Why does the concept of Sovereignty divide us?

By Trustee Rowena Akana

November 2002

SOVEREIGNTY—The word hangs in the air like an uncertain new friend to all who attempt to understand its encircling arms.

Why does the concept of sovereignty, that which should unite our people, divide us into fragmented shards? It has been a goal of mine to use the issue of sovereignty to bring together the many grassroots groups in the community over the past several months. Yet, like a delicate spider’s web, the unity is fragile and unsure as the elements that affect it. It’s easy enough to get the many people I’ve worked with to agree, in concept, to the need for the study, education and understanding of sovereignty. The State Legislature is considering six separate bills dealing with sovereignty this session alone It’s easy enough to get many people to admit sovereignty is a necessary first step toward the Hawaiian nation. But the unity and understanding seems to stop there.

Perhaps, we need to start at the beginning again and again…as many times as it takes to grasp the elementary foundation of the very word. To define “sovereignty” is to place the concept in a known variable category. One of the best definitions I have come across comes from the group, Ka Lahui Hawaii:

“Three key elements of nationhood are sovereignty, self-determination and self sufficiency.

—SOVEREIGNTY—is the ability of a people who share a common culture, religion, language, value system and land base, to exercise control over their lands and lives, independent of other nations. In order to do this, they must be self-determining.

—SELF-DETERMINATION—is realized when the native people organize a mechanism for self-governance. Only when the Native Hawaiian people create a government which provides for democratic representation of their members and begin to interrelate with the State and Federal Trustees who control their lands will they be able to gain control over their trust assets and their future.

—SELF-SUFFICIENCY–is the goal of nationhood. Self-sufficiency means the people are able to be self-supporting, capable of feeding, clothing and sheltering themselves.”

I like this definition. It seems to be all encompassing and obtainable too. Perhaps, once this tangibility has been created, we can begin to dissect the various components that make up the whole.

One thing I have definitely found to be true, the study of sovereignty must be carried out by an impartial, independent agency. I have recently presented testimony at several Senate hearings to voice this exact concern. It is important for the study group to be able to feel free to research the issue of sovereignty without undo pressure from any state agency.

Currently, there are three different proposals in the Legislature attempting to create some form of group to study the issue of sovereignty. Senate bill 3444 and companion House bill 3513 attempt to amend existing Act 301, which created the Sovereignty Advisory Council (SAC). The amendments basically clarify the independence of the group by transferring the funding for the group into the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS). Senate Bill 2407 attempts to create a commission outside of SAC, to be appointed by the Governor, to study the sovereignty issue. House Bill 3662 proposes to create a sovereignty task force with sixteen members to be appointed by the legislature, including four non-Hawaiians.

In summary, I support the idea of an independent group whether it be the SAC, the commission or the task force. I believe that this group must be independent of any state agency so that the group’s findings and ultimate report to the Legislature will be unbiased and will encompass input from all sectors of the community.

Together we stand, divided we fall…Hawaiians must stand together, “Onipa’a”

By: Rowena Akana
September 2002

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

In my last article I spoke about going to Washington, D.C. to attend the Roundtable discussions that highlighted the contributions made to America by American Indians, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians.

In their discussions and speeches, both American Indians and Native Alaskans supported the Hawaiian effort for self-determination. The day after the Roundtable discussions a reception was held to honor native heroes who served in various wars. OHA and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands sponsored the Roundtable discussions and the reception. The two-day event was a nice way to do some public relations. However, the organization hired by the OHA Chair and DHHL gave little or no credit to OHA for its sponsorships. Thus, the attempt to do PR for OHA was unsuccessful. We must be alert to organizations like CNHA who say they represent the people and the Hawaiian community, when in fact, they don’t.

Also, on the Washington scene, the Akaka bill seems to have hit a snag in the Senate with a few Republican senators including Senator Graham of Texas and Senator Kyl of Arizona putting a HOLD on the bill.

On the U.S. House side, Congressman Abercrombie continues to move forward thwarting opposition by Rep. Tom De Lay and a few others who are using the 14th amendment to delay the bill’s passage. I have every confidence in Rep. Abercrombie who was successful in passing the first Akaka bill which could have been much more controversial.

I believe it is very important to note that while we all have been trying to figure out a way to be inclusive and to be sure that ALL Hawaiians have an opportunity to participate in the process to form a nation, the SCHHA, and at least one other group, are planning to develop their own ROLL using the HAWAIIAN HOMESTEADERS TO FORM THEIR NATION. They do not intend to wait for the Akaka bill to pass, nor do they intend to include anyone else in their so-called nation. Their intention is to petition the Department of the Interior with their documents and use the DHHL lands as their land base. While this is not exactly a new idea, the fact that this group thinks that they can get away with it is ridiculous. They believe that Hawaii’s delegation will support this idea. Even if it were true, other Hawaiians will not support the continuation of a divided people. Once and for all we have got to take a stand together. DIVIDED WE WILL FALL. WE CANNOT BUY INTO THE IDEA OF BETTER TO LET SOME PEOPLE GET SOVEREIGNTY THAN NO ONE. Let us not be duped again. A smaller group will be easier to control and so will their assets. Come on, Hawaiians, it is time that we think for ourselves. We cannot let others scare us into a situation that will make things worse for Hawaiians. If recognition is good for some then it is good for ALL HAWAIIANS.

Let us begin to work together to unite for the cause of recognition. Let us begin to agree on the things that we can agree to and set aside the things we differ on and move forward together for the future generations of Hawaiians yet to come.

We cannot continue to let others decide our future. To those who say to us…it is better to let those select few move ahead Without the rest of the people, we need to say to them, “we will be one nation, one people, and we will decide who will be in our nation.”

Let us be as our Queen wished…..ONIPA’A, steadfast in what is good!

“I appeal to you… that there be no division among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.”___I Corinthians 1:10

OHA Chair issues statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision

By: OHA Chair Rowena M.N. Akana
March 22, 1999

Source: Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Media Release

HONOLULU–As you all are surely aware, the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal in the case of Rice vs. Cayetano. This comes as no surprise, however unpleasant. This case has been doggedly appealed to the highest court in the land, which I am hopeful will let stand the previous decisions by District Court Judge David Ezra and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals justices. It is especially worth noting that Senator Daniel K. Akaka has echoed this sentiment in an earlier statement today. As noted by our distinguished senator, The Ninth Circuit correctly determined that the OHA voting restriction “is not primarily racial, but legal and political.” I fully agree with Senator Akaka that the Supreme Court should without hesitation affirm that principle. Additionally, we share the view that this is a political question better left to Congress, the State of Hawai’i, and Native Hawaiians.

If there is a silver lining regarding the Supreme Court’s willingness to take this case to another level, it is that we once and for all will end the incessant challenges by Mr. Rice to the rights of the indigenous people of these lands. I am confident that our Attorney General will represent the interests of the Hawaiian people to the fullest extent. I will do what I can to assist our Attorney General to ensure that we never allow the clock to be turned back to a time when the rights of the minority, indigenous people, were trampled under foot of the majority.

Land and Sovereignty

By: Trustee Rowena Akana
February 3, 1999

No two words have so captured the attention of this archipelago’s residents as “land” and “sovereignty”. Despite developments since the 100-year anniversary of the 1893 illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy, as well as the United States’ apology and admission of the illegality of the overthrow, many people do not grasp what either word means or will mean for their future.

The general goal of sovereignty advocates is the transfer of control of Hawaiian Home Lands and ceded lands directly to a native Hawaiian government. Currently, the state and federal government hold in trust about 1.2 million acres of land for the benefit of Hawaiians. Yet, the first people to these lands have seen very few benefits.

Hawaiian Home Lands are scattered tracts comprising about 197,075 acres, which Congress set aside in 1920 for native Hawaiian homesteaders. Ceded lands are the remains of an estimated 1.8 million acres of public, private and crown land illegally annexed by resolution from a provisional government to the United States in 1898.

Hawaiian land, once farmed communally, is now some of the most expensive real estate on Earth. Housing prices, driven up by mainland retirees and foreign speculators, are out of reach for Hawaiians living, working and raising families in the islands.

Hawaiian waters, once kept in ecological balance with humans through a complex kapu system, are now oversold to the highest bidder, or treated as a toilet for raw sewage.

Hawaiian culture, once a living history of genealogy, geography, and spirituality, was nearly obliterated by Calvinist missionaries and is usually obscured with tourist-pleasing luaus.

Today, 70-80,000 people (depending on the source) – of Hawaii’s more than one million residents are full-blooded Hawaiians. One fifth, or about 225,000 people claim some Hawaiian blood. Yet Hawaiians remain the poorest, sickest, least educated, worst housed, and most frequently imprisoned segment of Hawaii’s population.

Since Kamehameha the Great, foreigners have enjoyed some measure of control over Hawaiian land. The concept of land ownership was foreign to Hawaiians. How can you own what belongs to God? The king and his chief provided land grants to the people–some of them outsiders, who chose to grow large tracts of crops to be sold overseas, rather than to be eaten at home.

In 1825, when 12-year-old Kamehameha III ascended to the throne, the Council of Chiefs adopted the western practice of inheritance after the death of a king. However, foreigners, protective of their agricultural interest, sought more secure forms of land tenure. They and their governments applied considerable pressure on the young king.

In 1840, the year he drew up Hawaii’s first constitution, Kamehameha III granted the right to property by declaring that all land belonged to the chiefs and the people, with the king as trustee. In 1848, true ownership of land came to Hawaii, when the king accepted a land apportionment plan, called the Great Mahele, or division.

The Mahele completed the transition from a feudal redistribution land system to a fee simple land ownership system, by dividing the land among the king, government, chiefs and the people. The land was split into three parts: about 1 million acres of crown lands to which the king held title; 1.5 million acres of government lands for public use; and, the remaining 1.5 million of Konohiki lands set aside for individual ownership by the chiefs and the people.

The Mahele was an unmitigated disaster for the maka’ainana, the people of the land, or commoners. While the king intended to make available one-third of Hawaii’s lands to maka’ainana, they received much less than one percent of the total land. The maka’ainana’s land holdings and rights were further diluted in 1850, with the passage of additional legislation which authorized ownership and conveyance of the land, regardless of citizenship.

The stage was set for a massive land grab by Westerners. In the next half century, with a population no larger than 2,000, Westerners took control of most of Hawaii’s land, and manipulated the economy for their own profit.

Many Native Hawaiians pleaded with their last elected monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani, to protect the sovereignty of Hawaii. At the urging of her people, the queen attempted to regain some of the monarchy’s power, which had been lost during the reign of her predecessor and brother, King Kalakaua through the Bayonet Constitution.

Her efforts to change Hawaii’s Constitution and cabinet unnerved a group of the wealthiest American merchants and sugar planters. These men wanted to be part of the United States to avoid high import tariffs. So, backed by a contingent of 162 U.S. Marines, the businessmen imprisoned the queen, and took over the islands, including the acreage that was supposed to be available to the maka’ainana.

Despite Lili’uokalani’s steadfast belief that the United States government would honor its treaties with the Kingdom and reject the provisional government, Hawaii went from a sovereign nation to an American colony in five years. In 1898, under President William McKinley, Hawaii was annexed to the United States constellation, along with Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines.

President Grover Cleveland, who had opposed the coup, but failed to reverse it, wrote after leaving office: Hawaii is ours. But as look back upon the first steps in this miserable business, and as I contemplate the means to complete this outrage, I am ashamed of the whole affair.”

Meanwhile, the provisional government sold chunks of crown and Konohiki lands to fellow merchants and planters. When the islands were annexed illegally to the United States, Hawaii’s government acknowledged that this acreage (now 1.8 million acres) belonged to Native Hawaiians, and ceded it with the stipulation that it be held in trust for Native Hawaiians. The federal government summarily lopped off about 20 percent of the land for its own use, mostly for military bases and parks.

By 1920, the plight of the true inhabitants, Native Hawaiians, had become desperate. The population had dropped as much as 96 percent. Some scholars estimate that a one-time population of 1 million Hawaiians in pre-contact Hawaii had plummeted to 40,000.

However, a bill was being prepared that would allow Native Hawaiians to lease a small sliver of their former land. The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act began as a well meaning effort by Prince Jonah Kuhio, the Hawaiian territorial delegate to Congress, who saw urban slums and disease rapidly killing off Hawaiians, and hoped that returning Hawaiians to their aina, their agricultural land, could save them. In 1920, he said: “The Hawaiian race is passing, and if conditions continue to exist as they do today, this splendid race of people, my race, will pass from the face of this earth.”

No sooner did Prince Kuhio float his plan in Congress than it was co-opted by pineapple and sugar planters, who saw it as a way to secure their own uncertain futures. Their leases on 26,000 fertile acres were about to expire, and a general homestead law threatened to transfer their lucrative holdings to other hands.

So the planters struck a deal with territorial politicians: Get rid of general homesteading, allow us to keep our lands, and in exchange, you may allot 200,000 acres of “fourth class” lands to native Hawaiians for homestead. This land was arid, inaccessible, soilpoor, without infrastructure, and otherwise unfit for cultivation. Before long, Hawaiians abandoned agrarianism, and the bulk of homestead awards became simple house lots.
The sugar planters ensured that the Hawaiian Home Lands’ first executive was an ally. Its executive secretary was George Cooke, of Castle & Cooke, one of the Big Five plantation powers. The planters even pushed the 50 percent Hawaiian blood requirement, believing that interracial marriages would dilute the native population to extinction.

After statehood in 1959, responsibility for managing the homestead program was transferred from the federal government to the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL). Because the state failed to appropriate sufficient funding, until recently, the DHHL’s main source of revenue to manage and improve the land was income from general use leases granted non-Hawaiians on land “not immediately needed” for homestead. As a result, DHHL leased more land to non-Hawaiians than to Hawaiians.

For decades, the administration of the Hawaiian Home Lands trust went unquestioned. Subsequent investigations revealed mismanagement of the trust by both the federal and state governments. DHHL estimates that territorial and state governors issued between forty and sixty executive orders, which set aside Hawaiian Home Lands for military use. In 1978, a federal district court ruled that all governors’ executive orders were illegal.

In 1984, Governor Ariyoshi rescinded nearly thirty of these illegal acts, covering 30,000 acres. The Hawaii Attorney General also decreed that the U.S. Navy’s occupation of 1,400 acres of prime homelands near Honolulu was a “fundamental breach of trust”.

Rather than evicting the offending land users, which included state and federal agencies, the DHHL opted for monetary settlements totaling less than $10 million.

As of June 30,1997, only 6,428 homestead leases were awarded statewide, representing a mere 20.5 percent of the total Hawaiian Home Lands property. Meanwhile there are an estimated 29,162 qualified applicants on the Hawaiian Homes waiting list, many of whom have been waiting for forty years or more. Many have died waiting.

In 1959, when the Admissions Act turned responsibility for the remaining 1.5 million acres of ceded lands over to the new State of Hawaii, the federal government “retained” several hundred thousand acres for its national parks and military installations. Today, more than 100 facilities crowd the eight Hawaiian Islands, a land area approximately the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. All the military bases occupy some ceded lands, and at least six occupy Hawaiian Home Lands, without consent or compensation.

Responsibility for these ceded lands rests with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). For the state’s first twenty years, DLNR managed ceded lands without scrutiny. Among other abuses, it allowed use of ceded lands by other state departments without compensation. It also executed a slew of summary land swaps.

State and federal laws already mandate that Hawaiians receive priority for water, to support development, traditional agriculture, and gathering rights over subdivisions, hotels and golf courses — promises seemingly forgotten. The state’s Commission on Water Resources has ignored the “Hawaiian Rights” clause of the water code, the clause that guarantees adequate reserves of water for current and foreseeable development of Hawaiian Home Lands.

At the 1978 Constitutional Convention, the state admitted that it was derelict in its duty to provide for the Hawaiian community. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) was created to receive 20 percent of all revenue generated by ceded lands for use for the benefit of Hawaiians.

Between 1980 and 1990, instead of 20 percent, OHA only received about $12.5 million in such proceeds. In 1993, OHA received $129 million from the state in settlement of those claims, including interest for back payment of monies owed by the state from 1980 – 1990, during the Waihee Administration.

In 1994, OHA initiated litigation to require the state to pay OHA past due amounts owed to Hawaiians that were not included in the $129 million settlement. In October 1996, Judge Heely granted OHA’s motion for partial summary judgment. The State filed an appeal. In December 1998, the Hawaii Supreme Court directed the parties to try to resolve the matter expeditiously. Negotiations continue.

As indigenous and first people to these islands, Hawaiians have essentially been under siege since foreign contact. In November 1993, President Clinton signed a Joint Resolution, which recognized the illegal procedure by which Hawaii was annexed to the United States, and apologized to Native Hawaiians on Behalf of the United States for the Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. This legal recognition has offered Hawaiians a unique opportunity to lead a renewed battle for the resurrection of the powerful principle of sovereignty. Sovereignty is not a foreign concept to Hawaiians, to Native Americans, or to states in general.

To the great nineteenth century orator, Stephen Douglas, states incorporated legally into the Union were co-equal and sovereign unto themselves. In his celebrated debates with Lincoln (echoing the Declaration of Independence, which states that “these United States are, and of right ought to be Free and Independent States”), Douglas said:

“THIS GOVERNMENT WAS MADE UPON THE GREAT BASIS OF THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE STATES, THE RIGHT OF EACH STATE TO REGULATE ITS OWN DOMESTIC INSTITUTIONS TO SUIT ITSELF, AND THAT RIGHT WAS CONFERRED WITH THE UNDERSTANDING AND EXPECTATION THAT INASMUCH AS EACH LOCALITY HAD SEPARATE INTERESTS, EACH LOCALITY MUST HAVE DIFFERENT AND DISTINCT LOCAL DOMESTIC INSTITUTIONS, CORRESPONDING TO ITS WANTS AND INTERESTS.”

Native governments have formed under the federal government through the Department of the Interior. There are hundreds of recognized nations within the territorial United States, in which the United States is but one. The others consist of American Indians. If it is OK for American Indians to form sovereign nations, why not Hawaiians? Failure to do so would, in fact, be discrimination against Hawaiians.

As indigenous people, Hawaiians are seeking recognition from the federal government of their right to sovereignty and self determination. Hawaiians have no desire to be dependent on the state or federal government. If Hawaiians had control of their lands, they could take care of their own people. They would not be a drain on the economy. There would be no homeless Hawaiians.

Fundamental to any sovereignty concept is control over land. Hawaiians have never prospered on land held on their behalf, but outside their reach. Lands at issue consist of the 1.2 million acres currently under the control of the state and federal government, as well as lands set aside as Hawaiian Home Lands. Hawaiians are not talking about privately owned land.

Makua: Target State Not Military

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Kai Wai Ola o OHA, August 1997

Last month, the U.S. Marines had planned an amphibious landing at Makua Beach. The five-day exercise was to begin with an amphibious assault on the beach, followed by live-fire training in the valley. The community was outraged, and rightly so. The Wai’anae Coast Neighborhood Board, Hui Malama o Makua, Pastor Kaleo Patterson (organizer of the demonstrations leading up to the day of the scheduled landing) and the Hawai’i Ecumenical Coalition rose to protest the intrusion of the military onto sacred land at Makua. The protest caused Governor Cayetano to meet with Admiral Prueher (commander-in-chief, Pacific Command), and a meeting with representatives of the community ensued. The military changed its plans and landed at Bellows Air Force Station instead. While Frenchy DeSoto proclaimed this a major victory, this was anything but a victory. All it did was postpone the inevitable.

The military has not ruled out future training activities in the area which is held sacred by Hawaiians. Using live ammunition, and firing into a beautiful sacred valley in the middle of thriving communities is insane. Would the military try this in other states for 65 years? Let’s see if other communities in America will allow them to do this.

The people of Hawai’i must become more involved in what our state officials are doing on our behalf.

One could argue all day about being ready for war, but let’s be realistic. If there is a third world war, no one would be fighting in hand-to-hand combat. The fight would be a nuclear one and none of us would have to worry about Makua Valley, or anywhere else.

In 1964, the state leased Makua to the Army for $1 for 65 years until the year 2029. The lease allows the military to use the beach for maneuvers, but in doing so, it infringes on the community’s public access rights.

During 1ast year’s legislative session, the governor and the legislature decried the poor condition of state finances and how departments and programs would have to tighten down to run more efficiently with less money. But while they are selling the sob story of “no money,” they, at the same time, give away prime lands at $1 for 65 years, denying us -the constituency and beneficiaries – our fair share of revenues: 20 percent – OHA beneficiaries; 80 percent – general public beneficiaries. This debacle allows potentially millions of state dollars to be lost.

The protest at Makua raises questions, not only about access, but about state accountability in meeting its responsibilities to the public trust.

* Shouldn’t there be a review of state land leases? Because of the state’s rationale for low lease rent, an impartial third party should do the review.

* For how much of our valuable ceded lands are we not receiving proper compensation? When potential revenue is allowed to slip away, we get short-changed in education, human services, health and other benefits.

* Why weren’t access requirements considered in the lease of Makua? The state must let the military know that it cannot lease valuable land for bombings, live ammunition firing and training. Although the governor met with Admiral Prueher to change the landing site, this wasn’t resolved when the lease was given in 1964. The target of protest should be the administration, not necessarily the military, because the state can revoke the lease at any time.

* The state doesn’t own lands; it is the trustee for these lands. Shouldn’t it be more accountable for their management of these lands?

It’s time we (the public) demand that the state take its responsibilities seriously as trustee of our public trust. We have allowed them to mismanage our lands for too long! Should we be considering hiring private counsel to investigate the state for their mismanagement of our public land trust?

Hawaiians and Maoris Have Much in Common

By: Trustee Rowena Akana
Tuesday, April 1, 1997

Source: Honolulu Advertiser; Letter to Editor

Your March 22nd front-page article on unsettled Maori claims makes an interesting contrast with your March 24th editorial urging our Legislature to stand up to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs when we assert our own claims on behalf of native Hawaiians.

Substitute “Hawaiian” for “Maori” in the March 22nd story and you have written a pretty good account of the shameful way Polynesian people were treated here as well as in New Zealand.

The ceded-lands trust was intended by the U.S. government to somewhat redress this treatment. While I agree that the 20 percent share mandated to us by the Legislature is an arbitrary allocation not specified in the Admissions Act, it is too little, not too much, given the fact that these islands were once ours, just like New Zealand was the Maoris’ and was taken by force.

In this context, it was unfair of you to characterize Trustee Frenchy DeSoto’s proposed solution to the state’s pleading poor as being unreasonable or even as a demand.

Has it not occurred to you that we Hawaiians, like one of the Maoris quoted in the article, also are tired of being the “good nigger, master?”

Is State Sovereignty a Possibility?

By Trustee Rowena Akana
September 8, 1994

Hawaii is a diverse, multifaceted culture, one that is distinct from that of the Mainland. Solutions to many of the problems concerning Hawaiian voters require a historical knowledge and cultural sensitivity that those who are not kamaaina simply do not have.

The unconstitutional procedure by which Hawaii was annexed to the United States of America offers Hawaii a unique opportunity to lead a renewed battle for the resurrection of the powerful principle of state sovereignty. The Constitution allows for the annexation of new territory by two means and by two means only, conquest and a treaty ratified by Congress. McKinley knew that he did not have the votes of 2/3rd of the Congress that he needed to ratify a treaty of annexation. Rather, he chose to pass a Joint Resolution calling for annexation. Although creative, this method is not provided for anywhere in the Constitution.

To the great l9th century orator, Stephen Douglas, states incorporated legally into the Union were co-equal and sovereign unto themselves. In his celebrated debates with Lincoln (echoing the Declaration of Independence which states that, “these United States are, and of right ought to be Free and Independent States”), Douglas said,

“This government was made upon the great basis of the sovereignty of the states, the right of each state to regulate its own domestic institutions to suit itself, and that right was conferred with the understanding and expectation that inasmuch as each locality had separate interests, each locality must have different and distinct local domestic institutions, corresponding to its wants and interests.”

In another speech during the debates Douglas added that “the (Founding Fathers) provided that each state should retain its own legislature, and its own sovereignty with the full and complete power to do as it pleased within its own limits.”

Despite these and many other ringing endorsements of state sovereignty, Article I section 8 of the Constitution (the “implied powers” clause), Article VI (the “supremacy” clause) and the 14th Amendment (guaranteeing equal protection under the law) are interpreted today as defensive of a strong Federal prerogative.

Hawaii, on the other hand, has a uniquely tenuous constitutional status as a member of the Union, which could conceivably make its exercise of state sovereignty very feasible. If enacted, Hawaii’s success or failure could serve as a model for the 49 other states. Our experiment could tell them whether or not they too wish to control their own destiny.

Too many of our hard-earned tax dollars are squandered annually supporting top-heavy Federal bureaucracy. Think of how much more we could do with that money if we kept it here, in Hawaii. Instead of wasting our money on pork barrel spending, we could fund projects that more accurately reflected the needs of local residents.

Increased state sovereignty for Hawaii would benefit all residents, Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike. The Sovereignty Movement would benefit from this new political relationship with Washington D.C. in a number of important ways. For instance, sovereign initiatives would not need to wait for recognition from the Federal government before they were considered “validated.” Furthermore, such perennially sticky questions such as the nature of the Federal government’s trust responsibility to Hawaiians and the Hawaiian’s right to sue for breach of trust would be moot.

The time has come for us to formulate a new political relationship that would enable these changes to take place and keep our kala where it belongs – at home. First and foremost, this means altering Hawaii’s relationship with Washington D.C. Federal power must be substantially weakened in favor of significantly broadened state power. This would increase both our fiscal independence and the autonomy of our legislation. With increased state power, local issues can be addressed by local people with local knowledge.

Land is at Heart of Sovereignty Issue

By: Trustee Rowena Akana
March 13, 1993

Source: Star Bulletin: Other Views

The general goal of sovereignty advocates is the transfer of control of ceded lands and Hawaiian Home Lands directly to a native Hawaiian government.

While most people realize this, few understand what these lands really are or how much they have been abused by their trustees.

Ceded lands are the remains of an estimated 1.8 million acres of public, private and crown land annexed by resolution from a provisional government to the United States in 1898. Hawaiian Home Lands, once part of ceded lands, are scattered tracts comprising about 200,000 acres Congress set aside for native Hawaiian homesteaders.

For the last l00 years, these land trusts have been impoverished through executive orders, land swaps, and general theft. With each change of government trusteeship were agreements to provide for the land’s inhabitants: the Hawaiians. Each trustee government, in turn has thoroughly mismanaged the inhabitants’ land. A few examples:

MILITARY

In 1959, when the Admissions Act turned responsibility for the remaining 1.2 million acres of ceded lands over to the new state of Hawaii, the federal government “set- aside” several hundred thousand bases for its military installations.

Today, more than 100 bases crowd the eight Hawaiian islands, a land area approximately the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. The armed services control 10 percent of the state and 25 percent of Oahu. All the military bases occupy ceded lands, and at least six occupy – without consent or compensation – Hawaiian Home Lands. Among those, Pohakuloa on the Big Island is an Army training camp, Lualualei in Waianae is a Navy target range and Kekaha on Kauai is a Navy ammunition dump.

Kaho’olawe, The Target Island, was set aside by a presidential order for the military’s use during WWII. It was supposed to be cleared of ordnance and returned to human use after the war. Today, Kaho’olawe’s soil remains bomb-rich and human-poor — despite its placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

DEPARTMENT OF HAWAIIAN HOME LANDS

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands estimates territorial and state governors issued between 40 and 60 executive orders setting aside Hawaiian Home Lands for military use. In 1978, a federal district court ruled all the governors’ executive orders were illegal.

In 1984, the governor ordered the DHHL to rescind nearly 30 of these illegal deals, covering some 30,000 acres. The state attorney general, meantime, decreed the U.S. Navy’s occupation of 1,400 acres of prime homelands near Honolulu to be a ‘fundamental breach of trust.’

Rather than evicting the offending land users, which include state and federal agencies, the DHHL opted for monetary settlements totaling less than $10 million. The DHHL did mount one challenge to evict the Navy, but the judge decided the department waited too long to sue.

However, the DHHL has evicted Hawaiians off land to which they held title, but the state never bothered to install utilities, roads and water as it is required.

Until recently, the DHHL had no funding to improve land management or infrastructure except the general use leases it was allowed to grant non-Hawaiians on land “not immediately needed” for homesteading. Consequently, the DHHL leased more land to non-Hawaiians than to Hawaiians.

Because of this, only 5,889 Hawaiian homestead leases had been awarded as of June, representing just 21.5 percent of the total Hawaiian Home Lands property, while 47.5 percent was under lease to non-Hawaiians.

Meanwhile, there are an estimated 14,400 qualified applicants in the Hawaiian Homes waiting list, many of whom have waited for 40 years or more.

Many more have died waiting.

DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES

For the state’s first 20 years, the Department of Land and Natural Resources managed ceded lands without scrutiny. Among other abuses, DLNR allowed use of ceded lands by other state departments without adequate compensation, and it executed a slew of summary land swaps. The land between Hanauma Bay and Waimanalo, once Hawaiian Home land, now belongs to just about everyone but Hawaiians.

In 1985, the state swapped a Big Island forest preserve for other acreage so Campbell Estate could construct a geothermal development, now plagued with technical problems and lawsuits.

In fact, until 1986 the DLNR didn’t even have an inventory of which state lands were ceded lands and which were not, and no one still knows the exact amount the state earns from this inventory. A 1986 “Final Report on the Public Lands Trust” did manage to identify some major parcels of ceded or Hawaiian Homes land commandeered for public use without compensation. A small sampling: Hilo Municipal Golf Course, Maui’s Waiehu Golf Course, Kauai’s Wailua Golf Course, Ala Wai Golf Course, Sand Island, Ala Moana Beach Park, Kapiolani Park, and their rentals, Honolulu Harbor, Kahului Harbor, Kewalo Basin, Keehi Lagoon, Honolulu International Airport, General Lyman Field, Molokai Airport and the University of Hawaii.
All occupy in part or whole ceded and/or Hawaiian Home lands — at the expense of Hawaiians and native Hawaiians.

When will this sickening litany of abuse, misuse and fraud end? When will the state or federal government keep a promise to the Hawaiian people? When will others stop managing our affairs in their interest, stop taking for theirs that which they agreed in writing was ours and stop actively campaigning against any meaningful resolution to our plight?

Hawaiians have some answers. Hawaii just needs to listen.

The Abuse, Misuse, and Theft of the Ceded Lands Trust

By Trustee Rowena Akana
March 5, 1993

Ceded lands are the remains of an estimated 1.8 million acres of public, private and crown land annexed by resolution from a provisional government to the United States in 1898. Hawaiian Home Lands, once part of ceded lands, are scattered tracts comprising about 200,000 acres Congress set aside in 1921 for native Hawaiian homesteaders.

For the last 100 years, these land trusts have been impoverished through executive orders, lands swaps, sales and general theft. With each change of government trusteeship were agreements to provide for the needs of the land’s inhabitants: the Hawaiians. Each trustee government, in turn, has thoroughly mismanaged the inhabitants’ land. A few examples for your reading displeasure:

MILITARY

In 1959, when the Admissions Act turned responsibility for the remaining 1.2 million acres of ceded lands over to the new State of Hawaii, the federal government “set aside” several hundred thousand acres for its military installations.

Today, more than 100 bases crowd the eight Hawaiian islands, a land area approximately the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. The armed forces control 10 percent of the state and 25 percent of O’ahu. All the military bases occupy ceded lands, and at least six occupy — without consent or compensation – Hawaiian Home Lands. Among those, Pohakuloa on the Big Island is an Army training camp, Lualualei in Waianae is a Navy target range and Kekaha on Kauai is a Navy ammunition dump.

Kaho’olawe, The Target Island, was set aside by a presidential order for the military’s use during WWII. It was supposed to be cleared of ordnance and returned to human use after the war. Today, Kaho’olawe’s soil remains bomb-rich and human-poor — despite its placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

DEPARTMENT OF HAWAIIAN HOME LANDS

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands estimates territorial and state governors issued between 40 and 60 executive orders setting aside Hawaiian Home Lands for military use. In 1978, a federal district court ruled all the governors’ executive orders were illegal.

In 1984, the governor ordered the DHHL to rescind nearly 30 of these illegal deals, covering some 30,000 acres. The state attorney general, meantime, decreed the U.S. Navy’s occupation of 1,400 acres of prime homelands near Honolulu to be a ‘fundamental breach of trust.’

Rather than evicting the offending land users, which include state and federal agencies, the DHHL opted for monetary settlements totaling less than $10 million. The DHHL did mount one challenge to evict the Navy, but the judge decided the department waited too long to sue.

However, the DHHL has evicted Hawaiians off land to which they held title, but the state never bothered to install utilities, roads and water as it is required.

Until recently, the DHHL had no funding to improve land management or infrastructure except the general use leases it was allowed to grant non-Hawaiians on land “not immediately needed” for homesteading. Consequently, the DHHL leased more land to non-Hawaiians than to Hawaiians.

Because of this, only 5,889 Hawaiian homestead leases had been awarded as of June, representing just 21.5 percent of the total Hawaiian Home Lands property, while 47.5 percent was under lease to non-Hawaiians.

Meanwhile, there are an estimated 14,400 qualified applicants in the Hawaiian Homes waiting list, many of whom have waited for 40 years or more.

Many more have died waiting.

DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES

For the state’s first 20 years, the Department of Land and Natural Resources managed ceded lands without scrutiny. Among other abuses, DLNR allowed use of ceded lands by other state departments without adequate compensation, and it executed a slew of summary land swaps. The land between Hanauma Bay and Waimanalo, once Hawaiian Home land, now belongs to just about everyone but Hawaiians.

In 1985, the state swapped a Big Island forest preserve for other acreage so Campbell Estate could construct a geothermal development, now plagued with technical problems and lawsuits.

In fact, until 1986 the DLNR didn’t even have an inventory of which state lands were ceded lands and which were not, and no one still knows the exact amount the state earns from this inventory. A 1986 “Final Report on the Public Lands Trust” did manage to identify some major parcels of ceded or Hawaiian Homes land commandeered for public use without compensation. A small sampling: Hilo Municipal Golf Course, Maui’s Waiehu Golf Course, Kauai’s Wailua Golf Course, Ala Wai Golf Course, Sand Island, Ala Moana Beach Park, Kapiolani Park, and their rentals, Honolulu Harbor, Kahului Harbor, Kewalo Basin, Keehi Lagoon, Honolulu International Airport, General Lyman Field, Molokai Airport and the University of Hawaii.
All occupy in part or whole ceded and/or Hawaiian Home lands — at the expense of Hawaiians and native Hawaiians.

When will this sickening litany of abuse, misuse and fraud end? When will the state or federal government keep a promise to the Hawaiian people? When will others stop managing our affairs in their interest, stop taking for theirs that which they agreed in writing was ours and stop actively campaigning against any meaningful resolution to our plight?

When? You have the answers.

Entitlements–It Belongs to You

By Trustee Moses Keale
November, 1992

Source Ka Wai Ola O OHA

These are tough times for all of us. Last month I issued a challenge to everyone to speak loudly and clearly that we, the native sons and daughters of this land want our full entitlements. Do you remember my question last month? “Does all this really matter?” And do you remember my answer? “…the total entitlements compensation would approach $30,000,000 yearly. … if you factor in the back payments for rents for these lands the total back rent could exceed $300,000,000!”

Yes, it does make a great deal of difference! I remember all too well how OHA began 12 years ago. We, the nine trustees, were told to run an agency to better the conditions of the Hawaiian people. And they said we were entitled to do this on a budget of $225,000 of public matching funds supplemented by our entitlements income. With the expectation of the people high and the money minimal, it was a struggle to keep our heads above water. For many years there was very little change in our income stream. Between 1981 and 1989 OHA’s annual operating income from special and general funds amounted to an average of $2,066,000 per year. The most significant changes in public funding came in fiscal year 1988 when the legislature almost tripled our general funding level. This was accomplished under the guiding hands of then Administrator Kamaki Kanahele now an accomplished Trustee.

Our biggest break, though, came in 1990 when agreements were reached with the Governor’s office on the PROPER entitlement amount. This was a quantum leap in revenue amounting to more than $8,000,000 annually. Now, under these conditions, we could really function. Now, we could really implement a large portion of the master plan. We conducted public hearings to revise the functional plan and the Board met to implement new policies and procedures.

We hired a new administrator and at his request we reorganized the office. In fact, based on his recommendation, we requested that the legislature change the Hawaii Revised Statutes to allow the Administrator to employ all personnel without obtaining the approval of the Board as was the previous practice. Then, we asked him to draft and to implement a plan that would effectuate the major objectives of the master plan and would incorporate the new functional action items. This was a bold new experiment for us which reflected our ability to use the newly obtained resources.

The Trustees had done their job in obtaining the revenue stream and now it was up to administration to provide programs to impact the beneficiaries. It was our hope that you, the Hawaiian people, would finally begin to feel the impact of new programs to service your needs. Well, the experiment has been a failure! Certainly, three years is adequate time to evaluate the impact of the new products.

In reviewing all of our present initiatives, and after eliminating the ongoing projects which began prior to the reorganization (for example: The Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund, Aha Opio O OHA, Aha Kupuna, educational tutorial programs, the embryo of our self-help housing program, and our ongoing health initiatives), it seems our new programs have fallen far short of the mark. Administration proposed a revolutionary program called I Luna Ae, a 7-point initiative, designed to address concerns and provide services where services were needed. Included in this 7-point initiative were:

Operation Ea, designed to address restitution from the federal government;

Operation Ka Poe, otherwise known as the single definition mandate;

Operation Ohana, targeted to gain data on all Hawaiians to effectuate a better system for the delivery of services and benefits to every Hawaiian;

Operation Malama Mau, created to address the need to identify and protect our cultural heritage and cultural assets;

Operation Alohi, a program designed to enhance our communications system in order to keep our beneficiaries informed of our work;

Operation Hui Imi, a task force of Hawaiian Agencies created to coordinate services to lessen duplication and overlapping of strategies;

Operation Hookuleana, designed to effectuate full entitlements from the state government.

Well, after extensive review, I find that the following is true:

Operation Ea, which began with the publishing of the “Blueprint for Native Hawaiian Entitlements” and other promises of securing restitution, has produced three pieces of proposed federal legislation. One of these draft bills is seriously flawed, another is presumptuous and the third needs input from the effected beneficiary class. No formal hearings have been held on these documents and the public input process has been limited.

Operation Ka Poe, reflects serious flaws in thinking. Less than 1/2 of the Hawaiians over the age of 18 actually received ballots. Of those who received the ballots only 38% returned them. Therefore, the 19,000+ Hawaiians voting in favor of this initiative represented only 16% of the estimated 125,000 adult Hawaiians residing in the state. It was not the overwhelming voice of the Hawaiian people who spoke up for a single definition, it was only a select few.

Operation Ohana, was one of the most noteworthy programs in concept. The goal, as articulated by the administration, was to enroll 150,000 Hawaiians by 1990. It is now 1992 and the latest report indicates that less than 10,000 Hawaiians have completed the enrollment process.

Operation Malama Mau, has met many of its objectives. The Native Hawaiian Historic Preservation Council has been diligent in its work and has achieved notable progress in the area of cultural preservation and protection of sites and practices.

Operation Alohi, has finally begun to make limited inroads toward a commitment to communicate with the beneficiary. After nearly three years of failures and large expenditures of funds, the program has finally begun to move toward its target goals thanks to the efforts of the new public information officer.

Operation Hui Imi, has been operational and met with success. Coordination of program and program services among the agencies and organizations servicing Hawaiians have improved.

Operation Hookuleana, also has been successful. But this success can be directly attributable to work by the Trustees who have been in direct control of the process from the beginning. There is still much to be done and the Trustees are continuing to work directly with the Governor’s office.

Taken as a whole, I find that while we have spent large sums of moneys, expended an enormous amount of staff time, and committed a great deal of office resources toward the efforts of the I Luna Ae program, the success ratio is dismal. Of the seven initiatives, three of the most costly programs have been failures, one could not meet its targeted objective because of severe understaffing, and one was taken over by the Trustees with outside help hired to complete the task. Of the two remaining program initiatives, Operation Malama Mau’s product has been tainted because of administrative misdirection while Operation Hui Imi appears to be self-sustaining.

It is time for us to take a hard look at whether our resources are being directed in an efficient manner. The bottom line is whether you are receiving the benefits that we have mandated the office to deliver. Ultimately, it is the duty of the nine trustees to evaluate the progress and determine whether the work of this office is acceptable. Our focus should now turn toward building the best “delivery of service program” that we can muster. To this end I have always pledged my energies. To this end my efforts will be concentrated. Although we must not lose sight of gaining full entitlements for the Hawaiian people, it is time to concentrate on the delivery of these entitlements to the people. Although this may require tough and unpleasant decisions, that is the nature of position of leadership to which each of us is elected!

IMUA E NO OHANA. A INU I KA WAI AWAAWAI

A i manao kekahi e lilo i pookele i waena o oukou, e pono no e lilo ia i kauwa na oukou. Na ke Akua e malama a e alakai ia kakou apau.