Response to supporters of Clarence Ching

By: Trustee Rowena Akana
November 2006

Source: Letter to the Editor, Ka Wai Ola o OHA

My letter is addressed to Gwen Burrows and Vaasiliifiti Tauo Taumasaosili who wrote letters to the Ka Wai Ola complaining about the content of my August 2006 trustees’ column. Both writers were specifically critical of my comments referencing Clarence Ching, a former OHA trustee who went to Washington D.C. to lobby against the Akaka Bill along with William Burgess, who has consistently filed law suits against OHA and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands to remove any Hawaiian-only preferences to any and all benefits set aside by law for the Hawaiian people.

Let me say that I certainly do not view myself or other trustees as “whores” who are “in bed with the enemy,” whomever that may be (as Ms. Burrows suggests). I am sorry that they took a personal offence to my comments regarding Mr. Ching’s seating arrangement.

I believe that both of them missed my point entirely. People like Burgess have successfully used Hawaiians against other Hawaiians in the past. Burgess is obviously not in agreement with Mr. Ching’s views about Hawaiian Sovereignty. Burgess wants the Akaka Bill to fail so that entitlements for Native Hawaiians can be eliminated. Clarence, on the other hand, probably just doesn’t believe the Akaka Bill is the way to achieve Hawaiian Self-Determination. In any case, it is my view that Hawaiians should not allow Non-Hawaiians to manipulate or use them against other Hawaiians. That was my point.

It is absolutely appropriate for Hawaiians to disagree among themselves about what kind of self-determination we should eventually have. It is not appropriate for us to let Non-Hawaiians lead our way down a path we have not chosen for ourselves.

Nowhere in my article do I suggest that Hawaiians must follow OHA’s path. It is, and always will be, the right of every Hawaiian to seek independence or any other form of government that they choose.