Divide and conquer is mission of the “Grassroot” folk

`Ano`ai kakou… After reading Andrew Walden’s article in his Hawaii Free Press (HFP) blog, accusing OHA of investing in a geothermal “scheme,” I feel it is very important to point out that Walden can easily be grouped with the following anti-Hawaiian of conservative groups that do everything they can to divide the Hawaiian Community.


The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a conservative think tank, states that their mission is to “promote individual liberty, the free market and limited accountable government,” but what they have actually done is write anti-Hawaiian letters to Congress and the Civil Rights Commission.  They have testified vigorously before Congressional hearings against the Akaka bill.  Richard O. Rowland serves as Chairman of the Board and President and co-founded the Institute with Malia Zimmerman.


Malia Zimmerman is the secretary of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii’s board of directors and has authored of many articles that helped to polarize the Hawaiian community.  Zimmerman was fired from Pacific Business News for “unspecified reasons” and then went on to co-found the “Hawaii Reporter.”  (Source: Sourcewatch.org)


Sam Slom is Hawaii’s only Republican State Senator and is the executive director of Small Business Hawaii.  Slom has been vocal opponent of the Akaka bill and OHA’s sovereignty efforts locally and in Washington, D.C.

Small Business Hawaii, where Senator Sam Slom (R-HI) and Richard O. Rowland are on the board of directors, has given reporting awards to the Hawaii Reporter.  (Source: Sourcewatch.org)


Attorney H. William Burgess, who has sued OHA on multiple occasions, has been working to cripple OHA for over a decade.  He is married to Sandra Puanani Burgess, who is also a strong opponent of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and of government programs that benefit Native Hawaiians preferentially.  Burgess led the efforts to bring two frivolous lawsuits seeking to have such programs declared unconstitutional. (Source: Wikipedia)


In 1999, H. William Burgess and his wife created the Aloha for All website, www.Aloha4all.org to spread their disingenuous message that “Aloha is for everyone” and that “every citizen of Hawaii is entitled to the equal protection of the laws whatever his or her ancestry.”  In 2003, former Honolulu Advertiser publisher Thurston Twigg-Smith, who funded the lawsuits against OHA, founded a company called “Aloha for All.” (Wikipedia)

An August 14, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser article reported that H. William Burgess was both lead attorney for Aloha for All and legal counsel for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.  Grassroot later responded that Burgess is a member but has never been their legal counsel.


Their group also includes Kenneth R. Conklin, a retired schoolteacher who moved to Hawaii from Boston in 1992 and currently lives in Kāneʻohe.  (SOURCE: Wikipedia)  He is a vocal opponent of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and has sued OHA in the past.


Again, let me reiterate, the negative articles being written about OHA in the newspapers and online should be taken with a grain of salt.  We must also remember to consider the source from which it comes.

Hawaiians cannot allow these Right-Wing, Ultra-Conservative Extremists to divide us.  Please let us be “Makaala” (alert, aware, vigilant, watchful, and wide awake) and know who our true enemies are.

State Recognition: Questions & Answers


`Ano`ai kakou…  As part of my ongoing effort to educate the community on State Recognition, here are some answers to the most frequent questions that have come up recently regarding the process:

(1) What exactly is State Recognition?

State recognition is an acknowledgment by a state government that a certain group of people is indigenous.  That acknowledgement can take a variety of forms ranging from reaffirmation of a government-to-government relationship between the state and the governing body of the group to a simple admission that the group is a historic indigenous people within the state’s boundaries.

The benefits of state recognition differ from state to state based on state and federal laws and programs. State-recognized groups, typically American Indian tribes, do not automatically qualify for the same programs and benefits as federally recognized tribes, but some federal legislation, such as protections for indigenous artisans, certain environmental programs, and some grant processes, explicitly include state-recognized groups.

State recognition can be conferred in several ways, but the most common is by an act of the State legislature recognizing the indigenous group.  Alternatively, some states use an administrative recognition process where groups must meet certain criteria to qualify for recognition. In a few states, the Governor may grant recognition to indigenous groups.

(2) What is the status of State Recognition of Native Hawaiians?

The Hawaii State Legislature approved SB1520, CD1 on May 3rd and sent the bill to Governor Abercrombie on May 6th. The Governor has until July 12, 2011, to sign or object to SB1520 or else it automatically becomes law on July 12th.

(3) How does State Recognition differ from Federal Recognition?

State Recognized groups do not automatically qualify for the same programs or benefits as federally recognized Indian tribes or Alaska Natives.  At least 15 states have recognized over 60 groups that do not also have federal recognition. Because the criteria for state recognition need not mirror or even resemble the criteria for federal recognition, state recognition is not necessarily a precursor to federal recognition.

(4) Will State Recognition prevent the Federal Recognition of Native Hawaiians?

No!  Even though Native Hawaiians have been recognized by the State of Hawaii, the United States retains the ability to federally recognize Native Hawaiians at a later date. In some situations, the process of state recognition of an indigenous group has led to findings that later supported their petition for federal recognition.

Stay Informed!

I encourage all those who have questions regarding the state recognition process to contact OHA for the most accurate and up-to-date information.  There will most likely be opposition and misinformation from the usual suspects, such as the Grassroot Institute, but I would like to assure everyone that SB1520 does not diminish, alter, or amend any existing rights or privileges of Native Hawaiians that are not inconsistent with the language of the bill. It reaffirms that the United States has delegated authority to the State of Hawaii to address the issues of the indigenous, native people of Hawaii. Nothing in this bill serves
as a settlement of the claims of Native Hawaiian people under state, federal, or international law.

For more information on State Recognition please see: http://www.oha.org/leg/keybills.php.

Aloha Ke Akua.

Don’t rule out the Akaka Bill passing next year

January 2011 Ka Wai Ola Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  On Nov 15, 2010, Senator Daniel Akaka introduced a compromise version of Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2010 (S.3945).

While there has been much talk in the media that the Akaka Bill has little chance of passing in the next two years, I
wouldn’t rule it out for the following reasons:

  • Hawaii-born President Barack Obama is still in the White House and remains a strong supporter of the bill.
  • Senator Daniel Inouye, the most senior member of the U.S. Senate, remains the chairman of the powerful
    Senate Committee on Appropriations.  After 51 years in Washington, I’m certain Senator Inouye can find a
    way to twist the arms of the Republican Senators who are holding up the bill.
  • Governor Neil Abercrombie can lobby the Senate with the help of his close friend, Republican House Speaker
    John Boehner. (Star-Advertiser, Nov 21, 2010)

Yes, it won’t be easy, but there is certainly still reason to hope.


It is disappointing that critics of the bill continue to call it “race-based.”  Jere Krischel of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, which opposes the Akaka bill, even said that it would “racially segregate families and communities into groups with different rights based on whether or not they have Hawaiian blood.” (AP, 11-9-10)  This is so ridiculous that anyone with half a brain knows this is crazy.  The Grassroot Institute, with a hand-full of members from the lower 48 states, has no real roots in Hawaii.  They know darn well the bill doesn’t do any of the things they claim it does.  Their propaganda is based on lies and it’s
time for all of us to call them out.

We must investigate who really makes up their membership and what is their real agenda.  Who is Jere Krischel and where does he come from?  How long has he lived in Hawaii.   Why do he and his contacts hate Native peoples and what are they afraid of?

Ever since Americans landed here on our shores, they have tried to control our people and our lands.  Krischel needs to be reminded over and over – Hawaiians aren’t immigrants, nor are we foreigners looking for handouts.  Krischel and his ilk are the foreigners and they are the racists!  They need to go back to where they came from and take with them their racist attitude.  We don’t need them to spoil our Hawaii.  Hawaiians for centuries have always been generous and kind to our malahini and visitors.
We certainly don’t want outsiders giving us a bad wrap!

Establishing a political relationship between Native Hawaiians and the federal government will hopefully silence these
racists and put a stop to their continuing legal challenges to Hawaiian programs.  It will also prevent the loss of millions of
dollars the state currently receives from the federal government for programs that perpetuate the Native Hawaiian culture, language and traditions.

The Akaka Bill is only meant to begin the reconciliation process between the federal government and the over 400,000
Native Hawaiians living in the U.S.  Passing the Akaka Bill is simply the right thing to do.  It doesn’t have anything to do with being a Democrat or a Republican and should not be such a politically divisive issue.

I look forward to working with the Obama Administration, our Congressional Delegation, and Governor Abercrombie as
we take our next crucial steps toward Native Hawaiian sovereignty.

Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

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…

The need for compromise & unity


Source: September 2005 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Article

`Ano`ai kakou…  In late July, the trustees returned from another disappointing trip to lobby for the passage of the Akaka bill in Washington, D.C.  The bill has enough votes to pass the U.S. Senate, but unfortunately, several Republican Senators used last-minute political gamesmanship to prevent the bill from reaching the Senate floor for voting.  After witnessing these underhanded tactics, I am amazed that anything can get done in Washington.

The Senators that oppose the Akaka bill are obviously relying on false information being provided by Akaka bill opponents such as Thurston Twigg-Smith (who is part of the Arakaki lawsuit and whose ancestor helped orchestrate the overthrow), H. William Burgess (also with the Arakaki lawsuit and the anti-OHA organization Aloha for All), and Richard Rowland (Grassroot Institute of Hawai’i).  These people want us to believe that they are fighting for equality, but I believe they are actually motivated by racism.

To make matters worse, Washington has become so politically divided along party lines that neither side is willing to work together and hammer out a bill that all sides can live with.  It seems as if the Democrats and Republicans have lost the art of compromise. 

Years ago, Washington used to be a different place.  As Jack Valenti (President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Administration) described it, members of Congress built relationships based on trust.  The party in power understood that the role of the opposition was to oppose and didn’t take their criticism personally.  The minority party knew that just because you opposed an issue didn’t mean you couldn’t compromise.  No party could ever get everything they wanted.  That’s not how politics works.  Politics depends on compromise.

Here at home, the time has come for Native Hawaiians who support and oppose the Akaka Bill to come together in the spirit of compromise.  Native Hawaiians who oppose the Akaka bill need to realize that if they want to form an independent Hawaiian nation, they can – even if the Akaka bill were passed into law.  The bill does not give any position on the ultimate form of Native Hawaiian governance.  It only requires the Federal Government to recognize a trust relationship with our people.  More importantly, it would give us the ability to protect our trust assets until our governing entity is formed.

All of us can agree that we cannot build a nation without assets.  Native Hawaiian opponents of the Akaka bill must understand that there can be no final judgment in the federal courts if Congress approves the Akaka bill.  The bill offers strong protection to all of our Hawaiian trusts from the constant threat of lawsuits.  That’s why I have always supported the bill.

What we face today as Hawaiians 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 racism 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.

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 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, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and all of the Hawaiian Trusts are certainly at risk.  We must work together and combine our influence so that we can do what is necessary to pass the Akaka bill.

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