By: TRUSTEE ROWENA AKANA
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:
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…