Too little, too late


Source: March 2008 Ka Wai Ola Column

‘Ano‘ai käkou… OHA is currently lobbying the Legislature to pass a bill that will settle our claims against the State from 1978 to the present. For those who do not remember, former Gov. Ben Cayetano’s second settlement offer in 1999 was a better deal than the current proposal.

The Board voted to reject Cayetano’s first offer, which was much less than the $251 million he later offered, for the past due amounts owed to OHA from 1980. We also discussed a prospective offer of 20 percent, or 365,000 acres of ceded lands, if OHA would settle on all land claims against the State in the future.  This offer would not have included any ocean resources, or any other resource, that we would be entitled to.

OHA couldn’t consider Cayetano’s second offer because five Trustees, including Trustees Haunani Apoliona and Colette Machado, suddenly voted to end all negotiations. OHA’s attorney at the time, James E. Duffy Jr., now a Hawai‘i Supreme Court justice, repeatedly advised the Trustees to continue the negotiations, but they rejected his advice.

The $251 million that Cayetano offered in 1999 would be worth more than double today and the 365,000 acres of ceded lands would have meant economic self-sufficiency and a better negotiating position for the Akaka Bill.

I believe that Apoliona and Machado wanted to end negotiations because they did not want any credit to go to our negotiating team (former Trustees Clayton Hee and Mililani Trask and myself). They thought they could negotiate their own deal, but nine years later all they could come up with is a watered-down version of our previous deal. Their short-sightedness caused OHA to pay dearly a year later when the U.S. Supreme Court came down with the Rice decision.

Later, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court threw out Act 304 and suggested that the remedy must now be sought at the Legislature. I believe this decision was due to OHA walking away from the negotiating table after the Hawai‘i Supreme Court had asked OHA and the state to negotiate a settlement.

Please note that all of my statements can be verified by Gov. Cayetano, his chief negotiator Sam Callejo, Sen. Clayton Hee, or Justice James Duffy. I also have documents that support my statements regarding OHA’s 1999 negotiations with the state.

In 1980, the state legislature amended HRS chapter 10 by adding HRS 10-13.5, which provided that “twenty percent of all funds derived from the public (ceded) land trust shall be expended by OHA…”  The Hawai‘i Supreme Court quoted HRS 10-13.5 verbatim when it recently issued an injunction preventing the state from any future sale or transfer of ceded lands until the claims of Native Hawaiians have been resolved.  In light of this, OHA should really consider whether deleting the twenty percent provision in HRS 10-13.5 would hurt OHA’s standing with the Hawaii Supreme Court.  We should also consider whether we could negotiate a better deal with the state now that we are in a much stronger negotiating position.

Kau Inoa updates

Also, in a memo dated Jan. 31, Administrator Nämu‘o submits that our leader for Kau Inoa registrations on the continent, Chairperson Apoliona’s sister Aulani, is “…sometimes slow in gathering paperwork and submitting documentation for P-card payments.” Because of this, her OHA credit card was taken away and given to another staff person to manage (right?). Is it any surprise that our Kau Inoa program on the continent is so ineffective and no one knows for sure how much OHA funds are being spent? The Administrator announced that as of Feb. 7, the total number of Kau Inoa registrations is 80,625. There were 67,684 in Hawai‘i (84 percent) and 12,941 on the continent. As of Oct. 22, 2007, there were 29,574 registrants who needed to be verified as Native Hawaiian through the Department of Health.

Follow the money


Source: August 2007 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

On July 9, OHA received a letter written by H. William Burgess, a local attorney who over the years has filed two lawsuits attacking Hawaiian programs. His first suit resulted in the elimination of the requirement that candidates for the OHA Board of Trustees have Native Hawaiian ancestry. His second lawsuit unsuccessfully sought to dismantle OHA and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. The interesting thing about these two cases is that the majority of the plaintiffs are the same.

Mr. Burgess, in the past three years, has spent a lot of time and energy lobbying in Washington, D.C., against the Akaka Bill. He has lobbied both senators and congressmen against the bill, calling it racist. His zeal and enthusiasm to spread the wrong message about this bill has been unrelenting. No one works for free. The question should be: “Who is paying Mr. Burgess to lobby against the Akaka Bill and to file these lawsuits against Hawaiians?”

In his latest letter, which was sent to Hawai‘i Maoli, Mr. Burgess is requesting that Hawai‘i Maoli put five of his non-Hawaiian clients – Patricia Ann Carroll, Toby Michael Kravet, Garry Paul Smith, Earl F. Arakaki, and Thurston Twigg-Smith – on the Kau Inoa registration list. Of these people, Garry Paul Smith is the only one who is not named as a plaintiff in any of Burgess’s previous cases challenging Hawaiian programs.

The last name on the list should be viewed with great interest. Thurston Twigg-Smith’s ancestors played a prominent role in the overthrow of our Hawaiian government. This fact has been documented in our history. Now, more than 100 years later, we still see efforts to deny Hawaiians their sovereignty and their right to seek reparations for lands taken in 1893 without compensation. What could Mr. Twigg-Smith be so afraid of that he is willing to lend his name in lawsuits against OHA, DHHL and the State of Hawai‘i? My question to Mr. Twigg-Smith is this: Why hide behind these other plaintiffs? At least his ancestors were right up front about what they did to our kingdom.

Hawaiians, press on, no matter that it has been over 119 years that we have waited for the United States to rectify the injustice done to our nation by some of its citizens.

We have achieved, under the Clinton administration, the acknowledgment of the complicity of the United States with some of its citizens playing a role in the overthrow of our kingdom in the passage of the Apology Bill. This bill sets up the process for recognition and reparations from the federal government for the taking of lands without compensation. This bill – along with the report filed in 1999 in a joint effort by the Interior and Justice departments called “From Mauka to Makai: The River of Justice Must Flow Freely,” which calls for the federal government to address the unfair taking of the lands from the Hawaiian nation and also acknowledges the complicity of the federal government – gives us hope that the Akaka Bill will one day pass.

The passage of the Akaka Bill is the next step in beginning to address the wrongs committed by the United States against the Hawaiian people. We cannot and will not let Mr. Twigg-Smith and his attorney, Mr. Burgess, or anyone else defeat the Hawaiian people again. We have survived as a people over 119 years, and we will remain here on our ancestral lands until the end of time. We will prevail against all odds.

Now is the time to Kau Inoa


Source: July 2007 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  In light of the Akaka bill’s impending passage in the United States Senate, I think it’s a good time to review the process towards Hawaiian sovereignty.

The three key elements of nationhood are sovereignty, self-determination and self-sufficiency.  In order for Hawaiians to exercise control over their lands and lives, they must achieve self-determination by organizing a mechanism for self-governance.  Hawaiians must create a government which provides for democratic representation before they can begin to interrelate with the State and the Federal governments who control their lands and trust assets.  The ultimate goal of nationhood is to become self-sufficient and self-supporting.

REGISTERING ALL HAWAIIANS.  Most people agree that the first step in this process should be to determine who will participate in the creation of the Hawaiian government.  This would involve the establishment of a roster or “roll” of all (interested) Hawaiian adults.

CHOOSE OUR ‘ELELE (Representatives).  Those on the roll will then have the opportunity to choose who will represent them in drafting governing documents.  Everyone is encouraged to participate in this process so that those elected will best reflect the needs and will of the people.

CONVENE AN ‘AHA.  Calling an ‘aha (constitutional convention) is critical in providing an open and democratic forum to develop the governing documents.  This is where the ultimate form of the Hawaiian government will be debated, considered, and reflected.

APPROVE A CONSTITUTION.  The governing documents drafted during the ‘aha must be voted on and approved by the Hawaiian people before they can be implemented.  The Hawaiian people will have the opportunity to examine the documents before deciding whether to accept, reject, accept them in part, or reject them in part.  The documents which are not accepted are returned to the ‘aha for reconsideration by the ‘elele (Representatives).

IMPLEMENTATION.  Once the articles or provisions of the governing documents are ratified by the Hawaiian people, they can be implemented.

ELECTION OF OFFICIALS.  Before the provisions of the governing documents can be fully implemented, the officers and legislative arm of the nation must be selected by the Hawaiian people again with a new election.

Many Native governments have been formed under the federal government through the US Department of the Interior.  There are hundreds of recognized Native American nations within the territorial United States.  Why should Hawaiians be excluded? Failure to do so would, in fact, be discrimination against Hawaiians.

We must not confuse the forms of government that Native Americans or Native Alaskans have with what Hawaiians will develop as their governing documents.  Nor, can anyone assume that the relationship that Hawaiians will have with the Federal Government will be the same as that of the relationships between Native American Tribes and the Federal Government.  Developing our governing documents to insure that our relationship with the United States is beneficial to us will be determined by the delegates in the ‘aha.

As indigenous people, Hawaiians are seeking recognition of their right to sovereignty and self-determination from the federal government.  Hawaiians have no desire to be dependent on the state or federal government.  If Hawaiians had control of their lands and trust resources, we could take care of our people without assistance from anyone.  Hawaiians have waited over 100 years to be compensated for the illegal taking of their lands.  Now is the time for our government to finally address the issue.  Imua e Hawai’i nei…

The Akaka Bill only sets-up a process


Source: March 2005 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Article

`Ano`ai kakou…  The very first federal recognition bill, better known as the “Akaka Bill,” was first introduced back in 2000.  Now, five years later, there is still confusion over what federal recognition would or would not do when there should be none.  Here are a few things to remember:

Kau Inoa

The first step in any process for nationhood is to create an official list of those who want to participate.  To assist in this effort, OHA is supporting the Kau Inoa registration program, which is an independent, community-driven effort developed by broad-based community working groups.  The groups specifically drew upon previous work done by the Oahu Council of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Ka Lahui, the Royal Order of Kamehameha’s Oahu chapter and the State Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations.

Registering with Kau Inoa does not mean you automatically support federal recognition.  It simply means that you want to be counted and that you want to participate in shaping the new nation or governing entity.  We urgently need Kau Inoa so that we can get organized and keep in touch with registered participants.

Any person of Native Hawaiian ancestry may voluntarily sign up.  There is no blood quantum requirement, but verification of Hawaiian ancestry is required.  This may be done by one of the following means:  (1) Ancestry verification documents from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, OHA’s Operation Ohana program, or OHA’s Hawaiian Registry program; (2) A certified copy of birth certificates, marriage certificates and/or death certificates indicating Hawaiian parentage; or (3) Kumu Ohana or other legally sufficient methods besides those listed above.

Kau Inoa registration is open to Hawaiians anywhere in the world.  According to figures from the 2000 census, there are approximately 240,000 Hawaiians in Hawaii and more than 160,000 Hawaiians across the continental United States.  There is no minimum age to register.  All Kau Inoa registration forms and vital statistics records will be confidentially kept by Hawaii Maoli Inc., a nonprofit arm of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs.

Native Hawaiian Coalition

Another important part of the process is to form a broad-based coalition of Hawaiian community representatives.  The Native Hawaiian Coalition – an independent alliance of organizations and individuals from throughout the Hawaiian community – has been working to help determine the steps for forming a Native Hawaiian governing body.  The Coalition includes nearly all major Hawaiian organizations, as well as the Ali’i trusts, and those with political viewpoints ranging from federal recognition to independence.  Meetings are open to all Hawaiians.  They have already held several meetings and are beginning to get organized.

Both Kau Inoa and the Native Hawaiian Coalition do not depend on the Akaka Bill’s passage.  There is nothing stopping Hawaiians from organizing now.  Those who want to be involved should gather their documents and register with Kau Inoa as soon as possible.

In my view, the Akaka Bill, and I have read the bill over and over; is no threat to Native Hawaiian claims nor does it give a position on Nationhood.  It only forces the Federal Government to recognize a trust relationship with Hawaiians.  It will give us the time we need to form a governing entity before all of our trust assets are taken away.  While legal attacks are eroding our trusts every day, there can be no judgment if Congress shows their support by passing the Akaka bill.

There is much to do and OHA will be working tirelessly to bring people together to make a Native Hawaiian governing entity a reality.  I will continue to keep you posted.  Imua e Hawai’i nei…

Reaching out to Hawaiians on the mainland

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, April 2004

‘Ano’ai kakou… On March 6-7, 2004, OHA sponsored a successful Hawaiian governance event in Las Vegas. The affair featured OHA’s Hawaiian Registry Program; workshops on Hawaiian culture, genealogy, and history; and a “Kau Inoa” registration drive. Kau Inoa is a separate program from OHA, and is the first step in identifying indigenous Hawaiians who want to be a part of the formation of a Hawaiian governing entity.

We have now established many valuable contacts within Nevada’s Hawaiian community, estimated to be 80,000 strong, and have made an important contribution to our goal of registering 100,000 Hawaiians nationwide.

This event would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the following OHA staff and volunteers:

* Administrator Clyde Namu’o who strongly supported the event from the beginning. I commend the Administrator for the latitude he afforded staff to explore new territories and gain new skills. His consistent positive attitude and encouragement of staff made the event a true pleasure.

* Public Information Officer Manu Boyd, who conducted workshops on hula, ka’ao, genealogy, and Hawaiian history. His command of the Hawaiian language and his musical talent are an invaluable resource to OHA.

* Luci Meyer, who conducted workshops on mo’oku’auhau (genealogy). I was impressed by the quality, depth, and insight of her presentations.

* Staff members Jennifer Chiwa, Lani Hoomana, Ruby McDonald, Gladys Rodenhurst, and Francine Murray.

* Las Vegas Volunteers Jeannie Wong, Ransen & Lehua Borges, Ladd Haleloa, Bruce Willingham, Lucille Calario, Lorna Andrade, and Paul Meyer.

* Special thanks to the Makaha Sons, Moon, John and Jerome who performed in concert and virtually assured a huge turnout.

This experience has left me very encouraged about coordinating future events and activities. I also appreciate Trustees Waihe’e, Dela Cruz, and Apoliona for making the trip and sharing their mana’o.

On another note regarding the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund…

Trustee Mossman wrote in his article last month that he did not believe OHA has ever been in a better financial position and that it was all thanks to Trustee Stender. Before we begin to sing the praises of someone, perhaps we should first put things in their proper context.

OHA’s portfolio was over $400 million in 2000 and then took a nosedive in the following year to $250 million. Who was the chair of the Budget & Finance committee for most of that time? You guessed it, Trustee Stender. I pleaded with Trustee Stender for months to stop the bleeding, but nothing happened. OHA’s Chief Financial Officer finally came up with the idea of hiring “managers-of-managers” to do our investing. This was finalized by February 2003, but and by then, the damage to the Trust had long since been done.

The new managers-of-managers, Goldman Sachs and Frank Russell, make all of our day-to-day investment decisions and choose which money managers to hire. The Board’s role now is to simply set the investment policy and listen to quarterly report presentations.

There is no doubt that the growth of the Trust has more to do with our two manager-of-managers than any particular Trustee. The problem now is that OHA is forced to pay higher fees for Goldman Sach’s services even though they have consistently underperformed the Frank Russell Group.

While the total Native Hawaiian Trust Fund is still far shy of the $400 million OHA once enjoyed in its heyday, at least it is growing again.

Imua Hawaii Nei…