`Ano`ai kakou… Let me begin by expressing my warmest aloha to all the candidates who had the courage and commitment to participate in this year’s election. Campaigning can be a blood sport, but now it is time to put aside our differences and get back to bettering the lives of our constituents.
On Friday, September 23, 2016, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced a “final rule to create a pathway for reestablishing a formal government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community.” “The final rule sets out an administrative procedure and criteria that the U.S. Secretary of the Interior would use if the Native Hawaiian community forms a unified government that then seeks a formal government-to-government relationship with the United States.”
According the DOI, “The final rule builds on more than 150 Federal statutes that Congress enacted over the last century to recognize and implement the special political and trust relationship between the United States and the Native Hawaiian community. It also considered and addressed extensive public comments during the rulemaking process, which included public meetings in Hawaii and the mainland United States.”
The time has come for all us to come together in spirit and put some meaningful effort into re-establishing the political relationship between Native Hawaiians and the Federal government to re-organize our Native Hawaiian Governing Entity. Once done, we will be able to protect all of our Hawaiian trust assets from the constant threat of lawsuits. This is why I have always supported state and federal recognition.
As I traveled around the state, I spoke to many people who were confused about the process towards nationhood. I can only conclude that OHA has not done enough to educate the public. This situation has to change. Trustees are going to have to speak up about the many positive results that Hawaiian Nationhood would bring for both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians. I assure all of you that, after listening to your mana’o, I will do everything that is humanly possible to address your concerns.
What is also needed is your participation. You must challenge EACH Trustee to be accountable to you. It is unfortunate that you cannot assume that Trustees will do this on their own. Like any organization, from time to time, especially when one faction has been in power for too long like it has been at OHA, “the people” need to become actively involved. Otherwise we will risk having to deal with complacency and the abuse of power.
What we face today as Hawaiians is no different than what has occurred over the past 100 years. We are still fighting off assaults on our culture, the deterioration of our rights to our lands, and attacks from racist organizations.
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.
As we approach the close of 2016, I would like to wish each of you a very safe and happy holiday season, and may the Lord in his grace bless each of you and your families and take you safely into 2017. Happy Thanksgiving!