Recent Polls show people of Hawaii believe in fairness for Native Hawaiians

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source Ka Wai Ola o OHA, November 2007

‘Ano’ai kakou… According to a poll conducted by Ward Research for OHA, 70% of residents surveyed favored the Akaka Bill, while nearly two-thirds of those polled also believe that the issue of race should not be a reason to deny federal recognition to Hawaiians.

However, anti-Akaka bill groups like the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii (with a membership of a handful of people) and some of the members of the newly formed Hawaii Civil Rights Advisory Committee are trying to re-write our Hawaiian history. Like other racist groups who say the Holocaust never happened, the Grassroots Institute would not be happy until Native Hawaiians no longer exist or are driven out from our Aina. They keep hoping that, if they keep repeating the same non-truths over and over again, people will start believing their nonsense.

The poll was conducted by telephone from August 15-27, 2007 from a sampling of 380 residents statewide. The sample is representative of the Hawaii population by age, ethnicity, and island of residence and carries a maximum sampling error of plus or minus 5 percent.

Those surveyed were asked, “Do you think that Hawaiians should be recognized by the U.S. as a distinct indigenous group, similar to the recognition given to American Indians and Alaska Natives?” A solid seventy percent responded, “Yes,” while 18 percent said, “No” and 12 percent didn’t know.

I have always had faith that the people of Hawaii truly understand the issue of federal recognition for Hawaiians and could not be easily fooled by all the negative doomsday rhetoric of the anti-Akaka bill naysayers. The poll showed that 84% of those surveyed heard of the Akaka bill and 79% were aware of the lawsuits against OHA, DHHL and Kamehameha Schools.

Sixty-seven percent of those polled also said that Hawaiians have the right to make decisions about their land, education, health, cultural and traditional practices, and social policies. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed believe that over 100-federally funded programs for Hawaiians should continue.

The vast majority of Hawaii residents want organizations such as the Kamehameha Schools, DHHL and OHA, which are under the constant threat of lawsuits, to be protected through federal recognition. They believe in the fundamental question of fairness and that Hawaiians should be treated equally like other indigenous people, including American Indians and Native Alaskans.

So, to the naysayers, I say – Stop embarrassing yourself and wasting your time, energy, and money on fruitless efforts. You cannot change or re-write history. OHA only has to educate 18% of Hawaii residents on the merits of the Akaka bill, while opponents need to somehow mislead a whopping 64%. It takes so much more energy to confuse and mislead people, while it is much easier to just speak the truth.

All these years of spreading lies and misleading people haven’t gotten people like H. William Burgess anywhere. People of Hawaii know what is right, fair and just. After all, isn’t fairness and justice the American way?

Imua e Hawai’i nei…