TRUSTEE ROWENA AKANA
October 2003 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column
`Ano`ai kakou… On Sunday, September 7, 2003, the Trustees and staff of OHA marched side-by-side down Kalakaua Avenue with more than 5,000 supporters of Native Hawaiian rights in a powerful show of unity. The marchers included representatives from Kamehameha Schools, Hawaiian Ali’i Trusts, Royal Benevolent Society members, and sovereignty advocates. Also showing their support were many non-Hawaiians, the most prominent being Governor Lingle. The march was organized by the ‘Ilio’ulaokalani Coalition and ended in a rally at the Kapi’olani Park Bandstand where we were holding our Family Day celebration.
Many of us will mark August 20, 2003 a black day in Hawaiian history as a federal court judge forced Kamehameha Schools to enroll a non-Hawaiian student. This act is so egregious that it may be the inciting incident that will finally galvanize Hawaiians to unite and fight for their rights.
It was encouraging to see that both supporters and opponents of the Hawaiian federal recognition were able to come together to march. It showed that even though we may not agree on federal recognition, we can still come together to support justice for Native Hawaiians.
What we face today as Hawaiians, the indigenous people of our lands, is no different than what occurred over 100 years ago. We are still fighting off assaults on our culture, rights to our lands and racism. Only now, we are being called racists because we want to protect our entitlements. Times have not changed much, people are still the same and greed is still the motivation behind the move to relieve us of whatever entitlements we have left. The only thing that has changed is the sophistication used to manipulate us and the law.
We are one people. We cannot afford to be divided, not when so much work remains to be done. The struggle to regain our sovereign rights requires unity and the strength of numbers.
As the recent federal court decision regarding Kamehameha schools proves, the future of OHA and other Hawaiian Trusts are certainly at risk. Hawaiian leaders will have to work together and use whatever resources that are necessary to protect existing Hawaiian Trusts.
Let us begin to work together 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. We will be one nation and one people.
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