Monday, April 11, 2016


Hawai`i Tribune Herald - March 25, 2016

Originally, 40 participants were to be elected (during the Na`i Aupuni `aha) and meet for two months to create a constitution. Instead, 130 of us unelected participants met for one month. A paper constitution was railroaded through the attendees in a few weeks.

This `aha was designed to make us an Indian tribe, federally recognized by the Department of the Interior. The DOI rules, introduced months before the `aha, state the federal and state governments have sovereign immunity and cannot be sued by Native Hawaiians. Nor can we obtain state or federal land, which is really our stolen Hawaiian nation’s land — a nation recognized since 1870 internationally by more than 30 countries. Is this what we want?

We aloha our Native American brothers and sisters, and sympathize with their treatment as “wards of the state” by America. These natives have no control over their own destiny because treaties with America are repeatedly broken or ignored. They live at the whim of the federal government within a demeaning form of federal recognition. In statewide DOI hearings, more than 95 percent of kanaka maoli expressed “no desire to be under the DOI.”

This evolving `aha entity is supposed to replace the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Yet, a sitting OHA trustee and many OHA staff, including attorneys and law students, were active `aha participants and strong promoters of federal recognition. Makalehua members, along with Kana`iolowalu (appointed by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie for the Hawaiian roll) and others subsidized by OHA have a conflict of interest and should never have been a part of this `aha. These groups gave birth to the `aha, nurtured it and controlled the agenda throughout. Consequently, the unelected `aha participants’ “constitution” was rammed through in a few weeks.

Although there are some positive points in this document, it should not be ratified by our people in its current form. We kanaka maoli need a constitution that is more pragmatic and visionary.

In Section 5, relating to criminal prosecution references, a defendant has to pay for his/her own lawyer. Translation: Poor people arrested are guilty. Knowing so many of our people are impoverished, our Hawai`i nation must provide independent public defender services to those who cannot afford them.

How are these legal services to be paid for? The Hawaiian nation should retrieve at least a half million acres of the 1.6 million acres of our ceded (seized) lands the state Department of Land and Natural Resources now controls. Some of that `aina should be income-producing to pay for desperately needed programs, including legal fees for impoverished litigants. A nation needs `aina to exist — more than just Kaho`olawe, as recently offered by the U.S. government.

This constitution focuses on restorative justice principles and cultural values of pu`uhonua, malama and ho`oponopono as alternatives to standard incarceration. Hilo’s E Ho`opakele, championed by the late kupuna Sam Kaleileiki, uses this alternative for victimless crimes only, not capital crimes such as murder and rape.

Most importantly, a serious examination of the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government must be undertaken.

Also, traditional and cultural intellectual property rights are noted, but there is nothing to guarantee individual intellectual property rights.

Representation by population, land base and residency must be examined and modified — a very complex issue.

My 4 1/2 decades of experience on the front lines of Hawaiian activism, and as an OHA trustee for 12 years, leads me to believe the proposed constitution should be rejected. Currently, it is a draft needing modifications.

The Na`i Aupuni aha has, however, initiated the needed serious discussion.

Moanike`ala Akaka