Thursday, December 06, 2012


Honolulu Star-Advertiser - December 5, 2012

By Keli`i Akina

An abuse of democracy may be ahead as certain Native Hawaiian groups consider plans to bypass the majority of Hawai`i voters on the issue of whether the state of Hawai`i should be the venue for a race-based sovereign nation.

Three of the largest Native Hawaiian advocacy organizations have announced their intention to bring together their networks on Dec. 6, 2013, at the "Your Money-Your Land-Your Self Determination" convention. The agenda will include discussion of a role for the US federal government via the Department of the Interior in the establishment of a Native Hawaiians-only nation.

The organizations convening the gathering are the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the Association of Hawaiians for Homestead Lands, and the Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homeland Assembly.

Recently, the failed Akaka Bill was edited to bury its most controversial provision, which passed instead in Hawai`i as Act 195 of the 2011 Hawai`i Legislature. That act established the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, which has begun a year-long project to enroll citizens for a nation consisting exclusively of individuals with Native Hawaiian blood.

The commission was also established to disqualify any Native Hawaiian applicant who has not "maintained a significant cultural, social, or civic connection to the Native Hawaiian community and wishes to participate in the organization of the Native Hawaiian governing entity."

This process is being overseen and financed by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a state agency.

Although the Native Hawaiian organizations are meeting ostensibly to improve homestead access for Native Hawaiians, OHA's and their use of Act 195 as the basis for political power is very un-Hawaiian.

The race-based criteria for citizenship, established by the Hawai`i Legislature and enforced by a state agency, is a departure from the inclusive practice of the historic Kingdom of Hawai`i.

From at least the enactment of the 1840 Hawaiian Constitution through the end of the reign of the Queen Liliuokalani in 1893, citizenship was available to non-Hawaiians and to Native Hawaiians without a subjective test of "significant cultural, social or civic connection."

Were they alive today, large numbers of Japanese, Caucasians, Chinese and others who were granted Hawaiian citizenship by Queen Liliuokalani, along with some Native Hawaiians, would be barred from citizenship in the nation being enrolled by Act 195.

Hawai`i voters should be alarmed and insist upon accountability by our elected representatives in the Legislature and at OHA for two reasons.

First, Act 195 is a racist affront to democracy and human rights and, as such, is very un-Hawaiian in its violation of historic Hawaiian practice and values.

OHA's trustees need to be reminded that they were elected to defend and preserve Hawaiian values, not to oppose them.

Second, involvement of the Department of Interior is an attempt to end-run the failure of the Akaka Bill in Congress through the assertion of presidential executive authority. 

Constitutionally, major peacetime laws are to be enforced, not created, by the executive branch. Hawai`i voters should, therefore, immediately call for a repeal of Act 195.

Enhanced by Zemanta