Supporting the Passage of H.R. 2314, Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act Of 2010


Source: May 2010 Ka Wai Ola Column

More than 50 years after statehood, the long-awaited reconciliation between the Native Hawaiian people and the United States Federal Government took a major step closer to reality as the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved H.R. 2314 on February 23, 2010.

This was the third time that former-United States Representative Neil Abercrombie has passed such a bill out of the U.S. House of Representatives since he was first elected to Congress on November 6, 1990.

H.R.2314 makes it clear that Native Hawaiians will have the inherent powers and privileges of a native government, including self-determination, with the exception of the right to conduct gaming.

Hawaii’s congressional delegation has strongly supported negotiating at the federal level for a resolution on Hawaiian issues which remain after the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani.

Since the year 2000, United States Senator Daniel K. Akaka has introduced legislation, now popularly known as the “Akaka bill,” to provide a structured process for all Hawai’i residents to come together and begin the process of bringing about meaningful reconciliation and healing within the Native Hawaiian community.

On February 22, 2010, the Hawaii Congressional Delegation released the final text H.R.2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2010, which was fine-tuned in consultation between the Hawaii’s congressional delegation and the White House, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Interior, the State of Hawaii and stakeholders in the Native Hawaiian community.

The changes to H.R.2314 clarify the authority and powers of the Native Hawaiian Governing Entity prior to negotiations, while ensuring that the final bill is legally sound and consistent with U.S. policy toward indigenous people and their native governments.

These clarifications represent a genuine effort to address the State of Hawai’i’s concerns while maintaining the original purpose of the bill, which is to establish federal recognition for Native Hawaiians.

H.R.2314 provides Native Hawaiians with an opportunity for self determination and cultural preservation, while empowering them to be an equal partner with the state and federal government.

H.R.2314 does not alter the sovereign immunity of the United States or the State of Hawaii nor does it transfer any lands to the Native Hawaiian governing entity.

Hawaii’s entire Congressional Delegation, Senator Daniel Inouye, Senator Daniel K. Akaka, former-Congressman Neil Abercrombie, and Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, along with Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor James Duke Aiona, have all proclaimed their support for recognition of a Native Hawaiian governing entity, demonstrating the high priority of this issue for the people of Hawaii and its importance over and beyond any political party affiliations.

Failure to secure the passage of federal recognition for Native Hawaiians would result in continuing legal challenges to Hawaiian programs and the loss of millions of dollars the state currently receives from the federal government for programs that perpetuate the Native Hawaiian culture, language and traditions.

Until the next time.  Aloha pumehana.

What happens to Injured Guardsmen Returning Home from Iraq?

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, June 2007

Last month, I met with several injured beneficiaries in the Hawaii Army National Guard who called my office about problems they were having with their medical care in the Army’s new Medical Retention Processing Unit (MRPU). After listening to the shocking treatment that they were receiving, I called the offices of Senator Daniel Akaka and Congressman Neil Abercrombie and together we coordinated a meeting between the Guardsmen and the Brigadier General of the Hawaii Army National Guard. During the meeting, a disturbing pattern emerged.


After a Hawaii Army National Guardsman gets injured in Iraq, he is sent to Tripler for treatment and assigned a case manager to help coordinate his care under the MRPU Plan. The problem is that the case managers are not following the plan’s guidelines. According to the soldiers, there is a huge disconnect between the medical personnel and their patients. Army doctors and case managers contradict each other and confuse soldiers over their treatment plan. Some soldiers are told they will be having corrective surgery, and then later told they will only be given medication.

Two Guardsmen who had the same case worker complained that she was condescending and culturally insensitive. When there was a misunderstanding, this case worker refused to make appointments or prolonged their wait for treatment. When they asked for a different case worker, they are denied and later harassed by hospital personnel for complaining. This is especially hard for local Guardsmen who feel that their communication skills may not be the best.

To make matters worse, the MRPU regularly loses or mixes-up the soldiers’ files and doesnít allow soldiers to make copies. They are also not given their medical records upon release to take to Veteran Affairs (VA).


The biggest problem with the MRPU seems to be an “unwritten” rule in the plan to rotate soldiers out after they have received 365 days of medical care. Some are rotated out without a doctor’s approval while they are still in need of operations and therapy. In several cases, a case worker’s signature appears where a doctor’s signature should be, which goes against MRPU regulations. Non-medical personnel should not be prescribing treatments.

Although an Army doctor may sign an extension for a soldier to continue his treatment beyond 12-months, this is rarely done. Soldiers are left with nowhere to go except the Veteran’s Hospital. Rotating National Guard soldiers out of the MRPU and sending them on to the VA appears to be an expedient way of getting rid of those wounded soldiers.

These soldiers are suffering from serious injuries such as dislocated shoulders and blown-off kneecaps which haven’t received all of the medical care they need to fully recover. Fixing half-a-soldier and sending them on to the Veteran’s Hospital for the rest of their medical care is simply inhumane.


To add insult to injury, because of the tremendous strain on the Veterans’ hospitals due to the many soldiers and Army National Guardsmen returning from Iraq with serious injuries, there is an 18-month wait to be processed by the VA for treatment. This leaves the Guardsmen without medical treatment for almost two years and takes a huge physical and psychological toll for the Guardsmen and their families, many of whom cannot afford expensive surgeries on their own. All of these Guardsmen are also suffering from psychological problems such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and trouble sleeping from sleep apnea and are in desperate need of continued treatment.


The Guardsman assert, and rightly so, that they were wounded in combat and therefore should be treated by the Army until they can return to duty or are able to go back to some sense of a normal life. Guardsmen being rotated out with only a meager 10-20% disability pay cannot support their families when they go back to civilian life or expect to get a job that can. The Army should at least get them back into the best physical shape possible.

There is a huge disparity between the treatment of National Guardsman and a full-time Army soldier when there should be none. They both face the same dangers on the front lines and received the same horrific injuries. They deserve the same medical attention. In fact, we need to help them more since they need to re-enter the civilian workforce when they get back home.

The following needs to happen to improve their situation:

* Either disband the MRPU or treat National Guardsman the same as full-time Army soldiers if they have been injured or wounded as a result of being activated for combat duty.

* Launch an investigation of the MRPU, Tripler, and the procedures of the medical personnel and administrative staff as soon as possible.

* Establish, in Army regulations, that Army National Guardsmen can receive treatment from the MRPU until they are either ready to return to duty or ready to return to civilian life.

* Establish stricter oversight over the Army’s medical treatment system regarding wounded soldiers.

I am very happy to report that since my initial meeting with these Hawaii Army National Guardsmen, there have been some positive results. Both the offices of Senator Daniel Akaka and Congressman Neil Abercrombie have been diligent in addressing these issues with highest levels at Tripler Hospital. On the national level, Senator Akaka is looking at ways to address the Guardsmen’s concerns so that all Army National Guardsmen everywhere can be treated with parody equal to any member of the armed services who serves on active duty.

If you believe that our Hawaii Army National Guardsmen, when injured in Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere else while serving on active duty should be extended the same kind of medical treatment as our regular forces, I urge you to write to your local and federal elected officials to express your support for these soldiers.

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

Which Bases Are Vital to Keep?

By: Trustee Rowena Akana
July, 1994

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

The military recently launched an aggressive public relations campaign to prove its need for Bellows Air Force Station, even as it cuts its activity on the ceded property.

A presidential communications station soon will be moved to another location, leaving family recreation at beach cottages and occasional Marine Corps amphibious assaults as the last two activities on the sprawling oceanfront property.

The media recently were invited to record for the public a staged assault on Windward O’ahu. The First Expeditionary Brigade attacked the beaches of Bellows for the invitees, who dutifully reported the event as news.

What was the point of this exercise? The military says it was to prove how important Bellows is for the defense of our nation and to remind residents what happens to the economy if the military retreats.

Bellows was left off this year’s base closure list. But another round of closures has already begun and it’s about time Congress and the Department of Defense take a closer look not only at Bellows, but some defense bases as well.

Until now it has been necessary for the Hawai’i public to justify its opposition to military activity in the islands. Hawaiians fought vigorously against the use of sacred Kaho’olawe as a bombing target. The Kamaka family fought (and lost) its battle to keep the military from condemning land held by them since Kamehameha III.

The question should not be which bases to close. The question should be: which bases are vital to keep open? The Pentagon and Congress have neither the cold war mandate nor the taxpayer pocketbooks to afford themselves the military luxuries of the past. It’s about time both learn to live within the taxpayers’ means, not the other way around.

Zero-sum budgeting–where an agency justifies resources it needs, rather than fighting for what it already has–is a possible solution. It forces decision makers to start from scratch every budgeting cycle. It leaves little room for pork barrel defense contracts or under-utilized military bases which crawl across the Hawaiian Islands.

Bellows is not the only base the military can do without. Ft. Shafter rents space to other agencies. Ft. Armstrong has been tossed around as a site for a convention center. Ft. DeRussy offers nothing but a rest and recreation facility that could be transferred somewhere else.

There are other sites Hawaiians and the general public could argue to close, but it really is the job of the military and Congress. For once it would be nice if one of these institutions were forthcoming with suggestions on how to trim budget fat, redress century-old wrongs and strengthen the Hawaiian economy.

Why must the public harangue our leaders to lead us?

Rumor has it that Admiral Charles Larson is on the short list to replace General Colin Powell as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Larson responded to criticism of the military’s continued possession of Bellows with a threat to pull the First Expeditionary Brigade from Kane’ohe Marine Corps Air Station.

Wherever he goes, perhaps the admiral will have the opportunity to ponder the consequences of a nation that lives beyond its means at the expense of the population it has sworn to defend.

Military preparedness and thrift do not have to be mutually exclusive goals. Those leaders with a mind to, can accomplish both. Rep. Neil Abercrombie is one leader who deserves our support in this battle.

Give Back Bellows

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Star Bulletin: Viewpoint, May 6, 1993

The commander of Hawaii’s second-largest industry recently said he would ask a Marine brigade be pulled out of Kaneohe if he lost the use of the land at Bellows.

Honolulu’s other daily paper spent five Sunday pages fretting over his threat. Really, is Bellows all that vital to the military? Or, for that matter, is the military all that vital to Hawaii?

Adm. Charles Larson broke decades of virtual military silence to counter claims made by Rep. Abercrombie, myself and others that Bellows belongs and should return to the Hawaiian community. Our kind of talk, he implies, might trigger decisions that would damage the islands’ economy.

“Frankly, without an amphibious training site, the Marines (and I) would be hard-pressed to justify their continued presence at Kaneohe — especially since other states that do offer adequate training are [eager] to beef up and protect their own bases,” the admiral wrote.

He means Camp Pendelton, Calif. where the land, resources and residents presumably are more accommodating. The 8,900-member 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade could go there for its amphibious assaults and inland maneuvers, but then the admiral and his Marines couldn’t rest and recreate all over Windward Oahu.

Larson rationalized that the Bellows station “helps satisfy a major morale and welfare requirement.” Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) at Kaneohe MCAS already provides the Marines with barbers, BayFests, Beach Bashes, bowling, child care, dining, disco, golf, karaoke, pool tables, private surfing, sailing, scuba diving, shopping, swimming, tailors, a theatre and weight rooms to name a few subsidized perks. Does it also really need a l,500-acre, $88 million playground?

Yes, the admiral would say, and don’t you forget the Marines contribute substantially to the local economy. His assumption, the media’s foregone conclusion, should be scrutinized.

Since the armed services pay almost no property taxes for bases here, contributing to the local economy means leaving base and paying local prices. To avoid this “severe financial hardship” (the admiral’s words), MWR strives to provide all the on-base dining, shopping and playing the military community will ever need — blunting any real financial contribution.

Whatever the military does pump into the local economy, no one bothered to estimate what it sucks out in natural resources (aquifer stores, energy consumption and prime ceded soil), federal taxes (22.5 % COLAs, subsidized off-base housing and commissary and exchange privileges) and aloha spirit (traffic congestion, school overcrowding, environmental pollution and criminal activity).

The military brass trumpets the many jobs Kaneohe MCAS offers the Windward community. Many of those jobs, however, are filled by military dependents and recent Mainland transplants. Logic dictates if the Marines go to Camp Pendelton, so do the jobs. With the Marines then go the dependents and with the jobs go the transplants, thus muting the cries of mass local unemployment.

There is no reason why Larson’s military pullout should cripple the Windward community. Islanders are not invalids, we do not need to be force-fed a military industry for an economy.

The state has already zoned the Bellows land for 5,000 single-family units and an equal number of agricultural plots. If Bellows returned to a sovereign Hawaiian nation, native Hawaiians could build a land base for a self-sufficient economy.

As a master-planned community, Bellows could include cottage industries, taro farms or any number of activities that would offer Hawaiians and other community members the opportunity to improve their lot well beyond military dependence. At the same time, human resource agencies could offer their life-support programs to other needy areas.

It is at our own expense Hawaii residents subsidize the military industry’s occupation of Hawaiian lands.

The admiral says the Marines might ship out if we don’t shape up.

Frankly, without enough affordable housing sites, Hawaiians would be hard-pressed to tolerate the Marines’ continued presence at Kaneohe — especially since native Hawaiians are eager to beef up and protect their own causes.

“I can assure you that your military cherishes our special relationship with the people of Hawaii,” Larson wrote. “In the past 20 years at least nine military sites have been conveyed to the state or sold.”

Perhaps. But admiral, do you know of the military’s special relationship with the indigenous people of Hawaii? Hawaiians never asked you to come, yet you came. Hawaiians never gave you Bellows, yet you took it. Hawaiians never wanted you to dominate the economy, yet now you threaten it.

Do us all a favor, give back Bellows. It’s not yours and you don’t need it.

We do.