaiians to participate in this historic opportunity.”
The notice of election of delegates was sent Monday to all 95,690 Native Hawaiians whose ancestry had been verified by the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission by July 16. Hawaiians who are interested in becoming delegates to the aha, or constitutional convention, must apply by Sept. 15.
The University of Hawaii at Hilo soon will fly the U.S. and Hawaii state flags at equal heights following protests late last year from students and community members.
On Dec. 1, Hawaiian sovereignty activists lowered the American flag on the single pole at the front entrance to the UH-Hilo campus and hoisted the Hawaii state flag that previously flew beneath. They folded the U.S. flag and delivered it to administrators, along with demands that the Hawaii flag be shown preference when the flags are raised.
Joseph Kaolulo, one of the Hawaiian students involved in the effort to take down the U.S. flag in December, said Tuesday he viewed the decision by UH-Hilo to place the flags on equal footing as an admission of guilt about what he called the United States’ “illegal occupation” of Hawaii.
“By putting two separate poles up, they (UH-Hilo) have recognized us as a nation not conquered,” he said. […]
Kaolulo claims the university committed “educational malpractice” in support of the alleged occupation, “brainwashing our society and our kids,” he said.
He added that, in light of the recent national debate that led to several state and private entities deciding to stop flying the Confederate flag, now is a good time to raise questions.
Insights Hawaii program on PBS last night focused on the question “What Would It Take To Achieve Hawaiian Sovereignty?” Daryl Huff moderates the discussion with Peter Apo, Lilikala Kameeleihiwa, Kaleikoa Kaeo, and Bumpy Kanahele.