Akana selected as Pacific Representative for AIANTA

`Ano`ai kakou…  On February 12, 2013, the Board of Directors for the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) approved my nomination as one of two Pacific Representatives.  This is a great opportunity for all Native Hawaiians to network with American Indians and Alaska Natives to develop and implement programs that will help our communities build for the future while sustaining and strengthening our cultural legacy.

AIANTA is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit association of Native communities and businesses that were organized in 1999 to advance tourism in territories under the controlled of Native peoples.  The association is made up of member tribes from six regions: Eastern, Plains, Midwest, Southwest, Pacific and Alaska.

AIANTA’s Mission is to define, introduce, grow and sustain American Indian and Alaska Native tourism that honors and sustains tribal traditions and values.  AIANTA serves as voice and resource for its constituents in advancing tourism, assist tribes in creating infrastructure and capacity, provide technical assistance, training and educational resources to tribes, tribal organizations and tribal members.  AIANTA also serves as the liaison between Indian Country and governmental and private entities for the development, growth, and sustenance of Indian Country tourism.

International Outreach

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, international visitors spent a record $14.3 billion in August 2012.  Each March, AIANTA sponsors an expansive American Indian Pavilion at ITB Berlin, the world’s leading travel and trade show.  This provides Tribal tourism departments the opportunity to showcase their programs and tour packages to the European tourism industry.

AIANTA booth participants have made invaluable contacts with international travel organizations, media and tour operators.  They were featured in the Brand USA Discover America Pavilion, attracting large crowds of participants and hundreds of international travel media representatives.  More than 172,032 trade professionals and consumers participated in ITB 2012.

Public Lands Outreach

Every major national park or monument in the American west has a relationship to a significant Native sacred site.  The upcoming National Parks Service centennial anniversary in 2016 affords Native peoples the opportunity to raise public consciousness on issues such as cultural resource protections, ancestral use of park lands, and participate in the benefits arising from increased visitation to the national parks during the centennial.

In 2011, AIANTA entered into a partnership with the National Park Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to insure full, uncensored tribal participation in NPS centennial interpretations, education, tourism and other programming efforts.

Annual conference

The annual American Indian Tourism Conference, co-hosted by various Native American tribes in their homelands, is designed to share knowledge, experience and best practices from both tribal and non-tribal tourism programs around the United States.  Each conference features mobile workshops, networking events and presentations from experts in the travel & tourism industry.

I see many similarities in the missions of both OHA and AIANTA.  We both serve as the voice and as a resource for our Native constituents.  We also serve as a much needed liaison between our respective Native Communities and governmental and private entities for the promotion, growth and development of economic opportunities and programs.

I look forward to working closely with AIANTA over the next few years to help our beneficiaries build for their future while sustaining and strengthening our cultural legacy.  Aloha Ke Akua.

United we stand, divided we fall!


Source: February 2004 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  As you may have read in the local print media, the U.S. Senate has been reviewing the Akaka Bill (S. 344) and is considering further amendments to the bill.  The Trustees of OHA recently met with our two U.S. Senators and they informed us that a few people in the Justice Department and a few others (no names or affiliations were mentioned) have concerns about our bill.  Since it was not made clear to us as to what those concerns were, I expressed my own about the possibility that Congress may change the bill’s definition of who is Hawaiian.


Some may argue that the changes would allow the bill to finally get passed, but changing the bill by adding language that is not supported by the Hawaiian community makes no sense at all.  Either recognition includes ALL Hawaiians or no Hawaiians at all.

Still others may say, “Isn’t half a loaf better than no loaf?”  That maybe so in some cases, but certainly not when it comes to deciding who will be in the Hawaiian Nation.  Isn’t that what WE HAWAIIANS together must decide?

What’s happening now with the Akaka Bill sounds similar to what Congress did to us in 1920 with the creation of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and the 50% blood quantum.  They arbitrarily decided who was going to be a Native Hawaiian.  The blood quantum issue has long been a source of division among our people.  Why then would we let them do this to us again?

Detrimental changes to the Akaka Bill by Congress are nothing new.  The 2002 version of the Akaka Bill (S. 746) was very controversial because section 7 of the original Akaka Bill (S. 81), which allows for a fair process for all Hawaiians to be included in the recognition effort, was left out.  The 2003 Akaka Bill (S. 344), continued to lack a section which would allow for a fair process for all Hawaiians to be included in the federal recognition effort.

In mid-May of 2003, I was relieved to learn that the Akaka Bill was amended to include a process for federal recognition that would allow ALL Hawaiians to participate.  The language in the second (current) S. 344 offered and suggested a clear process for recognition that the U.S. Department of the Interior currently uses to recognize Native American tribes.

We are certainly more educated about western law and how politics works in Washington.  Our current population, which is 400,000 strong, could make our own powerful political statement.  Let us tell Congress that we, the Hawaiian community, will decide for ourselves this important question of who will be in our Nation.

We must question why Hawaiians are being treated differently from Native Alaskans and Native Americans.  Congress has the discretion to pass the current Akaka Bill in its entirety and allow us to begin the process of self-determination.  Though the Akaka bill does not give Hawaiians sovereignty, it will allow us to begin our journey.

Why then, are some in Washington  concerned about having too many Hawaiians involved in the process?  Blood quantum and membership issues are not a question for Congress to decide, and we must tell them so.  If this is indeed one of the considered amendments, we must let our Congressional Delegation know that this is a concession we will not make.

We, the Hawaiian people, must never again let Congress or anyone else divide us again.  We are only strong when we are together.  United we stand, divided we fall!  Imua Hawaii Nei…

Sovereignty, Self-Determination, & Self-Sufficiency

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: December 2003 Ka Wai Ola Article

The three key elements to form a nation

`Ano`ai kakou…  It has been a goal of mine to use the issue of nationhood to bring together the many grassroots groups in the community.  Most of the people I’ve talked to agree, in concept, to the need for Federal Recognition and that it is a necessary first step on the path towards a strong Hawaiian nation.  The challenge has always been educating Hawaiians about the process.

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 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 and trust resources, we could take care of our people without assistance from anyone.  Imua Hawaii, let us move forward together.  Mele Kalikimaka, a me ka

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